I’ve just recently returned from a too short ramble around central
western NSW. Apart from a veneer of green in places that had had some
rain most of the areas I went through were dry and dusty. Most creeks
and dams were dry, river levels were very low. My main focus was to
re-visit some of my mallee haunts from a few years back to check on the
status of some of the mallee special birds. I took lots of photographs-
I’ll gradually put the better ones up on my website. I’ll just run
through a few of the highlights and discuss the mallee situation when I
get to it.
10-9-06- ~6 km W. Glen Davis- Brown Treecreeper (nesting), Yellow-tufted
Honeyeater (nesting), Fuscous Honeyeater (nesting), White-browed Babbler
(nesting), Painted Buttonquail, Spotted Quailthrush, Painted Honeyeater
(1), Turquoise Parrot, Black-chinned Honeyeater. Lovely property, Carol!
11 Sep 06 Capertee River- Regent Honeyeater- 2 adults busily tending to
young chicks in a nest high up in a Casuarina. Diamond Firetail.
12 Sep 06 Warrumbungles (Woolshed Area)- Painted Honeyeater (1),
Chestnut-rumped Heathwren (2), Varied Sittella (nesting), Pseud bibronii
(calling), Turquoise Parrot (6), Black-eared Cuckoo, Eastern Yellow
Robin (nesting), Noisy Friarbird (nesting), Emu (with chicks)
White-browed Scrubwren, Aust King Parrot.
12 Sep 06 Gilgandra Road, west of the Warrumbungles. Much to the delight
of my Hawaiian friends that I was showing around we saw some lovely
birds in the late afternoon. Spotted Harrier, and a range of parrots
including Red-winged Parrot, Red-rumped Parrot, Eastern Rosella, Galah,
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and Bluebonnet.
13 Sep 06 Warrumbungles Holiday Camp- Spotted Quailthrush singing over
the fence in the bush next door. One also seen crossing the road in the
13 Sep 06- Merriwindie SF- Lace Monitor (Bells variety), Painted
Honeyeater (3+), Koala (heard at 530 am), Turquoise Parrot (2, nest in
living Box tree about 8 m up), Grey Shrike-thrush (nest in hollow),
Brown treecreeper (nest with chicks, I think I saw an adult taking a
small red fruit into the nest). A great place Alan!
14 Sep 06- Burren Junction. Some sort of lapwing- I couldn’t find it in
my bird book……
14 Sep 06- 65km E Narrabri. Sacred kingfisher, Brown treecreeper,
14 Sep 06- 4 km S. Hermidale. Spotted Nightjar
15 Sep 06- Shuttleton Rd (SW of Nymagee)- good looking small patch of
mallee. Gilberts Whistler, Major Mitchells Cockatoo, Crested Bellbird,
Splendid Fairywren, Chestnut Quailthrush (2)
15 Sep 06- Belford- Shire Road 12- Major Mitchells Cockatoo
15 Sep 06- Belford- 1km E Yathong Rd- dam with lots of water surrounded
Rufous Songlark, Budgerigar, Major Mitchells Cockatoo (3), Sacred
Kingfisher, Mulga Parrot, Little Corella, Brown treecreeper. I stopped
at this same spot on the 17 Sep 06 and was able to add White-winged
Triller and Crimson Chat (4).
From the 15/9 to the 17/9 I explored the Cobar mallee where I have
previously located Striated Grasswrens at four different locations. The
Cobar mallee, as I call it, is an extensive area of unprotected mallee
that runs north of Yathong NR and west almost across to the Ivanhoe Rd.
It is broken up in places by Callitris/ Bimble Box woodland and cleared
grazing country. It is fairly poorly known and little visited.
Unfortunately, I found most of the Cobar mallee to be in poor condition
in comparison to my last visit in 2003. The drought is probably a major
contributing factor but I believe goats to be the major problem. Two of
my previous good grasswren locations were in terrible condition with
only remnants of Spinifex remaining. A combination of drought and
trampling/ grazing has reduced some areas to a vestige of their former
glory. I failed to find grasswrens anywhere and fairywrens (Splendid) at
only one location with no Variegated Fairywrens, suggesting a possible
common factor. Some of the birds which I did locate included Gilberts
Whistler, Shy Heathwren, Southern Scrub-robin, Chestnut Quail-thrush,
White-fronted honeyeater, Grey-fronted Honeyeater (both h’eaters feeding
on eucalypt blossom- GF driving WF away from the best trees), Malleefowl
(active mound located on Keewong), Spotted Nightjar, Spotted Bowerbird,
Mulga Parrot, Brown Goshawk, Pallid Cuckoo, Hooded Robin. With goats
becoming the preferred stock animal through this area I am seriously
concerned about the future prospects of the Striated Grasswren in
17 Sep 06- Yathong Rd (at Trida T/O) - Banded lapwing (2 adults with 1
17 Sep 06- 10km W. Mt Hope – Major Mitchell Cockatoo (3)
17 Sep 06- 4km S. Mt Hope – Spotted Harrier flying over wheatfield being
divebombed by Banded lapwing and magpie larks.
