Coongie Lake June  14 - 16 2017
After one all too brief night at Minkie Waterhole we set off to Coongie Lake.

It seems pronounced (coonjee).

The Innamincka Trading Post should know!

And the Ranger!

The track is a bit more than 100km. We'll have to return to Innamincka the same way.

It varies from "graded last year" to "a bit soft" via "clay that's been wet and rutted".

Even some corrugations.

It heads west at first, over a few dunes.

Then north between dunes.

Easy going really, 4th and 5th gear.

In the old days there was a way further north along a rabbit tracker's track.

We took the track around the south of the lake.

Hoping for a camp site on the spit.

There is a booking system. We have a desert parks pass so no vehicle or camping charge. Just an invoice for $0. The nearest internet is Birdsville. It took longer to book than it does to set up our camp. There have only been a couple of other campers besides us. Now we are here we'd like to stay a bit longer than planned.

Later met the Ranger. Haven't got round to numbering the sites yet. And doesn't have a password so can't check our booking.

The system does seem a bit over the top and unnecessarily inconvenient.

But first a glimpse of the family Brolga.
It caught a fish.

We'll try to catch a better photo later ....

The spit has a resident Pelican population.

On speaking terms with the Brolgas.

Our wood swallow again.

On close examination this is a black faced wood swallow.

Less black than the masked wood swallow.

Old growth is a dull green.

New growth a bright green.

The peas are peas in pods.

Walking over the dune that forms the spit (had to walk back up the track a bit as some is fenced off) I disturbed another flock of Pelicans.

They flew a short distance.

Possibly an inland dotterel.

Apparently a red kneed dotterel.

And a ????
Followed by .... ?

Water hens to us ...

But we can easily recognise Crested Pigeons.
The fenced off area of dune has a midden.
It seems to us such a logical place for Aboriginals to camp and fish.


And a logical place for us to enjoy the lake.
A bird of prey, with fresh prey.

A bird of some sort.

The water birds seem to be safe on the water or the edge.

End of day one at the lake.
Turn the lights on at dusk is part of a photographic technique used by real estate agents to visually enhance the attributes of a property.

This desirable self contained single roomed flat with all mod cons and attached wheels is situated on prime lakeside land with numerous recreational opportunities.

We prefer "lucky". We have a perfect mobile bird hide.

The lakes are a Ramsar listed Wetland.

Next morning we are visited by cockatoos and corellas.

Keen to wake us to enjoy the sunrise with them. A trifle raucous.

We thanked them profusely.

Once we'd got used to the idea of being awake at dawn.

During the day they occasionally take flight en masse.

Usually when bird of prey passes by.

The coots have become used to our vehicle already.

But not yet to us.

If we open the door they casually swim gently away, keeping their distance, as waterbirds worldwide seem to do.

We are amused at the height difference in the four trees on the spit.

Presumably they started growing at different times as the spit extended.

Eurasian coots are common. We've seen them in most countries.

We haven't previously been close enough to really see the colours.

In all the places we've traveled this is really the first time the markings and colours have been visible to us.

The Pelicans are awake.
A couple of pink eared ducks.

The slightly odd beaks have fine grooves.

And the photographically challenged white marks above the beaks of coots stand out.


Even a big egret (that we always mistake for a heron) visits us for a short while.

Or perhaps just happens to land close to us, then proceeds to ignore us.

But there's no mistaking a spoonbill.

A yellow billed spoonbill to be more precise ...

A little different to the royal spoonbill which has a dark blue bill.

It waded ever closer to us.

Seemingly oblivious to our presence.

The engineer in me wonders what is required in the chain of bone and muscle  from feet to end of beak to move it side to side and find things to eat.

Along with an appropriate control system.

There seems to be coordination between taking a pace forward and moving the beak to the same side .... or was it the opposite side? I must watch more closely......

Definitely same side!

Endless motion. Occasionally breaking the rhythm to chase something. A sophisticated control system.

Also no mistaking a black swan.

Which got closer than others, but is still shy.

Red-necked avocets.

Easy to recognise once we identified them at the Eyre Creek billabong.

They waddled out of the bush.

And proceeded to have a fight.

More of our favourite blue billed duck.

Most likely a black duck.

Another walk up the dune.

This bit of rock is not from around here.

The scallops and sharp edge suggest to us a human hand at work.

We'd expect some artefacts associated with the middens.

Just that we don't expect us to be the ones to find them.

Similar to Peter's find on the French Line its proud of the hard crust rather than in soft sand.

A different rock type.

And, though we didn't try to open it, possibly the circular entrance of trap door spider's hole.

That plant again.

We must open one of the pods.

I went for another walk to the other side of the dune that forms the spit.

And down to lake level this time.

To follow the lake shore southwards.

Every which way we turn there's a bird we haven't seen before.

This little fellow kept the prescribed distance away.

Just at the limit of the camera lens.

There's been one hopping around the truck but too fast for me.

A couple of round posts where round posts didn't ought to be caused a bit of investigation.

They looked like they were there to discourage people driving on to the shore.

I was already on the shore. I don't recall walking backwards.

I was a bit surprised there may be a track.

There was.

An old one, right through the middle of this midden.

A larger, and higher, midden than the two nearer the end of the spit.

Maybe there were so many people here at mussel eating time they couldn't all fit in one place.

On the surface the middens are mussel shells and sand.

One can imagine also cooking duck for supper.

Perhaps a fledgling. Still looking a bit scruffy.

Perhaps from the nest I saw earlier on the spit.

There have been up to three chasing each other.

It must be fun learning to fly.

With mum or dad keeping watch.

Clouds have arrived. High cloud as we had in the Simpson Desert.

The barometer says 1015 hPa (which is like mBar) and the weather forecast I hear snippets of at 05:30 each morning says there is a high pressure area moving slowly through Adelaide and Victoria.

I conclude rain is unlikely.

Did I mention radio reception is limited to the hours of darkness. And then its a bit iffy.

I think we may have seen this wee fella previously.

Its that time of the evening where birds can have fun.

I followed the old track back to where there were signs facing the wrong way, saying "track closed".

Turned right (west) along the track which follows the southern shore.

Found the junction with the track we followed to the end of the spit.

There's a high spot in the dunes.

We are camped on the right just before the end of the spit. The four trees are visible.

It would be so easy to become lost in the dunes.

Clouds are interesting.

How better to end a fascinating day at the lake.

Coongie Lake to Cullyamurra Waterhole June 17 - 18 2017

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