Trip Report for Castlereagh Region of NSW

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Subject: Trip Report for Castlereagh Region of NSW
From: "Alan Morris" <>
Date: Wed, 16 May 2001 12:47:49 +1000
Dick Mason and myself travelled to Mendooran NSW on the Castlereagh River (31 49S 147 07E) where Dick was to attend the State Council Meeting of the National Parks Association while I went along for the purpose of atlassing in unrecorded ten minute grids in the general Castlereagh Region area. Following the Meeting, Dick then joined me for four more days of Atlassing around Gilgandra, Dunedoo, Binnaway, Merrygoen, Neilrex, Gulargumbone, Coonamble, Tooraweenah, Baradine, Coonabrabran & Coolah. Altogether we visited 33 ten minute grid blocks, recorded and prepared atlas sheets for 80 sites and saw 112 species. Many of the low and or unvisited grids were basically rural sites, mostly utilised for wheat growing and stock grazing with the only trees being along watercourses, rural roads or Travelling Stock Routes. Some small State Forests were located and also surveyed.
Mendooran was the first settlement on the Castlereagh River in 1841 and nothing seems to have changed since, however the birding was good with flocks of both Red-winged & King Parrots common in the village, Spotted Bowerbirds were seen in the school grounds, this being perhaps the eastern edge of their range in this part of NSW, while Double-barred & Red-browed Finches were present along the River bank, Red-brows do not extend much further west from this point! Spiny-cheeked, Striped & Blue-faced Honeyeaters were common in the street trees, as were both Noisy & Yellow-throated Miners. Kestrels and a Hobby were seen in the village and a Boobook Owl was seen in the main street at night. A lone European Blackbird was also seen along the riverbank, not seen here previously by me.
On Saturday 5/5, Inland Thornbills & Speckled Warblers were seen near the Mendooran Rail silos, and Choughs and Apostlebirds were common in the District. A lone Little Eagle was seen at the Cobbora Rd Junction with the Dunedoo Rd, 7 Brown Quail flushed near the Wongoni Bridge and Grey-crowned Babblers were first noted on the Wongoni-Digilah Rd, where a pair of Hooded Robins were also seen. There was plenty of White Box flowering on the hills between Digilah Hsd & Dunedoo (and around Coonabarabran) and although plenty of Yellow-faced & other honeyeaters seen there were no Swift Parrots or Regent Honeyeaters seen during the 5 days although conditions appeared right for them. 3 Glossy Black Cockatoos were seen near Digilah and on the Angledool Swamp near Dunedoo, 36 Shoveller and some Hoary-headed Grebes were among the many waterbirds present. A female Rose Robin was seen in Ironbark country west of Merrygoen at a place where the first Brown Treecreepers, Dusky Woodswallows, White-browed Babblers and another pair of Hooded Robins were located. Jacky Winters appeared to be very scarce with the only 2 seen for the day on powerlines in Neilrex village itself.
On Sunday 6/5, the NPA group inspected the Goonoo State Forest where plenty of Inland & Buff-rumped Thornbills, White-browed Babblers and Speckled Warblers were located. We inspected a Malleefowl mound, used last season, but no birds were seen although there was a party of Emus in the Forest. We parted company with the NPA group after lunch and went to visit Coolbaggie NR near Eumungerie where the best birds were male Rose and Red-capped Robins close to each other and another Little Eagle. Another Hobby with prey was found west of Eumungerie with plenty of Little Ravens for company while at Balladoran SF the best birds were late Rufous Whistlers and wintering Golden Whistlers.
On Monday 7/5 we visited Boyben SF west of Mendooran and found 2 Chestnut-rumped Heathwrens, and the usual collectioon of thornbills, Weebils and Speckled Warblers. A Peregrine and 2 Brown Falcons, and Restless Flycatchers were the highlights near Breelong. While in Breelong SFBrown-headed Honeyeaters and 2 Red-capped Robins were the best birds, In Eura SF Pied Currawongs were very noticeable! Biddon SF, NE of Gilgandra was a great place for woodland birds, having plenty of box/ironbark woodland! At the one 2 ha site were Jacky Winter, Red-capped, Easterm Yellow & Hooded Robins, Dusky Woodswallows, Speckled Warbler & 3 species of thornbills in the 19 species recorded. Cockatiel were common in the farming country and 2 Hobby & a Wedge-tailed Eagle were seen at a location 26 km NM of Mendooran.
We stayed overnight near Coonabarabran, and inspected Wittenbra SF near Bugaldie next morning 8/5, where our first Little Lorikeets & Diamond Firetails were seen, also seen were Dusky Woodswallow, Brown Treecreeper and Hooded Robin.. We walked along Baradine Ck at Baradine where the Square-tailed Kite is often reported but drew a blank, the only new bird being Peaceful Doves. Alas Carmel Lagoon at Terridgerie was dry but Terridgerie Lagoon had some water along with 8 Yellow & 1 Royal Spoonbills. However we got lucky along the road between Coonamble and Baradine where at 30 km from Coonamble we stopped to see Emus and Blue Bonnets and located a lone male Superb Parrot (Winter visitors to the Castlereagh Region). At our lunch spot 4 km west of Coonamble, we saw our only 2 Black-faced Woodswallows for the trip, and were entertained by Red-winged parrots & Spotted Bowerbirds. We spent the afternoon on the plains between Coonamble & the Warrumbungle Range, all agriculture country here but did manage to locate one lone Brown Songlark near Mt Tenandra, and 2 flocks of 30 & 10 Superb Parrots east of Gulargumbone and yet 2 more Hobbies. (All the birding sites around Baradine are documented in the 4 page pamphlet, the "Bird Routes of Baradine" by David Johnston, available from the Coonabarabran Tourist Information Centre).
On Wednesday 9/5 our last day, we started with an hours look around Coonamble and found White-necked Heron (plenty seen on this trip), Black Kite, Hobby and 2 late White-breasted Woodswallows! A visit to the Coonamble STW, 2 km N of the town off the Walgett Rd, found us White-winged Wrens, Zebra Finches, Tree Martins, Pinkear, Hoary-headed Grebe and many waterbirds. We then returned to the Gulargumbone area to survey some more unvisited squares and located more Little Eagles, a Sparrowhawk,  Wedge-tailed Eagle & Brown Goshawk! In a Timber Reserve on Youlbung Rd Tooraweenah we discoverded a nice bit of box woodland and found the usual bevy of small birds including Red-capped Robin, Speckled Warbler, Inland & Chestnut-rumped Thornbills and Double-barred Finch. On the run backed to the Central Coast, we atlassed in two blocks around Coolah not previously visited and found Musk Lorikeet, Crimson Rosella, Restless Flycatcher, Black-shouldered Kite etc. Altogether a great trip and plenty of birds to see despite the wintry conditions.
Alan Morris
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