Trip report: Hattah, Wyperfeld and Mt Terrick Terrick NP in early autumn

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Subject: Trip report: Hattah, Wyperfeld and Mt Terrick Terrick NP in early autumn (longish)
From: "Tim Dolby" <>
Date: Tue, 09 Apr 2002 19:03:04 +1000
Trip report: Hattah, Wyperfeld and Mt Terrick Terrick NP in early autumn (28th 
March - 5th April 2002)

Hi all,

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,


Tim Dolby
Dept of Bus and E-com
Swinburne Uni of Tech
Ph (03) 9214 6722

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