Twitching a nomad

We can probably all agree that the past 18 months have been very strange! A lot of us in the nature tour business are turning the negatives into positives. I have been improving my contacts within the industry and enjoying the wonderful birds and bush in Western Australia a little more than normal!

So when my son (also a bird watcher) started his university mid year break, it was time to plan an escape to see something new. We had heard that a few weeks earlier up to 40 Scarlet-chested Parrots had been seen about 1 hours drive from Coolgardie. These are nomadic parrots that are usually easiest to find in much less accessible Great Victoria Desert. But here they were only about a seven hours drive from Perth, seen in numbers only a few weeks ago, we were looking for an adventure and feeling lucky!!!

So we packed the camper and headed off on a three day adventure. Unfortunately, only three days as we had to tuck the trip in between other commitments. We basically had one day and an hour to actually find the parrots but we did have some latitude and longitude coordinates from a fellow birdwatcher.

Typical vegetation in the Coolgardie area consists of woodlands and shrublands broken up with floodplains. This photograph from our destination at Credo Station shows the typical shrubs of Eremophila, and Acacia with Eucalyptus trees.

We arrived in Coolgardie, set up camp and the drove one hour to Credo Station. We only had time to get there just a few minutes prior to sunset, but wanted to get our bearings and hoped we would see some gorgeous birds! The first thing we heard when we got out of the car was a single call from a Scarlet-Chested Parrot but after driving 7 hours during the day our ears were a bit dazed and we weren’t sure where the call came from. We scouted around and found a lot of Yellow-plumed honeyeaters, Crested Bellbirds, Tree Martins, other birds and human footprints. But no more parrot calls! We couldn’t decide if we really heard the parrot or just convinced ourselves that we had heard what we most wanted to hear! As the light was nearly gone we headed back to Coolgardie for a delicious dinner at the Gold Rush Motel.

The next day we got up pretty early and headed back to Credo, within 10 minutes we saw a small parrot flush up into a tree. It took us a while to get a good look at it but it was definitely a young Scarlet-Chested Parrot! We were thrilled! We wandered around for another couple of hours finding more individuals, hoping to see a male adult with a bright red chest!

A juvenile Scarlet-chested Parrot with a pale bill and not much blue on the face. They are cute!

We did find some nice females and an immature male.

Female adult with a gorgeous bright blue face and no scarlet chest. When these parrots flew the outer yellow tale feathers were a real treat! The blue, yellow and green are really superb bright colours!
Immature male with a dark bill and a few flecks of red on the chest and more blue on the face than the juvenile.

We decided it was time for morning tea and have a bit more of a think about what to do next. We decided to scout around a few tracks in the car to see whether there were more birds in the near vicinity but this was fruitless. So we went to a spot near where we found the parrots to walk thru some different patches of bush. At one point I got a distant glimpse of a male with a scarlet chest but we couldn’t find it again. Eventually we found another immature male with much more red on the chest back at our original location.

Older immature male with more extensive scarlet on the breast, really stunning blue face and absolutely gorgeous yellow underparts! Its not called Neophema splendida for nothing!

After seeing this stunner we decided to take our time heading back to Coolgardie and enjoy some other spots and birds. There were a few wildflowers out and we found Rowles Lagoon to be full of water with lots of Zebra Finches in the camp area. That night we celebrated with a delicious meal at the Denver City Hotel! A very successful trip and many thanks to the birders who found these delightful birds!

Zebra Finch at Rowles Lagoon
Velleia Rosea/Goodenia rosea was just starting to bloom.
Eucalyptus oleosa flowering along the Coolgardie North Road.
Eremophila scoparia is a super common goldfields species and it was just starting to flower. As was Eremophila granitica.
Goodenia havilandii growing on the verge on the Coolgardie North road on Credo Station.

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