Birds in north western NSW

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Subject: Birds in north western NSW
From: "Richard Johnstone" <>
Date: Sat, 17 Nov 2007 18:01:30 +1100
I've just returned from a two week field trip for my work (collecting seed) to 
northern and north western NSW, and there are a few bird observations that may 
be interesting to fellow birders. I was particularly interested to see Ground 
Cuckoo-shrike, as I haven't seen one for many years, even though I have 
travelled through their habitat on quite a few occasions. On this trip too I 
saw none at all.

There were some good birds though:

7 Nov 13 km north west of Yetman on the Bruxner Hwy (Eucalyptus bakeri) - lots 
of noise in the bush particularly from Painted Honeyeater.

8 Nov 9.7 km from Mitchell Hwy on road to Lednapper Crossing (c. 50 km north of 
Bourke). At this spot were heaps of honeyeaters including White-fronted, 
Singing, Pied and Black in order of decreasing vocal prominence, as well as a 
small party of Hall's Babbler. Also along the road were a few Major Mitchell's 

9 Nov 51.5 km east of Wanaaring in a stand of Hakea ivoryi (fruits unripe 
unfortunately). Looking at these superb trees in flower it was a real surprise 
to see about 30 Crimson Chats clearly feeding in the flowers, also two male and 
one female Pied Honeyeater, squabbling over possession of the tree and the 
males having a vigorous chase.

9 Nov Wanaaring. A Black Falcon at dusk.

10 Nov 3 k m south of Wanaaring. Brilliant close view of a Black-breasted 

11 Nov Sturt National Park. A pair of Gibber Birds c. 15 km north of Tibooburra 
(Orange Chats were numerous here, with some Crimson Chats too, but here Orange 
predominated). Also at South Myers Tank a pair of Freckled Duck and dozens of 
Australian Pratincole. I observed a pair of this species from the bird hide 
doing an elaborate courtship dance on the ground, facing one another. No Flock 
Bronzewings were seen this trip though. Black-tailed Native Hens were common in 
many areas.

One general comment I would like to make about the landscape in the west of NSW 
is that it is suffering from both the drought and the pressure that is being 
exerted on the landscape, particularly from the extraordinary number of goats. 
Goats were really obvious in many places, and the impact they are having on the 
vegetation. The worst areas I noticed were at a mountain south east of Bourke 
where a rare Acacia grows (Acacia petraea), with no recruitment of new 
individuals at all, and really appalling was the stretch along the Barrier 
Highway from about 50 to 100 kilometres west of Cobar. Hundreds of goats lined 
the side of the road, presumably because the only green pick they can find is 
in the roadside gutter. The Mulga has been browsed to as high as the goats can 
reach, and there is virtually no greenery to be seen below this level. We 
stopped at a location to look for Rutidosis leptorhynchoides (Button 
Wrinklewort, an endangered daisy) and when we finally found some they had all 
been browsed to c. 3 cm high. Amazingly they are flowering at this height as a 
survival strategy. Generally though the ground underneath the Mulga is 
completely bare.

Regards, Richard.

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