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  • Writer's pictureKaia Colestock

Explore the Mallee

We have to give a shout out to a local eco-tourism business called “Explore the Mallee,“ run by Louise Nicholas and Michael Gooch. I wish we could say that we planned ahead and secured accommodations at their establishment, but we only found the business at the last minute while surfing eBird data. Fortunately, they had a space for us on a morning walk three days after our first phone call. It also happened to be the coldest morning in a long time, so we were able to spend three hours with Michael on a private 168-acre conservation reserve that adjoins Wyperfeld National Park. We hadn’t been on a guided walk since our first day in Queensland, some six weeks ago, and it was desperately needed. Entering a new desert region felt like we were starting from scratch!

Left to right: rainbow bee-eater, yellow-plumed honeyeater, pink cockatoo, spiny-cheeked honeyeater, regent parrot, spotted harrier, and white-eared honeyeater.

One of the places Michael took us was an active malleefowl mound. We had to sneak into the mallee scrub and walk silently for 5-10 minutes, but we reached the mound that Michael and Louise had stumbled upon years earlier. When they noticed a few fresh scrapes around the edges, and returned with trail cameras to capture new movement. Sure enough, malleefowl began to build a nest. The male and female were not often seen together, but when we arrived, they were both present.

The female was getting ready to lays eggs, so we didn’t stay long, but we were able to capture some footage of her preparations.

Out of respect for the malleefowl, the sensitivity of their nest site, and the operation Michael and Louise have worked hard to build, we have removed location data from our media.

Below is a link to some footage on YouTube of malleefowl making a nest. The footage belongs to Michael and Louise, but someone turned it into a spoof and added funny captions. As the description reads, “communication is key.”

Then there was maybe my favorite sighting of this part of the trip… an Australian owlet-nightjar! Of course it was roosting in the weirdest place ever - a man-made pipe. Evidently it was the appropriate size to provide just enough safety and comfort for this little nightjar.

If you’re interested in taking a flora and fauna tour, a photography workshop, or a relaxing rest in the desert, check out Louise and Michael’s site: We highly recommend it!

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