NSW Riverina Trip Report - Cocoparra, Fivebough, Pulletop and Galore Hil

To: "" <>
Subject: NSW Riverina Trip Report - Cocoparra, Fivebough, Pulletop and Galore Hill
From: Tim Dolby <>
Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2014 05:12:17 +0000
Hi everyone, for something to do I've written up a trip/bird/plant report for 
the Riverina - an area that I've been spending quite a bit of time in recently. 
 The full report with some images is also on my website at If you do get around to reading it, I hope 
you like it!


Tim Dolby

Birding the Riverina - Cocoparra, Fivebough, Pulletop and Galore Hill

The following report covers some birdwatching locations in the Riverina, 
including Cocoparra National Park and Binya State Forest, Fivebough Wetland, 
Leeton and Tuckerbil Wetland, Pulletop Nature Reserve and Galore Hill Nature 
Reserve. I've visited most of these sites about half a dozen times, so this 
report is a bit of a rundown of those experiences, plus a bit of background 
knowledge thrown in.

In 1817 John Oxley, the first Europeans to visit the region, wrote in his 
journal "the weather as usual fine and clear, which is the greatest comfort we 
enjoy in these deserts, abandoned as they seem to be by every living creature 
capable of getting out of them." How wrong he was - from a birdwatching and 
wildlife point of view, the Riverina is a seriously under-estimated birding 
destination. By contrast with Oxley views, when early settler Henry Osborne 
climbed to the top of Galore Hill in 1847 he shouted "There's land enough and 
galore for me". Galore is an Irish word that means plenty. This was perhaps a 
bad omen in terms of the clearing of native vegetation, however it does show 
that the Riverina is an area of contrasts, certainly in terms of its habitats, 
and it appeals to different people.

One reason I’ve written this report is because a lot of Australian birders 
travel to northern Victoria, visiting places such as Chiltern-Mt Pilot National 
Park and Barmah National Park but seem to stop at the Murray River. This may be 
because there's relatively little information about bird sites just north of 
the Murray, so here’s my own personal rundown of these places.

For a while the Riverina was a popular destination for birdwatchers, due mainly 
to the Australian Birdfair, which was held each year in Leeton. Fantastically 
organised by Mike Schultz, unfortunately this event hasn’t taken place since 
2011, and a new Australian Bird Fair has started in Sydney's Olympic Park. In 
many ways it's a great shame, I attended the Leeton Birdfair in 2010 (or was it 
2009?) and it was fabulous! There was a great program, it was organised by some 
great people, and it was in a great location.

The Riverina is a also great stop over site, stop there when you're heading to 
Round Hill Nature Reserve and Lake Cargelligo, stop there if you're heading 
from Melbourne to Brisbane (and beyond) or vice versa, and stop there if you're 
heading from Sydney to Adelaide or vice versa.

Cocoparra National Park and Binya State Forest
The main site I want to concentrate on is Cocoparra National Park (8358 ha) and 
the adjacent Binya State Forest (4170 ha), mainly because they are both a rare 
woodland remnant, and they are a bit of a jewel in the Riverina crown. I've 
visited these parks a number of  times; there's some dramatic scenery, rocky 
outcrops and, in places, the rich red soils contrast wonderfully with the 
greens of the trees, particularly the native pines.

First gazetted as a national park in 1969, Cocoparra National Park is located 
20 km east of Griffith on the Burley Griffin Way. When I've visited I've 
pitched a tent at the excellent Woolshed Flat camp ground, or visited from 
Leeton. As with most national parks bush camping is also permitted away from 
roads and facilities. The Cocoparra Range is part of the traditional lands of 
the Wiradjuri nation, and there are ~60 known Aboriginal sites, mainly open 
campsites and scarred trees.

Wattle Drive - note my parking style! Lesson 1: car parking technique for 
birdwatchers, follow these steps. See what you think is an unusual bird, stop 
quickly in the middle of the track and leave your car door wide open (this is 
important), and then walk off aimlessly looking for the mystery bird. 
Ultimately you want to repeat these steps as much as is respectfully possible.

Cocoparra's plants
Before talking about the birds, I thought I spend sometime writing about the 
great plants at Cocoparra and Binya. With over 450 species recorded, these are 
linked to different habitat types, each species varying according to soil type.

