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

To: Neville Schrader OAM <>
Subject: NSW Riverina Trip Report - Cocoparra, Fivebough, Pulletop and Galore Hill
From: Michael Ramsey <>
Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2014 21:07:42 +1000
There are also historical records of Glossy Blacks in the Warby Ranges in NE 
Vic, the last around the early 90s. It could be feasible that these birds came 
from further north towards Naranderra and Cocoparra.

Sent from my iPhone

> On 18 Jul 2014, at 17:34, "Neville Schrader OAM" <> 
> wrote:
> Hi Tim,
>          The big problem I think in assessing if the Glossy ever occurred
> south of the Murrumbidgee/ Murray is habitat and possible competition from
> the endangered Victorian population of the Red-tailed black Cockatoo and
> possibly identification.  Llewellyn (Emu. 1974) looked at the historical
> records for the two species of black cockatoos believed to occur in the
> riverine in his paper. He was able to prove that the only black cockatoo
> with a red tail was the glossy. An the reports of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos
> ( C. banksii) were errors in identifications.  Historical records should be
> treated with caution especially as relates to locations and identifications.
> Additional care is also  required in interpretation of historical records in
> relation to locations where specimens were collected. From what I've read
> there appears have been a fair trade in specimens.
> Food is all important and luckily areas where verticillata grows is not good
> faming land (at least in NSW) which is probably why a  reasonable population
> and distribution still exist in this state.  I think it is reasonable to
> assume that the distribution of verticillata is possibly a good indication
> of what the Glossy BC may have been. Thus fits your Mallacoota theory is
> plausable as they would have available habitat and a food source, especially
> when considering the distribution of verticillata along the Victorian Coast.
> At what period the two populations( Kangaroo Is and Victorian)  became
> isolated due to climate change or habitat loss is an interesting question.
> The other interesting question is if habitat was available would the species
> recolonise.
> I think the White-browed Scrubwren is a good example of a species which has
> split into a number of races/subspecies due to population isolation, though
> Tasmania is possible the best example.
> All very interesting, gets the grey matter working.
> Regards
> Neville
> -----Original Message----- From: Tim Dolby
> Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2014 6:09 PM
> To: Neville Schrader OAM
> Cc: birding-aus
> Subject: RE: [Birding-Aus] NSW Riverina Trip Report - Cocoparra, Fivebough, 
> Pulletop and Galore Hill
> Really interesting to hear your comments about the Riverina Glossy 
> Black-Cockatoo Neville, thanks - especially your thought about them being not 
> be as isolated as some think. It’s been noted that they can move over 
> considerable distances so, yes, the movement between places such as West 
> Wyalong and Narrandera is not be out of the equation.
> In terms of the Kangaroo Island birds, I’d always thought they were linked to 
> the east coast birds, around Mallacoota. The reason for their isolation was 
> loss of habitat along the South Australian and Victorian coast. However, if 
> they are capable of traveling long distances, perhaps in good years they may 
> have moved also the river systems, along the Murrumbidgee and the Murray 
> River, n to coastal SA. I’d be interested to know if there were any 
> historical records between the Riverina and Kangeroo Island? I can’t find 
> any. I suppse another option is that they were isolated (along with a number 
> of other species) at the end of the Pleistocene, approx. 10,000 years ago, 
> when the water levels dropped in the Murray Basin, changing the landscape in 
> between.
> Cheers,
> Tim
> ________________________________________
> From: Neville Schrader OAM 
> Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 8:09 PM
> To: Tim Dolby
> Cc: birding-aus
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] NSW Riverina Trip Report - Cocoparra, Fivebough, 
> Pulletop and Galore Hill
> Hi Tim,
>            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.
> Good Birding
> Neville Schrader
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Tim Dolby
> Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 3:12 PM
> To: 
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] 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
> If you do get around to reading it, I hope
> you like it!
> Cheers,
> 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 cupressiformis).
> 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 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
> 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 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
> 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 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.
> 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 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
> 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
> dipped.
> 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
> examples:
>   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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