Trip Reports

Tuesday Walk in Botanic Gardens Tamworth 8 September 2020

Spring sunshine, good friends and birds, what a great way to spend a few hours in the Botanic Gardens. That’s where 13 of us turned up, including Gail, over from the coast as was Ted, once again, and two new friends, Ian and Jeanie from the Blue Mountains. Unfortunately the gardens are still showing the ravages from our drought which has left the ponds dry but a small amount in the dam and the little water feature in front of the Bush Chapel has enough to entice a few ducks to take up squatters rights! There was an Olive-backed Oriel calling and a family of Pacific Black Ducks waddled by, with 10 babies.

Morning tea was enjoyed with Peter and Rosemary for company and the usual Eastern Spinebill. I don’t think we have ever been in that shelter without the Spinebill putting in an appearance. After our usual chat time we decided to revisit the gully at the back of the gardens. Nothing much at all there when we checked before am tea but now we added White-browned Scrubwren, Speckled Warbler, Yellow-rumpled and Yellow Thornbills, Mistletoebird, Red-browned Finch and also Double-barred Finch. We wondered if the several leaking hoses had encouraged so many little birds into this area. (Leaks reported to Tamworth Council) By now it was time to say good-bye to our new friends and finish up for the morning.

Birds seen: Australian Wood Duck (yon), Pacific Black Duck, Crested Pigeon, Galah, Little Corella, Eastern Rosella, Laughing Kookaburra, Superb Fairy-wren, White-browed Scrubwren, Speckled Warbler, White-throated Gerygone, Yellow Thornbill, Yellow-rumpled Thornbill, Striated Pardalote, Eastern Spinebill, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, White-plumed Honeyeater, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Red Wattlebird, Brown Honeyeater, Noisy Friarbird, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Rufous Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, Olive-backed Oriole, Pied Butcherbird, Australian Magpie, Pied Currawong, Grey Fantail, Willie Wagtail, Australian Raven, Magpie lark, Common Myna, Mistletoebird, Double-barred Finch, Red-browed Finch.

Joan Dunne.

Pilliga Forest Birdwatchers Outing to Yaminba 19 September 2020

So at last we have become a practicing bird club again. There were eight of us there to celebrate the occasion. A warm welcome to you, Vanessa Collins. You were courageous enough to come with Michael so you turned up at the site at 5.30 in the dark, hours before the rest of us got there, able of course to record any night birds that might be about and able to enjoy the dawn chorus, an occasion that no one else had any intention of hearing! We missed you missing ones but we look forward to catching up with you soon. Don't go away!

When Garnett and I arrived John and May were already on the prowl and a short time later Margaret drove in all the way from Gilgandra, followed by Helen from her Warrumbungle hide-away. And so here we were welcomed by a beautiful morning and lush green forest, an understory revelling in the good winter and early spring rain. A very small club admittedly but one with some of the best bird observers in the state.

By the time we were having an early lunch we had recorded 63 species of bird in a forest that had no flowering trees to coax birds in.

This was a 10 year record for the club.

It was a delight to welcome the Diamond Dove back into the Pilliga - we had not recorded one for ages. They are a very attractive little dove with that bright red eye and diamond spots. The White-browed Woodswallow is a different kettle of fish. It seems to be found all over the Forest just now and is nearly always accompanied by a number of Masked Woodswallows. The White-browed male is a very attractive dark chestnut with blue black back and head with a bold bright brow.

They can be seen in flocks of hundreds even thousands at times flying high hawking overhead. As on Saturday they come down to fly busily among the understory looking for places to nest, no doubt, but they are not too fussy where this is either as long as it will hold their rather flimsy nest up. Although I did see the rule broken on one occasion when they nested in a rain gauge!

When Margaret arrived she disappeared down the Creek to where she found a water hole the last time we were there. She reappeared ages later with a bird list as long as her arm! Unfortunately there was only one water bird (the Australian Wood Duck.) The water birds do not seem to come into the forest in large numbers but at present, of course there would be plenty of water in other places.

Perhaps you would like to know what we saw for the day:- Brown Quail, Wood Duck, Diamond Dove, Peaceful Dove Common Bronzewing, Crested Pigeon, Glossy Black-Cockatoo, Galah, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Musk Lorikeet, Little Lorikeet, Australian King-Parrot, Cockatiel, Eastern Rosella, Australian Ringneck, Pallid Cuckoo, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Black-eared Cuckoo, Tawny Frogmouth, Sacred Kingfisher, Laughing Kookaburra, Rainbow Bee-eater, White-browed Treecreeper, Brown Treecreeper, Variegated Fairy-Wren, Striated Pardalote, Speckled Warbler, Inland Thornbill, Yellow Thornbill, Weebill, Western Gerygone, White-throated Gerygone, Little Friarbird, Noisy Friarbird, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Striped Honeyeater, Noisy Miner, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, White-plumed Honeyeater, White-naped Honeyeater, Brown-headed Honeyeater, Jacky Winter, Eastern Yellow Robin, Grey Crowned Babbler, Varied Sittella, Rufous Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, Leaden Flycatcher, Willie Wagtail, Grey Fantail, Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike, White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike, White-winged Triller, Olive-backed Oriole, White-browed Woodswallow, Masked Woodswallow, Dusky Woodswallow, Grey Butcherbird, Rufous Songlark, Magpie lark, Australian Magpie, Australian Raven, Double-barred Finch.

