Nhill Trip Report

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Subject: Nhill Trip Report
From: "Joy Tansey" <>
Date: Tue, 14 Jun 2005 21:07:58 +1000
Wedged between rain and strong winds, Jen Spry and I made the most of the
long weekend based at Nhill and playing in the Little Desert. Well, once we
got there. We left Melbourne at 6.30am and reached Nhill at 5pm, but there
were many good birds along the way.

The birding really began in the far south of the Little Desert as we wound
our way in from Natimuk. Given directions to a Malleefowl mound, we spent
some time trying to find it 20 meters from the track and the tree with
flagging tape. It wasn't to be. The heath was too dense and it was probably
a 'country' 20 meters. But we both saw a pair of Southern Scrub-robins
circling round us and exclaiming their displeasure at our intrusion, albeit
difficult views through dense heath. I also got a brief look at a
Slender-billed Thornbill before it disappeared never to be seen again. Jen's
angst was showing.

Along the Nhill-Harrow Rd, still trying to reach Nhill, the honeyeaters were
most obvious. Banksia ornarta had recently flowered, consequently the heath
was alive with honeyeaters, many species way beyond counting. A pleasant
couple of hours were spent up a track opposite Whimpey's, with Southern
Scrub-robin perching on a fence to provide excellent views and
Purple-crowned Lorikeet feeding at waist height. In this area we counted 8
species of honeyeater, but the biggest surprise for me were the
White-fronted Honeyeater. I hadn't expected them, and the first group we saw
had 6 members. Little did we realise what was to follow.

Of particular interest for us was the search for Slender-billed Thornbill.
Sunday was not to end until Jen had it as well.  All advice was to look
around Salt Lake or along the track in. Thanks to the security blanket
effect of a large friendly Toyota, we tested the Forester in deep sand and
tip-toed across the top all the way to Salt Lake. Once again, honeyeaters
were forever distracting the eyes from the search for smaller birds, but we
finally got onto a small band of SB Thornbills as we were almost back at the
car after lapping the lake ... yes lake, it had water in it. The Thornbills
provided superb views, feeding on heath only a few meters from us. A tick
for Jen, a ticklet for me (race tick). Jen also managed 2 ticklets  with the
black-winged form of Grey Currawong and Yellow-rumped form of Spotted
Pardalote. White-fronted Honeyeater were everywhere, but even more common
were Tawny-crowned Honeyeater. It sometimes seemed as if every high perch
had a TCHE on it.

A Spotted Harrier along the Nhill Harrow Rd was an unexpected highlight and
instantly made me homesick for Broome. But the bird of the weekend, because
I'd never seen so many, and I don't see them all that often, was
White-fronted Honeyeater. Although not the most numerous bird - a close
contest between New Holland and Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters, they were
nevertheless very abundant, and uncountable.

Monday saw the wind even stronger than the day before. Small birds almost
completely absent, all sensibly staying with their heads down. The Shy
Heathwren and Rufous Calamanthus  skulked, somewhere away from us. The
Malleefowl remained elusive, even after more searching on Monday, but
provides an excuse for another trip - perhaps Wyperfeld?

A full list follows for those that are interested, in all we picked up 82
species which included 13 species of honeyeater. (N= Nhill surrounds, LD =
Little Desert NP and G = Glenlee Flora & Fauna Reserve)

Emu   (1: LD)
Black Swan     (N)
Australian Shelduck    (2:N)
Pacific Black Duck       (N)
Pink-eared Duck          (1:N)
Hardhead            (N)
Grey Teal        (N)
Hoary-headed Grebe    (N)
Black-shouldered Kite  (2:N & LD)
Spotted Harrier  (1: N)
Brown Falcon    (1 N; 1G)
Australian Hobby (1: LD)
Nankeen Kestrel  (1: LD)
Eurasian Coot      (N)
Black-winged Stilt  (3: N)
Red-necked Avocet   (1:N)
Black-fronted Dotterel (5: N)
Masked Lapwing    (40+: N)
Common Bronzewing   (2: LD)
Crested Pigeon     (N; LD)
Galah     (N)
Long-billed Corella     (~200: N)
Little Corella               (2: N)
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (1: N)
Purple-crowned Lorikeet   (14: LD)
Eastern Rosella      (2: N)
White-throated Treecreeper   (1: LD)
Brown Treecreeper   (1: G)
Superb Fairy Wren    (LD)
Variegated Fairy Wren   (LD; G)
Spotted Pardalote         (10: LD)
Inland Thornbill        (4: LD)
Slender-billed Thornbill    (7: LD)
Striated Thornbill       (10: LD)
Chestnut-rumped Thornbill   (2: LD)
Yellow-rumped Thornbill     (10: LD)
Weebill       (6: LD)
Southern Whiteface   (2: LD)
Red Wattlebird         (40+: LD)
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater     (1/2 a squillion: LD)
Noisy Miner    (1: N)
White-eared Honeyeater     (16: LD)
Yellow-faced Honeyeater    (20: LD)
Singing Honeyeater            (1: LD)
White-plumed Honeyeater   (2: LD)
Yellow-plumed Honeyeater   (1: LD)
Brown-headed Honeyeater   (12: LD)
White-fronted Honeyeater    (1/2 a squillion: LD)
Tawny-crowned Honeyeater  (squillions: LD)
New Holland Honeyeater     (squillions: LD)
Eastern Spinebill        (4: LD; 1: G)
White-fronted Chat    (20: LD)
Scarlet Robin        (6: LD)
Red-capped Robin (2: G)
Hooded Robin     (1: G;  1: LD)
Southern Scrub-robin  (4: LD)
White-browed Babbler (6: LD)
Varied Sittella     (8: LD)
Gilbert's Whistler (2: LD)
Golden Whistler   (2: LD)
Grey Shrike-thrush  (2: LD)
Willie Wagtail   (1: LD; 1: N; 1: G)
Grey Fantail   (2: LD)
Magpielark   (2: N)
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike  (9: LD)
Dusky Woodswallow      (2: LD)
Australian Magpie   (N; LD; G)
Grey Currawong     (1: N; 3: LD; 1: G)
Australian Raven   (2: LD)
Little Raven      (12: LD)
White-winged Chough  (LD, G)
Skylark   (LD - adjacent farmland)
European Goldfinch      (LD)
House Sparrow      (N)
Mistletoebird     (2: G)
Welcome Swallow    (N; LD)
Tree Martin       (2: LD; 2: G)
Silvereye      (LD, G)
Common Blackbird   (1: LD)
Common Starling    (N)


Joy Tansey
Altona Meadows

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