CCFOC Camp Out Macquarie Marshes NSW 1-5 September 2001

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Subject: CCFOC Camp Out Macquarie Marshes NSW 1-5 September 2001
From: "Alan Morris" <>
Date: Thu, 6 Sep 2001 17:59:10 +1000
Hi Birders,
The Central Coast Group of the NSW Field Ornithologists Club organised a camp out at Willie Retreat on the western side of the Macquarie Marshes, located 100 km north of Warren in north-central NSW during the period 1-5 September 2001 and 18 members of the FOC & Hunter BOC attended. Willie Retreat is part of a cattle & sheep farm owned by Myra & Phil Tolhurst and provides a range of facilities for people to use who wish to visit (tel 02 68 244361 for info). Rain had fallen in the Region on the two weekends prior to our visit, and the annual water release, known as the environmental flow, was underway while we were present although the flooding was only just commencing. Thus we were too early for a major breeding event although the chances are that such an event will happen later in September. During the five days we experienced the whole of range of weather conditions expected at this time of the year, ie cold, wet, windy, sunny, never the less we all had a great time and recorded over 136 species. Few of the migrant birds had arrived and the waterbirds were only trickling back to an area that had been pretty dry all winter. It was great to be in the box woodlands and saltbush plains of the Region and to catch up with the birds typical of western NSW.
Highlights included Ground Cuckoo-shrikes at Quambone and near Willencorah Homestead (HSD), nesting at the former location; Brolgas at Newhaven HSD and near Warren; Australian Spotted and Spotless Crakes at the Monkeygar Creek crossing on the Gibson Way, (Spotless Crakes are very rare in this Region), & a Lewins Rail called  but did not show itself at Sandy Camp HSD;  Australian Shelducks at Monkeygar Crossing & on the Terrigal Creek wetlands, more than used to be recorded; small flocks of Glossy Ibis at the Monkeygar Crossing; Hooded Robins were found to be fairly widespread while Brown Treecreepers and Grey-crowned Babblers were very common; a small group of Black-chinned Honeyeaters at Bulbragar Creek were west of their normal range; Brown Quail were flushed on a TSR along the Carinda Rd; 1 Budgerigar was seen at Sandy Camp HSD (where were its mates?); Mulga Parrots were found at Willie Retreat & Marra Creek PS, on the eastern edge of their range; Black Falcons seen 30 km N of Warren, at The Mole HSD, and at Alambey HSD; Plenty of Emus with chicks, and in one section of the Macquarie Marshes Nature Reserve, 103 Emus were seen in the one loose flock; 1 Black-tailed Native-Hen at Pilligawarrina HSD; Banded Lapwings were found breeding at two places south of the Marra PS; Swamp Harriers were commonly sighted over the main reedbeds and courtship display was often witnessed; while Wedge-tailed Eagles, Brown Falcons, Kestrels and Little Eagles were readily seen.
The opportunity was taken to atlas around the Marshes, especially in those 10 minute grid blocks that had either no previous visits or where a low number of sheets had been submitted. About 89 Atlas sheets will be submitted from this camp-out and about 22 blocks not previously covered will have received at least one visit. Overall a very successful camp for our small Club, many members seeing new birds for their lists. A full list of birds seen is available on request.
Alan Morris
Organiser, Central Coast FOC
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