Booligal Chatting

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Booligal Chatting
From: Michael Todd <>
Date: Sun, 16 Dec 2001 16:52:05 +1100
Hello All,

I spent yesterday checking out the saltbush country between Booligal, Ivanhoe and the Balranald-Ivanhoe road all in the north-west Riverina. It was a lot of driving but I was able to see the variety of shrubland country that exists in the north-west Riverina bioregion. Bladder Saltbush (Atriplex vesicaria) dominates in the east with patches of Old Man Saltbush (Atriplex nummularia). In the west it is Black Bluebush (Maireana pyramidata) and Pearl Bluebush (Maireana sedifolia) that dominate with the patchy Old Man Saltbush. While there is still large swathes of relatively intact chenopod country it wasn't all in equally good condition and it still remains unconserved in the Riverina. One of the amazing things to see is the difference between species on either side of a fence! It is a stark reminder that grazing does have an impact even if it isn't always a question of vegetation and bare ground. Old Man Saltbush has obviously suffered particularly grievously. At one spot the trunks on some of the OMSaltbush plants had me thinking that they should be renamed as Old Man Salt TREES!

The bird highlight was 18 Orange Chats at Tom's Lake Tank. Other birds here included 48 Emus and the ubiquitous White-winged Fairy-wren and Brown Songlark. Emus are particularly abundant through this chenopod country. More Orange Chats were found at Daisy Plain Rd (2 birds), Freshwater Rd (4 birds) and Alma Rd (2 birds). White-fronted Chats were found at Kyella (50 birds), East Clare Rd (3 birds) and Alma Rd (20 birds). Never were the WFChats and the OChats at the same spots although the habitat was often very similar. At Tom's Lake Tank the main feature was Cottonbush while at all the other spots it was Bladder Saltbush and Pigface. Australian Pratincoles were chased off the road on three occasions.

The lignum-lined Black Box depressions along Box Creek, Muggabah Creek and Merrowie Creek all supported Superb Fairy-wrens (not a common bird in the northern Riverina) and good numbers of Black-tailed Nativehens. Brown Treecreeper, Red-capped Robin, Grey-crowned Babbler and Double-barred Finch among many other birds were in this habitat. Tawny Frogmouth and Australian Owlet-nightjar were found at Box Creek and a trio of Black-faced Woodswallows was seen on Merrungle Rd.


Mick Todd
Griffith, NSW

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