Following my request for info on conditions out west in NSW, my 2 sons
and I headed that way. Spent the first night camping in Goulburn River
National Park - all alone, beautiful, kangaroos hopping around
(essential for a visiting Londoner), and heaps of birds early morning,
including a noisy Channel-billed Cuckoo. 30 species were seen or heard,
including very noisy Jacky Winters, White-throated Gerygones,
T.Frogmouth and Noisy Miners.
Then we continued west past Dubbo with the heat rising and ended up
camping in Gundabooka Nat.Park, Yanda campsite by the side of the
Darling River. Very hot here, not many flied and a few mozzies at night
easily avoided. Birds were good but not exceptional due to the heat no
doubt - hit 46 degrees 4.12.16 and we spent most of the time in air
conditioning - cafe in Bourke, car driving there and then to Louth, and
the pub in Louth where cold beers made for a happy time. Gundabooka camp
site had visiting Grey-crowned Babbles, bee-eaters, Spotted Bowerbird,
Brown Treecreepers everywhere, Brown Goshawk, noisy Apostlebirds, Jacky
Winters and more noted in an early morning walk along the Darling river
bank. All good stuff for a visiting UK birder. We even managed to fine
3 Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos in Bourke - just the ticket! The heat was
countered by our campsite having a large water tank with lots of water
so we could shower and keep cool. heading home a stop on the Kamileroi
Hghy on the Barwon River found 100s of Fairy Martin nests under the
concrete bridge, packed in and often one under another.
Our last 2 nights were spent up in Mount Kaputar - absolutely gorgeous,
cool, windy, and the last two ticks for my UK birding son - Spotted
Quail-thrush and Double-banded Finch. Campsites here are very well set
up, with hot showers and lots of space between sites. Super walks for
all states of fitness. Interesting was seeing/hearing grey-type
currawongs with the usual Pied Currawongs. Dark browny/grey/black with
almost no or no white in wings and making a variety of clunking/clinking
calls, foraging with the pieds. I'd recommend Kaputar particularly in
hot weather out of school holiday time. From the amount of camping
facilities, I guess it gets very crowded at such times.
As noted by others, waterbirds were in very low numbers - 2
Yellow-billed Spoonbills on the Darling, one each White-faced and
White-necked Herons, 1 Little Pied Cormorant. All up the Gwydir,
Macquarie Marsh or Narran Lakes i guessed.
So we avoided areas further south, hardly suffered from flies/mozzies,
and hit the heat full time! But a great quick trip and showed the UK
birder some western birders and that great flat land.
Happy birding to all, a good Christmas and may all your birding
ambitions some true in 2017.
Penny, Gloucester, NSW.
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