If there is a surprise in that list it would have to be the Superb Fairy-wren. We very seldom meet without seeing a Superb Fairy-wren and are very unlikely to see a Variegated Fairy-wren. Here we saw the Variegated Fairy-wren but did not see the Superb Fairy-wren at all. This is most unusual. Well we had a wonderful day back as our Bird Club was supposed to be. A beautiful spring day, wonderful habitat, lovely people sitting on a big Old Grey pine log the way the Government said we should, enjoying the company of people we felt comfortable with, with birds there to be reckoned with. Come and join us next month at Timmallalie Dam - you know how welcome you would be.

Best Wishes and Good Birding, David and Shirley

TBW Saturday Outing to Bundarra Area 26 September 2020

On a fine but very windy Saturday morning, nine eager members made the 160 km journey to join me in exploring what was new territory for TBW. As I now live in Bundarra, I was asked to meet them and lead, using my slowly growing local knowledge. We visited three sites, the naming of which is rather vague, but we will stick with what my local informant, the official contact officer, has given me. The effect of drought is evident in the district, but many trees are showing signs of recovery. There is no fire damage.

Covid Safe Birding with Brian at Bundarra Common (photo: Chris Kane)

There were a few particularly interesting sightings during the day. At the first site, we noted a pair of Australian Wood Ducks with seven ducklings on the dam. Also of interest here was the very close proximity to each other of White-throated Gerygone and Western Gerygone, seen by the group as being unusual. Of particular interest at Rifle Range was the sighting of a Diamond Dove. The sighting of the Purple-backed (Variegated) Fairy-wren at Clark’s Creek Junction, close to a Superb Fairy-wren was also quite interesting.

The first site on the itinerary was the western portion of the Bundarra Common, which overall straddles the Bundarra to Bingara Road. The portion we visited is an area of about 500 hectares of open Eucalypt woodland, with areas of open grassland, and a small number of Angophora. Roughly central is a small dam, which was full of water. On the western boundary lies Baker’s Creek, which is flowing well. There is little sign of damage by humans.

Bird list for Bundarra Common, Western Portion: Australian Wood Duck, (yon), Crested Pigeon, Straw-necked Ibis, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Galah, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Cockatiel, Eastern Rosella (yon), Laughing Kookaburra, Sacred Kingfisher, Western Gerygone, White-throated Gerygone, Yellow Thornbill, Striated Pardalote, Noisy Minor (aon), Blue-faced Honeyeater (yon), Noisy Friarbird, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Grey Shrike-thrush, Grey Butcherbird, Pied Butcherbird, Australian Magpie,

Australian Raven, Willie Wagtail, Magpie-lark, White-winged Chough (aon).

Next, we went a couple of kilometres north of Bundarra village, along Thunderbolt’s Way, to what is known locally as The Old Rifle Range, but has no known official name. It is just a parcel of crown land that is open to the public, similar size to above. I know of no water in it. It lies on the eastern verge of Thunderbolt’s Way and is opposite the Racecourse. The vegetation there is similar to what is on the Bundarra Common, except that perhaps half of the tree coverage is Ironbark, which is why I put it on the list. Unfortunately, there is no sign of the Ironbark flowering, but at least one Angophora was in profuse flower, creating much interest among the resident birds. Being open to the public, it has some rubbish.

Bird list for Bundarra Old Rifle Range: Diamond Dove, Peaceful Dove, Nankeen Kestrel, Galah, Eastern Rosella, Sacred Kingfisher, Superb Fairy-wren, Striated Pardalote, Fuscous Honeyeater, Grey Shrike-thrush (yon), Dusky Woodswallow, Australian Magpie, Willie Wagtail, Australian Raven, Magpie-lark, Eastern Yellow Robin, Rufous Songlark, Mistletoebird, Diamond Firetail (yon).

My final offering for a visit was what is known as Clark’s Creek Junction. It is a small area of park on the southern bank of the Gwydir River, at its confluence with Clark’s Creek, under and to the east of the bridge which carries Thunderbolt’s Way over the river, and lies on the northern edge of town. The river is flowing strongly.

Bird list for Clark’s Creek Junction, Bundarra: White-faced Heron, Dusky Moorhen, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Rainbow Lorikeet, Laughing Kookaburra, (sugg) Purple-backed Fairy-wren, (previously named Variegated Fairy-wren), Striated Pardalote, Noisy Friarbird, Australian Magpie, Grey Fantail, Willie Wagtail, Magpie-lark, Welcome Swallow.

Abbreviations: yon young out of nest, aon adult on nest, sugg Suggestive. In this case the Kookaburra was seen entering hollow in tree. I had compiled a list of 35 species within about 5 km of Bundarra, in preparation for the visit, to which the visitors added 17. Thank you one and all!

There was 43 species seen for the day, seven of which were breeding records.

Brian Leslie