Friday, November 11, 2011

Gluepot Diary #8

G’day Readers,

Jo and I decided to give the location of the Scarlet-chested Parrot another go so once again we were up before dawn and away. Some may ask why we were putting in this kind of effort for one bird. Here’s an extract from Birds Australia …

This brilliantly coloured little parrot is an avicultutal favourite, but it is rare in the wild and has proved to be among the most difficult of all Australian birds to see in its natural habitat.

More than two decades ago Scarlet-chested Parrots on Gluepot Station were the target of an illegal trapping ring which was broken by the SA wildlife authorities. The parrots have been seen there in the last year, but with over 25,000 of them breeding in captivity, wild birds are now less of a temptation for trappers.

The parrots have been seen on Gluepot in a number of areas and are believed to breed in the more remote areas of the Reserve. In recent years they have appeared in greater numbers and were observed for up to three months, resulting in a great 'influx' of bird observers to Gluepot. Very little is known about the biology of this species. Altered fire regimes may have reduced the species' abundance, while greater availability of water in semi-arid rangelands may have favoured more water-dependent parrots to the disadvantage of the Scarlet-chested Parrot.

The Scarlet-chested Parrot is an unobtrusive bird that quietly feeds on the ground and goes mostly unnoticed unless flushed. Often the bird is found far from a water source, gaining its water from chewing arid plant species that store moisture.

Confession Time

We set off on the track moving slowly so as not to miss too much. I got distracted by chasing some woodswallows and budgies, (would you believe), having not seen a budgie in the wild before.

Jo went ahead and would wait as I caught up later – b… photographers. After about 15 minutes of scrub bashing for a budgie photo I looked around for signs of the walking track. I spotted a marker post in the distance and headed toward it expecting to have to turn left when I reached the track in order to catch up with Jo. It was extremely overcast – no sun at all. When I got to the track and turned left, the marker was pointing opposite to the direction I wanted to go. The markers were coloured differently on each side. The urge to ignore the marker and keep going left was very strong, however I turned right and moved on quickly to find Jo, but the feeling I was heading the wrong way persisted for some time. I had never been so disoriented in the bush before.


After walking halfway around the loop track we opted to return the way we’d come as this would take us back through the area where we’d heard the parrot had been seen. Jo got the first sighting and called me up. I swung the bins up to my eyes and there was a brilliant male scarlet chested – BIG tick! We stood in awe for a time and I suddenly realized I had a camera around my neck. The bird was a fair way off and we didn’t want to disturb it too much.

We watched the pair feeding on the ground for quite a while before the male eventually flew off. The female stayed and was a little more obliging for the camera. 

After lunch back at camp I headed to another nearby spot and got some sightings of Hooded Robins, Rainbow Bee-eaters and White-browed Treecreepers, but I was still a bit pumped about that parrot.


Slept well.
… to be continued.


  1. Great to hear about the scarlet chested parrot, nice shots too!

    I didn't want to mention it until I heard more about your trip incase you missed out, after we parted ways from you at the white winged wren we did the gypsum lunette walk on the way out and saw 2 pairs of scarlet chested parrots and a few grass wrens! Well worth the effort of searching them out. We really had incredible luck on the last few days of our holiday, the white winged wren, scarlet chested parrot and at Little Desert a mallee fowl on his mound, a well signed mound at that. (excuse the terrible phone camera image again)

  2. G'day PB,
    Yep, we managed the SCParrot eventually and I understand there were several pair at that site, glad you saw them. Sounds like you finished up well. I did check your Mallee Fowl shot when I opened your page for the BFH'eater shot earlier. Well done.

  3. It's so easy to get disorientated when you're concentrating on your quarry and not on landmarks.

    I would believe it about the budgies. I've only seen them in the wild once --- W of Charters Towers.

  4. Just geographically challenged for a moment Snail. Scary but. The only thing I can think of is, I must have unknowingly crossed the track in my hunt, cos when I found it, it was definitely going the wrong way or rather I was.
    Yeah the budgies were quite numerous.

  5. I agree on the budgies, it was my first time too and they were great!

  6. Yep that's about how it happened. You didn't tell me about getting disorientated though. Don't forget the flying Dutchmen and his tribe. Hey photographers are cool. I've got one for you too.