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,
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