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

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Subject: Trip Report Western NSW, SA - 1 to 14 Oct 2006 Part 1
From: "Tom and Mandy Wilson" <>
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2006 22:03:36 +1000
Hi all
First up, thanks to those who responded to my RFI that preceded my recent
trip to Adelaide.  I have summarised below the results of my trip, which was
a family trip to visit some friends who moved to Adelaide earlier this year,
taking in some outback on the way, and, as is usual with my holidays,
fitting in as much birding as possible.  Our route took us: Sydney - Cowra -
Hay - Mildura - Adelaide - Broken Hill - Cobar - Gilgandra - Dubbo - Sydney.
Part 1 deals with the outbound bit & Adelaide

Day 1 took us over the Blue Mts to Cowra, where we stayed at the Cowra
Holiday Park, about 4kms east of town - this was a good spot, with Double
Barred & Red Browed Finches, Blue Faced HEs, Noisy and nesting Little
Friarbirds, Peaceful Doves and , most importantly for me, Superb Parrots
seen in the trees next to the Mid Western Highway that evening and the next
day, when I also saw a flock of about 12 birds flying alongside the road.
Most impressive sighting on the way was a Black Falcon a bit to
the east of Cowra, sitting on the top of a telegraph pole - there had been
quite a few Brown Falcons as well (mostly paler morphs), but this bird was
an all over sooty grey/black with no facial marks to speak of - luckily I
had no one following me, so I was able to stop and have a proper look. On
the way, I also saw Rufous and Brown Songlarks and Singing Bushlarks

Day 2 took us further west to Hay.  We stopped at a recommended extensive
patch of Boree on the Newell Hwy just to the east of West Wyalong - there
was lots of Boree, lots of Mistletoe, handy roadside pull-ins provided by
the RTA and loads of honeyeaters (Striped & Spiny Cheeked), but no Painted,
which is what I was looking for.  We also had a quick look at a recommended
spot in Back Creek SF, where there were more of the same, Western Gerygone
singing lustily, Yellow Rumped Thornbill and Mistletoebird, but no luck with
Painted there either

We had morning tea just south of W Wyalong at Charcoal Tank Nature Reserve
(I had previously advised NPWS of this visit, pursuant to a recent thread on
this forum - ironically the person that took my call had never heard of the
reserve and had to ask a colleague where it was!).  Sadly, by the time we
got there, the wind had picked up (appreciably so from the 30 minutes prior
at the Boree sites) and it was quite hot, so to stay in the family good
books, the stop was brief and we didn't plunge too far in - nonetheless, I
saw Hooded Robin, several White Winged Triller, Pallid Cuckoo, Chestnut
Rumped Thornbill, Peaceful Dove and Common Bronzewings, Rufous Whistlers,
Cockatiels and Blue Bonnets, plus several wallabies and very large goanna.

Lunch at Goolgowi produced Apostlebirds with an active nest, Eastern
Rosellas, Eastern Ringnecks and a pair of Blue Faced HEs that were keen on
our apple scraps.  We saw our first Emu - a dad with 4 large offspring -
once we got out onto the Hay Plain.  That evening, we visited Hay Water
Treatment works, which were much better signposted than when I visited Hay
in 1996!  We had a nice evening walk and saw Swamp Harrier, Baillons Crake,
Little Grassbird, plenty of Chestnut Breasted Shelduck, Shoveler and Pink
Eared Duck - and a very large feral cat.  The next morning we had a walk in
the Hay SF, where the Sacred Kingfishers, Brown Treecreepers and Dollarbirds
were busy, I got a good view of a large group (15+) Varied Sittella.  Out on
the Hay Plain again got more Emu, several Wedge Tailed Eagles, a Little
Eagle and - in absolutely the middle of nowhere except for one tree -
nesting House Sparrows (we'd stopped to take a photo of the featureless,
flat plains!)

Day 3 got us as far as Mildura, where we picked up a 4WD to take us up to
Mungo NP the next day - I had a trial drive of the "truck" via Kings
Billabong, where we saw Caspian Tern, Peaceful Dove, White Breasted & Dusky
Woodswallow, Long Billed & Little Corella, a Crested Shrike Tit. The caravan
park was right on the Murray and we had Yellow Rosella and Red Rumped
Parrots practically in our cabin a couple of times.  Our lunch stop just
outside Balranald produced a Sparrowhawk and a Black Eared Cuckoo.

