Round Hill/Nombinnie Trip Report 15-18 Nov 2009 - PART 1

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Subject: Round Hill/Nombinnie Trip Report 15-18 Nov 2009 - PART 1
From: David Stowe <>
Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2009 22:55:45 +1100
Firstly I want to thank the great people on birding-aus for all their helpful replies to my RFI. Special mention to Nevil Lazarus, Martin Cachard, John Rawsthorne, Nick Leseberg, Troy Mutton, Lorna Mee, Frank Antram for their help! It was with great excitement that Grant Brosie, Nick Livanos and I left from Sydney in the early hours of Sunday morning heading for Lake Cargelligo where we had booked a few nights in a cabin at the Lakeview Caravan Park. Our aim was to travel via Cowra on the way out to look for Superb Parrots and return home via Forbes and Gum Swamp. We were ecstatic when a short way before Cowra we saw our first Superbs - at least 5-6 birds in the gums on the side of the highway. We managed great views and photos before heading off. Only a few km later we saw more birds in a dead tree in a paddock just off the road and spent the next hour photographing from the car as numerous birds fought over a nesting hole! With the sun behind us and 10-15 birds around it was magic! We then saw a further 4-5 birds again only another few km down the road - all before Cowra and then none seen again for the rest of the trip. We continued on to Lake Cargelligo with not much else to report besides a Brown Songlark that we had been searching for and arrived to be greeted with 40 degree heat and a hot westerly blowing. After a brief rest in the air-conditioned cabin (struggling under the strain) we set out to Lake Cargelligo STW where the highlight was Orange Chat plus White-fronted chat. Other birds among others were White-winged & Varigated Fairy-wrens, Black-tailed Native Hens, Shelduck, Spotted Crake, Blue Bonnet etc. After the Orange Chats flew into a nearby paddock on private property, we went in search of them from the road on the other side where we had more views but still very distant. We then headed out for a short drive along the road to the airport as the light was fading and managed to find some semi-obliging Blue-Bonnets feeding in the grass.

Monday morning we were up early to get out to Nombinnie before the sun rose although were probably still a little late. our first stop was the track off the NW corner of the wheat field. Our first bird of the day was a pair of Southern Scrub-Robin who hopped merrily up to us within a few metres making their high pitched piercing whistle! An awesome start to the day and a tick for Grant & Nick. At the end of this track we had our first view of Shy Heathwren (tick for me!) and Inland Thornbills but no sign of Red-lored or Gilberts Whistler. We then walked south inside the edge of the wheatfield and came across a small party of Chestnut Quail-Thrush (tick for everyone!) plus Red- capped Robins and a young Grey-fronted Honeyeater plus Spendid fairy- wrens. Still no luck with the Whistlers except the annoyingly common Rufous! By now it was already very hot and the westerly wind was picking up again. Flies were pretty ordinary and groups of birds were found sheltering together at the shaded base of trees on the edge of the road. It was at such a site along the east-west section of road past the wheat field that we stumbled on our first and only Gilberts Whistler! To say that we were excited is an understatement and we were able to get great views and photos. Shy Heathwrens were also found here as were the seemingly common Scrub- Robins! We went to another spot further west where Martin Cachard had reported all the honeyeaters recently and while we found some Eremophila still flowering the diversity was much lower with Grey-fronted and Spiny- cheeked HE plus Brown-headed only. It did look like some were about to start flowering so it may be a good spot again soon?? Also had Mulga and Red-rumped Parrots.

By 1pm we were dripping in sweat and questioning our sanity so returned to our cabin recluse for a rest for a couple of hours before heading back out to the Tanks area. On the way out we slowed down for some road kill on the road and a glimpse of a bird running off the side into the bush which we had thoughts about being a Malleefowl only to realise that feeding on the road kill was actually the biggest sand coloured Goanna you've ever seen! We watched him walk off the road and followed into the bush to find a water trough and great views of a Mallee Ringneck perched beautifully for photos. At a small waterhole next to the railway intersection we watched 8 plus Common Bronzewings coming in to drink. The tanks area was pretty quiet with flies being by far the most common species! Blue-bonnets, Ringnecks and Mulgas were around plus Striped and Spiny-cheeked HE. As the sun went down we stopped on side of the road at the top of Round Hill and waited for dusk and the chance of Spotted Nightjar. We played a tape and sure enough over flew a gorgeous bird with big white wing spots - a bogey bird finally off my list!! A slow drive home in the dark saw us get back at 10pm after being up since 5. But all the flies and heat and tiredness were worth it with 3 new birds for Grant and Nick and 4 for me helping me just over 550. No help needed getting to sleep especially with the alarms set for 4:30 the next morning for another day in the magical mallee!

(to be continued.......)

David Stowe


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