ON THE ROAD — 2750km from Darwin and 300km from central Adelaide is a treat for nature lovers — the Australian Arid Lands Botanic Gardens. Among a wonderful, extensive and well labelled collection of plants of the desert a few water points concentrate birdlife. Zebra finches (Taenniopygia guttata) are found almost everywhere in Australia — except Tasmania, a few other southern locations and where Jan and I live in the Top End of the Northern Territory. The female (in lower picture) is not as brightly coloured as the males.

ON THE ROAD — We met up with our first White-Plumed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus penicillatus) on our trip south at Tennant Creek. For us this was quite a treat as the WPHs range doesn’t extend into the Top End of the Northern Territory. There are three races of the WPH and they cover most of Australia. Morcombe’s field guide puts the northern extent of the bird’s range pretty much just where we found it.

ON THE ROAD — The bridge over Newcastle Waters, north of Elliott, usually spans a dry creek bed but on Monday 9 February the creek was in flood.Below the bridge, a fence-line draped in grass and other flood debris was emerging as the flood dropped. A great many small fish had followed the flood up from waterholes far downstream and were making a noisy meal of food brought down by the muddy waters. A mix of perhaps 20 cormorants, darters, egrets were taking a rest from feeding, sharing perching space on trees in the middle of the flood. An interesting sight was a whiskered tern (Chlidonias hybridus) who kept busy working the waters. The whiskered tern is equally at home in fresh water, brackish water and saltwater. In the Northern Territory its range extends as far south as the Tropic of Capricorn but also migrates into south-east Asia and is found in Eurasia and Africa.

Some birds are really hard to photograph. They hide themselves amongst twigs and leaves and you might see a piece of bird but rarely the whole thing. Not so the Lemon Bellied Flycatcher (Microeca flavigaster) in my experience. It gives the impression it wants its photo taken. I came up with a theory today— I think the bird is intrigued by the shiny lens. It came out from the shrubbery and perched close up to cock its head and stare straight down the lens barrel. I love ‘em!