It was brought to my attention that I tend to go birdwatching alot. So here is my attempt to document my outings and sightings. I also hope to show photos of as many of my ticks as possible.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Bogey Busting Lake Cargelligo Trip - Nov 09

Sorry for the belated trip report but we’ve all been flat out after returning from a very successful trip to the mallee region around Lake Cargelligo. To be perfectly honest this was a twitching trip with both lifers and year ticks sought. In saying that, all three of us (Dave, Nick and I) are lovers of western birding and any opportunity to cross the divide is much appreciated.
We le
ft Dave’s Sydney home very early Sunday morning and made our way over the mountains. As the boys slept I was ticking off Crimson Rosella, King Parrot and Channel-bills as the sun poked over the horizon.
Dave did all the organising and gathering of info and did a wonderful job, but as usual I grabbed control of the steering wheel and made my own decisions on which was the best route out there and back, which I am pleased to say payed off. As we turned towards Cowra (not the most direct route out west) we quickly came across our first targeted species, Superb Parrots. We got aweso
me views of several males and later found a large dead tree besides the road which we think contained two nests. We witnessed many quick battles and aggressive behaviour which is so unlike this normally placid species.
Continuing west we started seeing Yellow-throated Miners, Apostlebird and Little Ravens. A young male Brown Songlark was spotted and a dark morph Little Eagle soared above the road. It was at this point my heart sank as I claimed my first casualty for the trip, a newly fledged Western Gerygone.
Lake Cargelligo was hot! 40+ degrees with a scorching westerly blowing across the town. After we booked into our very comfortable accommodation at the caravan park we ventured out and headed towards the sewage works (as is the norm for us guys). What a great place. Purple Variegated Fairy-wrens and Cockatiel greeted us at the gates and several Native-hens ran off the track. Shelducks and Glossy Ibis took flight as Dotterels and Swamphens scurried away. As we drove around the ponds I smashed the brake and called White-fronted Chat. Nick agrees with my ID but Dave in the back is calling Orange Chat! Thinking the air-conditioning mustn’t be working in the backseats I initially chose to ignore his call.....until I noticed the softly coloured orange bird in the shrub behind our bird. Second year tick for the trip. Later that arvo we found Blue Bonnets, Banded Lapwings and Whiskered Terns.

Day 2: The next morn
ing we woke up bright and early and headed towards Nombinnie Nature Reserve, roughly 40min north of town. This well known NR is mallee dominated and is somewhat reminiscent of rainforest.....seemingly birdless! We walked into the scrub and besides from the ever constant Rufous Whistlers it was dead. Then Nick picks up on movement, stalking, stalking.....SCRUB-ROBIN!!! And what great views, cheeky little buggers wandered all around us. This was a huge tick for me as I’d previously seen this species but hadn’t ticked it due to poor views.
That was one to Nick in the spotting score card. Now it was my turn. “Hey Dave, give Heathwren a blast”. Quick playback and in trots two Shy Heathwrens, a tick for Dave. We watched them for ages as they circled us and showed why they are so misnamed.
Crossing into the famous wheat field we soon came across a brilliant male Red-capped Robin. “seeeep”.....hmmm was that the robin or a quail-thrush??? “seeeeeeep”.....QUAIL-THRUSH! The bloody thing ran off as soon as it was spotted and then flushed as we appro
ached. Unsatisfied with our views we continued on as Nick and I pleaded our case as to why Chestnut Quail-thrush was now on our location list but not on our life lists. As we passed through some shrubs Dave spots a male QT and after a nervous wait Nick and I picked up half decent views......we were happy with that view and celebrated accordingly.....until the singing male perched off the ground in the mallee was spotted, now thats a view!
Continuing along the r
oad we stopped for Splendid Fairy-wrens, Little Eagle, more Scrub-robins and a thick clump of trees that had a fair bit of activity around it. Brown-headed Honeyeaters, Inland Thornbill and Rufous Whistler flew out. Dave: “Ummm this Rufous Whistler has a rufous throat.....fellas.....it has a rufous throat!......GILBERT’S!” Nick and I shot over to Dave’s location and in the small cypress pine was a gorgeous male Gilbert’s Whistler.....TICK!! This was a huge relief for all as we had started to doubt the existence of this almost mythical species. We watched him for ages as he sang from his favourite branch and then eventually returned to his shaded roosting spot.
To say we were happy would have been an understatement. Three ticks each for the morning was a great achievement, three bogey ticks even better! We then headed out to the second wheat field in searc
h of honeyeaters. Unfortunetly the flowering of previous weeks had all but finished but we were happy with Grey-fronted, White-eared, Spiny-cheeked and Striped Honeyeaters, as well as a few Mulga Parrots. By now the heat of the day had kicked in so we made tracks back to our room.
That afternoon we headed out to Round Hill NR, literally across the road from Nombinnie. It was hot and the sky thick of dust and flies. Pratincoles were spotted flying across the road and a possible Malleefowl kept us guessing. Mallee Ringneck, Blue Bonnet and Mulga Parrots were common and many Common Bronzewings flew into drink. Southern Whiteface avoided the 500mm and everything else avoided the 400mm. Our last stop for the afternoon was on top a stony ridge as the sun sank below the horizon, giving us a beautiful sunset to end the day.....the Spotted Nightjar circling above us was pretty good also, especially for Dave, his 4th tick for the day.