On the Ridges
Cocoparra is a series of ranges, with exposed rough exposed rocks. On the high 
ridges you'll find Black Cypress-pine (Callitris endlicheri), Dwyer’s Mallee 
Gum (Eucalyptus dwyeri), Currawang (Acacia sparsiflora), Green Tea-Tree 
(Leptospermum trivalve), and there's some heathland dominated by Broombush 
(Melaleuca uncinata), areas where it's worth looking for Shy Heathwren.

The Slopes
In the dry sclerophyll forest on the rising foot and midslopes you find native 
pines such as Black (Callitris endlicheri) and White Cypress-pine (C. 
glaucophylla) and Drooping She-oak (Allocasuarina verticillata). Eucalypts here 
include Dwyer's Mallee Gum (Eucalyptus Dwyeri), Mugga Ironbark (E. 
sideroxylon), Red Stringybark (E. macrorhyncha), Grey Box (E. microcarpa) and 
the wonderful Bimble Box (E. ucalyptus populnea), with it's glossy and rounded 
dark green leaves. This particular habitat mix is considered to be regionally 
endangered – with less than 10% remaining of its original extent - and is also 
the habitat type that supports locally endangered Glossy Black-Cockatoo 
(discussed below).

Wattles on the slopes includes Currawong (Acacia doratoxylon), Yarran (A. 
homalophylla), Currawang (A. sparsiflora), Deane's Wattle (A. deanei) and Boree 
(A. pendula), while other trees here include Kurrajong (Brachychiton 
populneum), Rosewood (Heterodendrum oleifolium) and Cherry Ballart (Exocarpos 

When I visited Cocoparra just a few weeks ago the slopes were covered in Wonga 
Vine (Pandorea pandorana). A spectacular climber with large white-light red 
tube flowers about 15mm long, it's a close relative of the Bower Vine (Pandorea 
jasmanoides) grown as a garden plant.. These flowers cascaded from the tops of 
shrubs and trees along the Mt Brogden walk. Pandorea pandorana seems to be a 
highly variable species, for instance in other places that I've seen them 
they've flowered in Spring. However, here at Cocoparra this year they were 
flowering profusely mid-winter.

The Woodlands
In the open grassy woodlands, and along the parks rocky creek lines and 
sheltered gullies, you can find Blakely's Red Gum (Eucalyptus blakelyi), Yellow 
Box (E. melliodora)  Dwyer's Mallee Gum (E. Dwyeri), Red Stringybark (E. 
macrorhyncha), Bimble Box (E. populnea) and

Shrubs and Herbs Ground cover is normally sparse but after rain all the grasses 
and herbs come to life - look for Oval-leaf or Purple Mintbush (Prostanthera 
ovalifolia), Curry Bush (Cassinia laevis), Sticky Everlasting (Xerochrysum 
viscosum), Rusty Spider-Flower (Grevillea floribunda), Common Fringe-myrtle 
(Calytrix tetragona), Grey Guinea Flower (Hibbertia obtusifolia), Nodding Blue 
Lily (Stypandra glauca), Smooth Flax Lily (Dianella laevis), Urn Heath 
(Melichrus urceolatus), Australian Bluebell (Wahlenbergia stricta) and Sandhill 
Goodenia (Goodenia willisiana). Native daisies include Cut-leaved Daisy 
(Brachyscome multifida), Variable Daisy (B. ciliaris) and Showy Daisy (B. 
ciliocarpa), while the tussock grasses are Spear Grass (Austrostipa nodosa), 
Variable Spear Grass (Stipa variabilis) and Wallaby Grass (Danthonia linkii).

There are a few rare plants occurring in the park. This includes Cocoparra 
Pomaderris (Pomaderris cocoparrana), which is confined to rocky higher 
altitudes areas in the Cocoparra Ranges - it's easily recognised by its ovate 
leaves with a green upper surface and velvety, grey under surface, and a bright 
yellow flowers in spring. It was once thought to be the more widespread 
Pomaderris andromedifolia, until it was revealed to be distinct separate 
species. Other rare plants include Club-leafed or Dainty Phebalium (Phebalium 
obcordatum) and Irongrass (Lomandra patens).

