Deniliquin and Hattah Area
Utilising the extra long long weekend, Al and I decided to head on to
Deniliquin to see the family and do some birding at the same time. I also
arranged to spend two nights over in the Mallee around Hattah and
Murray-Sunset National Parks with Tom Wheller and Steve Seymour.
We left Sydney on Thursday after lunch, which meant that it was already dark
when we left the freeway and headed out over the plains through Urana etc.
Hence very few birds of interest were observed.
Friday (21st) to Monday (24th) was spent relaxing and birding around Deni.
On Saturday and Monday afternoons I took a short trip out the Tocumwal
Road, east of Deniliquin. The highlights of the area were Diamond Firetails,
Painted Button-quail, Boobook Owl, Rufous and Golden Whistlers, Dusky
Woodswallow and three Superb Parrots, one of them a coloured male sitting in
the evening sun.
Before heading out the Tocumwal Road on Monday, Al and myself drove down to
the Gulpa State Forest. Here we found White-browed Babblers, Red-capped and
Hooded Robins. We were unable however, to find the Gilberts Whistlers.
Total number of bird species seen around Deniliquin was 76 along with two
reptiles, two Brown Snakes and a small skink that I suspect was Spiny Palmed
Chinning Skink (Cryptoblepharus carnabyi).
Leaving at about 9:30 on Tuesday (25th), Tom, Steve and myself journeyed to
the Murray-Sunset National Park, where it was hoped we would be able to find
Red-lored Whistlers amongst other things. On the Journey over we spotted
Little Eagle, Blue Bonnets, White-backed Woodswallow, White-browed Babblers,
White-winged Wrens, Chestnut-rumped Thornbills, and Yellow-throated Miners,
most at one stop. We also had a very short stop in at Wondown Nature Reserve
to have a quick look for the Mallee Fowl. Tom was the first to spot the bird
walking off into the bush and it disappeared quickly before we could get a
At 3:10pm we entered the Murray-Sunset National Park and headed down
Pheeby's Track. In the National Park we got great looks at many of the
Mallee birds including Shy Hylacola, Regent Parrot, Mallee Ringnecks,
Chestnut Quail-thrush, White-eared Honeyeater, White-fronted Honeyeater,
Spotted Pardalote (yellow rumped form) as well as a Hobby, Hooded Robin,
Southern Whiteface, Red Wattlebird, Singing Honeyeater, White-fronted Chat,
and White-browed Woodswallows.
Spotlighting along the track that night was most disappointing, in fact we
did not see anything at all! Probably not surprising though given the very
Arising the next morning after shivering through the night we set off around
the camp site. Shy Hylacolas, Inland Thornbills, and Crested Bellbirds were
very obliging, allowing us to have very close encounters. Tom and myself
gradually headed back to the camp to pack up, while Steve went walkabout,
leaving us to clean up. On return he had only added Southern Scrub-robin to
our growing list. We drove back down Pheeby's track towards Hattah, and
stoped at a small waterhole on the right of the track. Here a large number
of honeyeaters were flying down to drink, and we sat for some time watching
all the previously seen species and Brown Headed Honeyeaters, while enjoying
the morning sun and constant noise of birds.
Finally dragging ourselves away, we hopped in the car and drove for a few
more kilometres, only to spot after hearing a Gilberts Whistler.
Disembarking from the car, Tom heard the distinctive call of a Red-lored
Whistler and it was only a matter of minutes before we had found the bird, a
newie for me. Over the next half and hour or so we saw this bird several
times in clear view. Also in the area were two other whistler species, the
Gilberts (both male and female) and a female Golden Whistler. Some
discussion was directed at the Golden Whistler as she had quite
distinctively rufous underparts. It was a fine opportunity to compare and
contrast the three species. Also at the stop a group of Splendid Wrens was
seen mixed with Variegated Wrens, also allowing interesting contrasts
between the two species.
Just before leaving the Mallee Area in the National Park, we slowed to look
at a Pallid Cuckoo when I heard the high pitched twittering of Mallee
Emu-wrens. We immediately pulled over and had very satisfying looks at both
females and males from about 10m while they perched on top of a large clump
of spinifex. Approaching the birds, we surrounded a small male in a young
short pine tree. He hopped from side to side while we peered through the
foliage from about 1-2 metres away. Spectacular!!!! Probably the best looks
any of us have had at of this species.
Lunch was had still in the National Park, but out of the mallee near a salt
lake under a large box tree. Here we had good looks at Mulga Parrots, but
little else of interest was seen.
We continued our trip out of the National Park and over into Hattah National
Park. Arriving mid to late afternoon we searched for Southern Scrub-robins
and had excellent looks at both a male and female as they stood on the edge
of the track only a few metres away from us.
