I just got back from spending a few days in the central NSW mallee north of
Yathong NR (approx. 100 km south-west of Cobar) and in Nombinnie NR (North
of Hillston). Overall, birds are thin on the ground in the mallee at the
moment and that goes for the common things as much as the rare things.
Whether a lot of birds have died, moved on or are just hard to find at the
moment I'm not sure. Certainly I haven't seen or heard the mallee so quiet.
Anyway the highlights were:
Red Tank- Mallee Dragon- photos.
Paddington (near property boundary with Pine Hill and Hampton)- Striated
Grasswren (3+), Little Woodswallow (4). Lots of photos and audio.
Paddington (11.5 km E. of the previous site)- Striated Grasswren (2+). Lots
of photos and audio.
Karwarn- Grey-crowned Babbler
Nombinnie NR- Shy Heathwren, Chestnut Quail-thrush, Southern Scrub-robin.
Of these the Shy Heathwren was the only one that was at all obvious and
they were more subdued than usual. The dawn chorus doesn't exist up there
at the moment! Despite some searching I couldn't find either Gilbert's or
Red-lored Whistlers at the usual spots.
The grasswrens were the only thing that I found to be active. Lots of
singing and displaying. I've never had such long and up close looks at
grasswrens. I love grasswrens!
These sites are about 30 km north-east of the known Red Tank site and about
25 km NW of where they were first re-discovered in central NSW by Bushy Bob
Miller in the 1970's at Taringo Downs. I haven't heard of any sightings in
the Paddington area but that doesn't mean they haven't been seen here of
course- I note well the email to birding-aus from Terry Pacey! Looking at
land system maps the land systems that support mallee with spinifex don't
continue much further to the north than the areas that I was in. I searched
many other areas as well with no luck anywhere else. They certainly seem to
be patchy in distribution. Where I've found them in central NSW has big,
presumably old, spinifex clumps of decent area. A lot of mallee in central
NSW has spinifex but there is relatively little of this big spinifex. I
suspect that fire is the culprit.
Incidentally, I haven't got around to writing a trip report for my trip to
Thailand and it may never happen now so I'll just mention a few things now
in case anyone is interested. Highlights on the trip included Siamese
Fireback, Coral-billed ground-cuckoo, Great-eared Nightjar, Drongo Cuckoo,
hornbills, woodpeckers and White-crowned, Slaty-backed Forktails and wild
elephants in Khao Yai NP. Black-tailed Crakes, Pygmy Wren-babbler,
Slaty-bellied Tesia, Rufous-throated Partridge and sunbirds at Doi Inthanon
NP. At Chiang Dao highlights included Crested Treeswift, Crested Goshawk,
Streaked Wren-babbler, Spiderhunters.
White-browed Piculet and Limestone Wren-babbler at Wat Tamprotisiat.
Mae Fang NP- River Chat. Chiang Saen Lake- Possibly Common Snipe and
Pin-tailed Snipe. I need to have a closer look at my photos. I hate
phylloscopus warblers! They are the hardest things to identify that I have
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