Hattah-Kulkyne and Murray-Sunset and the virtues of getting lost

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Hattah-Kulkyne and Murray-Sunset and the virtues of getting lost
From: Michael Todd <>
Date: Sun, 02 Dec 2001 19:16:12 +1100
Hello Birdos,

I took a couple of days off work at the end of last week so as to give myself a little more time to get down to see some of the Victorian mallee country. In particular I was looking for Striated Grasswrens and Mallee Emu-wrens. I didn't have time to see much of either of the parks that I visited, particularly Murray Sunset where I did a circuit around Last Hope Track, Pheeny Tank Rd and the Pheeny track all on the far eastern edge of the Sunset country. I found it very interesting and I look forward to getting back there with more time. I found a few things on the way there and on the way back also so I'll just summarise what I found.

Little Bittern at Oxley on the Lachlan River and Redthroat at a new spot, 6 km north of Penarie in Old Man Saltbush and Black Bluebush. Chestnut-crowned Babbler near Wemen, and Regent Parrots at numerous locations in Hattah Kulkyne NP and Murray Sunset NP.

Striated Grasswren- found at 2 spots in Hattah Kulkyne NP (both on the Nowingi Track). This is basically the same area that others have found them and are pretty well documented in the Birding-aus archives. I had to work really hard to get my first ones though. I've searched for Striateds before in other parts of Australia and failed and I put in a total of 8 hours before I found the first ones here! Once I'd found the first ones it was like the dam wall breaking. I found them in a further 4 spots in Murray Sunset NP (on Last Hope Track and 2 spots on Pheeny Tank Rd).
Mallee Emu-wren- I found the first ones by co-incidence while I was recording the first Striated Grasswrens that I mentioned above. I hadn't realised they were there until they appeared in front of me. I found them in a further 3 spots in Murray Sunset NP (Pheeny Track, Pheeny Tank Rd and Last Hope Track). With both of these species I found most of them while I was driving slowly with the windows open. I found that I could pick their calls once my ear was correctly tuned. I'm pretty certain that I was only hearing ones that were adjacent to the road and I must have missed many.
Other birds that I picked up in Murray Sunset included Southern Scrub-robin (4 spots), Shy Heathwren (4 spots), Gilbert's Whistler (2 spots), Chestnut Quail-thrush (2 spots, and another 2 in Hattah-Kulkyne). I found Malleefowl footprints in two spots in Hattah Kulkyne. I got a buzz out of seeing Golden Whistlers in the mallee, they're not a usual bird in the central NSW mallee.
Black-tailed Native-hen- There was a flock of approximately 300 birds on lake Hattah.

On the way back to Griffith I decided to take a quick look at the Tullakool Saltworks about 50 km SE of Moulamein (back in NSW) which I had heard had Banded Stilts. Sure enough, there was a minimum of 200 Banded Stilts, 200 Australian Shelducks and 200 Red-necked Avocets (by this stage of the trip I wasn't so keen on counting and they were a long way away through my telescope). I got mildly geographically embarrassed on my way back and ended up at Jimaringle, about 50 km north-west of Deniliquin. I didn't mind though as I found a wonderful little creek with great muddy margins. Despite its small size it had 3 Baillons Crakes and 6 Australian Crakes, Red-kneed Dotterels, Nankeen Night Heron, Purple Swamphen, 8 Black-tailed Native-hen etc,. A couple of kilometres further north there was an irrigation channel and adjacent paddock with approximately 200 Black-tailed Native-hens.

Its not a bad idea getting lost sometimes!


Mick Todd
Griffith, NSW

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