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Subject: OUTBACK TWITCHATHON -Cobar-Nyngan-Bourke NSW
From: "Alan Morris" <>
Date: Sat, 3 Aug 2002 21:20:29 +1000
The Bourke Bustards Team was especially formed for this occasion and consisted of Nola Hancock, Andy Burton & Alan Morris, a trio of old stagers, the later two having been in a number of Twitcathons in the past. We made this trip a fairly leisurely affair, commencing at 7am (not 6am because it was dark and cold at Cobar) in the township of Cobar. We virtually planned a trip around Sewarage Treatment Works ponds, starting at the Cobar STW and the Newey Reservoir,  travelling to Bourke and visiting the STW there both in the evening and next morning, and finishing at the Nyngan STW and the Bogan River Weir. Overall we had a pleasant two days birding despite the smells, in a fairly droughtified area of the State and managed to raised some funds for the Newhaven project and complete about 40 or so Atlas Sheets. Unlike the Whacked Out Woodswallows, we failed to see one Bustard!, but we did find 111 birds - not the biggest total, but good fun never-the-less!
It was a great morning at Cobar 27/7/02 when the sun did come up and in the bushland we were soon onto White-browed Babblers, Crested Bellbird, Bar-shouldered Dove, Mulga Parrots, a pair of Pink Cockatoos, Chestnut-rumped Thornbills & Southern Whiteface, Hooded Robins and plenty of Ringnecks, The highlights of STW were an out of season trio of Crimson Chats, the male in almost full breeding plumage, and an adult male Spendid Fairy-wren in full breeding colours - stunning. the usual waterbirds were present, including good numbers of Hoary-headed Grebes. The Newey Reservoir, is always good for Mistletoebirds, Spotted Bowerbirds and Striped Honeyeaters and it did not dissappoint. In the shallow water there were a few Pink-eared Duck amongst the many Grey Teal, Hardheads, Black-winged Stilts, Black-tailed Native-hens and Red-kneed Dotterels.
At Tindara Tank, midway between Cobar & Bourke we picked up our first Common Bronzewing, Jacky Winter, Red-capped Robin and our first and only  2 Banded Lapwings (where have all the Banded Lapwings gone?). We lunched in a dry creek in Gundabooka NP finding our first Brown Treecreepers, a possible but rejected White-browed Treecreeper, Eastern Yellow Robin, Weebill and Singing Honeyeater. Onto Bourke where we first visited the STW. Here we saw a pair of birdwatchers, where they taking part in the Twitchathon we wondered? At first we thought they were because they were very guarded in what they said to us, no way were they going tell us what they saw other than to say that there had been 4 Brolgas there when they arrived but had now flown off!! Chased away more likely we mumbled to ourselves, but as luck would have it, we still managed to find another two Brolgas at the back of the ponds! There were over 1000 Pinkears on the ponds but no Freckled Ducks!! We did the Maritime Port of Bourke walk to check out the heritage of this famous Darling River port & railway (alas it is no longer either a port or a railhead!) and manged to turn up our first Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, Great Egret, Darter and Great Cormorants. We finished the day with 94 birds, not bad for a dry inland venue we thought! We rested at the Port of Bourke Hotel and enjoyed one of their famous BBQ dinners.
Up to early and walked along the levy bank of the River and viewed some of the new tourist attractions, and managed to add Pelican to our list. A revisit to the STW gave us great views of a Peregrine Falcon, before it took off. A few minutes later we watch it attempt a strike at a Grey Teal but it missed because the Teal was spooked by a pair of Blue Bonnets that we had disturbed! Then off to Byrock where once again we became tourists and did the Bai Rock Aboriginal site walk - a great interpretive walk and well worth a visit when passing that way. In the bushland around the site we added Inland Thornbilll, Western Gerygone, Restless Flycatcher and Rufous Whistler  to our list. We finally collected the Chestnut-crowned Babblers between Byrock and Coolibah, and Zebra Finches & White-breasted Cuckoo-shrikes at the Monkeycreek Bridge east of Coolibah. From here we took the "riverland" route to Nyngan, passing over the Bogan River, Duck Creek & Belah Creek as we headed toward the finish line. We spent some time searching out a Black-shouldered Kite for our list and the last bird to be counted was a pair of Cattle Egrets well west of their normal range at the Bogan Weir at sunset. Despite the good birding on the second day, we only added 17 species for the day!! It was hard going.
While travelling to Cobar we saw Pallid Cuckoos between Molong & Wellington, and more on the way home in the same general area but none during the Twitchathon. Similarly we saw Budgerigars and Double-barred Finches at Terramungermine Reserve, Dubbo but none when it counted! A big thankyou to all our sponsors.
Alan Morris
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