Cocoparra's mammals and reptiles
In terms of native mammals in the park, Cocoparra is a bit of refuge. I've seen 
Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), both Eastern (Macropus giganteus) and Western 
Grey Kangaroo (M. fuliginosus), Red Kangaroo (M. rufus), Black (Swamp) Wallaby 
(Wallabia bicolor), while Red-necked Wallaby (M. rufrogriseus) have been 
recorded near Cocoparra but not in the park itself - probably the most westerly 
population for this species in the NSW.

Smaller mammals in the park remain largely elusive. There are Brushtail Possum 
(Trichosurus vulpecula) and the diurnal Yellow-footed Antechinus (Antechinus 
flavipes), both relatively common. Most other small mammals are known only by 
their remains identified in owl pellets, such as Rattus sp., i.e. Bush Rat 
(Rattus fuscipes), Bandicoot (Isoodon sp.) and native mice (Pseudomys sp.). 
Eight species of bat have been recorded, the most common being the 
White-striped Mastiff bat (Tadarida australis) as well as the vulnerable 
Eastern Long-eared Bat (Nyctophilus timoriensis). Feral animals in the park 
include Cat, Fox, Goat (quite common, estimated numbers to be ~2000, I’ve seen 
them on virtually every walks I’ve done), Rabbit and I’ve seen signs of wild 

There is a variety of reptiles in the park, notably the Nobbi Dragon 
(Amphibolurus nobbi) and the Tree Crevice-skink or Tree Skink (Egernia 
striolata). Both occur in the rocky areas along the Mt Brogden walk. The Nobbi 
Dragon is similar to a Jacky Lizard (A. muricatus), but has a distinctive 
stripe along its backs which is often pale-coloured or even yellow, while the 
best place to look for Tree Skink is on the trunk of a large eucalypt that have 
peeling loose bark and is surrounded by piles of rocks, broken branches, dead 
leaves and some decaying hollow logs. Other reptiles include Bearded Dragon 
(Pogona barbatus), Lace Monitor (Varanus varius), Wood Gecko (Diplodactylus 
vittatus) and Mulga Snake (Pseudechis australis).

The birds and bird sites
Cocoparra and Binya were classified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife 
International, mainly because it supports a relatively large populations of the 
near threatened Painted Honeyeater (the highest number of birds recorded at one 
site at one time was 22) and contains Diamond Firetail. While it always great 
to see these two species, Cocoparra has many other birding attractions. For 
instance you can target birds such as Glossy Black-Cockatoo, White-browed 
Treecreeper, Bar-shouldered Dove, Black-eared Cuckoo, Striped Honeyeater, 
Turquoise Parrot as well as the wonderful mallee parrots such as Australian 
Ringneck, Mulga Parrot and Blue Bonnet - here it's the yellow-vented ssp. 
haematogaster. In "good years" Cocoparra attracts birds such as Cockatiel, 
Budgerigar, Major Mitchell's Cockatoo, Crimson Chat and Black Honeyeater. It's 
also always nice to see Splendid and Variegated Fairy-wren, nice raptors in the 
area include Spotted Harrier and Black and Peregrine Falcon and, at night, I've 
heard Spotted Nightjar.

The roadside native pines along Burley Griffith Way and Whitton Stock Route Rd 
is a good place to look for White-browed Treecreeper. They are quite active 
while foraging on the rough trunks of Belah, Buloke and native pines - listen 
for their trilled, cricket-like chirrup call, especially during the breeding 
season. Along the Burley Griffith Way and Whitton Stock Route Road there are 
also scattered area of Bimble Box (Eucalyptus populnea) which tend to be 
covered in Dropping Mistletoe (Amyema pendula). In late spring and summer this 
is the place to look here for Painted Honeyeater - like the White-browed 
Treecreeper, there call is distinctive, a loud georgi - georgi. I've also seen 
Spotted Harrier alongside the Whitton Stock Route Road.

Forestry Hut
The Forestry Hut is one of the least known birding site in Binya. It's located 
on the southern side of the Burley Griffin Way, approx 200m east of the Whitton 
Stock Route intersection (-34.242500, 146.237778). Access is via Pine Drive - 
it may be impassable in wet conditions, but you can easily walk in. This is 
another good spot to look for White-browed Treecreeper, and it can be a great 
birding spot generally, especially during spring flowering. This is the only 
area that I've see Crimson Chat and Black Honeyeater, and here I've also seen 
Hooded Robin, White-browed and Masked Woodswallow, Mulga Parrot, Blue Bonnet, 
and Variegated and Splendid Fairy-wren.

