On the red rocky hillside, pebbles were rolling slowly down towards the water. But it wasn’t pebbles we could see, it was wild Spinifex Pigeons.
It was our first morning at Cheela Plains Station Stay, just west of Karijini National Park in the remote Pilbara, Western Australia. We had driven into a beautiful gorge on the property in the hope of seeing some wild native finches or pigeons.
The Spinifex Pigeons Geophaps plumifera appeared to roll down the hill – their bellies so round and glowing that their stubby, fast-moving legs went unnoticed. The movement was so smooth, and their rotund bodies so rock red, that they really looked like part of the sandstone landscape.
From ever direction they converged on the water for a communal drink. We counted 25 of them easily. My only previous sighting of this bird was brief and singular. Now we were children in a lolly shop. We didn’t know which way to look.
After drinking the pebble pigeons dispersed back in the directions they had come from.
One of those directions was ours.
We stood, astounded, as three, then four Spinifex Pigeons approached us, then walked around us, foraging. Maybe in this quiet remote part of Western Australia they saw humans rarely, and didn’t see us as a threat.
Our day was made. But there was more to come.
We walked towards the billabong, almost an afterthought now, through tall grasses and weedy plants. We could see wild finches flitting through the waving seed heads.
Green-gold finches with red heads. Star Finches Neochmia ruficauda: one of the rarest finches you can see in Australia.
The weedy plants – which I believe to be Aerva javanica Kapok Bush (an introduced weed) were full of this dancing native finch. We watched, enchanted, as they bopped up the stems and fed from the seed heads. The stems bowed under their tiny weight. Satisfied, they leapt to the next stem and danced up it to start the routine again.
The morning was delightful. But there was more to come – watch out for the next blog about Rock-wallabies of Western Australia.
This Maximum Wildlife tour came about because some much-loved, repeat clients wanted to see the West and its wildlife, and wanted to do it with us. We offer a suite of Maximum Wildlife tour options, but we are always looking out for new, spectacular wildlife destinations to add to our portfolio. So we checked it out, called some tourism industry friends and put together a very special private trip.
Contact us if you want to see the wild finches and pigeons of Australia, and other wildlife – this is what we love doing.
LINKS & REFERENCES:
Cheela Plains Station Stay: https://www.cheelaplains.com.au/
eBird hotspot Cheela Plains Station–Woongarra Pool: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L9505361
More information about Spinifex Pigeons: https://ebird.org/species/spipig2
More information about Star Finches: https://ebird.org/species/stafin1