Easter 2003: Griffith-Leeton-Chiltern (3rd try)

Subject: Easter 2003: Griffith-Leeton-Chiltern (3rd try)
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2003 09:33:37 +1000

Hello again,
Hopefully this is the only copy of this email that you will receive. 

We spent the Easter long weekend visiting friends and family in Griffith (NSW) and in Wodonga (VIC).  We had a few big dips, but also a few surprises, and a couple of lifers.  We ended up seeing 116 species in total.  The main areas we visited are described below:

Jindalee SF (near Cootamundra)
A quick stop here around the dam through the gate just off the Burley-Griffin Way (just west of the road that goes north past "The Bald Hill") was very pleasant.  Many BROWN TREECREEPER, and with some of the trees in blossom, there were small groups of honeyeaters (including BROWN-HEADED, FUSCOUS, and WHITE-NAPED).  Also a large group of PEACEFUL DOVE.

Binya SF (near Griffith)
Many SOUTHERN WHITEFACE, RED-CAPPED ROBIN and MISTLETOE BIRD in the dry forest around the old house/depot, and along Pine Drive for about 2km  (past 2 small dams).  No luck in our quest for the White-browed Treecreeper - maybe next time?  Beside the nearby Yenda STW, in the small patch of bushes near the gate to the STW, there was a frenzy of activity.  There were small flocks of ZEBRA FINCH, DOUBLE-BARRED FINCH,  SOUTHERN WHITEFACE, YELLOW-RUMPED and YELLOW THORNBILL.

Cocoparra NP (near Griffith)
A small patch of activity along the Whitton-Stock-Route, about 50m south of the Store-Ck turnoff.  Many BROWN TREECREEPERS, a male HOODED ROBIN, MULGA PARROT, JACKY WINTER, and a group of WHITE-BROWED BABBLERS.  Also a PACIFIC HERON at nearby "Mt Elliot Tank".

Griffith STW
We weren't mentally prepared for the vast area of water at the Griffith STW.  We looked along the northern edge of the ponds (off Harward Rd), through the enormous flocks of PINK-EARED and other DUCKS.  Managed to spot a lone FRECKLED DUCK in the middle, as well as many CHESTNUT TEAL and BLUE-BILLED DUCK.  We then drove around to the saleyards, and looked at the southern end of the ponds.  Here we found a lone male MUSK DUCK (if "lone" is good description when it was in a pond with 1000s of other ducks).

Lake Wyangan (near Griffith)
The smaller swamps are all well signposted of the Lake Wyangan Rd, but were almost dry.  Nericon Swamp had a little bit of water, but we couldn't find any birds.

There were quite a few birds in the southern end of Lake Wyangan North, accessed from a small turn-out along the causeway, which was well worth a visit.  We saw several species of cormorant and a GREAT-CRESTED GREBE.

Griffith Airport
There is a great track along the outside of the airport boundary fence heading east from the "Terminal".  We were looking for Ground-Cuckoo Shrikes, but had to settle for a large group of BLUE BONNET, some MULGA PARROT, and a group of APOSTLEBIRDS instead.

Fivebough Swamp and Settling Ponds (Leeton)
There wasn't much happening at Fivebough Swamp that we could see (perhaps we didn't take the right turn in the track).  After a while we wandered along a newly constructed mud causeway over towards the STW, where the settling ponds were full of activity.  Several FRECKLED DUCK, and many of the more common ducks.  A SWAMP HARRIER crashed in to the reeds, while a flock of ZEBRA FINCHES sat on the fence.  This was a really nice set of ponds.  Maybe next time we'll find the Bitterns?

Morundah-Urana Rd
We drove from Leeton to Chiltern along the Morundah-Urana Rd.  About half way along, we saw our first BLACK FALCON as it was tearing along chasing a flock of galahs, before perching on top of a dead tree beside the road.  It was very obliging and gave us time to stop, set up the scope and get great views.  It then took off and flew a few circles above us before tearing off into the distance. A little further along the road we came across a flock of about 12 WHITE-FRONTED CHAT in a pile of old fence-posts and wire beside a stock-channel.

Cyanide Dam (a.k.a. "Honeyeater Picnic Area", Chiltern)
The dam is dry, and there is not much activity here apart from the many YELLOW-TUFTED and FUSCOUS HONEYEATERS.  We rode our bikes around the forest, and disturbed a PAINTED BUTTON-QUAIL snuffling along, as well a  group of GANG-GANGS.  While overall it was very quiet, we still saw some nice birds, with several BROWN TREECREEPERS, a BLACK-CHINNED HONEYEATER, a SCARLET ROBIN, and a group of WHITE-BROWED BABBLER, and a flock of DIAMOND FIRETAIL among the more notable ones.

Wonga Wetlands & Horseshoe Lagoon (Albury)
We stopped at these two wetlands for an hour or so on Monday morning, and in addition to the birds we usually see here, we saw an AZURE KINGFISHER, a SWAMP HARRIER and a male MUSK DUCK.

Thurgoona (Albury)
After spending too much time looking for a feral species, we eventually found 2 very fast moving/nervous EURASIAN TREE SPARROWS in the hakea bushes in the large carpark beside the CRC for Freshwater Ecology building at the Thurgoona Campus of CSU.

Thanks to Mick Todd, Allan Richards, David McDonald, Marnix Zwankhuisen and Alastair Smith for their helpful information.

Mat and Cathy

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