Wattle Dam and Moss Dam
Cocoparra and Binya hold NSW's most westerly populations of Turquoise Parrot. A 
good spot to look for them is around Wattle Dam and Moss Dam, particularly in 
the mornings. Both located off Barry Scenic Drive (an excellent 2WD road). 
Aside from the Turqs, around these dams you can also see Australian Ringneck, 
Mulga Parrot, Rainbow Bee-eater, Variegated and Splendid Fairy-wren, 
Spiny-cheeked and Striped Honeyeater, Inland, Chestnut-rumped and Yellow 
Thornbill, Western Gerygone, Varied Sittella, Apostlebird and Bar-shouldered 
Dove - the south-western-most population for this species.

Spring Hill and Falcon Falls
The Spring Hill Picnic Area can be teeming with birds, particularly when there 
are mixed-species flocks about. Here there's a chance of seeing Turquoise 
Parrot, as well as Mulga Parrot, Mallee Ringneck, Brown Treecreeper, 
Grey-crowned Babbler, Striped and Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Speckled Warbler, 
Yellow and Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Western Gerygone, Jacky Winter, Hooded 
Robin, Diamond Firetail and Double-barred Finch.

>From the picnic area take the walk to Falcon Falls, where the scenery is 
>spectacular. These falls are appropriately named after Peregrine Falcon, which 
>breed on the cliffs in the area. Here there are also occasional sightings of 
>Glossy Black-Cockatoo.

Binya Forest Drive
The habitat along the Binya Forest Drive is dominated by native pines - it's 
worth stopping where ever you see birdlife. It's particularly good for parrots 
such as Australian Ringneck, Blue Bonnet, and Turquoise, Mulga and Red-rumped 
Parrot. Along this drive I've also seen Striped Honeyeater, Speckled Warbler, 
Crested Bellbird, Splendid Fairy-wren, Brown and White-browed Treecreeper, 
Bar-shouldered Dove, and also heard Painted Honeyeater. This area is probably 
the best spot to look for Gilbert’s Whistler.

Note: that the Binya Forest Drive may be impassable in wet conditions. Also 
note that the the Parakeet Drive connects the Binya Forest Drive and Barry 
Scenic Drive.

Mt Brogden and Glossy Black-Cockatoo
One of the best places to look for Glossy Black-Cockatoo is along the Mt 
Brogden walking track.  This is the endangered Riverina population of Glossy 
Black-Cockatoo, birds that are largely restricted to hills and low ridges with 
areas of Drooping She-Oak (Allocasuarina verticillata). Glossy Black-Cockatoo 
then need suitable large hollows in Grey Box (Eucalyptus microcarpa) or Dwyer's 
Gum (Eucalyptus dwyeri). Unfortunately much of this type of habitat has been 
cleared and is fragmented.

The social and conservation context of the Glossy Black-Cockatoo in the 
Riverina intrigues me. As a population they are disjunct from other Glossy 
Black-Cockatoo in NSW, and it now seems that the genetic link to the nearest 
easterly NSW birds is uncertain. Indeed there is some evidence that the 
Riverina birds are more closely related to the Kangaroo Island subspecies 
halmaturinus - only a mere 1000 km away - which is remarkable! The fact that 
the Riverina Glossy Black-Cockatoo are isolated and that they may be linked to 
the Kangaroo Island birds indicates that this population has a very significant 
conservation value.

[Note: If you don't see Glossy Black-Cockatoo in Cocoparra National Park, 
they've also been recorded in the Narrandera Range, Brobenah Hills, McPhersons 
Range, Galore Hill, Lachlan Range, Naradhan Range, Jimberoo State Forest and 
Gap Dam State Forest.]

