The beauty of Boolcoomatta in Spring

Published 23 Oct 2016 
by Meredith Geyer 
about  Boolcoomatta Reserve  
The house dam at Boolcoomatta a couple of days after the property received 20mm of rain.<br/> The house dam at Boolcoomatta a couple of days after the property received 20mm of rain.
Kangaroos on Boolcoomatta. Photo Tony & Meredith Geyer.<br/> Kangaroos on Boolcoomatta. Photo Tony & Meredith Geyer.

Thursday

Tony and I set off at 4.30pm yesterday in the Bush Heritage ute and headed for the far-north-eastern corner of the property. The road is red dirt, of course, and runs through the vast, flat Mundi-Mundi plain.

There are carpets of yellow flowers out there and all the vegetation cover is flowering or looking healthy. There was a plum-coloured tinge in places that was not Salvation Jane, just tiny little flowering plants that add up to something special because of the vastness of the scale.

At that time of day the shadows are lengthening and we saw a Spotted Harrier hunting for an evening meal – a beautiful big bird. Probably looking for lizards. Speaking of which, they seem to like the road because we saw about 6 sleepy lizards and 6 Bearded Dragons over a 2km patch of road. It was difficult not to run over them so we travelled quite slowly with me the spotter.

When we reached the boundary of the property, which intersects with Mingary Creek, we walked along the wide sandy creek bed for a while. At this point all the River Red Gums are quite young because it was the site of a steam driven pump that drew underground water, and the steam engine used a boiler fuelled with River Red Gum timber.

As the sun was now quite low in the sky, we chose some slightly higher ground, and watched as the sun set in the west. The sky was orange – no clouds at all. The Olary Ranges a navy blue, and the eastern sky a gorgeous shade of blue. I should mention that we saw lots of kangaroos too, bouncing along in family groups, and the occasional big red, out on his own.

Our plan was to drive for a couple of hours with me shining a spotlight out the side window and Tony watching out with the head lights to see if we could spot a Plains-wanderer. They are about the size of a pigeon but with longer legs and rather pretty markings.

So there we were, in the pitch darkness, with a quarter moon already high in the sky and the stars bright, chugging slowly along in the Toyota. At one point we flushed out a bird from near the edge of the road and it seemed to be the right size and colour. So that excited us.

Also came across – on the road (the birds and animals love the road) – first one little Inland Dotterel, then another, and another, a total of 5 altogether. A new bird for us. They are nocturnal and have large eyes.

We got back to our quarters at just before 9pm. Checked out our bird book and concluded that the bird we had hoped might have been a Plains Wanderer was very likely to have been a Little Button Quail.

Saturday

Today has been a day off for us. We've walked many kilometres looking at birds. First thing this morning along a creek where we saw a total of 18 different species, including a White-breasted Wood Swallow – a new bird for us.

Then later in the morning along a different creek where we saw eight different species, including Variegated Fairy Wren – a plain name for a very beautiful little bird, and an Inland Broad-tailed Thornbill, another very pretty little bird and new to us. Also managed to see the Chirruping Wedgebill – a bird that's easy to hear but hard to spot. And Tony saw a pair of Blue Bonnets – a stunning coloured parrot.

After lunch we thought we'd drive to the eastern boundary of the property and walk out across the plains and search for the Plains Wanderer. We each spread out across the plain with the Olary ranges on the southern horizon, and walked a long way but without luck.

I did see a golden coloured sleepy lizard and there were kangaroos, galahs, and corellas out there. Some of the saltbush was flowering, a delicate pink, probably not a true flower – the way the colour in a bougainvillea is not really a flower.

Sunday

Today has been another rest day for us. We've done two walks, the first along our favourite creek where we were thrilled to see a Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo. Then after morning coffee we walked over the hills and far away (well only about 3kms from homestead) and sat on a rocky peak just hoping we might see a Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby. But we didn’t, just lots of kangaroos.

We did see a kingfisher perched on a dry twig, and were quite surprised it would be in a dry stony place. Then on our way back to quarters via our favourite creek after noting the two eagle chicks still bright and chirpy in their nest, we saw another kingfisher and when we got back identified it as a Red Backed Kingfisher.

– Meredith Geyer

Kangaroos on Boolcoomatta. Photo Tony & Meredith Geyer.<br/> Kangaroos on Boolcoomatta. Photo Tony & Meredith Geyer.