Pilliga Birdwatchers visit Rocky Creek Sawmill site
Rocky Creek Sawmill picnic site was the location for our latest outing. This is a semi-cleared area towards the central-northern part of the Pilliga just off Forest Way and adjacent to the ephemeral Rocky Creek. We were expecting to see quite a few woodland birds in the throes of calling, nesting, feeding and raising young. We weren't disappointed. First on the scene, and taking on the dawn patrol, were Blake and Steph. Later (much later) John and May showed up, followed not long after by Innes and Mary, and Marg and her friend Patrick. Our usual scout around the vicinity was looking pretty successful. Mary was getting some good photos of a male White-winged Triller with three female companions, and the rest of us were being impressed by a flock of Needletails that were constantly soaring above us, even coming down to be almost just above the tree-tops at various stages. At our cuppa and tally at one of the picnic tables we were gratefully interrupted when Marg spotted a female Leaden Flycatcher fly straight over and perch just above us. Good timing, and good spotting., , By the time we finished it was starting to get pretty warm. Blake and Steph headed off. Marg, Patrick, Innes and Mary headed over to Salt Caves for lunch, and John and May also made their way home via the Baradine sewerage treatment works for a bit of a look. You are probably itching to find out our tally and bird of the day. Well we got 55 species in the end. Pretty good for a hot dry summer. Our bird of the day was unanimously agreed to be the Needletails. Our next outing is Ruins Road Dam near Baradine. Happy birding.
The List: Common Bronzewing, Peaceful Dove, Black-eared Cuckoo, White-throated Needletail, Rainbow Bee-eater, Sacred Kingfisher, Laughing Kookaburra, Galah, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Crimson Rosella, Eastern Rosella, Australian Ringneck, Musk Lorikeet, White-throated Treecreeper, Superb Fairy-wren, Striped Honeyeater, Noisy Friarbird, Little Friarbird, White-eared Honeyeater, Brown-headed Honeyeater, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, White-plumed Honeyeater, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, White-throated Gerygone, Western Gerygone, Weebill, Yellow Thornbill, Inland Thornbill, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Buff-rumped Thornbill, White-browed Babbler, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, White-winged Triller, Rufous Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, Crested Shrike-tit, Olive-backed Oriole, Pied Currawong, Australian Magpie, Grey Butcherbird, White-browed Woodswallow, Dusky Woodswallow, Willie Wagtail, Grey Fantail, Australian Raven, Leaden Flycatcher, Restless Flycatcher, Red-capped Robin, Jacky Winter, Eastern Yellow Robin, Mistletoebird, Red-browed Finch, Double-barred Finch, Rufous Songlark, Silvereye.
May and John
Tuesday Walk at Dungowan Recreation Ground 28 November 2023
We met at Dungowan Hotel and proceeded across the river to the sportsground, and carefully took a peek at the river in case the platypus was there, but he didn't make an appearance for us. We had eleven members on the walk. It was very overcast, so didn't need to worry about parking in shade and it didn't rain so we didn't need to use the covered shelter area - turned out to be a good day. We walked up along the river, thankful that someone has put in a gate that people can climb through without much trouble to access the river and we walked a bit further up-stream and spotted a magpie on a nest. Then it was back to the cars for morning tea and later we went down stream and around the sports oval. All up we saw 39 species, a great count for there. Highlight of the day was the two baby Nankeen Kestrels looking out of their tree hollow nest.
Sightings were: Galah, Little Corella, Eastern Rosella, Kookaburra, Red-rumped Parrot, Musk Lorikeet, Magpie (nesting), Crested Pigeon, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Willie Wagtail, Dollarbird, Red-browed Finch, Noisy Friarbird, Rainbow Lorikeet, White-browed Scrubwren, Australian Wood Duck, Superb Fairy-wren, Straw-necked Ibis, Dusky Moorhen, Olive-backed Oriole + juv., Noisy Miner, Magpie-lark, Red Wattlebird, Peaceful Dove, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Sacred Kingfisher, Australian Raven, Pacific Black Duck, Nankeen Kestrel + nestlings, Welcome Swallow, Australia Hobby, White-plumed Honeyeater, Pied Currawong, Australian Reed-Warbler, Grey Shrike-thrush, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, White-faced Heron, Australian King-Parrot and Feral Pigeon.
Tuesday Walk at ”Ravensfield” 12 December 2023
Fourteen members and one visitor from England met at Eric Fair’s property at 8:30 am to begin the last walk for 2023. We started by searching the trees and shrubs around the house where Fairy-wrens, Striated Pardalote and Yellow-rumped Thornbill were seen. We then moved on down the lower end of the tree corridor to the river where a Little Eagle and four Little Corellas, instead of the usual 400, were recorded. We then made our way up-stream to the good shade of a big river red-gum where the chairs and morning tea had been delivered by the ute. It was so nice in the shade that everyone lingered long over morning “smoko” and whilst doing so spotted a Sacred Kingfisher sitting on the fence. I heard a whisper that Jean T. and Annabel went paddling in the river.
