As you, the distribution of the Riverina population of the
Glossy Black Cockatoo, has intrigued me for some time.
I've come to the conclusion that the Riverina population is probably not as
isolated as literature would suggest. If you look at records in bird
reports, over the
last 30 years, it becomes clear that there is no barrier and if you compare
the distribution of Allocasuarina verticillataa a picture starts to emerge.
Bob Miller a beekeeper from I think Griffith or Leeton, who travelled
extensively in central NSW ( meet him when I lived at Ivanhoe in the 1970
introduced by John Hobbs) observed them at a large number of locations,
(unfortunately I'm not aware what happened to his records), but he observed
the species on isolated ranges, mountains and ridges with populations of
verticillata broadly from Nymagee to Narrandera, including places like Mt
Hope, Tottenham, down to Narrandera.
I think Bob published a paper in Australian Birds back in the 70's.
Llewellyn also published a paper in the Emu on the confusion between the two
species red tailed black cockatoos in the Riverina and he put foreword the
theory on the relationship with the Kangaroo Island population. I've seen
nothing since. Christidis and Boles makes no comment.
Besides the locations you mention in recent years, Glossy Black's have been
recorded from Trangie, Tottenham, West Wyalong, Back Creek SF east of Wyong,
south end of Lake Cowal. From this site you can see the Weddin Mtns, not an
unreasonable distance to travel for a bird of this size.
They have also been observed by local landholders ( confirmed by the fact
they were feeding on She-oaks) at Bogan Gate west of Parkes, Gobondery
Range, Albert and Bogan R. near Peak Hill (Minore, Hervey Range, Bumberry
Nangar, Conimba etc are east of these
locations, all which have populations of Glossy's). The Goonoo Goonoo
SF/Conservation area also holds a good population and is in flying distance,
I would suggest.
I've always considered there is a couple of ridges west of Mt. Hope that
would be worth investigating, but dirt roads and isolation
is a problem. As is some of ridges between Hillston and Lake Cargelligo
worth a look at.
I guess as more birdwatchers travel west and the roads improve the
distribution of the Glossy Black Cockatoo will become clearer, but until
then the "urban myth". will continue with the distribution of the Glossy
black Cockatoo and the isolated population.
By the way a good report brings back some memories.
From: Tim Dolby
Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 3:12 PM
Subject: NSW Riverina Trip Report - Cocoparra, Fivebough,
Pulletop and Galore Hill
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
http://tim-dolby.blogspot.com.au. If you do get around to reading it, I hope
you like it!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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 Pig.
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
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
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
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
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
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 Nombinnie.
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
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.
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 track.
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 Pratincole.
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.
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.
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
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
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).
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
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 activity.
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 Finch.
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
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!
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