Category Archives: Victoria

Round Hill NR via Chiltern

Perhaps not the most direct route, but it had to be done. ~2500 km, probably 100ml of rain, and 152 birds (full list in the comments).

Google Earth with all my survey sites overlayed.

Day 1-4 was Sydney -> Chiltern with some uni work thrown in. It was cold, wet and windy. Not a lot of birding to be done. See earlier posts for the highlights.

Day 5 involved driving to Lake Cargelligo, which was to be my HQ for the following 3ish days. I firstly tried to re-create my last trip to Leeton and crossed fingers hoping for another Grey Falcon, but it wasn’t to be. I did manage to get photos of a Hobby eating a White-breasted Woodswallow though, so that’s pretty cool. The lake was super full! Last time we were there it was probably 60% full, and earlier in the year, there was footage on ABC news of the lake totally empty, so it was good to see it with some water in there.

A view of the lake

Between Chiltern and Lake Cargelligo, the first inland birds started to make an appearance – Blue Bonnet being my marker bird – when I start seeing them, I know I’m inland. There were more Blue Bonnets on this trip than any previous.

Blue Bonnet. This was taken at Whoey Tank, Round Hill NR, but you get the idea :)

Day 6 was a trip to Round Hill and Nombinnie NR’s, and a visit to Lake Cargelligo STW. First up was “Chat Alley”, which was devoid of Chats, but did produce White-winged Fairy-wren and Rufous Songlark. Whoey Tank at Round Hill was fantastic. The usual suspects were there (Spotted Bowerbird, Hooded Robin etc). Unfortunately the rain meant that I couldn’t get in to Nombinnie, although as the day was looking sunny and windy, so I had hopes that it would dry out a bit over the afternoon. The STW was, as always, fantastic. I ended up with about 30 species in 30 minutes, including Yellow-billed Spoonbill and Red-necked Avocet, both birds I’ve struggled with this year. They’re now safely on the year list. I also managed to see a pair of Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos and got a dodgy record shot of them.

Day 7 – had a planned trip again to Round Hill and Nombinnie, as well as going out to Mt. Hope. Unfortunately there was no power into Lake Cargelligo until 1 pm, so I had my half tank of petrol and around a 200km round trip… I decided to risk it, but as soon as the fuel meter got below 1/4 full, I would turn around. Fortunately the trip passed without event, and I was able to get into Nombinnie and the fabled “Old Wheat Paddock”. There was, however, a lake in the middle of the road, so I couldn’t get very far along the track, so no Red-lored Whistler for me, but I did manage Southern Scrub-robin, Shy Heathwren, Grey-fronted, White-fronted, Brown-headed and Black-chinned Honeyeaters, and a pair of Splendid Fairy-wren! Not a bad morning. At Whoey Tank I seemed to spend more time taking photos of plants than birds, although the highlight would have to be an obliging Mulga Parrot.

Mulga Parrot - this male had me running around trying to get a clear shot.

Day 8 – Up early for sunrise, and an uneventful trip home via Grenfell. I was going to camp at Weddin Mountains on the way home, but I’d ran out of food and was making good time, so home it was.

The Lake at freezing oclock

All of the images are being a bit cropped on the right – I’ll try to sort that out tonight on the late shift at work.

Needs less rain

Rain. The locals love it, the bush needs it, and generally I don’t mind it, unless it’s coupled with <10C temps that become ~3C when you factor in wind-chill. Then I'm not so keen. And then when you have to be in the bush doing transects counting trees and ground cover for uni, I get seriously pissed off about it. Anyway – that's over now. Woohoo!

For the last 4 days I've been in Chiltern, the birding Mecca of northern Victoria, but I haven't been able to do anywhere near as much birding as I'd like to. I've managed to find Turquoise Parrot, and some sort of native marsupial (photo of it to come – I need help with identifying this one) at the Honeyeater Picnic area, an apparently resident group of Diamond Firetails on Lancashire Gap Road, King Parrot at Bartleys Block (apparently rare in the area – they responded to pishing!), and Australasian Shoveler at Chiltern Dam #1 (also unusual for the area).