Thank you every one for coming and making the outing such an enjoyable one.
The List: 40 species, Australian Wood Duck, Pacific Black Duck, Spotted Dove, Crested Pigeon, Straw-necked Ibis, Little Eagle, Nankeen Kestrel, Galah, Little Corella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Australian King-Parrot, Eastern Rosella, Red-rumped Parrot, Laughing Kookaburra, Sacred Kingfisher, Dollarbird, Superb Fairy-wren, White-throated Gerygone, Yellow Thornbill, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Striated Pardalote, White-plumed Honeyeater, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Noisy Friarbird, Little Friarbird, Black-faced Cuckoo shrike, Grey Shrike Thrush, Pied Butcherbird, Australian Magpie, Willie Wagtail, Australian Raven, Torresian Crow, Magpie-lark, White-winged Chough, Rufous Songlark, Welcome Swallow, Common Starling, Double-barred Finch. House Sparrow.
TBW Annual Outing to Sheba Dams Saturday 13 January 2024
On our annual outing to Sheba Dams 25 birdwatchers enjoyed the day in this beautiful bush setting quite a bit cooler than Tamworth was!
Our list started off with the usual water birds plus a Spotless Crake with the Australian Reed Warblers very vocal as usual plus the Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo that always seem to appear each time we visit this place.
We saw the Red Wattlebirds busily feeding their young and the Crimson Rosellas seemed to be everywhere. Our list grew as we wandered up the hill hoping to find the Red-browed Treecreeper but alas not this time. Yellow-faced Honeyeaters were very prolific along with the Grey Fantail and King-Parrots. The Satin Bowerbirds weren’t where we expected them to be but we didn’t see any bowers.
We do enjoy all the bush birds that we find up here including the Grey-shrike Thrush, both the Golden and Rufous Whistler and a Leaden Flycatcher to name a few.
After a leisurely lunch break back at the shelter we walked down to the smaller dam and added two female Bowerbirds, Eastern Yellow Robin and Superb Fairy-wren. After more chatting and a final bird call it was the end of another great time out birding again with good friends including Ashley who had come up from the coast for a visit. Our final count was 45 species with 4 breeding records.
Birds seen on both walks: Australian Wood Duck, Pacific Black Duck, Hardhead, Australasian Grebe, Tawny Frogmouth, Little Pied Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, Spotless Crake, Eurasian Coot (yon),Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Rainbow Lorikeet, Australian King-Parrot, Crimson Rosella, Eastern Koel, Laughing Kookaburra, Sacred Kingfisher, White-throated Treecreeper, Satin Bowerbird, Superb Fairy-wren, White-throated Gerygone, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Brown Thornbill, Spotted Pardalote, Striated Pardalote, Eastern Spinebill (yon), Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Red Wattlebird (yon), White-naped Honeyeater, Noisy Friarbird, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Golden Whistler (yon), Rufous Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, Pied Currawong, Grey Fantail, Willie Wagtail, Australian Raven, Leaden Flycatcher, Eastern Yellow Robin, Australian Reed-Warbler, Silvereye, Welcome Swallow, Red-browed Finch.
Ashley’s Weekend at Sheba Dams12—14 January 2024
Travelling generally westward along Thunderbolts Way, the climb up the Great Dividing Range resulted in a 9° decrease in temperature between Gloucester and Niangala. A reprieve from the past few weeks on the coast, which has been reminiscent of Vic and my time spent living in Darwin, hot days and elevated humidity. For a non-local member, the January outing to Sheba Dams is a magnet, with many fond memories of visits, extending back to the late nineties. A chance to rekindle acquaintances, which occurred not long after setting up the caravan, with Terri M, returning from one of her numerous circuits of the main dam over the course of the weekend. Later in the afternoon, Richard and Gerry A arrived in their motorhome and set themselves up.
Saturday morning dawned cool, and while waiting for other members to arrive, I stood quietly beside the reeds surrounding the dam. Reed-Warblers perched on a reed head long enough to proclaim their territory, before disappearing back into the depths and from the depths, calls of Spotless Crakes could be heard. Many of the usual suspects were present throughout the camping area, being Red Wattlebird, Laughing Kookaburra and Crimson Rosella. Other members slowly started arriving, with many new faces, for me, interspersed with some familiar ones. The ring-master, Joan D, mustered the troops and pronounced that “if you have not had a coffee, it is too late”.
We headed off for the hill loop. Around the edge of the dam, bird activity and various calls had the list growing with Yellow-faced Honeyeater and Grey Fantail. A family of superb Fairy-wrens scurried ahead of the group as we started the hill track. Movement back and forth about a hollow attracted our attention with Spotted Pardalotes being the culprits. Some were in juvenile plumage, testing our identification skills. Further up the hill, the buzzing call of a Leaden Flycatcher was later confirmed with a sighting. Although Satin Bowerbirds were sighted, the previous bower was non-existent. On the descent, a smallish bird with some rufous feathers had a few perplexed. A quick check of the bird app indicated it was a juvenile Golden Whistler, which was confirmed shortly after when the female arrived to feed it.