17 Sep 06- Nombinnie/ Round Hill NR
From the 17/9 to the 19/9 I explored the Nombinnie/ Round Hill block of
mallee- principally for Red-lored Whistlers. I visited all the
previously known locations and a few others. I failed at every site to
located them until on the morning of the 19/9 I heard a red-lored call
for approx. 30 seconds, south of the well known wheatfield area. A
hot/dry wind was getting up at the time and I was unable to locate the
bird to get a visual ID. I found Gilberts Whistler in many of the
previous Red-lored locations- not unusual in itself but intriguing given
the apparent absence of the red-loreds. Could Gilberts be gaining a
competitive advantage over the red-loreds during the drought? Also noted
was a considerable increase in the amount of illegal brush-cutting that
has been going on through the Red-lored Whistler areas over the last few
years. There is organised legal brush-cutting occurring on the property
Mylone which is in the middle of Nombinnie. The Brush that is cut is
Melaleuca uncinata, the dominant shrub in places that used to be
frequented by the Red-loreds. Having mentioned this, I doubt that the
brush-cutting is the major reason for the apparent decline. It remains
possible that they are simply lying low during the drought. Only time
will tell. I am concerned about the future of the Red-lored Whistler as
well but at least the habitat seems to be still present. In the case of
the grasswren, the habitat seems largely reduced.
Birds that I did find through here included Shy Heathwren (carrying food
for chicks), Southern Scrub-robin, Chestnut Quail-thrush (carrying food
for chicks), Malleefowl (fresh footprints), White-fronted Honeyeater,
Grey-fronted Honeyeater (only in north-western section), Yellow-plumed
Honeyeater (only in southern sections, with dependent young), Gilberts
Whistler, White-eared Honeyeater (with dependent young), Painted
19 Sep 06- Lake Cargelligo Sew Works- Black-tailed Godwit (1),
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (13), Gull-billed Tern (2), Red-necked Avocet
(1), Glossy Ibis (3). Water level in the back pond was low and fast
dropping. Could be great for waders in the near future.
20 Sep 06- Oolambeyan area- Plainswanderer (3), Stubble Quail, Superb
Fairywren, Singing Honeyeater.
21 Sep 06- Campbells Swamp (Griffith)- Magpie Goose (6), Blue-billed
Duck, Baillon’s Crake, Spotless Crake, Australian Crake.
22 Sep 06- Cuba SF (Murrumbidgee River)- Yellow Rosella (2 nests),
Blue-faced Honeyeater (nest in hollow), Superb Parrot (4), Brown
23 Sep 06- Fivebough wetland (Leeton)- Baillon’s Crake (13), Aust Crake
(2), Spotless Crake (heard only), Black-tailed nativehen (4)Glossy Ibis,
Freckled Duck (1), Whiskered Tern, White-bellied Se-eagle, Sharp-tailed
Sandpiper (200+), Red-necked Avocet (3), Red-kneed Dotterel.
24 Sep 06- Binya SF- Painted Honeyeater (2), Major Mitchells Cockatoo
(4), Emu, Turquoise Parrot (2), Diamond Firetail (15), Mulga Parrot,
Masked Woodswallow, White-browed Woodswallow, Dusky Woodswallow, Western
25 Sep 06- Ingalba NR, Pucawan NR and surrounding bushland (west of
Temora)- Spotted Nightjar (Pucawan), Chestnut-rumped Heathwren,
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Gilberts Whistler, Painted Buttonquail
(Pucawan and Ingalba), Buff-rumped Thornbill, Brown Treecreeper,
White-throated Treecreeper, Barking Owl (2 locations) and White-winged
26 Sep 06- 23 km NE of Young- Superb Parrot (6).
27 Sep 06- Capertee River. The Regent Honeyeater nest visited earlier in
the month had fledged one young’un which was proving to be a lot of work
for its parents. I don’t know how they would cope if they had more than
one! Also Painted Honeyeater, Turquoise Parrot, Diamond Firetail, Brown
Overall, it was a trip of ups and downs. The mallee was a little
depressing and a bit of a worry but the rest of the trip was great.
Michael Todd Wildlifing Images & Sounds of Nature
Latest Additions: Rockwarbler
Toronto, NSW, Australia 0410 123715
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