The Search for the Black Honeyeater

Subject: The Search for the Black Honeyeater
From: "Marnix Zwankhuizen" <>
Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 19:54:21 +1100
Benj and I drove north to the Cowra area on Sunday. Our first stop Morongla Cemetery. There was no sign of a Black Honeyeater. None of the Grey Box were in flower and we couldnt find any mistletoe so dont know why a Black Honeyeater would visit this site. Birds of interest there were a family of 4 Crested Shrike-tit (2 of the birds were begging, probably this season's prodigy) and several Peaceful Doves.
A stop at Cowra Sewage Ponds revealed 14 White-faced Herons and at least 2 Pink-eared Ducks. There were also many ducks and ibis there. The nearby Lachlan River had a Great Egret. Over Bellevue Hill Reserve we could hear Rainbow Bee-eaters migrating.
At Cowra Agricultural Research Station we saw a Brown Goshawk. We then headed to Conimbla National Park, where neither of us had been before. On the way a dam had a pair of Australian Shovelers and Hoary-headed Grebes. In the adjacent fields we counted well over 70 Little Ravens and a Pied Butcherbird.
We found a great little site (only a couple of hectares) with a sign stating it was a 'Native Seed Orchard'. Here among the Calltris, native Stipa grasses and eucalypts were Rainbow Bee-eater, Yellow Robin, 6 Grey-crowned Babbler, 3 Crested Shrike-tit (1 a begging juvenile), a Brown Treecreeper, 2 Little Friarbirds and a Jacky Winter.
Arriving at Conimbla NP we set off through dense scrub (mostly leptospermum and cassinia) and ironbark-callitris forest. Here we first heard and then squeaked out a pair of Chestnut-rumped Heathwrens. Other birds here included many Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters, Peaceful Doves, Western Gerygone, Brown Treecreeper, Dusky Woodswallow, 2 Little Lorikeets (flew over), Speckled Warbler, Grey Butcherbird and many Fuscous Honeyeater, and the only reptile of the day - a massive Bearded Dragon.
Then our last stop for the day in the Ilunie Ranges, where we walked along a well vegetated track and hit an unbelievable hotspot. In the general area we had a tally of over 40 species. The highlights included repeated close up views of a pair of Turquoise Parrots, at least 14 Diamond Firetails, Benj saw a light morph White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, I saw a White-fronted Chat, we both watched a pair of Black-chinned Honeyeaters feeding in flowering mistletoe, some 3 Little Lorikeets thrilled us with a fly over every so often, a male Hooded Robin, large numbers of Rainbow Bee-eaters and a Restless Flycatcher. Other birds included Woodswallows, Peaceful Doves, several White-browed Babbler groups, many Little Friarbirds and some 50 Tree Martins. At one point we saw a bird fly from some mistletoe into a dead gum. At first we thought it was a Black Honeyeater, but then noticed the short bill and decided it was another male Hooded Robin.
Then I spotted a small mammal which turned out to be a Yellow-footed Antechinus. It scurried about its business, stopping at one point to peer at me half hidden from behind a tree stump in a very cute fashion.
On the drive home we found a group of 5 Apostlebirds along Cucumgilliga Rd. Although we didnt end up seeing the Black Honeyeater we were pretty pleased with what we did see.

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