Trip report: Hattah, Wyperfeld and Mt Terrick Terrick NP in early autumn (28th
March - 5th April 2002)
I've just returned from a nine-day birding trip to the mallee region of
Victoria - an autumn trip, which contrasted nicely with a similar trip I did
last spring. The report takes in Hattah-Kulkyne NP, Wyperfeld NP and Mt Terrick
Terrick NP between the 28th March and the 5th April 2002.
I managed to see both the Mallee Emu-wren and Striated Grasswren despite the
autumn context, as well as Chestnut Quail-thrush, Shy Hylacola, Gilbert
Whistler and Spotted Harrier. Also seen were Southern Whiteface, Diamond
Firetail, Regent Parrot, Splendid and Variegated Wren, Crested Bellbird,
Apostlebird and Western Gerygone. [Notice is also drawn to a grey bird of prey
(a falconidae) with black wing tips at Wyperfeld.
The first part of the trip involved a three-day stay at Wyperfeld. Most of the
birding was done at dawn and generally speaking bird-wise it was very quiet
indeed! The most common birds were White-eared and Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater,
although I did manage to see Shy Hylacola, Chestnut Quail-thrush (which I'd
missed in Spring!), Splendid and Variegated Fairy-wren along the Dattuck, and
Western Gerygone on the 'Desert Walk'. (The call of this bird is simply
delightful!) Spotted Harrier and Blue Bonnet were seen on the way into the park.
As mentioned above a (unnamed/ and please note 'unidentified') grayish bird of
prey was spotted above a flock of cockatoos at the campsite (it seemed too
easy!). It flew directly above me, it's wings seemed slightly fluorescent in
the sunlight, and it had a distinctive black outer-wing line. Please note I'm
extremely interested in any similar observation in this area over the last
month or so.
>From Wyperfeld I drove to Hattah-Kulkyne National Park. My agenda here was to
>see the Mallee Emu-wren and Striated Grasswren, so I spent all my time in
>mallee triodia scrub. A Grasswren was seen along the well-publicized fire
>trail (running parallel to the Hattah-Robinvale Rd) opposite the main entrance
>to Hattah. A single bird was briefly glimpsed on the edge of the track about
>500 yards to the right - the track rises at this point, and if you reach the
>chicken wire on your right you've gone too far (although I don't know whether
>this matters). The only other birds here were White-eared Honeyeater, Grey
>Thrush (which were song-less) and Shy Hylacola.
At the beginning of Nowingi Track (Old Calder HWY end) I had excellent views of
Mallee Emu-wren - although I did spend a long time searching. Two small parties
were seen: the first right next to the Nowingi Track about 20/30 yards down in
the area at the foot of the rise on the left hand side (Calder HWY side). The
second group was near a solitary cypress-pine, which is on the right hand side
(Red Ochre Lake side) about 100 yards into the scrub from about 50 yards down
the Nowingi Track. In this area I also had a good view of Burton's Snake
Lizard. In both cases I first noticed the Emu-wren in an area that had both
spinifex grass and low growing (almost falling down) mallee tree.
I camped at the Lake Hattah Campsite, right on the edge of the lake. Despite
being fairly dry there was a large number of Little Grebe, Grey and Chestnut
Teal, Spur-winged Plover and a few Black Swan and Pelican. White-bellied
Sea-eagle, Whistling Kite and Little Falcon constantly harassed the water
birds, and at dusk SC Cockatoo, LB Corella, Yellow Rosella and Galah flocked
around lake, as well as small parties of Regent, Mallee Ringneck and Red-rumped
Parrot. The campsite itself was dominated by Noisy Miner, Grey Butcherbird,
White-wing Chough and Apostlebird - which literally harassed you for your food!
The social complexity of all these birds was never more evident.
Aside from this the only other event at Hattah was getting the Volvo (!) bogged
in sand at the beginning of the Konardin Track. I was on my own and expected
either a long wait for someone to come along or an equally long walk to the
nearest ranger's office - about 15 km or so. To my good fortune and just as I
was about to shout a few expletives, a ranger drove past and pulled the car
out. Apparently I can thank a small gecko [a Tree Dtella] for the quick rescue:
National Parks were giving a talk on lizards and heard that there was one in a
toilet block near-by. Otherwise they weren't due in the area for days!
Mt Terrick Terrick NP was a big surprise. Wyperfeld and Hattah had both been
extremely quiet in terms of bird numbers - good for mallee sedentary but not
much else. Terrick Terrick on the other hand was teeming with birds. I arrived
at night with the intension of spotlighting for Plains Wanderer - but without a
good map and being dark I ended up in the total wrong area (I assume?). The
Terrick Terrick 'park notes' and map (which I later got from the shop at
Mitiamo - they apparently have good accommodation) suggested I was at the foot
of Riegal's Rock, a long way from where I wanted to be.
After no success (no nothing actually) I pitched my tent at the picnic ground
and after cold and somewhat depressing night I awoke to a dawn chorus of
Gilbert and Rufous Whistler, Mistletoebird, Brown Treecreeper, White-browed
Babbler, Mallee Ringneck, White-winged Chough. Tree Martin circled overhead and
around the rock Diamond Firetail and Southern Whiteface were common! An area
dominated by White Cypress-pine, Grey Box, Yellow Box and an array of native
grasses, lichen and mosses which blanketed the granite rock - Terrick Terrick
is a place well worth visiting
Well that's about it - I've got to go home and cook dinner! Any comments please
let me know.
All the best,
Dept of Bus and E-com
Swinburne Uni of Tech
Ph (03) 9214 6722
Birding-Aus is on the Web at
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