Mt Brogden is also one of the few spots in Cocoparra where Chestnut 
Quail-thrush have been recorded, which may be present in the park in small 
numbers - aside from that, the nearest population of Chestnut Quail-thrush  is 
said to be Loughnan Nature Reserve near Hillston and the bird at Round Hill and 

Store Creek and Jack Creek Walking Tracks
The Store Creek walking track begins at the picnic area and walks you through a 
nice section of Cypress Pine and Bimble Box. It ends at stunning natural 
amphitheatre formed by the junction of two creeks. It's a good track to look 
for Crested Bellbird, Red-capped Robin, Speckled Warbler, Striped and 
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Chestnut-rumped, Yellow and Inland Thornbill, 
Splendid Fairy-wren, Double-barred Finch and Diamond Firetail. In spring, I've 
seen Black-eared Cuckoo, Masked and White-browed Woodswallow and Western 
Gerygone here.

I've seen similar birds along the equally spectacular Jack Creek walking track 
- it a vast gorge, walk through some gullies and exposed ridges to three 
lookouts that provide views of the gorge. One of the features of the Jack Creek 
picnic area is that White-winged Chough nest above the picnic tables.

Woolshed Flat
There's a very pleasant camping area at Woolshed Flat. Around the  campsite and 
in the surrounding bush I've seen Emu, Mulga Parrot, Mallee Ringneck, Blue 
Bonnet, Spiny-cheeked, Striped, Yellow-plumed and Blue-faced Honeyeater, Noisy 
and Little Friarbird, Speckled Warbler, Southern Whiteface,  Dusky Woodswallow, 
Restless Flycatcher, Pallid Cuckoo, Rainbow Bee-eater, White-winged Trilller, 
Western Gerygone, Restless Flycatcher, and Rufous Songlark, and thornills such 
as Inland, Chestnut-rumped, Yellow, and Yellow-rumped. I've not seen them, but 
there are occasional sightings of Major Mitchell's Cockatoo around Woolshed.

At night I've heard Spotted Nightjar, Australian Owlet-Nightjar, Southern 
Boobook, and Tawny Frogmouth - the frogmouth here are the central 
Australian/dry country ssp. brachypterus.

Fivebough Wetland
A fantastic and very large Ramsar-listed wetland, Fivebough Wetland (400 ha) is 
a must visit place when passing through the area. With an impressive one 
hundred and eighty species recorded, including eighty waterbird species, you'd 
be stupid not to stop! The main car park is about 2 km north-east of Leeton's 
town centre on Petersham Rd (-34.535624, 146.420576). It's a surprisingly small 
car park for such a large reserve, so don't blink or you'll miss it. Leeton has 
a range of accommodation options - but if you're looking for somewhere 
interesting to stay, I've found that a particular good place is the grand 
Historic Hydro Motor Inn; despite the name, it's actually a grand old motel. 
The restaurant at the Inn is called the Freckled Duck - and no, before you ask, 
duck wasn't on the menu!

The birding around the car park, and the nearby planted section of gums, is 
surprisingly good - I've found Little Friarbird, Yellow-throated Miner, Singing 
and Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Chestnut-rumped and Yellow-rumped Thornbill, 
Weebill, Western Gerygone, Striated Pardalote and Zebra Finch.

The 5 km of walking trails begin from the car park, and lead to a number of 
viewing mounds and two excellent bird hides. The track first takes you to along 
All Weather Walking Trail to the Bittern bird hide. Along the first section of 
reeds, I've occasionally seen Brown Quail feeding in the grassy fringes of the 

This bird hide overlooks a portion of wetland specifically managed for the 
relatively rare Australasian Bittern: in season, their presence may be revealed 
by their repeated booming call, heard mainly at night. There is also a chance 
of Australian Little Bittern.

>From the Bittern bird hide, and the nearby viewing area, you may also see 
>Glossy Ibis, Magpie Goose, Brolga, Red-kneed and Black-fronted Dotterel, 
>Black-winged Stilt, Red-necked Avocet and Black-tailed Native-hen. It's always 
>worth scanning the exposed muddy edges for Baillon’s, Australian Spotted and 
>Spotless Crake.

A range of summer shorebirds visit the wetland, such as Latham’s Snipe, 
Black-tailed Godwit, Common Greenshank, Wood, Marsh and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, 
and Red-necked Stint, and look out for Whiskered and White-winged Black Tern, 
White throated Needletail and Fork-tailed Swift. Rarities recorded at the 
wetland include Little Curlew, Pectoral Sandpiper, Long-toed Stint and Oriental 

The shire council’s sewage ponds - known as Duck Pond - are overlooked by a 
bird hide on the eastern side of Fivebough. This is a great spot for waterfowl 
such as Musk, Blue-billed, Freckled and Pink-eared Duck, Plumed Whistling-Duck 
and Australasian Shoveler.