It was just after 11:00 when we arrived back at the picnic shelter. Some had morning tea while others ate lunch. After replenishing ourselves, and a quick bird call, it was off towards the smaller, bottom dam. Along the overflow drain and track, Red-browed Finches flew between the blackberries and their ripening fruits. In the far corner of the dam were Hardheads, Wood Ducks and both Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants.
We traversed the wall of the larger, top dam. Numerous visitors swam and paddled within the dam while just as many fished from the banks. Water birds, including Pacific Black Duck, Eurasian Coot and Australasian Grebe, kept to the corners, out of harm’s way. Overhead, Welcome Swallows made the most of the light winds blowing across the treetops. The track on the far side of the dam yielded few birds, especially being in the middle of the day. Meandering slowly, a Buff-banded Rail traversed the track, prior to the group returning for a late lunch.
The weather gods turned on a gorgeous day for those that could make the trip into the hills. Although not necessarily a record-breaking count, 45 species made for a great day out. Many thanks to Joan D for her leadership and mustering skills.
Later in the afternoon, Terri M with company, made another circuit of the dam and managed to locate two Tawny Frogmouths. These birds were located approximately three metres up a tree on the side of the hill track. How 25 sets of eyes missed them during our morning walk has me perplexed. The only excuse I have is the humpy built in the bush beneath where the birds were roosting. While trying to work out what 'bowerbird' had built such a structure (the humpy), an enlightened member of the group advised us that the scouts spent a weekend a few weeks ago, at the dam, learning survival skills.
While Vic and I ate our evening meal, a Southern Boobook, called twice. This was the only nocturnal bird heard over the two nights that we were camped there. The following morning was productive with both Common Cicadabird and Dollarbird heard.
Pilliga Forest Birdwatchers Outing to Ruins Road Dam 20 January 2024
Ruins Road Dam was nice and full, and the weather was pretty hot for our first outing for 2024. Despite, what I thought were very good instructions - everybody arrived by taking a different route, but in the end they all got there. Helen and Evan arrived the night before and camped near the dam. Other birdwatchers arriving on Saturday morning of the 20th were Leo and Garnett, Cindy and Allan, and Rebeeca Cass joined us (John and May), to make a total of 9 birdwatchers.
There were plenty of birds to look at and we were serenaded by the whooshing sound of 6 wood ducks that felt our intrusion enough to spend quite a bit of time on the wing circling the dam. Eventually they managed to find a tree from where they could watch the proceedings.
So out we all went scouting about with some good sightings including Varied Sitella's, Babblers, Woodswallows, and even a couple of Owlet Nightjar's calling. But it wasn't long before things were getting too hot - not for the birds - who seemed to be coping fine, but for the birdwatchers. Time to regather at the clearing near the edge of the western side of the dam for the count. A little bit of a wait for Helen and Evan to get back but well worth it for the bird of the day - more about that soon.
There was a slight bit of controversy when John's count came to 50, but May's only 49. We were on the cusp of having to go and find that last bird when May worked out that she had forgotten to enter the Pied Currawong....collective sigh of relief. In the end we were able to hear a Mistletoe Bird as well while we were sitting there, and later a Tree Martin was able to be identified from a photo, so our tally eventually came to 52. Great work.
And the bird of the day? Evan and Helen had to consult the books, but were able to confirm an Australian Hobby. Generally common, but not often counted by the Pilliga Forest Birdwatchers.
Our next outing will be in Warrumbungle National Park. See you then.
Here is the list:
Emu, Australian Wood Duck, Common Bronzewing, Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo, Black-eared Cuckoo, Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, Brush Cuckoo, Australian Owlet-nightjar, Painted Button-quail, Rainbow Bee-eater, Sacred Kingfisher, Laughing Kookaburra, Australian Hobby, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Eastern Rosella, Australian Ringneck, Turquoise Parrot, White-throated Treecreeper, Superb Fairy-wren, Striped Honeyeater, Noisy Friarbird, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, White-plumed Honeyeater, Striated Pardalote, White-throated Gerygone, Weebill, Yellow Thornbill, Striated Thornbill, Inland Thornbill, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Grey-crowned Babbler, White-browed Babbler, Varied Sittella, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Rufous Whistler, Golden Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, Crested Shrike-tit, Pied Currawong, Pied Butcherbird, Grey Butcherbird, Dusky Woodswallow, Willie Wagtail, Grey Fantail, Australian Raven, Red-capped Robin, Jacky Winter, Eastern Yellow Robin, Mistletoebird, Double-barred Finch, Tree Martin, Silvereye. May and John