Warrumbungle National Park

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Warrumbungle National Park
From: "Brian Everingham" <>
Date: Fri, 27 Apr 2001 20:11:49 +1000
I have just returned from a five day trip to Warrumbungle National Park and I guess there are a few things worth noting here on birding-aus.
We travelled up from Sydney on Monday 23rd April and pitched camp under flowering ironbarks at Camp Blackman in the early evening. We had constant companions of Noisy Friarbirds and Noisy Miners but no Regent Honeyeaters for the whole time we were there! Our last time we did have these delightful birds. At least those birds that were there provided us with a stunning dawn chorus.
On our first day in camp we walked the fire trail to the north of the camp, a dead-end according to the map, but in fact it continues into the property called "Iona" and from that other end is recently graded with the full knowledge of the Area Manager. It is being used from that end as part of a feral control program. Mark Fosdyk, the Area Manager, told me this was for foxes. I do know that while we were there six pigs were shot and we saw another two sows and litters. We also saw a large number of goats. (Very big herds in West Spirey Creek over on the icon side leading down from the Breadknife). Local ranger staff are very worried about the apparent disappearance of Brush-tailed wallabies and I wonder if a combination of fox predation and goat taking over suitable habitat might not be to blame!
On that first day out walking we saw a total of 49 species of birds. This was in country that was basically box and some ironbark, shading into callitris and then box again. Most special for this Sydney-dwelling liver was the Speckled Warbler but we also got good views of the Little Lorikeet (regular and numerous every day).
On the next day we climbed the Grand High Tops circuit and came back to camp with a day list of 53 species. A feature of this day was the number of honeyeater: Yellow Tufted Honeyeater (most numerous every day), White Naped Honeyeater, White Plumed Honeyeater, White Eared Honeyeater and Yellow Faced Honeyeater. They were all numerous, though I must say that the Yellow Tufted Honeyeaters were clearly insectivorous.
That afternoon, while walking east of Camp Blackman, we found the trip highlight: a flock of 8-10 Turquoise Parrot. They were settling, landing on dead tree branches and dropping to the undergrowth and back again. Faye and I also noted some appeared to have an orange flash between the legs as they flew. They are an exquisite bird.
On our third day of walking we again spent the time on the north side away from the tourist crowds. This area is not spectacular for its scenery but is bird life is rich. We did a circuit from the camp around Mount Bregon and Mount Aranon to the Woolshed and back. Here we found White Chinned Honeyeater, Spiny Cheeked Honeyeater and Hooded Robin. We also found a small flock of Little Woodswallow! This must surely be near the southern limits. There were Dusky Woodswallow elsewhere in the park and these stayed quite close and easily observed by both of us for as long as we wished. We also found White Browed Babbler on this circuit as well as Brown Goshawk. And of all days we had great views of Wedge Tail Eagles.
The Park total was 89 species and I guess that is not too bad when you consider the habitat. I loved seeing Jacky Winter (Brown Flycatcher) but must state that I was more than disappointed in the lack of any form of Red Robins and no Apostlebirds. Of special concern to me is the lack of Red Capped Robin.
Some comments on the management of the Park:
1. The feral animal control program might in the future demand a closure of this area if the goats are to be controlled.
2. There is a serious weed problem still. Prickly Pear is but one of numerous weeds in this area and the flats are a major problem.
3. The track to the Breadknife was upgraded in 1997 using a grant from the Commonwealth Government, Department of Industry, Science and Tourism "Sites of National Significance Program" and supported by Skillshare labour. This is a major development using paving and laying out the track away from the creek below. Current expansion of this to include a popular Aboriginal cave site is contentious.
4. A new sewage pond, lined with black plastic, is in place and surrounded by a high fence. The soil around is infested with "Salvation Jane" or "Patterson's Curse", depending on your preference. Several sites have employed composting toilets instead but the main camp site was built in 1975 and is a heavy user of water and generates most sewage.
Brian Everingham
PO Box 269
NSW 2233
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