Day 3: We headed back out to Nombinnie in search of the elusive and rare Red-lored Whistler. The weather conditions were much more favourable with a slight southerly breeze blowing but the mallee was eerily quiet, even the Rufous Whistlers had given up. After a fair amount of searching we found Scrub-robin and Heathwren again but the whistler wasn’t to be. We made our way back out to the western wheat field where we found an abundance of Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Splendid Fairy-wren and Grey-fronted Honeyeater, and a solitary Quail-thrush lifted our spirits slightly before it disappeared. We decided to leave the mallee early and concentrate on birding around town, not before stopping at a water trough we had found the previous day. It was here we found several Speckled Warbler, Red-capped Robin and our only Yellow-plumed Honeyeater for the trip.
After our now
standard afternoon break we headed to the lake for some photographic opportunities and we weren’t disappointed. Many Whiskered Tern and a solitary White-winged Black Tern fed over the shoreline, Avocets loafed nearby and many Shelduck could be seen on the far bank.
We then headed t
o “Our Chat Alley”, a location Nick and I found many years ago and not to be confused with the well know “Chat Alley”. Whilst watching White-winged Fairy-wrens, Zebra Finch and more Whiskered Tern a bright Orange ball shot across the road, a splendid male Orange Chat. We sat in the car for ages hoping that the male and several uncoloured birds would land on the nearby fence but it wasn’t to be.

Day 4: Another early start saw us at the sewage works again with cameras at the ready. The light was perfect and the birds very active. We easily found Spotted and Baillon’s Crakes, Red-kneed Dotterel, Latham’s Snipe and Glossy Ibis. Native-hens sprinted in all directions and Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos were spotted in the distance. A pair of Blue Bonnets sunning themselves atop a dead tree finished off our stay nicely.
We then left Lake Cargelligo and made our way east through Condoblin and Forbes. We saw a Spotted Bowerbird perched on a road side marker and every Ground Cuckoo-shrike magically turned into their Black
-faced cousins much to Dave’s disgust. Of course there was a reason for us travelling this route, Gums Swamp, Forbes. This is a great little wetland and we saw the now mandatory Native-hens and Baillon’s Crake, as well as nesting Sea-eagles, hundreds of Pink-eared Duck and our target......2 loafing Freckled Ducks. Not the most exciting behaviour but an excellent way to finish the trip.
All up we saw over 140 species in 4 days. I’d like to thank my two travelling buds for their excellent birding knowledge, their wonderful conversation skills and their terrible sense of humour...especially Nick, never seen Dave blush that like before.
Lake Cargelligo is a wonderful area and I would recommend it to anyone.

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