Day 4 saw us up and off early to Mungo NP.  We had visited before in 1993,
but on a guided tour, so I was looking forward to being able to stop and
look at stuff when I wanted to.  On the road to/from Mildura, we saw Mulga
Parrot, Grey Currawong, WW Triller, Hobby, Spotted Harrier, Emu and Restless
Flycatcher.  The park held plenty of Emu - many family parties.  From the
lookout near the camping area, we saw 5 Pink Cockatoo, lots of Blue Bonnets,
Apostlebirds, Chestnut Crowned Babbler, and 2 Pallid Cuckoo.  We drove
across the lake to the Walls of China viewing area, where I saw the first of
many Singing HEs, Southern
Whiteface (nesting in a convenient sign erected by the NPWS) Black Faced
Woodswallow and an Orange Chat.  We followed the 1-way track along the face
of the lunette, across to Lake Leaghur and then back to the visitor centre -
saw a cracking male Blue & White Wren just into the drive and flushed a
small group of White Fronted Chats just before we turned up to cross the
lunettes - and as we did so a Red Backed Kingfisher obligingly flew into a
shrubby tree right next to the road.  Around the back in the mallee we saw
more Mulga Parrot and Yellow Plumed HE.

I am sure there must have been water as Vigars Well, as the site produced 3
Budgies, Zebra Finch, Black Faced Woodswallow, lots of Singing HE,
Cockatiel, S Whiteface, Yellow Rumped and Inland Thornbill. Crossing Lake
Leaghur, we flushed 2 female Crimson Chat - brown birds with a vivid red
rump - and then a stunning male Orange Chat - the former were lifers, but I
did not get particularly long views as they flew away and hid in the scrub -
the Orange Chat on the other hand decided to sit on the top of a saltbush
and have a good look at me too.  Also on the lake bed were Brown Songlark,
more White Fronted Chat and
Blue & White Wrens.

Day 5 saw us press on to Adelaide through the Riverland - I'd never been to
this bit of SA before, and loved the way the river has cut its deep cliffs -
at Waikerie (apart from wishing that I was picking up the key to visit
Gluepot!) I had a quick look at Harts & Ramco Lagoons, which had plenty of
Shelduck, Shoveler, Pink Eared Duck, some Red Necked Avocet and smaller
dotterels - there were many birds at the far end of Ramco Lagoon but the
midge plague coming off the samphire was a bit extreme, so I retreated to
the car.  Just outside Waikerie I saw a group of about 10 Regent Parrots.
Lunch at the No1 Lock at Blanchetown was accompanied by a Pelican and
Cormorant convention!

We spent three full days in Adelaide, doing stuff with our friends, but I
saw some birds whilst out and about: at Glenelg (Pacific Gull, Black Faced
Cormorant, Caspian & Fairy Tern) and at lookouts in the Adelaide Hills
(Purple Crowned & Musk Lorikeets, Common Bronzewing, E & Adelaide Rosella,
White Throated Gerygone).  I had a couple of specific birding
opportunities - the best was a morning at Port Gawler and St Kilda - looking
for waders and Elegant Parrots.  I'd read Trevor Cowie's note to birding-aus
on the return of the HudWit to the salt fields, but the tide times were
wrong for me to be able to get there to meet Trevor when the birds would be
on the roost, but Trevor did kindly put me onto the good spots to see the
Elegant Parrots and Slender Billed Thornbills instead).  Definite success
with the both - at one point I had six Elegants lined up on a fence wire
about 10 metres away - they are stunning little birds.  I separately flushed
up 2 much duller neophema parrots that showed the same amount of facial blue
and dark in the wing but were much less "golden hued" around the face and
vent - I saw them fly but they went to ground behind a big clump of
vegetation - as I approached slowly in the car they shot off at high speed
so I didn't get a really good look - wondering if they were Rock Parrot?

At Port Gawler there were impressive numbers of Red Necked Stint, Red Capped
Dotterel, Golden Plover, 1 Grey Plover, lots of Whiskered Tern, several
groups of White Fronted Chat, Greenshank, Whimbrel and E Curlew.  In the
samphire I picked up Slender Billed Thornbill and the spotty race of White
Browed Scrubwren and a Common Sandpiper in the mangrove area.  The mud on
the falling tide at St Kilda held thousands of Grey Teal, Sharp Tailed
Sandpipers, Curlew Sandpiper, 1 sand plover (too far off to be sure what
sort but it looked the same size as the Curlew Sandpipers, so I suspect
Lesser), both Oystercatchers and a row of Spoonbills and Great and Little
Egrets using the mangroves to shelter from the wind.  On my way back into
town, I stopped briefly at the Magazine (or Greenfield?) Wetlands - along
with more Native Hens and a group of 15 Pied Stilt was a small, very pale
tern with a squared off tail (ie no streamers) and a dipping, buoyant
flight.  It only had a smudgy cap that did not cover the forehead and a
black looking bill and legs, so it was either a non-breeding Whiskered
(although all the others I saw were in breeding colour) or possibly a White
Winged Black?



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