Round Hill Nature Reserve (central NSW) trip report (longish)

To: "Birding-aus (E-mail)" <>
Subject: Round Hill Nature Reserve (central NSW) trip report (longish)
From: "Graham Turner Ozemail" <>
Date: Fri, 25 Jun 2004 16:26:13 +1000
G'day birders,
                as I mentioned briefly earlier I have just come back from a 
long weekend at Round Hill and Nombinnie Nature Reserves. These are in central 
NSW, west of Condobolin. I was accompanied by a long time birding friend 
Matthew Stanton and between us we clocked up nearly 1500 km and 114 species of 

I'd like to thank those who gave me pointers before I left. This includes 
Neville Schrader, Andy Burton and Mick Todd, the birding aus archive also has a 
lot of useful information. I would especially like to thank the NPWS ranger for 
Round Hill / Nombinne, David Egan who gave a lot of advice and good 
suggestions. I would suggest to anyone going to this area contact Dave before 
setting off.

Brickbats to the ranger for Yathong NR who told me that as 40 NPWS staff 
members were having a love-in at Yathong, it would be too crowded for two 
birdos who wanted to have a look around. Yathong is only 107,241 hectares.

We set off early on Saturday 22 May, with the intent of not stopping for any 
birds east of Condobolin. This was easy as the best bird early on was a Little 
Eagle at Lucknow. We saw our first Apostlebird between Eugowra and Parkes (not 
sure who was supposed to be navigating). After Parkes and lunch we saw good 
number of Cockatiels along the road, but also large number of Starlings, a 
little disappointing.

West of Condobolin things improved. We travelled a different route to the one 
described in the archives. Rather than go to Lake Cargelligo and then to Round 
Hill, we went via Euabalong West. With a bit of local advice and a new map (we 
had three with conflicting amounts of dirt road) we found this to be a better 
way to get to RH. We slowed down to see some Grey-Crowned Babblers, but had to 
stop for the 3 Ground Cuckoo-shrikes feeding beside the road. Magnificent views 
of these birds plus being able to hear them call while being chased by 
butcherbirds was terrific. Further along the road towards Euabalong West we saw 
lots of Blue-Bonnets.

After reaching the mallee but before into the reserve we saw a pair of Crested 
Bellbirds hopping across the road. This bird was high on my target list as I 
had missed them on several occasions, including one where a bird was on top of 
my tent (with me in it). Here we also saw Hooded and Red-capped Robin, Splendid 
Wren and both Inland and Chestnut-rumped Thornbill.

We made our way to the Whoey Tank which is the NPWS preferred camping area. It 
has the distinction of being the most battered and abused piece of land in the 
entire reserve. Round Hill was dedicated in 1960, the erosion caused by grazing 
before then is still very obvious. Things improved considerably when of a flock 
of Pink Cockatoos flew past.

The next morning Matthew and I walked down the track and into the mallee 
proper. At times the silence was deafening, an event which was to happen all to 
often for the whole trip. Eventually we found a feeding flock of thornbills and 
weebills, but I managed to miss the Scrub Robin that made a very brief 
appearance. Also in the area were Mulga Parrots, Variegated Wrens, and Spiny 
cheeked Honeyeaters.

>From here we moved on to the fabled 'Wheat Paddock.' Here the Yellow-plumed 
>Honeyeaters (tick) were very vocal, as were more weebills and Inland 
>thornbills. The track marked for Red-lored Whistler by Thomas & Thomas was 
>great, but not for whistlers of any kind. Here were Shy Heathwren, 
>Yellow-rumped Pardalote, and another missed opportunity for Scrub-wren. This 
>area proved to be one of the richest bird wise in Nombinnie NR (the reserve 
>immediately west of Round Hill and includes the 'Wheat Paddock').

We continued along the road passed the wheat paddock, travelling slowly enough 
to hear if any birds were calling, stopping for when thornbill or weebills were 
heard. This turned up more of the same birds but also White-browed Babblers. 
Random stops were usually greeted with silence.

West of Matakana a large patch of Belar produced Singing Honeyeater, Southern 
White-face another Crested Bellbird and Yellow-throated miners, in all 18 
species. But no White-browed Treecreeper.

Other areas visited included:

North of Matakana, an area listed as Bimble Box woodland on the vegetation map 
(very helpful, and on the net) didn't have much Box, but did have yellow-robins 
and Crested Bellbirds call almost simultaneously, very east meets west. Other 
highlights were a lone Black-eared Cuckoo, more Pink Cockatoos, White-browed 
babblers and an Owlet nightjar.

Yathong State Forest; looking the worse for drought and grazing, but did 
produce a Spotted Bowerbird.

The rain started on Saturday evening, and got heavier as the weekend wore on. 
Everything was so dry that it was hard to complain about the weather. Watching 
the Spinifex change from very dull khaki to green almost over night was 

The trip home was rather wet, 40 mm overnight for Lake Cargelligo. Chat Alley 
produced only very damp wrens, probably White-winged, but the 6 Banded Plovers 
in the next paddock were a bonus.

Lake Cargelligo added a few waterbirds including great crested grebe and silver 
gull. The STW proved a real highlight with White-backed Swallows, Shelduck and 
White-winged Wrens in full breeding plumage.

In all 114 species were seen with 6 lifers for me, 3 for Matthew. I can 
certainly see why Round Hill is rated highly but lots of birders, all I have to 
do now is wait for the drought to break and go back when there is more bird 

Graham Turner
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