The Hooey Rd Lookout (-34.523651, 146.440815) is located on the other of 
Fivebough Swamp. The Lookout provides a nice vantage point to scan the wetland, 
with the best time for viewing at the end of the day, when large numbers of 
Glossy Ibis fly in to roost for the night. Numbers vary from year to year - the 
highest counts has been a staggering 20,000 in Nov 1995, and 15,000 in Nov 2005.

Tuckerbil Wetlands
Another wetland worth investigating in the area is Tuckerbil Wetland. It's a 
large swamp north of Leeton. Situated in crop fields, it can be accessed via 
Cantrill Rd 12 km north-west of Leeton. Drive up Cantrill Rd until you find a 
picnic area adjacent an old sand quarry in a field.

The quarry has is good a place to see White-backed Swallow, Red-backed 
Kingfisher, Rainbow Bee-eater and Striated Pardalote, all which nest in the 
quarry. When there is water in the swamp, it contains many of the birds found 
at Fivebough. It's also a good place to see Blue Bonnet and Cockatiel.

Campbells Swamp
Aside from Swamp Tuckerbil and Fivebough Wetlands, Campbells Swamp just north 
of Griffith (-34.229344, 146.031104) has some interesting birds - it's a small 
shallow wetland, and has some nice areas of reeds and open water. There's a 
nice bird hide constructed and boardwalk to get to it, and because of its small 
size, it's possible to walk all the way around the swamp. There's a good car 
park 1 km past the turn-off to Lake Wyangan.

I've not seen them, but when the water levels are right, it is a known site for 
Australian Little Bittern and Australasian Bittern - and you might catch up 
with Plumed Whistling-Duck, Freckled Duck, Magpie Goose, Baillon's Crake, 
Australian Spotted Crake, Spotless Crake, Black-tailed Native-hen, and 
Red-kneed Dotterel. Like Fivebough, when the water level is right, thousands of 
Glossy Ibis may come to roost in the swamp each evening. And you occasionally 
get waders such as Wood, Pectoral and Marsh Sandpiper.

An interesting walk is to cross the western fence of the swamp - or go around - 
into the crown land and then head to the old cattle yards. This minor land 
depression is edged with a single line of Bimble Box that act as an ephemeral 
flood depressions, and can be good for birds.

BTW the Griffith Golf Course is one if the best sites in the region for Major 
Mitchell Cockatoo and Blue Bonnet are usually there.

Pulletop Nature Reserve
Pulletop (145 ha) is a really interesting remnant area of the mallee located 
north east of Cocoparra, 35 km north of Griffith. It's located just off the 
Rankins Springs Road. Turn west when you get to Pulletop Rd, and the reserve is 
about 4 km (-33.964751, 146.083791). It is worth noting that Pulletop Rd is a 
really just a sandy track - when I was there it was in need of a good grading, 
and may be impassable after rain.

The reserve has four species of mallee, White (Eucalyptus dumosa), Narrow-leaf 
Red (E. leptophylla), Red Mallee (E. socialis) and Yorrell (E. gracilis). These 
species dominate the reserve. There are some patches of Broombush (Melaleuca 
uncinata) and Mallee Cypress-pine (Callitris verrucosa) that are intermixed 
with Streaked Wattle (Acacia lineata), Sweet Quandong (Santalum acuminatum), 
Fringed Heath-myrtle (Micromyrtus ciliata) and Wedge-leafed Hopbush (Dononea 
cuneata). There's also a small area of Bimble Box (E. populnea) woodland in the 
south-west corner.

Rare plants in the reserve include Club-leafed Phebalium (Phebalium obcordatum) 
and Rankins Springs Grevillea (Grevillea rosmarinifolia ssp glabella), so look 
out for those. And look for native orchids such as Dwarf Greenhood (Pterostylis 
nana) and the even smaller Midget Greenhood (P. mutica), Blue Fingers 
(Caladenia caerulea) and Pink Fingers (C. carnea).

