Trip Report Western NSW, SA - 1 to 14 Oct 2006 Part 2

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Subject: Trip Report Western NSW, SA - 1 to 14 Oct 2006 Part 2
From: "Tom and Mandy Wilson" <>
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2006 22:09:00 +1000
Part 1 of my note dealt with the outbound bit & Adelaide; this part takes us
east again.....(Our route took us: Sydney - Cowra - Hay - Mildura -
Adelaide - Broken Hill - Cobar - Gilgandra - Dubbo - Sydney. )

By Day 9, we had to turn east again and we started to head back to Sydney,
this time via Broken Hill. I visited the lake/reservoir  to the east of town
the first morning, where I saw Chirruping Wedgebill, Yellow Billed
Spoonbill, nesting White Breasted Woodswallow, several pair of Great Crested
Grebe, Musk Duck (displaying males), a solitary Sharp Tailed Sandpiper.
That evening we drove out to Stephens Creek Reservoir to have a BBQ - lovely
spot - we were the only people there and it was a
still, warm evening and we scoped the Emu and Red Kangaroo coming down to
drink at the far bank.  Coming home, after the sun had set, there was an
immature Spotted Nightjar sitting on the road - very sandy/cinnamon
coloured, but showed a little white necklace and white flashes in the wings
when it finally decided to move.  It's hard to know whether I was more
excited by that or my train mad 6 year old son by seeing the Indian Pacific
going past in the twilight on its way to Sydney.

The next day we visited Silverton and Umberraberka Reservoir, where there
were 2 Freckled Duck, Chestnut Breasted Shelduck with young, a single Red
Necked Avocet, Black Tailed Native Hens, Bee Eaters and Redthroat in the
scrubby bush near the access road.  A late afternoon visit to the Living
Desert Flora & Fauna Reserve produced lots of Zebra Finch, a stunning
Spotted Harrier right next to the access road, Willie Wagtails nesting in
the pergola, Red Backed Kingfisher, a Redthroat, Chirruping Wedgebill and
several White Backed Swallows.

Day 12 got us to Cobar, with a couple of short stops at Wilcannia (to see
how dry the Darling really is - very!) and a rest area about 125km west of
Cobar for lunch.  The latter produced a Red Winged Parrot and a Diamond Dove
and a little further west, an Australian Pratincole flew across the road in
front of us.  At Cobar itself, I visited the Old Reservoir in the evening
and New Cobar Tank & STW the following morning.  Cobar produced a bonanza of
woodswallows, with White Breasted seen in
the town, Black Faced seen just to the west and then a large mixed flock
seen at both the water areas contain Masked, White Browed, Dusky and
Little - all hawking together and making that grating cheep that they do -
and all low enough and perching in trees to be easily identified.  The Old
Tank also had a pair of Crimson Chat, including a male, which I got to
within 10 metres of, so cleared up any doubts that I may have had about the
Mungo sightings!  Typically, I'd left my camera in the car as I'd only gone
for a "quick look over the bank of the reservoir" while my family waited
(patiently) in the car. The next morning at New Tank produced the
woodswallow flock again (feeding on an eremophila bush), 5 Spotted Crake,
Black Tailed Native Hen, Red Capped Robin, Southern Whiteface, Spotted
Bowerbird, Blue Billed Duck, Splendid & Variegated Wren (the latter feeding
their oversized Horsfields' Bronze foster offspring) and plenty of Rufous
Songlark, calling loudly with that odd metallic tring they have.  The
lookout over the gold mine was a good place for White Backed Swallow and we
saw another Red Capped Robin on the access road - first the female, which
caused some confusion as she had an orangey wash on her upper breast (but
outside normal range for a Scarlet Robin which was my first thought) but no
issues when the male showed up!

>From Cobar, we drove to Gilgandra via Warren, picking up 2 Grey Crowned
Babblers about 20kms west of Gilgandra.  Warren STW looked good as we
passed, with several Red Necked Avocet and Pied Stilt (not an appropriate
lunch stop according to the other passengers in the car!)  Gilgandra Rotary
CP hosted E Rosella, Red Winged Parrots, Peaceful Dove several Dollarbirds
and Sacred Kingfisher in the riverine woodlands and the first Kookaburras
we'd seen for a while.

The last day, we got back to Sydney, via Dubbo Zoo, seeing our last Emu a
little south of Gilgandra. The zoo site seemed to have many more
Apostlebirds than I can remember from prior visits.  However, it also
produced 2 Lathams Snipe (in with the hippos), 2 groups of White Browed
Babblers, 3 Restless and also a Leaden Flycatcher (a long way west in its
range?), Eastern Yellow Robin, Cockatiel, Sacred Kingfisher, Dollarbird, a
selection of thornbills (Yellow, Chestnut & Buff Rumped, Yellow, Brown or
Inland), Blue Faced and Striped HE, Noisy and nesting Little Friarbird and 2
Little Lorikeets - very small, short tailed bright green parrots streaking
through the trees near the main lake.  The zoo is always a good site,
although I was surprised not to see any
Red Capped Robins there.

So overall, a pretty good trip - including all the cormorants, raptors,
commoner parrots, ibises and commoner bush birds (and the Hay Plain House
Sparrows!), my tally stands at 230 species for the trip, with 4 of those
lifers.  Per a recent thread, European Blackbirds are on my list for
everyday, all the way from Cowra, across to Hay & Mildura, in Adelaide and
back via Broken Hill & Cobar.
A couple of surprising "non-sightings" for me - I had expected to see
Crested Bellbird and Ground Cuckoo Shrike without too much trouble. I would
have liked a bit more mallee time to seek out Red Lored and Gilberts
Whistlers, plus some other mallee specialities and time in the Boree to see
if those Painted HEs were really there; I didn't find much eremophila, so
the hoped for Black or Pied HEs must have been somewhere else - I didn't
even contemplate searching out grasswrens.  However, on top of all that
birding, we did some great things as we travelled, such as Shear Outback at
Hay (the day they drove 1500 sheep down the main street), went down the mine
at Broken Hill, marvelled at the flatness of the Mundi Mundi Plains, saw
flowering Sturts Desert Pea, introduced my kids to the delights of outback
flies and the brightness of the outback stars, sampled wines in the Adelaide
Hills, saw plenty of trains for the 6 year old and watched Mercury, Jupiter
and lots of stars at the Gilgandra Observatory
Tom Wilson


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