Birding the Wanganella swamps near Deniliquin

To: "Canberrabirds" <>
Subject: Birding the Wanganella swamps near Deniliquin
From: "Jenny Bounds" <>
Date: Sat, 26 Feb 2011 16:54:35 +1100
As COG has a Plainswanderer weekend with leading bird guide Philip Maher on its field trips calendar later in the year, I thought members might be interested in the trip Sandra Henderson and I have just done to the Denilquin area, for an excellent day of birding in the flooded swamplands there.  We hired Phil for the day to take us around, and this included spotlighting in the evening for the special grassland birds on the riverina plain, including Red-chested Button-quail which are irruptive and very common at the moment. We had  around 13 hours of birding with a break in the middle of the day, for 117 species total.  We think it's good value to do this with a group of 2/3 people (they do take larger groups around of course), and we would certainly encourage others to take a trip out there now, while the conditions are so good.  Im happy to provide further information off the line, if anyone is interested in doing what we did.
The Wanganella swamps are to the north of Deni around creeks fed thru the Murray River system, and this is the first flooding since the 1970s.  Reed beds, flooded lignum/goosefoot, and flooded grasslands provide a variety of wetland habitats over a huge area of the plains.  We also visited the Mathoura wetlands bird hide/Gulpa river red-gum forest (now a national park) south of Deni; the forest is flooded, but accessible on the main tracks; very good bush birding there and lots of water birds feeding in the backwaters.  There are also a lot of raptors around.  We did not get one of our target birds, Painted Snipe, which have bred over the summer, however, Phil did spotlight one on a recent Plainswanderer weekend in wet ground by the roadside.
Some of our highlights:
. Red-chested Button-quail (one of the most beautiful small birds Ive seen), Little Button-quail, Plainswanderer and Stubble Quail on the spotlighting night - great spotlighting night with males and females seen
. hundreds of Whiskered Terns and Hoary-headed Grebes breeding
. the bird hide at Mathoura where we spent a couple of hours watching the passing parade of various waterbirds and herons, including Great-crested Grebes, numerous Intermediate Egrets and many Nankeen (rufous) Night-Herons from the nearby rookery, and flocks of Tree Martins hawking
. finally seeing the Little Bittern male fly over the swamp, after hearing young birds calling from the reed beds.
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