|Ground Cuckoo-shrike... Love|
We looked for them everywhere down around Alice and out to Uluru (twice) and down to Coober Pedy and back, but none were around. So as we left the Centre to begin our sweep back north and east, we knew we really had to give the Barrow Creek area a good going over. It is a known hotspot for them and Robert had seen them there the other week. We stayed Sunday night in Ti Tree (the closest good campground) and then spent all day Monday up around Barrow Creek looking and listening, but we saw neither hide nor feather of them and went back to Ti Tree for the night.
Tuesday morning began again at the crack of dark. It was also only about 6 C (43 F). That’s chilly in Troopi. We packed up and headed up to Barrow Creek again. I was in a grumpy mood as we did not get out as early as I wanted and I knew that if we did not find the bird that morning, we would still need to push on to Tennant Creek. We had to begin on our way toward FNQ and Cape York. We stopped once on the way up (we had stopped repeatedly the day before) then pressed on to the area where Robert had seen them.
We parked Troopi just off the highway about a kilometer north of Barrow Creek and began to look and listen. The road noise was annoying and exacerbating my grumpiness. It was the Tuesday after another Aussie “long weekend” and the Stuart Highway had a fairly steady stream of vehicles rumbling and roaring along. We birded along the west side of the road for about ten minutes, but I thought it looked better on the east side. There were a few large Bloodwoods over there and good open ‘soft grass’ areas. We crossed the road and walked along about 100 meters (roughly where a Little Buttonquail had run damn near across our feet the day before) and… I heard the call! Yes, they are loud enough that even I can hear them. Two Ground Cuckoo-shrikes flew in to the dead tree next to a big Bloodwood. I was so damn grateful and filled with joy. Here are a lot of photos....