Deniliquin at Easter

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Subject: Deniliquin at Easter
Date: Mon, 7 Apr 97 10:13:10 +60000
Over Easter I did a trip to Deniliquin, with some of the birding led by Phil 
Maher.  Though largely cleared for agriculture and sheep and cattle, there are 
irrigation channels, Edward River and other creeks attracting a variety of 

Target was of course Plains Wanderer and we successfully found both males and 
females (tick).  These birds are TINY.  First of all as we approached they 
would look around as if to try and get away, and then they would resign 
themselves to their fate and pose quite well in the spotlights, even sometimes 
sitting down and thinking "ho hum".  Eventually we would have to 'shoo' them 
away.  When they shook themselves dust flew out of their feathers.  The 
markings on these birds is terrific.

Spotlighting also gave us Stubble Quail, again being quite co-operative and 
giving good views of their detailed feather markings. Other night time birds 
were Banded Lapwing (where the hell did all these people come from?), 
Richard's Pipit and Singing Bushlarks.  Clear skies allowed great views of the 
stars and the moon.

Camp was at a lovely spot on a creek on Boonoke property (just west of 
Conargo).  Here a Barn Owl flew around at night and screeched but proved 
difficult to see.  A Southern Boobook immature bird (dark eyes and eye 
patches) sat at the mouth of a hole for hours watching us set up camp etc. and 
yet, despite not moving in some three hours at this time, eventually 
disappeared for the rest of the weekend.

Other beauties for the weekend were:

Painted Honeyeater - a very co-operative bird watched for 25 minutes and very 
close while it preened and moved about in mistletoe, 20 km north of Steam 
Plain. (tick)
Australasian Bittern - bill up in rice paddies, looking like a stick to the 
unitiated, but Phil Maher spied one as we drove past at some 70 km ph.  These 
sticks however move around a little bit!  Also saw them flying and they looked 
very much like a Striated Heron in flight with a large 'undercarriage', long 
legs down when about to land.  (tick)
Superb Parrot - I had dipped on these over the Australia Day weekend in 
Canberra/Yass area, but had two sightings of these fantastic parrots over 
Easter.  First was not the best sighting, near Tuppal Creek, the second time 
20 km north of Steam Plain and couldn't have wished for better.  Males and 
females in trees very close, giving their lovely churring call.  The red line 
on the throat merging gradually into orange and yellow - wow. (tick)
Western Gerygone - a pretty little bird foraging on Boonoke property (tick).

Five ticks - have now seen 466 Australian species in total.

Other good sightings were:

One swamp on Hazeldene property had hundreds of birds of a large variety of 
species and we had a feast including three immature Nankeen Night Herons, lots 
of juvenile and immature White-necked Herons.  The juveniles in nest froze 
when we arrived and pretty much stayed that way for the whole hour and 20 
minutes we were there.  Three pairs of Pink-Eared Duck, Whistling Kite and 
Peregrine Falcons perched so good views in the telescope, 4 Plumed Whistling 
Ducks, Royal and Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Black Swans incl sub-adults, 
White-breasted Woodswallow, 17 Black-fronted Dotterels (the largest number 
I've seen in a flock), all four species of Cormorants (ie excl Black-faced 
Cormorant), Purple Swamphens incl juveniles, at least 100 Straw-necked Ibis.

The SNI make much use of the irrigation channels, and we saw over the weekend 
huge numbers:  2x6, 4x1, 2x300, 1x60, 1x20, 2x40, 1x8, 1x200.  They often 
intermixed with Australian White Ibis which had numbers as follows:  2x40, 
2x1,  1x30, 1x80, 1x3, 1x10, 1x2.

Large numbers of Banded Lapwing, 2x1, 1x6, 1x2, 1x22, 1x25, 1x20 (well I 
thought they were large anyway).
White-winged Fairy-wren 3 females and 1 male.
Galahs everywhere including in large numbers on the road and providing some 
heartstopping moments driving.  (PS does anyone know what they are pecking at 
on bitumen roads - are they just sharpening their bills????? there didn't 
appear to be any spilt grain)
Red-capped Robins - male in all his glory, females and immatures (north of 
Tawny Frogmouth - 1 excellent sighting as the bird was only 12 feet above 
ground (north of Steam Plain)

BOP Watch and NSW Bird Atlas sheets forthcoming.

Cheers and Happy Birding
Irene Denton
Sydney   NSW

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