[A stop on the West Queensland Trip Jul-Aug 2021 trip]
The Iningai Nature Reserve lies at the south end of the outback town of Longreach, and can be accessed by car, or by foot from a couple of the streets on the southern edge of Longreach. The area used to be (over-)used for cattle grazing, but is slowly and surely being retaken by nature.
We started birding at the north-west corner of the reserve near the car park, where the creekline meets the Thomson Developmental Road, and this proved to be an auspicious start. Our first bird sightings were two White-Necked Herons in a tree, and then a brightly-coloured Mistletoebird close by.
Of course no birding trip to central Queensland would be complete without spotting a few White-Plumed Honeyeaters, as was the case here. A Black Kite – another super-common outback bird – was also sitting imperiously on a tree by the creek, quite close to us actually, taking off only after we crept even nearer for more shots of it. Not long after a Great Egret lifted off from somewhere along the creek too. A good start!
There are two main loops you can do in the main part of the reserve – the Coolibah Loop (3.7km), and the slightly longer Wilga Loop (5.2km). As we were at the end of the day, we chose the Coolibah Loop.
In places the trails loosely follow the creek lines, though when we visited much of the creek wasn’t flowing – there looked to be only standing pools of water remaining. It was a little frustrating in parts because the trail didn’t often actually go right alongside the creek, so you had to do a little bush-bashing to see the water and any accompanying birds (like a Black-Fronted Dotterel, for example).
A Peaceful Dove provided a welcome photo opportunity by posing against the creek background, then flying off to a branch for a “sky background” shot as well. Half a dozen Crested Pigeons were hanging around too.
There was a little concrete water trough at one point with some water in it, and a dozen Zebra Finches and a few other birds were in nearby trees, wisely waiting until the area was predator-free before coming down to drink. They wouldn’t come down with us too close, but it was amusing to watch them cautiously fly down to the water trough once we moved off.
As we walked further around the loop, we steadily saw more birds, though nothing too spectacular – Spiny-Cheeked and White-Plumed Honeyeaters, and a noisy group (is there any other kind?) of Apostlebirds. A mystery bird we tracked through the brush turned out to be a female Rufous Whistler.
The biggest highlight of our visit was when we happened upon what we thought was just a couple of Red-Tailed Black Cockatoos, but as they scared off (we did try not to spook them, but the path went straight under the tree they were foraging in!), we saw more of them and eventually counted a total of fifteen birds. They were raucous as many cockatoos are, and it was also awesome to see them flying too, with their big slow wingbeats. These are very photogenic birds, especially their faces when their crests are up.
The sun was nearly on the horizon by then, and we rounded out our walk with a Grey Shrikethrush, a Jacky Winter, and a Nankeen Kestrel.
Iningai Nature Reserve has some similar terrain as the Windorah Nature Trail, but is more conducive to walking and casual exploring/birding than that trail. There are a number of points along the track which have information panels, but many of these were illegible due to wear. However, we thought the quality of birding was pretty reasonable.
Pluses and minuses:
+ Good variety of birds to be found
+ Nature reserve conducive to pleasant walking and exploring
– Information panels often illegible
– Track doesn’t always give views of the creek lines