Yesterday, myself and David Mitford visited a few areas around Bulga and
Jerry Plains (in the Hunter Valley approx 200 km north-west of Sydney CBD, 155km
north of Windsor or 100 km west of Newcastle) to see what birds have moved in
this area from the inland drought. Bulga itself appeared to have not changed
since my last visit, with the MacDonald River (which runs through Bulga)
appearing to have the same amount of water as our previous visit in May this
On our way up to Bulga passing on the direct route via the Putty Rd, we
"spotted" a female Spotted Quail-thrush after just passing Colo Heights (I have
seen in the past quite a number of these beautiful birds in various locations
along the very long stretch of Putty Rd and one could suggest they are still
common in this area). Further on the road at Howes Valley, we "spotted" an adult
Spotted Harrier flying over the road and over the paddock in the valley adjacent
to the Wollemi NP and just before arriving in Bulga, we saw a few Dollarbirds
and 2 Wonga Pigeons (the later in the middle of the road).
After passing through Bulga, we decided to head further (approx 15km
north-west from Bulga and on the road towards Dubbo) to Jerry Plains to have a
look at this area (I have only covered this area briefly). The vegetation in
this area is slightly different than whats found in Bulga as plants such as what
I think is Wilga and Gidgee becomes more dominant. Unfortunatley it was very
windy and many potential interesting birds were hard to find. Though nothing out
of the ordinary, we did see a Pallid Cuckoo, Noisy Friarbirds feeding on a
flowering Mugga Ironbark and heard both Western Gerygone and Speckled Warbler.
Something I have not seen for quite a while was an Eastern Bearded Dragon, which
was sitting nicely on a fence post basking in the sun. Has anybody seen anything
interesting before at Jerry Plains? Looks good habitat for a Red-winged Parrot
or Spotted Bowerbird! (both occur regularly or have occurred about a couple of
hundred km further west).
We decided to head back to Bulga in more familiar territory where we
stopped the car after hearing some Glossy Black-cockatoos calling from the
casuarinas beside Wallaby Scrub road where they were feeding. After getting out
the car we noticed it was a family of 3 Glossy Black-cockatoos (a pair of adults
and a juv./Imm bird) making the noise.
A little further down the same road we were greeted by the usual Brown
Tree-creepers (atleast 8) feeding either in the road side trees or on the ground
beside the road and even in the middle of the road. A walk through the
vegetation beside the road yielded sightings of a Peregrine Falcon (same bird ?
seen a couple of times), a Fan-tailed Cuckoo, a male Hooded Robin, Eastern
Yellow Robin, Speckled Warblers, only one Diamond Firetail, 3 species of
Woodswallows (a few of White-browed, Masked and Dusky Woodswallows), several
Rufous Songlarks (only a few heard calling briefly, probably like many other
birds, keeping quite and maybe puzzled whether or not to breed this year), only
one Scarlet Honeyeater heard (nothing much in flower for them), an Olive-backed
Oriole, a few White-winged Choughs and a couple of Grey-crowned Babblers.
In another patch of woodland, a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles, an
Australian Hobby, Pallid Cuckoos, a single male Red-capped with a male Hooded
Robin (both seen together in the same field of view through the binos), about 8
Grey-crowned Babblers, Speckled Warblers, Double-barred Finches, and a Striped
Honeyeater (heard) were present. We saw fewer birds than usual in this patch as
it was quite hot in the middle of the day and a lot of birds were therefore
quiet or hiding. We walked beside the Macdonald River and found quite a number
of Rainbow Bee-eaters (one perched very close and in perfect light for David to
photograph), 3 adult Rufous Night Herons flushed from the Casuarinas (which then
later perched allowing good views), several Striated Pardalotes (a pair of the
eastern race, possible nesting as it came down within metres of our noses), more
Noisy Friarbirds and both White-throated Gerygones and Reed Warblers heard along
As we headed back to and from the town of Bulga, we saw another 4
Grey-crowned Babblers feeding on someone?s lawn, a few Sacred Kingfishers and
saw a Yellow-billed Spoonbill feeding in a small dam. Interestingly here, a
White-faced Heron appeared to be feeding on a dead Kangaroo in the middle of the
road! This poor Kangaroo was one of many road kills seen around Bulga and
further down on the Putty Rd towards Windsor (mainly Eastern Grey Kangaroos,
Red-necked Wallabies and Common Wombats).
At the bridge crossing the Macdonald River at the edge of the town
(Bulga), a White-backed Swallow flew high over as well as a Hobby and we heard a
few Bar-shouldered Doves.
Before leaving the Bulga area, we saw 3 Channel-billed Cuckoos flying
over the valley and had fantastic views (very close to the car) of another adult
Spotted Harrier flying over the a few crops (this being my sixth sighting and
location for Spotted Harriers in the Hunter region this year).
Another pleasant day in Bulga.