birding-aus Willie Retreat (adjoining Macquarie Marshes)

Subject: birding-aus Willie Retreat (adjoining Macquarie Marshes)
From: Colin Field <>
Date: Thu, 03 Jun 1999 15:15:38 +1000
Bird List - Willie Retreat (adjoining Macquarie Marshes), 20-24 May 1999
(S30 50 E147 30)
Willie Retreat is located on Willie Station.  Willie Station is on the
corner of the Carinda Road and Gibson Way, 110 km north of WARREN, NSW

Following includes observations from local trips around Willie Retreat

Observations of Colin and Yvonne Field

Babbler, grey-crowned
Bronze-Cuckoo, Horsefield's
Butcherbird, grey
Butcherbird, pied
Chough, white-winged
Cisticola, golden-headed
Cockatoo, sulphur-crested
Cormorang, little pied
Cormorant, great
Cormorant, little black
Cormorant, little pied
Cormorant, pied
Crake, Australian spotted
Cuckoo-shrike, black-faced
Cuckoo-shrike, white-bellied
Dotterell, black-fronted
Dove, diamond
Dove, peaceful
Duck, Australian wood
Eagle, wedge-tailed
Egret, great
Egret, little
Fairy-wren, superb blue
Fairy-wren, variegated
Fairy-wren, white-winged
Falcon, brown
Fantail, grey
Finch, zebra
Flycatcher, restless'
Friarbird, little
Grassbird, little
Heron, white-faced
Heron, white-necked
Hobby, Australian
Honeyeater, striped
Honeyeater, white-plumed
Ibis, Australian white
Ibis, straw-necked
Kestrel, Nankeen
Kite, black
Kite, black-shouldered
Kookaburra, laughing
Lapwing, masked
Magpie, Australian
Martin, tree
Miner, yellow-throated
Pardalote, striated
Parrott, red-rumped
Parrott, red-winged
Pelican, Australian
Pigeon, crested
Raven, Australian
Ringneck, mallee
Robin, hooded
Shrike-thrush, grey
Songlark, rufous
Spoonbill, royal
Spoonbill, yellow-billed
Starling, common
Swallow, welcome
Swamphen,  purple
Swan, black
Teal, grey
Thornbill, yellow
Thornbill, yellow-rumped
Treecreeper, brown
Wagtail, willie
Whiteface, southern

First identifications for us at this location:

grey crowned babbler (Willie Retreat, Macquarie marshes)
white-bellied cuckoo-shrike (Willie Retreat, Macquarie marshes)
Australian hobby (Willie Retreat, Macquarie marshes)
Horsfield's bronze-cuckoo (Willie Retreat, Macquarie marshes)
red-winged parrot (Willie Retreat, Macquarie marshes)
Australian spotted crake (Macquarie marshes, near Willie Retreat)
zebra finch (roadside near Willie Retreat, Macquarie marshes)
rufous songlark (roadside near Willie Retreat, Macquarie marshes)


One of our major preoccupations for about 12 months has been to see a crake
or rail.  I'm not sure whether or not Colin has actually dreamed about our
seeing our first crake or rail, but he has certainly thought about it at
great length.  He had a vision of how it would occur.  It didn't!!  We went
for a drive, about 8 km along Gibson Way, the road that Willie Retreat is
on, to a spot where the road crosses a strip of the marsh.  We pulled up in
a place where there were effectively wall to wall reeds along the side of
the road.  Colin wandered along about 50 metres to a place where he could
see just a little into the reeds.  He was standing there thinking crakes
and rails - and one walked out of the reeds and stood picking around on the
ground about 10 metres from me.  He was transfixed.  Yvonne was back at the
truck looking in the other direction.  Colin wasn't about to call out, or
to move away to get her, so he just waved.  Eventually she noticed, and
came up and saw it too.  High fives all around.  We had a very clear,
close, long look and there could be no doubt about the identification.  We
wandered away after it had, and returned about 20 minutes later.  Again, we
saw it (albeit rather more briefly).

We are amazed at Willie Retreat.  As you'll have seen from our list of
first time identifications, it proved to be a real feast for us.  We think
it is wonderful.  There are just birds everywhere all day, right through
the usually quiet middle of the day.  The scrub around the Retreat is, We
are assured, box and wilga.  Colin was particulary enchanted by the
restless flycatchers and the hooded robins.  The Horsefield's bronze-cuckoo
was a really unexpected sighting.  Colin said "it looks like a cuckoo, a
bronze one, look at its barring and the colour of its back".  And so it
was.  We watched two over quite a long period of time.  And finally, we
identified a white-winged fairy-wren.  We'd stalked hundreds of
fairy-wrens, but never spotted a coloured one.  Then we found this
white-winged one.  Colin got a very clear look at it, and Yvonne "saw it".
We've only once before seen a white-winged fairy-wren, in the Gawler
Ranges.  On that occasion Yvonne saw it plainly and Colin "saw it".  So, we
were pretty pleased and Colin was very pleased.  Then the next day we were
driving and Yvonne spotted a slash of colour on some roadside fairy-wrens.
We stopped (from 80 kph) quickly and got back.  We got a very prolong look
at a coloured white-winged, which was in what Slater 3 times calls the
"worn" phase (and we would call the "scruffy phase").  Later that morning
we saw a couple of coloured varigated fairy-wrens.

The rufous songlark was a certainty.  We got a long, good look at him as he
groomed himself.

And the zeb finches.  We've been searching diligently for the ever since we
hit the wide open west.  Good to finally have them "checked off" on the list.

Over about the 4 days we were at Willie Retreat our daily list was always
over 40 species, peaking on the last day (without really trying) at 53.  If
We'd realised we were so close to what we think is our record of 54 in a
day we would have REALLY tried.

Colin Field
PO Box 51, RIVETT ACT 2611, Australia
Phone: +61 (0) 2 6288 9237
Fax: +61 (0) 2 6287 4106
Mobile: +61 (0) 418 607 487

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