Warrumbungles Trip Report
Following a long hot summer it was good to travel to Coonabarabran for an autumn visit to the Warrumbungles National Park and the Baradine District following a southerly change that brought cool nights and pleasant days to the Region. This meant that we wore jumpers and jackets on our early morning walks and had the blankets well and truly pulled up over us at night in bed. It also meant that many of the summer migrant birds had departed for further north but the winter migrants had yet to arrive because the cold weather was only just now beginning down south. For this autumn trip to the Warrumbungles the weather remained perfect throughout and added an extra enjoyment to the Trip.
On leaving Sydney and heading up the Hunter Valley, our first stop was Broke where we had morning tea on the Common and checked out the woodland birds. These included Striated & Spotted Pardalotes, Weebill, Brown-headed, Striped & Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Peaceful Dove and Nankeen Kestrel. On up through the vineyards and horse studs we travelled, checking out the flocks of Straw-necked Ibis & Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, watching out for White-necked Herons in the paddocks and finches on the fences. We lunched at the Denman Quarry Rest Area on the banks of the Hunter River overlooking the flooded gravel pits and saw plenty of waterbirds including Reed Warbler, Great Egret and Hardhead, while overhead were Sea-Eagle and Whistling Kite. Soon we were heading through the wheat and pastoral country and finally the Yellow Box woodland in which was our final stop for the day at Ulinda Creek, Binnaway where we had great views of White-browed Woodswallows, many Kestrels and a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles and a Brown Goshawk.
Next day we were up early to explore the environs of our Motel, located 2 km south of the town in a small patch of Pilliga scrub. Red-winged , King & Red-rumped Parrots came to the feeder in the Motel grounds, while the Ross's Scribbly Gums and Stringybarks attracted numerous Mistletoebirds, Yellow-faced, White-eared, White-plumed & Blue-faced Honeyeaters, Eastern Spinebill and Red Wattlebird! Yellow-rumped, Striated & Yellow Thornbills and Weebills were feeding in the trees each day and White-throated Treecreepers and Grey Shrike-thrush were present. The first day was spent in the Warrumbungles NP, with stops at Timor Rock, White Gum Lookout, Park Visitor Centre, Wambelong Camp Pincham, the Woolshed and Camp Blackman, together with a trip westward as far as Gumin Gumin. At Timor Rock, White-throated Gerygones were located, a Hobby was perched on a tree on the top of Timor Rock, and Rufous Whistler, Shrike-tit and Dusky Woodswallows were located. Emus were seen near White-Gum Lookout & Wedge-tailed Eagles glided overhead. Musk Lorikeets were feeding in flowering ironbarks at the Visitor Centre, while Noisy Friarbirds were heard and seen throughout the Park. Camp Pincham produced the expected Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters, Brown Treecreeper and Crimson Rosella while Black-chinned Honeyeaters were calling but not found. Brown Falcon, Varied Sitellas and Pied Butcherbird were the highlights at Wambelong, while the Woolshed turned on Bar-shouldered Dove and Common Bronzewing, a delightful flock of 4 Turquoise Parrots, Red-capped Robin, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater and White-browed Babbler, plus many more. With the western sun behind us out at Gumin Gumin, we had splendid views of the Warrumbungle Range where it rises dramatically off the western plains and Black-shouldered Kite, Kestrel and many Red-winged Parrots all made the trip out there worthwhile. Returning through the Park, we saw more Emus and flushed a small flock of Double-barred Finches and a pair of Diamond Doves, the latter being a very rare visitor to the Park.
Mallee Ringnecks by David Simpson
The next day was spent in the Baradine District, our first stop being Bugaldie where another small group of both Red-browed & Double-barred Finches were located soon followed by a walk in Wittenbra State Forest, mostly White Cypress Pine but with some box eucalypts present. The highlights here were Fuscous Honeyeater, Little Lorikeet and more Dusky Woodswallows. Apostlebird, Red-winged Parrot and European Blackbird were the highlights of the Baradine streets and then off to Trapyard Dam in Merriwindi SF. Here amongst the Pilliga Box we located Hooded, Red-capped & Yellow Robin, Grey-crowned Babbler, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Western Gerygone and more White-browed Woodswallows and Brown Treecreepers and many Grey Fantails, which must have been migrating through the area. Carmel Lagoon was dry but down Carmel lane, amongst the Wilga & Belah Trees there were 100's of Choughs and Apostlebirds, many Red-rumped and a few Blue-Bonnet Parrots and plenty of Grey-crowned Babblers, we really knew we were on the western plains now! We checked out Terridgerie Lagoon and saw 9 Yellow-billed Spoonbills, Black-fronted Plover, Restless Flycatcher, White-breasted Woodswallow, Fairy Martin, Yellow-throated Miner and a small flock of Cockatiel flew over. We retraced our steps, seeing many more Choughs and Apostlebirds as the afternoon wore on and a Spotted Harrier. Common Bronzewings proved to be very common and the good days birding put us in a good frame of mind for the Thai Banquet at the Skywatch Observatory later that evening, where after dark, star gazing was the order of the night. A great night of education and enjoyment as the mysteries of the night sky were explained and explored!
Our return to Sydney was by a different route, stopping first at Beni Crossing on the Castlereagh River where we spent more time checking out the river pools and the adjoining box woodland. The surprise here was a pair of Mallee Ringnecks that were missed elsewhere, more White-throated Gerygone & Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Little lorikeet and nesting Grey-crowned Babbler. Our morning tea spot was further west along the River at Mendooran where Blue-faced Honeyeater, Striped Honeyeater and another Reedwarbler were the highlights. Back down the Golden Highway and through to the vineyards and pastoral areas of the Gulgong-Mudgee Districts, seeing more Kestrels, Wedge-tails and Straw-necked Ibis along the way. At the Riverside park for lunch we had great views of a pair of Shrike-tits, Darter and the Moorhens with their brilliant red legs and green joints fed amongst us! Our final birding spot was the Lithgow STW at Bowenfells and once again we were able to finish on a high note with the sighting of many Shoveler, Pinkear and a Blue-billed Duck!. This was a wonderful autumn trip, 134 species were seen and Western Plains landscapes and mountain ranges were great to experience.
by Alan Morris guiding for FTB.
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