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
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