Due to this mallee mix, Pulletop is a great place to see parrots such as Major 
Mitchell’s Cockatoo, Cockatiel, Mallee Ringneck, Mulga Parrot, Budgerigar and 
Blue Bonnet. It's also excellent for honeyeaters, such as Yellow-plumed, 
White-fronted, Black, Singing, Painted Brown-headed, Spiny-cheeked, Striped, 
White-eared and White-plumed Honeyeater, Yellow-throated Miner and Crimson Chat 
- now that's not a bad list! You can also see Peaceful Dove, Hooded Robin, 
Masked and White-browed Woodswallow, Crested Bellbird, Varied Trilller, Rufous 
Songlark and Variegated and Splendid Fairy-wren.

With great misfortunate, however, a few birds have gone missing from Pulletop. 
Malleefowl and Red-lored Whistler were last seen in the mid-1980s and are now 
considered extinct. The reserve was retained because it was felt that this was 
a sufficient area to retain a viable population of these species, which 
unfortunately does not seem to be the case. It's a real pity, for instance 
Graeme Chapman photographed NSW's first ever record of Red-lored Whistler here 
in 1964.

There's an old hut in the reserve. It's been rarely used since the late 1980s 
when the last Malleefowl disappeared. Malleefowl used to be a regular 
attraction for birders and the hut was used for these trips. Harry Frith did 
much of his pioneering work on Malleefowl around this hut, and there's still an 
intact Malleefowl mound nearby. The hut is therefore an interesting 
archaeological birdwatching site, very significant, and worth preserving.

Unfortunately a number of other mallee species have declined and may have 
become locally extinct. These include Shy Heathwren (only one record since the 
late 1990s), Chestnut Quail-thrush (only a few recent records), Southern 
Scrub-robin (last record 1982) and Gilbert's Whistler (last record 1982). So, 
when you do visit Pulletop, keep your eyes open, and your fingers crossed, and 
hopefully you see these bird species.

Aside from the birds, another good reason for visiting Pulletop is to immerse 
yourself in some wonderful mallee habitat - one of my favourite places to be!

Leeton and Superb Parrot
In spring and summer Leeton is a great place to find Superb Parrot. I've seen 
them there at a number of spots: one was in roadside trees along Irrigation Way 
(-34.643565, 146.415968) about 11 km from Leeton; another is in the Yanco 
Agricultural Institute (-34.617190, 146.423197) that located on Truck Rd - this 
was the place where the Australian Birdfair was held. Crimson Rosella (‘Yellow 
Rosella’ ssp. flaveolus) is also common around here.

Note re other spots to see Superb Parrot
Another great place to see Superb Parrot is at Charles Sturt University in 
Wagga Wagga, with best times to see them between August to December. Look for 
them coming into drink at a small dam near car park 7 (-35.062440, 147.355528), 
and they also like to feed in a paddock adjoining Nathan Cobb Drive 
(-35.056824, 147.354327).

Other places that Superb Parrot occur (mainly between August to December) 
include the Berry Jerry section of Murrumbidgee Valley National Park, with a 
nice spot to look for them is here -35.046041, 147.037321. Access is via the 
roadside pull-in on the Sturt Hwy between Wagga Wagga and Narrandera. I've also 
seen them regularly at a couple of sites along the Olympic Hwy, such as the 
Wallacetown Roadside Rest Area (-34.959565, 147.447136), and a small area of 
bushland here (-35.006376, 147.421253).

Junee Wetland
The Junee Wetland (-34.868043, 147.579299) is a small wetland in the middle of 
downtown Junee. It is, however, paradise for crake and rails - so, if you are 
passing through it is really worth stopping to have a look. It receives 75% of 
the town's stormwater runoff, as a consequence, contain water even in the 
hotest time of year.

There's an excellent boardwalk, which enables you to get up close and personal 
with Australian Spotted, Spotless and Baillon's Crake and Buff-banded Rail. 
Another bird I've seen here is Brown Honeyeater, pretty much the most southern 
limit for this species. In summer the Junee Wetland can also be good for 
migratory waders, particularly Latham's Snipe.

