Trip Report - Wyperfeld and "Purple Turkey"

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Subject: Trip Report - Wyperfeld and "Purple Turkey"
From: "Tim Dolby" <>
Date: Tue, 09 Oct 2001 16:20:28 +1000
Trip Report - Wyperfeld Sept 29 - Oct 5 and "Purple Turkey"

(Here's another Northern Vic Report for the road Russell!)

I've just spent a week bird watching at Wyperfeld National Park - NW Victoria. 
103 species were seen in and around the park! The highlights for the trip were 
Black Honeyeater, Redthroat, Shy Hylacola, Malleefowl, Black-eared Cuckoo, 
Southern Scrub Robin, Spotted Harrier, Gilbert Whistler and Slender-billed 

Other notable birds included Painted Button-quail, Cockatiel, Major Mitchell 
Cockatoo, Black Kite, Splendid and Variegated Fairy-wren, Tawny-crowned and 
Whites-faced Honeyeater, Regent, Blue-winged, Blue-bonnet and Mulga Parrot, 
Hooded and Red-capped Robin, Rufous and Brown Songlark. I also had a quick 
flash of couple of other species, Little Button-quail and Ground Cuckoo-shrike 
- but in both cases it was a bit difficult to be definite, so I didn't 'tick' 

Key Areas:

A) Road from Yaapet into the park Wonga Campground Area:
A number of interesting birds were seen along this road, in particular Blue 
Bonnet, Black Kite, Spotted Harrier, and Brown and Rufous Songlark. Also keep 
an eye out for Major Mitchell Cockatoo. A number of birds were seen near the 
'Purple Turkey' in Yaapet. When entering the park, in and around the Rangers 
Office were Long-billed and Little Corella as well as White-browed Woodswallow. 
Southern Whiteface can be found in the shrubs directly around the office.

B) Black Flat
This is the best place to see the Regent Parrot, which nest in the large River 
Reds. A number of other species were found to be nesting here, including 
Purple-crowned Lorikeet and Red-capped Robin. A number of the tree hollows in 
this area have been 'cut-out' - representing earlier attempts to collect young 
parrots for trading.

C) Lake Brambruk Nature Walk
This leads directly from the Wonga Camp Ground, and along with the Dattuck 
track is excellent for birds. The time to visit is from dawn to about 2pm. I 
walked this track several times - once in the evening, which was extremely 
quiet. Two spots in particular are very good: 1. The section between the Devils 
Pools and Lake Brambruk - along here I saw Black Honeyeaters, Black-eared 
Cuckoo, Slender-billed Thornbill and Redthroat, all on the last ridge before 
the track came to Lake Brambruk. The SB Thornbill were surprising tame and at 
one point perched about a foot from were I was sitting. The Redthroat were in 
the heath calling from the top of the heath, and the Black HE flew from the top 
of the highest shrub in the last ridge.  The Devils Pool is also an amazing 
spot - representing one of the only places in the park were you are likely to 
find water, and consequently many of the mallee birds come to this spot to 

The other good spot along this walk is the area of heath and the low plateau 
immediately north of the Mount Mattingley Lookout (between the Lookout and the 
Devils Pool). This area was teeming with honeyeaters, including White-fronted, 
Tawny-crowned, Spiny-cheeked, White-eared, New Holland, and Brown-headed. I 
also saw several Southern Scrub Robin, particularly in the areas that boarder 
heath with grass.

D) Dattuck Track
I spent a lot of time along here, mainly amongst the porcupine grass looking 
for Grasswren and Emuwren, both of which (according to Dave the Ranger) have 
not been seen in the park for some time. Indeed Dave suggested that I had "as 
much chance of finding Grasswren as the Americans had in finding Bin Laden!"

Apart from this, this area is absolutely fantastic for seeing mallee birds. I 
saw Malleefowl, Shy Hylacola, Painted and perhaps Little Button-Quail, Mulga, 
Mallee Ringneck, Blue-winged and Regent Parrot, and both Splendid and 
Variegated Wren are common here. I also had excellent views of Gilbert Whistler 
in full song. All the Woodswallow are common here, including Masked, 
White-browed, Black-faced and Dusky. I also saw a ground-dwelling 
Cuckoo-shrike, which although I was confident was the Ground CS, I did not get 
a good enough look. I missed out on the Chestnut Quail-thrush (although I'm 
sure I heard him call a number of times), which was probably the only bird I 
was disappointed not to see. The near-by Eastern Lookout is also worth a look, 
particular at the end of the Lignum Track, which was good for White-winged 
Triller, Woodswallow, Honeyeater, both Hooded and Red-capped Robin, Varied 
Sittella. Brown Songlark are active in the nearby flood plain.

E) Wonga Camp Ground
Finally a range of birds can be seen in and around the Wonga Campground. The 
most common were Jacky Winter (probably the bird of the park!), Brown 
Treecreeper, Pipit, Pardalote (including Yellow-rumped) and Honeyeater. Others 
included Major Mitchell Cockatoo, Cockatiel (indeed most of the various parrots 
fly through at some point), birds of prey including Boobook and Frogmouth, 
Hooded and Red-capped Robin, Emu, and Rufous Songlark.

Finally another highlight was coming across the 'Purple Turkey' in Yaapet. This 
is the name of the Hall used by the local hairdresser, and on her wall is a 
fabulous mosaic of a purple turkey (the local nick-name for Malleefowl). The 
surrounding garden is also being devoted to local native (ie porcupine grass 
etc) - a very interesting place, especially considering this is a very old 
mallee town. It is well worth stopping to have a look, and considering there 
are no showers in the park, a haircut! (I've a feeling this place might become 
a bit of a birding stop over - and look out for Major Mitchell's).

If anybody want to see my complete list please contact me.

All the best,

Tim Dolby

Tim Dolby
Department of Business and E-Commerce
Swinburne University of Technology
Phone: (03) 9214 6722

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