Trip report -- North-East NSW June/July 2006

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Subject: Trip report -- North-East NSW June/July 2006
From: "simon starr" <>
Date: Wed, 12 Jul 2006 20:00:02 +1000
Firstly thankyou all for the help with identifying Frogmouths. Tricky
subject. I'll put it down as probably a Tawny,possibly a Marbled, and next
time I'll be more ready !

Here's some highlights of my 2006 annual family/birding expedition.

Drove from northern Vic.
On the way made some brief stops.
2 Superb Parrots buzzed past between Deniliquin and Cobargo.
Also Emu, Cockatiel, Blue Bonnet, Banded Lapwing in the riverina.
Approx 6 Ground Cuckoo-Shrike on the roadside halfway between Narrandera and
Camped at the Wanda campground, northern end of GOOBANG NP near Parkes.
Noisy Friarbirds in abundance in the flowering Ironbarks and a couple of
Speckled Warblers. Nice place.
Spent a day at the DUBBO ZOO. 54 species of wild bird seen, included
Apostlebirds, Grey-crowned Babblers. Very enjoyable. Heard a Striped
Honeyeater only to find out that it was an exhibit.
GILGANDRA FLORA RESERVE was a nice stop too (signed c.8kms north of
Gilgandra). 3 more Ground Cuckoo Shrikes here plus Eastern Ringneck, Striped
honeyeater, and plenty of "small" birds.
Spent the first week camped in the BORDER RANGES NP at Sheepstation Creek
campground. This is not at the top of the range, but has good walks quickly
taking you into rainforest and was warmer. I found the birding to be slow,
interspersed with occasional appearences by spectacular birds.  Frustrating,
but rewarding at the same time. Yellow-throated Scrubwrens (some great
mimcry from one bird) and Logrunners (tame) were two of the most frequently
encountered birds here in the dense dark bits. One sighting each of a Noisy
Pitta and a Pale Yellow Robin.
An Albert's Lyrebird was singing on and off all day a little way off the
track (but mostly in the morning), so I made it my mission to see him. This
involved getting through a patch of dense lantana and then up a steep
hillside. 3 times I did the trek, inching my way closer to the bird. 3 times
I came to within 15 metres of him in full song, but the vegetation was so
dense that there was no view through. Every time he spotted me first, went
quiet and then resumed singing further up the slope. On my fourth attempt I
decided to try a rear-guard action. I took 30 minutes or so to walk the 50
metres around him and then edged towards him from above, at times on my
hands and knees (fortunately the twigs were bending not snapping). Again I
got incredibly close, maybe 10 metres away. And finally through a tiny
window in the vegetation a flicker of movement. Focusing was hard with so
many layers of foliage to look through, and then for a second his head ,beak
wide open belting out his song, next one of his tail feathers danced in the
gap for a second or two, and then silence. !! He was gone. (saw one later
run across the road in front of my car and heard a few others).All in all I
wasn't disappointed. To experience his song at such close range was a real
Also saw Green Catbirds twice, Paradise Riflebirds a few times,a single
female Regent Bowerbird, Wompoo Fruit-Doves and plenty of Satin bowerbirds.
Didn't hear any R.Scrub-birds let alone see one.Something to go back for.

Much of our second week was spent at my brother-in-laws property, next to
the CLARENCE RIVER near Tabulum (between Casino and Tenterfield) aswell as
some exploring to the north ( Cataract forest, Pretty Gully and another
property next to the Clarence) .  It was fun to visit some areas with little
idea of what would be there, and just find my own birds.
Birding was generally best along the rivers, but there were some nice
pockets of rainforest in some south facing gullies. Was pleased to find
Varied Triller, Little Shrike-thrush, Green Catbird, Wompoo Fruit-Doves,
Grey goshawk and Spotted Quail-thrush (and Greater Gliders) amongst many
others. At one site on the Clarence heard Russet-tailed Thrushes calling
from the opposite side in the morning. I was told the canoe there had a leak
but that I'd make it across no worries. So off I set with the whole morning
to kill and one bird on my mind. I'm casually paddling, looking for the best
landing spot on the other side when i realise that the canoe is starting to
sink. My feet are under as is my behind. Paddling like crazy I just make it
as the canoe is just about under. I then start the climb up the gully which
is completely infested with lantana. No bird in its right mind would hang
around with me crashing through, fortunately it finally thins out after
about 100 metres and i reach a nice dark rainforest gully, where the calls
had been coming from, but no Thrushes.
I paddled faster on the way back.
Our last couple of days were spent at ILUKA. What a great area, with a great
rainforest, fantastic beaches and the tidal estuary full of birds and
action. Recorded 83 species, finally seeing a male Regent Bowerbird (plus a
few brown ones), Pacific Baza in the caravan park, Ospreys with young in the
estuary, Mangrove Gerygones, White-headed Pigeon,wintering Bee-eaters, lots
of Brahminy Kites, Humpback Whales, Dolphins in the estuary at night, and a
distant Albatross sp. Didn't have time to go around to Yamba where Mangrove
Honeyeaters get seen but from the Old Ferry Crossing Picnic area (north of
town next to the Clarence) I thought I heard one across the water on
Goodwood island.  Another bird I need on the wrong side of the river ! The
island was close enough to scope, but I waited a while and no luck, however
the next morning at dawn as the first rays of sun hit the mangroves it was
all action, and I saw half a dozen Mangrove Honeyeaters plus a couple of
Striped. ( you would need a scope though).Gotta love it when a plan works.
I finished the holiday with 192 species, six new birds, many great sightings
and a few reasons to go back.
Oh yes, and we drove past Narrabri both ways with no knowledge of the
commotion there. Maybe I should have taken calls  :(  !!
Simon Starr,


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