Bulga area (Hunter Valley NSW) - Sunday, 13th Oct. 2002

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Subject: Bulga area (Hunter Valley NSW) - Sunday, 13th Oct. 2002
From: "Edwin Vella" <>
Date: Mon, 14 Oct 2002 21:37:57 +1000

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 year.


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 the river.


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.


Edwin Vella





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