Heathwrens, Malleefowl and migrating Painted Honeyeaters

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Heathwrens, Malleefowl and migrating Painted Honeyeaters
From: Michael Todd <>
Date: Tue, 23 Oct 2001 18:38:55 +1000
Hello Birdos,

I visited a few mallee sites in central western NSW on the weekend. On Saturday I started at the Taleeban Mining Reserve, about 40 km North-east of Binya, which preserves the most south-east patch of mallee in central west NSW. There are a couple of pair of malleefowl hanging on here although not surprisingly I haven't seen them. Its about 6 times larger than Pulletop Reserve so has greater long term potential than the former which has lost most if not all of its mallee specialists. The highlight here was Shy Heathwren which I recorded mimicking Weebills. The offending bird would sing a reel of its own song and then throw the weebill call on the end. I've only rarely noted Shys using mimicry whereas Chestnut-rumps use mimicry extensively and weave it into their song like the lyrebirds.

The next mallee spot I visited was the extensive block at Round Hill and Nombinnie NRs. I found Shy Heathwrens at a few different spots. I'm gradually building up a series if audio recordings of Shy Heathwrens from different locations and at different times. The variations in calls between locations and also of the same individual at different times of day or of the same bird in different months is quite amazing. Not surprisingly the majority of my sites are in Round Hill and Nombinnie. They seem to be doing very well here.

The last spot that I found Shy Heathwrens was in Stackpoole SF about 30 km NE of Goolgowi. This is an interesting spot because it is mostly not mallee. While the forest itself is much larger than Pulletop NR (where I think they've gone extinct) I'm not sure what area of mallee exists. Most of the rest of the forest is Cypress Pine which seems to be unsuitable for Shys but great for Speckled Warblers.

However, by far my biggest highlight for the weekend was seeing my first Malleefowl in Round Hill NR on Saturday afternoon. I actually stumbled across the same bird (I'm assuming that it was the same bird) on three occasions and managed to shoot off a few hurried photos. On the last occasion I was able to follow it through open mallee for about ten minutes before it decided that I was getting a little too close and decided to leave me behind! NPWS are going to be conducting aerial surveys for active malleefowl mounds in NSW over the next couple of weeks. It'll be interesting to see what they find.

As an aside, I stopped again at Yelkin SF where there were good numbers of Painted Honeyeaters last weekend. This time there wasn't a bird to be heard, or seen. I assume that I struck a group of Painteds on migration the previous weekend. I wonder whether they might be on their way to Binya SF where there are small numbers of painteds at the moment. Certainly there is a far larger food resource in Binya with the Grey Mistletoe flowering heavily in the Yarran (Acacia homalophylla?).


Mick Todd
Griffith, NSW

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