Hit the road at 6:15 a.m. for a long drive west. At Dubbo the wind picked up and for the next two and a half hours we drove through a dust storm. The clouds of dust changed colour with the corresponding soil, sometimes pale brown, sometimes rusty red.
At times the northerly wind was so strong that, as we drove past ploughed paddocks, visibility was reduced to zero. This meant we had to be very cautious, everyone driving with their lights on, and hazard lights when the dust was particularly thick, constantly checking for slow vehicles ahead, and vehicles approaching from behind. There were places where the dust was so thick that we could smell and taste it inside the vehicle. This storm was reflective of the very dry conditions out west.
At Hermidale the dust cleared and was replaced by a light shower of rain. At Cobar we stopped for lunch, burgers at Maddie's Cafe.
Just west of Cobar we saw dozens of feral goats on the roadside, and then a little further along, the roadside was carpeted with white and yellow wildflowers, with splashes of purple Patterson's Curse. Very pretty.
We stopped at MacCollouchs Rest Area for a quick break, spotting a Yellow-throated Miner and a couple of Mallee Ringneck. On the many roadkills along the Barrier Way, we saw plenty of ravens and Black Kites.
About 50 kilometres east of Wilcannia we decided to refresh our knowledge of Grey Falcon, now that we were in its potential range. Within minutes of this, we saw a small raptor fly very fast and straight over the road. It had a white belly and the diagnostic dark wings tips of Grey Falcon. Unbelievable! We stopped to get a better look, but it disappeared too fast for us to see. Without a second look, I can't be one hundred percent sure of the ID, so I haven't counted this sighting. Still, I believe it was Grey Falcon and that brief glimpse will probably haunt me for the rest of my life.
Around this spot we also saw Greater Bluebonnet, Whistling Kite and a small flock of Budgerigar.
At Wilcannia we unwisely decided not to refuel, thinking that we could make it to Broken Hill. The next 100 kilometres were tense, as the fuel gauge dropped faster than expected. Sacrificing the AC, and dropping the cruise control a couple of clicks, things were looking pretty dire until we came across Perry's fuel stop about 70 kilometres out of Broken Hill. Saved! With enough fuel in the tank now, the rest of the drive was quite pleasant. Nice scenery, plenty more Black Kites and a couple of Emu too.
In Broken Hill we checked into our motel, and then hit the road to the Living Desert Park, hoping to sneak in a lifer or two. Arriving late in the afternoon, conditions were not ideal, but cold and windy. We didn't see many birds, but did find the red subspecies of Euro we had been hoping to see.
It is very dry out here, and on a short walk we saw a lot of macropod carcasses and plants doing it tough. At sunset we drove up to the sculpture park, where we had great views of the surrounding landscape. We watched the sun set, the sky turning various shades of pink, blue and orange. A great way to end the day.