More Riverina obs and Painted Finches

To: "canberra birds" <>
Subject: More Riverina obs and Painted Finches
From: "Overs, Anthony (REPS)" <>
Date: Thu, 18 Sep 2008 11:43:42 +1000
Ian's Riverina report has prompted me to provide a short (ok, long)
report of my own.

Last Thursday, three quite mad people (myself, Suzi Bond and Carole
Elliott) drove down through the Riverina to a spot just north of
Jerilderie. Why? To see a pair of Painted Finches.

Those of you that subscribe to Birding-Aus will have read that a pair of
Painted Finches had been discovered at a wayside stop on the Kidman Way,
just where the road crosses Yanco Creek, about 20km north of Jerilderie.

There was a little bit of debate about whether the birds were escapees
or wild. The nearest they've been to us in the past has been up near
Broken Hill. Given that drought has done some funny things to birds over
the last seven or so years (look at what has turned up in Canberra!),
the consensus was that these were wild birds.

So we decided to go chase them, given that it would be a new species for
each of us, and the likelihood of getting to their core distribution in
the near future would be low. Plus it's a nice drive! We left at 6am and
headed down via Wagga, The Rock, Lockhart and Urana.

Well, we didn't have to look hard for the finches when we got there.
They are actually breeding there! They've built a nest on the grassy
slope just a couple of metres below the guard rail at the road edge
(thanks to various folks on Birding-Aus for excellent directions and
photographs). When we arrived there were nine other birdos there (a
local couple, three fellows from Adelaide, and four folks from Sydney).

We joined the three SA guys on the ground in the shade and waited for
the pair of birds to swap over egg sitting duties. We had been advised
that the birds changed every 45 minutes or so. After ten minutes the
male bird appeared at the nest entrance, had a look around, then flew
out and up to a tree beside us. We all got great looks of him in the
entrance and the tree. He then shot off to grab some lunch. We expected
the female to arrive soon but she didn't show for about 25 minutes. She
flew down to the nest and sat in the entrance for about ten minutes just
looking around and at us sitting 30m away. Then she hopped inside.

So, feeling pretty pleased with ourselves with an excellent tick, we had
a bite to eat for lunch, while we watched and listened to other birds
around us in the creekside red gum and black box woodland. Brown
Treecreepers were feeding young in a nest above us, and Little Friarbird
and Restless Flycatcher called nearby. The presence of Superb
Fairy-wrens surprised me, I didn't realise they snuck into that part of
the region (they are not found much further north or west, it's more
Splendid and Variegated country). There were lots of Zebra Finches.

With Painted Finches out of the way by 12.30pm we decided to head north
to Leeton and spend a couple of hours at Fivebough Swamp. Here we saw
loads of the usual waterbirds. Interestingly, there were no Glossy Ibis
(in October 2006, there were 15,000+), and only four Whiskered Terns (in
2006, 5,000+). We saw stilts and avocets, both spoonbills, and
black-fronted and red-kneed dotterels. We watched a Hobby catching large
insects. A pair of Brolgas cruised in and landed on the eastern part of
the swamp. We picked up Spotted and Baillons Crakes but missed the

We left on dark and headed home. We stopped in at Ingalba NR and saw a
Tawny Frogmouth, our 100th species of the day. Home just before
midnight. A big day, but a lot of fun.


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