WOW on the Outback Twitchathon

Subject: WOW on the Outback Twitchathon
From: Michael Todd <>
Date: Fri, 02 Aug 2002 16:08:18 +1000
Hello all,

WOW (Whacked-out Woodswallows= David Geering, Carol Probets and myself) embarked on the outback twitchathon over the weekend. Conditions were very, very dry and bird activity was very low- apart from the ever-present White-plumed Honeyeaters and Yellow-throated Miners that is!

Our 36 hour expedition began in Currawinya NP in SW Qld and travelled through Hungerford, Wanaaring, Louth, Cobar and down to Nombinnie NR in central west NSW. The best bird that we found was a healthy looking Australian Bustard at Trilby, about 20 km SW of Louth on the Darling River. Overall highlights of the of the twitch included-

Before the twitch started on our way up to Currawinya we found 4 Brolgas at Green Creek (a very optimistic name) 8 km north of Fords Bridge. Currawinya NP- Vast numbers of ducks, especially on the saltwater lake, Lake Wyara. Here we picked up a healthy diversity of ducks and waders to get our list off to a fast start. Freckled Duck, Caspian Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Whiskered tern, Orange Chat, White-fronted Chat, White-winged Fairy-wren, White-backed Swallow, Red-necked Avocet and Red-capped Dotterel were among the birds that we only recorded at the two lakes at Currawinya. the Freckled Ducks were on the freshwater lake, Lake Noumalla. There were so many ducks on Lake Wyara that it would have been physically impossible to count and identify all that was present in a day let alone the short period of time that we had available to us. We stopped for lunch at a bore within Currawinya NP where we were serenaded by 79 Pink Cockatoos and a Spotted Bowerbird that gave splendid imitations of the Whistling Kite. All attempts at locating Halls Babbler and Bourkes Parrot failed. The other notable omissions were the small doves Peaceful and Diamond, neither of which were located during the twitchathon.

Bourke-Wanaaring Rd (47 km west of Louth T/O)- Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush and a Magpie that appeared to have just keeled over and died for no apparent reason.

Trilby, 20 km SW of Louth- Apart from the above mentioned Bustard we recorded a few good birds here. these included Red-tailed Black-cockatoo, Crimson Chat, Tawny Frogmouth (our only night-bird seen), Banded Lapwing, Spotted Pardalote, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike and Red-rumped Parrot. There was also an Australian hobby nest and the only Zebra Finches that we discovered during the whole route.

The Newry Reservoir at Cobar was our second waterbird spot and here and in Cobar we recorded our only Silvereye, Purple Swamphen, Dusky Moorhen, Blue-faced Honeyeater etc. Cobar was also where we picked up the introduced species such as the Blackbird, House Sparrow, Starling.

1 km N. Enmore on the Cobar- Lachlan Downs Rd- Double-barred Finch (10+). These were the first DBF that I've seen in this area.

24 km S. of Enmore. Here we picked up Eastern Yellow Robin, Yellow Thornbill, Bar-shouldered Dove and a finely marked White-browed Treecreeper who posed beautifully on a Callitris Pine at close range.

At Mirrabooka, south of Lachlan Downs- 3 Ground Cuckoo-shrikes decided to add themselves to our list by flying close to the road. We stopped at locations north of Mt Hope in the hope of finding Speckled Warblers but alas they eluded us.

Finally we made our way down to Nombinnie NR where we used the last couple of hours of sunlight to try and nab a few of the mallee birds. In the Bimble Box woodland here we finally found Restless Flycatcher, Varied Sittella and White-browed Babbler. In the mallee we came across Brown-headed Honeyeaters at last, Grey-fronted Honeyeater, Yellow-plumed Honeyeater and White-eared Honeyeater. In the dimming light we heard a Red-throated Whistler call briefly on the closing of a car door. Attempts to identify it failed however. Here we located Southern Scrub-robin and Shy Heathwren. The Shy Heathwren in particular likes to finish the day with a bit of a song and this was how we managed to snag them. In the last 15 minutes of twilight we headed back to our campsite hoping to come across a Spotted Nightjar on or above the road. We didn't, however, one began to call for a short while before the finish time of 6:00 pm. There was brief excitement caused by myself when a hobby passed through in the encroaching darkness, fooling me into thinking that it was a nightjar! We saw the hobby a couple of times hunting for bats in the twilight.

Considering the conditions we were quite happy with the birds that we found and we wait to see what the other teams come up with by the end of the outback twitchathon time period in a couple of weeks! How many did we count? Well it was between 100 and 150 but the exact number must remain a well-guarded secret until the finish of the twitchathon!

Cheers and good luck to any twitchathon teams that are yet to begin!

Mick Todd on behalf of WOW,
Griffith, NSW

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