Mallee in Autumn N-W Vic

To: "Birding Australia" <>
Subject: Mallee in Autumn N-W Vic
From: "Chris Coleborn" <>
Date: Sun, 21 Apr 2002 07:58:14 +1000
Hello all,

Last week I returned from a 10 day camping trip to various sites in the
Sunset Country, (Pink Lakes, Cameron's, O'Brien's, Bunny's Reserve, Linga
Reserve and Maxwell's & Wymlet Tank), and Nth Wyperfeld NP. Almost every
year, going back about 10 years, I have come here in either the spring or
autumn. I thought I would add my report to several others who have sent in
recent reports for this area.

The time there were days of beautiful warm, sunny weather with the tang of
the dry grasses as well as the scent of Mallee eucalypts and pine on the
breeze. While spring shows the Mallee off in all its beauty, there is a
beauty of the autumn as well. I enjoyed the tapestry of warm, dry olive and
brown vegetation clothing the rolling hills with alternating thick Mallee
scrub, open grassland & rolling hills of casuarinas and pine. There were
wonderful cool clear nights under brilliant stars - quiet, wild places with
the sound of the OWLET NIGHTJAR & BOOBOOK OWL telling you you are not alone.
At Wymlet Tank I have never heard so many Owlet Nightjars - several flying
around during the daytime too!

Sitting in the twilight with my eldest daughter Lydia, we enjoyed about 70+
COMMON BRONZEWING coming in to Wymlet Tank for water. They would land, stay
perfectly still for a time to be assured all was well, and then rush with
their waddle gait to the water's edge, and having had their fill, with a
crack of wings get out of there as soon as they could. Lydia said it was
busier than Spencer Street Station at peak hour!

At the Pink Lakes and adjoing reserves, we saw about 70 species. Whenever I
come in the spring I can usually get around the 90. However, it was great to
see the special birds of the Mallee such as MULGA PARROTS, (why do I always
think of Paradise Parrots when I see them?), SPOTTED PARDALOTE (Mallee
form), GREY CURRAWONG (Mallee "black" form) with their special calls echoing
through the Mallee. The sunset country is aptly named with glorious sunsets
(and sunrises), and what a better setting to see small flocks of MAJOR
MITCHELL'S flying over as the golden sun sets into the west, their pearly
white-pink and wonderful pink under wing glowing in the setting light. There
enjoyed two separate sightings of two families of MALLEE EMU-WRENS to be
enjoyed too, though we couldn't pick up the STRIATED GRASSWRENS this trip,
(though I had the feeling they were popping up out of the triodia bushes to
eye me off after I went by), and only had a fleeting glimpse of a CHESTNUT
QUAIL-THRUSH. But we did pick up a WHITE-FRONTED HONEYEATER. Though they
aren't unique to the Mallee or uncommon, I always love to see the BLUE
BONNETS. I grew up with the more brilliant red-vented form of the north, but
these yellow-vented forms are to my eyes also very beautiful.

In the surrounding reserves, we also enjoyed a good selection of birds; the
most outstanding was that of a BLACK-BREASTED BUZZARD! What a shock to pick
up such an unexpected bird, (yes, I know I need to fill in an unusual
sighting form for the Atlas project). There was a good selection of other

There seemed to be more CHESTNUT-RUMPED THORNBILLS than normal, as well as
SPINY-CHEEKED HONEYEATERS. They seemed to be poking their cheeky heads out
of every bush, shrub and tree. Seeing a few STRIPED HONEYEATERS made up for
the surfeit of the Spiny-Cheeks.

We saw few Fairy-wrens, though there was a family of VARIEGATED FAIRY-WRENS
at Wymlet Tank, and several families of SPLENDID FAIRY-WRENS at Bunny's
Reserve, Wymlet and Nth Wyperfeld. There was no sign of the Apostlebirds
previously hanging around the Pink Lakes and Cameron's, nor of
Chestnut-crowned Babblers in the Sth of the Sunset NP. I have the impression
that Chestnut-crowned Babblers are in decline, but overshadowed by the
plight of the Grey-crowned Babblers.

We had heard that the Vic Birds Australia group Easter camp-out had had a
good time at Wymlet Tank, so we decided to check that spot out too. There
was a nice selection of birds to be seen here. We picked up 56 species. I
think the camp out got about 72 species. The highlight for us was to find,
as did the camp-out, a RED-LORED WHISTLER - beautiful in his breeding
plumage, and whistling his heart out. Also picked up a BLACK-EARED CUCKOO
here. There were also some good numbers of INLAND THORNBILLS to be seen.

At the beautiful and diverse Pine's Plains area, in the Nth Wyperfeld, where
there is such a diversity of habitat, we also enjoyed some really lovely
days, and great walking. We had seen the REGENT PARROTS fly over at Wymlet,
but here one bright morning, there were a pair inspecting a hollow for
breeding, and we got very close views of the pair. The male was strikingly
radiant yellow, and with the black and red contrast, seen to perfection!
Obviously he had all fresh colours for the breeding season. We picked up 53
species of birds here - adding 3 MALLEEFOWL, GILBERT'S WHISTLER and
WHITE-BROWED TREECREEPER to our more special bird list - though there were a
wonderful selection of birds to be enjoyed here by day and by night.

Very thankful to spend a great time with a daughter who also loves the bush,
and in some wonderful country.

The full bird list (86?) for the Mallee is as follows:

Emu, Malleefowl, Black-shouldered Kite, Black-breasted Buzzard, Black Kite,
Whistling Kite, Spotted Harrier, Brown Goshawk, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Brown
Falcon, Australian Hobby, Black Falcon, Peregrine Falcon, Nankeen Kestrel,
Masked Lapwing, Common Bronzewing, Crested Pigeon, Peaceful Dove, Galah,
Major Mitchell's Cockatoo, Cockatiel, Purple-crowned Lorikeet, Regent
Parrot, Australian Ringneck, Blue Bonnet, Red-rumped Parrot, Mulga Parrot,
Black-eared Cuckoo, Southern Boobook, Tawny Frogmouth, Spotted Nightjar,
Australian Owlet-nightjar, White-browed Treecreeper, Brown Treecreeper,
Splendid Fairy-wren, Variegated Fairy-wren, Mallee Emu-wren, Spotted
Pardalote, Striated Pardalote, Shy Heathwren, Weebill, Inland Thornbill,
Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Yellow Thornbill,
Southern Whiteface, Red Wattlebird, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater,
Yellow-throated Miner, Singing Honeyeater, White-eared Honeyeater,
Brown-headed Honeyeater, White-fronted Honeyeater, Jacky Winter, Red-capped
Robin, Hooded Robin, Southern Scrub-robin, White-browed Babbler, Varied
Sittella, Crested Bellbird, Red-lored Whistler, Gilbert's Whistler, Golden
Whistler, Rufous Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, Restless Flycatcher,
Magpie-lark, Grey Fantail, Willie Wagtail, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike,
White-browed Woodswallow, Black-faced Woodswallow, Dusky Woodswallow, Grey
Butcherbird, Australian Magpie, Grey Currawong, Australian Raven, Little
Raven, White-winged Chough, Richard's Pipit, Mistletoebird, White-backed
Swallow, Welcome Swallow, Tree Martin, Silvereye, Common Starling.

Russell Woodford
Music & Info Systems
Sacred Heart College Geelong
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