Belated Trip Report: Central NSW

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Subject: Belated Trip Report: Central NSW
From: "Steve" <>
Date: Sat, 10 Jan 2009 20:12:59 +1000
My brother Bill and I took a successful short trip through Central NSW over
the New Year with the main aim to pick up some lifers at Round Hill and
possibly Capertee valley.  Bill is an inexperienced birder having recently
developed a passion for filming birds and reckons he's going to film every
Aussie bird. Good luck with that! Lifers were a given for him but I ended up
with six myself and was happy with that. We drove from Brisbane to Glen
Davis on the first day (29 Dec) so we were pretty tired by the time we
reached the Glen Davis Campground. The drive down was pretty uneventful with
the best birds being raptors: a pair of Little Eagles at Inglewood; great
view of a Spotted Harrier perched roadside near Narrabri; and a pair of
Hobbies near Dunedoo.

1.      CAPERTEE VALLEY: Missed out on all my target birds:  Regent
Honeyeater, Diamond Firetail & Black Chinned Honeyeater (I did see some
Melithreptus Honeyeaters I couldn't pin down). Nevertheless, the valley
turned out to be great birding all along the road from Capertee to Glen
Davis with over 60 species recorded on the morning of 30th Dec. Rather than
list all the species I have placed a list on Eremaea birds. I think we were
a few weeks too late for the Regents as the Flowering trees reported early
in December all seemed to have finished. Might try earlier next time.
Biggest thrill for me was finding eight Gang-gang Cockatoos at Airly (near a
sign that says camping is allowed if you take your rubbish!). I haven't seen
these for many many years.
2.      GUM SWAMP, FORBES: Next day we headed inland to Gum Swamp. I have
driven past this place before but didn't go in which was foolish because it
is really very good. Here we got reasonable views of a pair of Freckled Duck
as well as a pair of Blue-billed Ducks. My brother spotted these ..he's
quite good at spotting birds but needs someone to identify them for him. A
spotting scope would have helped but it was so windy I didn't bother getting
it out of the car. The hide is positioned behind some tall reeds so isn't
very useful for duck watching. Looks good for crakes though, but we didn't
have time to hang around.
3.      LAKE CARGELLIGO: Next stop was the Sewage ponds at Lake Cargelligo.
What a great little spot! I saw a Spotted Crake in the distance as soon as I
got out of the car, and found Baillon's shortly after. My first two lifers
for the trip. We ended up finding three Baillon's and two Spotted. All
showing very well. We called in again the next day and searched the
surrounding fields finding White-winged Fairy-Wrens and Orange Chats as well
as flushing a Little Buttonquail. Stayed at a motel that night and Bill
fried the battery on his video camera with dodgy local electricity. For the
rest of the trip he was just a birdwatcher, not a cinematographer...oh yes
and a whinger as well!
4.      ROUND HILL. The morning of the 31st was spent at Round Hill which
was alive with birds at dawn. Mainly Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters, White-eared
Honeyeaters and Pardalotes (Spotted and Striated). It didn't take long for
me to find my next lifer, Western Gerygone. As the morning wore on the birds
started becoming harder to find. Grey-fronted Honeyeaters were my next lifer
and were fairly common in certain areas. For those with access to Thomas &
Thomas's mud-map, we started at the campground (Just a clearing really) and
just headed into the mallee (we both had GPS units). The most pleasant
surprise was the weather. I had expected it to be unbearably hot but it was
really quite pleasant with a cooling breeze coming from the south. It
probably got to low 30's but we had no trouble birding right up until
mid-day. After several hours the birds were becoming increasingly harder to
find but we eventually picked up Chestnut Quailthrush, Southern Scrub-robin,
and another lifer for me, Shy Heathwren. I dipped on another target bird
Black-eared Cuckoo although several were heard. At one stage Bill called to
me and said he had seen a greyish honeyeater with black through the ears. I
told him there was no such bird and to wake up to himself. Later back at the
car he grabbed my Pizzey and Knight and pointed to a Black-eared Cuckoo
saying "That's what I saw".  I told him he couldn't have because he hasn't
paid his dues. The relationship soured after that. (Full list is on
5.      New Years Day! Waking in Coonabarabran after listening to the
Coonabarabrandians ring in the new year. They have fireworks just like the
city folk. First bird of the year had to be something good....wait for
it...Magpielark (Doh!).  We decided to go via Barraba on the way home for
one last try at Regent Honeyeater. Took a dirt road from Gunnedah to
Bendameer and picked up a bonus tick on the way: Musk Lorikeet! Not a rare
bird but uncommon around Brissy and something of a bogey species for me. But
New Year's Day was about to get much better with a magnificent soaring
BLACK FALCON just north of Manilla. Great views initially and we watched it
in the distance for about ten minutes hoping it would return but it landed
in a distant tree. Great bird to get on the 2009 list.
6.      BARRABA: Looked promising with a sign saying "Home of the Regent
Honeyeater" or something like that. Picked up a bird trails guide from the
info centre. We didn't have much time left so we went straight to bird trail
2 which is supposed to be best for the Regents. Got out of the car with some
trepidation looking across the old asbestos mine and hoping the wind would
blow the other way. By this time it was very hot and seemingly no birds
about at all. We made our way down to the creek bed. The Ironbarks were
devoid of flowers so we weren't hopeful. After seeing a couple of Chooks
like White-plumed HE's and Rufous Whistler we decided it was a waste of time
and started to leave when all of a sudden a beautiful pair of Turquoise
Parrots (both Males) made an appearance and allowed a fairly close approach.
I got my first pics of this species while Bill whinged and whined about his
broken camera. Back at the car we looked up and were surprised to see a
White-bellied Sea-Eagle (There are a few Lakes in the area).
7.      Time to go home: stopped at Dangars Lagoon and Llangothlin lagoons
on the way through but saw nothing startling. All in all a very enjoyable
trip which I would do again in a heartbeat.


Steve Murray



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