Galore Hill Nature Reserve
Galore Hill is 80 km south-east of Leeton. It's a new site for me. The first 
time I've visited was just a couple of week ago (June 2014), however I was so 
impressed by the place that I wanted to write about it, and think it's a 
special find! It's an impressive reserve that preserve about 500 ha of 
bushland, it accessed via the Narrandera Rd, between Narrandera and Lockhart. 
There's a lookout tower on the summit that offer fantastic panoramic views of 
the region. Galore Hill probably most famous as being the place that where 
bushranger 'Mad Dog' Morgan hid out in the caves in the park.

The first stop is actually before entering the reserve, at the intersection of 
Slocums Lane and Tinamba Lane (-35.115589, 146.759016). This is a good spot to 
see Apostlebird and Grey-crowned Babbler, which hang out in the native pines 
along the roads here.

Second stop is the arboretum, one of the reasons I was so impressed by Galore 
Hill. An arboretum is a botanical garden that's focuses on growing 'special' 
plants. They can be great places to see birds, attracted to a wide variety of 
flowering plants. A good example of this is the arboretum at Dryandra Forest 
(south-west WA).

So what if I tell you that the 'special plants' in the Galore Hill arboretum 
were Eremophila, Grevillea, Hakea and Acacia! It was like stumbling across bird 
heaven. I was blown away by the number of flowering plants, all bird 
attracting. As a result Galore Hill has a pretty good bird list, including the 
two rare nomads, Black and Pied Honeyeater!

So, second stop is the patch of Eremophila that's located immediately after you 
enter the park. I visited in the middle of winter, despite this, almost half 
the species of Eremophila were flowering. Look for honeyeaters such as 
Brown-headed, Fuscous, White-napped, Spiny-cheeked, White-plumed Honeyeater, 
and, if you are lucky, you might find Black and Pied Honeyeater!

After stopping at the Eremophila patch, it's worth driving along both the Curly 
Heckendorf Drive and the Summit Track, stopping where ever you see or hear bird 

Along the Summit Track, Grey Box dominant the lower areas, while and Dwyer’s 
Red Gum, Black Cypress-Pine and Drooping Sheoke occur on the upper slopes and 
ridges. In these areas you might see Emu, White-throated and Brown Treecreeper, 
Restless Flycatcher, Varied Siytella, Rufous Songlark, Dusky, White-browed and 
Masked Woodswallow, Variegated Fairy-wren, Diamond Firetail and Double-barred 

The park's really good for robins; while there I saw Hooded, Red-capped, 
Scarlet, Flame and Eastern Yellow Robin and Jacky Winter! In terms of 
Thornbills and their allies there are Speckled Warbler, Weebill  Brown, Inland, 
Chestnut-rumped, Buff-rumped, Yellow and Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Western 
Gerygone, and Southern Whiteface! Parrot recorded at Galore Hill include 
Australian Ringneck, Budgerigar, Cockatiel, Superb and Red-rumped Parrot, 
Eastern and Crimson Rosella and Swift Parrot have also been recorded.

Interestingly the main reason I visited Galore Hill in the first place was to 
look for Glossy Black Cockatoo. Again, like at Cocoparra, unfortunately I 

Finally, there's a Galore Hill bird list on a notice board in the park. It 
includes local bird names. Some are obvious, others not so - here's some 

    Soldier Bird  (Noisy Miner)
    Lousy Jack  (Apostlebird)
    Bowacker  (Grey-crowned Babbler)
    Mopoke  (Southern Boobook)
    Whistling Eagle   (Whistling Kite)
    Ground Lark   (Australian Pipit)
    Brown Field Lark  (Singing Bushlark)
    Laughin Jackass   (Laughing Kookaburra)
    Black Backed Magpie  (Australian Magpie)
    White Backed Magpie   (Australian Magpie)
    Pee Wit   (Magpie Lark)
    Black Magpie   (White-winged Chough)
    Grass Parrot   (Red-rumped Parrot)
    Southern Yellow Robin (Eastern Yellow Robin)
    Brown Flycatcher   (Jacky Winter)
    Scissor Grinder   (Restless Flycatcher)
    Spur-winged Plover  (Masked Lapwing)
    Banded Plover   (Banded Lapwing)
    Bottle Swallow  (Welcome Swallow)
    Diamond Sparrow   (Diamond Firetail)
    Little Quail  (Little Button-quail)
    Rainbow Bird  (Rainbow Bee-eater)

Lists like that are simply priceless!

Tim Dolby


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