Desert Parrot 4wd expedition:15th-28th May 2019
Bookings are now open for this 14 day small group remote birding adventure in the Southern and Western Deserts.
Bookings are now open for this expedition in remote desert country seeking some of the most iconic (and hard!) species in world birding.
The exact itinerary will be left open to accomodate up-to-date intelligence on the birds and site conditions.
The four major targets of the journey are:
A temperamental species known for appearing and dissapearing from sites with little warning. Over the years Mark Carter and Chris Watson have separately run several trips which have successfully found this bird. By targeting known habitat for the bird within areas experiencing optimal climatic conditions we are confident we will track them down in 2019. Multiple sightings of Princess Parrot occurred in 2017 in areas where we predicted they would be based on climatic data. To date the entire region has experienced over two years of excellent breeding conditions so we anticipate the populations will be healthy.
A newly split species, this bird is still poorly known. Mark Carter has birded extensively within its range and has a proven track record of finding them. We expect to find these birds without issue. They are frequently naive and approachable so good photographs are anticipated!
This bird needs no introduction, but our experience with it may. Since getting established in the outback in 2006 Mark Carter has pursued this species intently. In 2012 he had a likely sighting of 3 birds in Western Australia. In early 2013 he recorded probable Night Parrot calls and got infra-red photographs of a bird apparently consistent with this species. In early 2017 found Mark Carter and Chris Watson successfully found a site in the Northern Territory where a calling Night Parrot was recorded. The species was later heard and possibly seen by several observers over the course of several months.
Its important to establish clearly that on this expedition we will not be visiting known locations for this species- we intend to find entirely new locations. A clear picture of the birds habitat preference has emerged in recent years so we will design our search to visit sites we judge to have high potential. Early indications from ongoing research are that the birds are extremely prone to disturbance. Therefore, for conservation and animal welfare reasons we will not be undertaking any intrusive search methods such as playback or flushing. Instead, we will engage in passive acoustic searches- the method that has proven to be most effective. This takes the form of silent vigils in potential habitat listening for Night Parrot calls. Everyone taking part in this must accept that sightings of the bird are unlikely and that IN THE EVENT OF A NIGHT PARROT DETECTION NO LOCATION INFORMATION MAY BE SHARED AFTERWARD. We may ask participants to sign a legal non-disclosure document to protect the location of any birds we find and ensure that we do not contravene conservation legislation. Outcomes of all searches (positive and negative) will be shared with the relevant statutory bodies to benefit the conservation of this precious species.
The undisputed jewel of the south western outback these little birds are highly mobile and much sought after. Mark Carter has extensive experience with this species having found it in all three states where it occurs. We will target a combination of known locations for the bird and likely habitat along the route in areas of favourable climatic conditions.
Other significant birds in the region co-occuring in the target species range include Copperback Quailthrush, Sandhill Grasswren, Rufous-crowned Emuwren, Banded Whiteface. Depending on the final route taken other '"big ticket" species which are likely include Nullarbor Quailthrush, Cinnamon Quailthrush, Western Quailthrush, Chestnut-breasted Whiteface, Grey Honeyeater, Thick-billed Grasswren, Grey Falcon, Inland Dotterel and Gibberbird..
Logistics and Safety
Taking a "safety first" approach is critical: assistance in the case of emergencies is sometimes days away and nothing can be taken for granted.
Transport will be in high-end remote spec 4wd vehicles with off-road trailers.
Leading the trip will be three highly experienced remote outback guides; Mark Carter, Chris Watson and John Stafford. Between us we have four decades of experience of birding and safely travelling in Australian deserts. We know all the bird species we will be targeting very well- this will not be one of those trips (all too common when booking with the big bird tour companies) where the target will be a "lifer" for your guide too!
Prospective participants should be aware that while we will work to make the journey as comfortable as possible this will not be a luxury trip; at times we will face long days in 4wd vehicles on rough roads and bush camping will be the norm. We must carry most of our own supplies and be as self-reliant as possible. Don't worry though- whenever indoor accomodation is available we will use it!
Dates: Depart Alice Springs on the morning of 15th May, return Alice Springs on 28th June 2019.
Price: $12,000 per person (GST inclusive).
Note This expedition must achieve minimum booking numbers to be fully confirmed. However, demand was strong for the 2018 version of this trip so we expect 2019 spaces will go fast!