The next bird species we were after was Striated Grasswrens. We spent some
time looking for them, with no luck except for Mallee Emu-wrens and Gilberts
Whistler. Finally while looking at several Chestnut Quail-thrush we heard
the calls of the Grasswrens and within second they were walking all over us.
For perhaps about 15 minutes they circled us, sometime running up within 2
metres of us, before shooting off as fast as lighting between the Spinifex
bushes. Their speed is something that must be seen to be fully appreciated.
At times one would sit on the tip of a bush and call, sometimes he would
choose a bush so close that the binoculars could not focus. After a while we
noticed that they had distinctly curved tails and began to suspect that they
might be nesting after the recent rains they had in the area. This might
also explain their enthusiastic defence of there territory.
We left the Grasswrens in peace and walk back out to the car, by which time
it was too late to drive to Wondown to camp for the night as planned.
Instead we camped in Hattah National Park. The night was not as cold as the
previous evening and spotlighting was more successful as we heard, but did
not see, numerous Owlet Nightjars, and a Tawny Frogmouth.
We packed up early in the morning and headed off without spending time
birding around the camp site as I had to get back to Deni so that Al and I
could head on up to Sydney that afternoon.
On the way out of the park, we drove around the regular haunts of Pink
Cockatoos, as this was the only remaining bird species that we had expected
to see. However they eluded us again and we left Hattah National Park and
headed for home.
The only stop on the trip to Deni was again at Wondown at about 9:45, after
the Mallee Fowl. This time we got much better looks at him as he slowly
walked away from us. For most of the time we watched him he was giving a low
grunting call similar to that of an Emu. The only other bird of interest on
the way home was a pair of Black Falcons.
Total number of bird species seen in the Hattah-Sunset trip was 100.
Unfortunately the Reptiles were rather disappointing, but probably to be
expected given the time of year and the extremely cold nights. Consequently
only a few Mallee Dragons (Ctenophorus fordi) and a Pogona species were
seen, probably just a Central Bearded Dragon (P.vitticeps) but possibly an
Eastern Bearded Dragon (P.barbata). It was seen from the moving car and
hence a positive identification was not possible. Only one species of
butterfly was seen in the area and that was a Small Grass Yellow (Eurema
All in all, this is one of the best trips I've had to the Mallee, not only
because we saw everything, but we also had great views, often the best we
have ever had of all the interesting species.
Bird list for Thurs 20th - Thurs 27th.
Emu Little Pied Cormorant White-necked Heron
White-faced Heron Large Egret Sacred Ibis
Straw-necked Ibis Yellow-billed Spoonbill Black Swan
Mountain Duck Black Duck Grey Teal
Wood Duck Black-shouldered Kite Black Kite
Wedge-tailed Eagle Little Eagle Swamp Harrier
Black Falcon Australian Hobby Brown Falcon
Nankeen Kestrel Malleefowl Painted Button-quail
Dusky Moorhen Swamphen Masked Lapwing
Black-fronted Dotterel Domestic Pigeon Peaceful Dove
Common Bronzewing Crested Pigeon Galah
Long-billed Corella Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Regent Parrot
Superb Parrot Eastern Rosella Yellow Rosella
Mallee Ringneck Red-rumped Parrot Mulga Parrot
Blue Bonnet Pallid Cuckoo Boobook Owl
Owlet Nightjar Kookaburra Pipit
White-backed Swallow Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike Blackbird
Southern Scrub-robin Red-capped Robin Hooded Robin
Jacky Winter Crested Shrike-tit Red-lored Whistler
Gilberts Whistler Golden Whistler Rufous Whistler
Grey Shrike-thrush Crested Bellbird Restless Flycatcher
Grey fantail Willie Wagtail Chestnut Quail-thrush
White-browed Babbler Superb Blue Wren Variegated Wren
Mallee Emu-wren White-winged Wren Striated Grasswren
Shy Hylacola Southern Whiteface Inland Thornbill
Chestnut-rumped Thornbill Buff-rumped Thornbill Yellow-rumped Thornbill
Yellow Thornbill Striated Thornbill Weebill
White-throated Treecreeper Brown Treecreeper Red Wattlebird
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater Noisy Friarbird Noisy Miner
Yellow-throated Miner Singing Honeyeater
White-eared Honeyeater Yellow-plumed Honeyeater White-plumed Honeyeater
Brown Headed Honeyeater White-fronted Honeyeater White-fronted Chat
Mistletoebird Spotted Pardalote Striated Pardalote
Silvereye Goldfinch Red-browed Finch
Diamond Firetail Zebra Finch House Sparrow
Starling White-winged Chough Magpie Lark
White-browed Woodswallow Black-faced Woodswallow Dusky Woodswallow
Grey Butcherbird Pied Butcherbird Magpie
Pied Currawong Grey Currawong Australian Raven
Total = 121
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