Graeme Chapman - natural history photographer - ornithologist

Australian Birds

Grey Grasswren
Amytornis barbatus
(Viewing 4 of 14 photos)

Click to listen to sound samples Grey Grasswrens are the grasswrens people often fail to find, mainly because the few known haunts are remote and in times of flood, inaccessible. These pictures were taken at Barton's Crossing approx. 10 km south of Adelaide Gate, NE of Tibooburra on the NSW/Qld border not far from the spot where this species was first glimpsed on 25 Aug 1921 by Dr Arthur Chenery, a founding member of Birds Australia. Not until 1967 was it seen again and recognised as a new species by Dr Norman Favaloro.

Grey Grasswrens are best sought after in the good times when there is plenty of water in the lignum swamps, but of course this is when such places are most difficult of access. In particular, the road to Adelaide Gate north of Teurika Station becomes impassable. On the other hand, a drought affected lignum swamp devoid of water can seem like the quietest place on earth - not a grasswren (or anything much) in sight. No doubt the odd survivors are hanging on in a few favourable refuges, wherever they might be. In good seasons when the channel country floods and the lignum swamps are alive with life, their cricket-like chirpings can be heard aplenty, though they are still very hard to see. 2010 and 2011 were both good years! If you want it easy, Grey Grasswrens are now accessible on the bitumen at the bridge over Cooper Creek on Adventure Way (the road to Innamincka) just south-east of Ballera Gas Centre. A few sightings have been made there but just as many people dip out, I did! and it's still a long drive! If you miss out there, they have also been seen on the Wilson River at Noccundra Hotel where you'll have somewhere to celebrate if you find them but not many people have! Across on the Birdsville Track, you could try the Warburton Crossing (on a side road) or further north, you could also try a spot about 92 km south of Birdsville where there is some lignum near the road.

Photo: 871201

871201 ... Grey Grasswren, male - males have more extensive markings on breast.

Photo: 871202

871202 ... Grey Grasswren

Photo: 871203

871203 ... Venturing out to feed in the late afternoon.

Photo: 871204

871204 ... Not easy to see amongst a tangle of lignum.

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