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Gluepot Reserve Recce

AUSTRALIA | Friday, 3 November 2023 | Views [43]

Sunrise on the Murray

Sunrise on the Murray

WHY WAIKERIE? YOU ASK. According to the official town website, “Waikerie is a small, pleasant town sitting on the cliffs above the Murray River in the heart of South Australia's rich Riverland district."


                   Jacarandas are in Bloom in Waikerie

Waikerie is also the nearest town to Gluepot Reserve, nearest by Aussie standards—73 kilometers, more than half on a sand and wash-board road. You might think we had learned our lesson about driving unsealed roads but we just had to give Gluepot a go. Truthfully, we gave it three goes!


                    The Red Sand seems to go on Forever


                     A Sigh of Relief, Gluepot Visitor Centre


                     Stained Glass in the middle of Nowhere, Gluepot 

We left early on Friday for a bit of recce and to see if we could actually get to Gluepot. Except for the ferry crossing, the first 25 kilometers is paved. After that, driving cautiously and rarely exceeding 35 kph, the trip took almost two hours. Slow and steady was the way through the sandy sections and John slowed to a crawl on the worst of the wash-board places. With no map to orient ourselves, only the GPS, the road seemed to stretch on forever. We sighed with relief at a sign for Visitor Centre in six kilometers! The Centre is modern, bright, informative and un-attended. We paid the $5 fee, signed the guest book, grabbed a map and walked the four kilometer Whistler Trail to the bird hide.


                    Flocks of White-browed Babblers


                    Chestnut Thornbill

Somewhere around 180 species of birds have been reported at Gluepot. Connie has targeted about a dozen but realistically hopes to see half that. She alternated playing calls for Gilbert’s Whistler and Striated Grass Wren along the trail but we checked out nearly every peep, shrill or whistle. Mostly we saw flocks of noisy White-browed Babblers, various and sundry Honeyeaters and Chestnut Thornbills. One of our target birds, Chestnut-crowned Babbler stopped long enough for a photo.


                      Chestnut-crowned Babbler, Our First New Species


          Brown-headed Honeyeater



                     Well hidden Whistler Bird Hide

Things were hopping at the Whistler Hide. Babblers dominated while Honeyeaters—Brown-headed, Singing, Yellow-plumed and Striped—patiently waited their turn at the water trough. John’s favorite was the Striated Pardalote, a real cutie. Every so often a group of Mulga Parrots would chase everyone away while a pair of Regent Parrots sat on a branch and watched.


                      Singing Honeyeater at Whistler Hide


              Striped Honeyeater at Whistler Hide


                             Striated Pardalote, John's Favorite


               Regent Parrot, Whistler Bird Hide



                     Mulga Parrot, bullies of the trough

We eschewed the picnic tables at the Visitor Centre for lunch in the car—too many flies! We should have kept count of all the similar lunches we’ve eaten and the different countries, too. Sated and hydrated we drove around the Reserve’s roads trying to orient ourselves with the map. We would need all of our navigation skills tomorrow to find Gluepot’s most famous—and elusive—bird, the Malleefowl  Then we reversed our route back to Waikerie, thankful there is only one road in and out. Even so we questioned ourselves a time or two—“Do you remember this?” “This doesn’t look familiar.” And for some reason the wash-board sections returning home seemed worse than those going in.


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