Anyway, I'm off to Lake Cargellico shortly, heading up via Leeton and Cocoparra NP. Should be cracking.

Sydney – Chiltern – 23AUG2010

Howdy.

Shirking electoral shenanigans, I embrace my inner nerd and go birding. Well, I have to come here for uni. Actually, Albury – well Thurgoona is where the uni is, although I don’t rate either place, so I’m writing from Chiltern, Vic. And there’s no embracing my inner nerd – I love it.

Aaaanyway, mostly travel today – around 600km worth. Still managed to pick up 33 birds, inc 9 raptors! Stupid amounts of Black-shouldered Kites around Albury. Makes it tricky to look for the Letter-winged Kite reported here around a month ago – particularly at 110km/h, but anyways.

Probable highlight was Turquoise Parrots at the Honeyeater picnic area at Chiltern – I usually have to go to the nearby Bartley’s Block for that. Was going to go spotlighting for owls tonight, but decided to drink goon instead. WOO.

Uni fires up tomorrow, so birding becomes limited, but stay tuned- the next 8 days should see some gold!

NOTE:
Updates are via phone, so no photos until I get back to Sydney, or hi-jack someones wireless.

4 lifers, 2500 km, 500,000,000 locusts

What a trip. Lots of learning, a fair swathe of birding, a shitload of driving, biblical plagues of locusts, and 4 ticks.

How good is that?!

The ticks were:

Gilbert’s Whistler

Gilbert's Whistler

Bird # 475

White-winged Fairy-wren (no photo)

Plains-wanderer

Plains-wanderer

Bird # 477

And most suprisingly of all – Grey Falcon.

Grey Falcon

Bird # 478 - and easily my bird of the year

The falcon was a bird I seriously doubted ever finding. Stoked.

The Gilbert’s Whistler was at the base of Mt. Terrick in the Terrick Terrick NP. Took me about 45 minutes to find the bastard, then he disappeared. I got a sketchy record shot, and kept looking. No cigar. Then, about an hour later, another bird appeared and it escorted me back to the car. Champion action.

From there, I went Simon Starr’s place to go for a quick pre-Plains-Wanderer trip to try and find some Orange or Yellow Chats (my memory is shot) that had been reported nearby recently. No joy on the chats (we found the much more common and readily found White-fronted Chat) but we did find a small party of White-winged Fairy-wrens. These birds are fantastic, and I can’t wait to get back and see more of them.

The main reason fo the trip to central north Victoria was to go out looking for Plains-wanderer. Simon rightfully boasts a great record of finding them. We picked up the other couple who were coming along – Deborah and Patrick, from sunny Melbourne, and headed out. The night did not disappoint – 5 wanderers were found, including 1 deceased individual, which Simon made sure was dead by standing on it (accidentally!).

Primaries of a deceased Plains-wanderer

Primaries of a deceased Plains-wanderer

Other highlights were finding a Curl Snake, and a Fat-tailed Dunnart. Simon commented that it was one of the better trips he’d done for quite a while. Elated we finished up, had a beer and a chat, and I contemplated what I’d do the next day.

I tossed up going to Fivebough Swamp at Leeton or not, having had mixed results over the previous 10 visits, and wasn’t convinced whether I’d go or not as I pulled out o simons place. I even slowed down at the turnoff to Wagga Wagga but chose to continue on to Narranderra and subsequently Leeton. True to my experiences, it was pretty quiet.

I saw a Brown Goshawk and took some sketchy record shots, and noticed a falcon behind and below it. Took a few photos, then got the bins on it – had no idea what I was looking at, and noted “weird peregrine – check photos”. I did that when I got back to Sydney, and got pretty excited. We had no Internet though, as our modem packed it in while I was away, so confirmation had to wait until tuesday. I have had it confirmed by Jonny Schoenjahn, THE Grey Falcon expert in – well, probably the world – so I’m ultra stoked. Bird number 478.

Anyway – happy Troy. Only 22 to get to 500, which is nothing to sneeze at. If we end up heading inland later in the year, I should get pretty close to that.

Locusts. Jesus H. Corbett. They were everywhere. I’ve never seen anything like it. Seriously madness. It was almost like driving through mist with bits of hail. The front if the car looked like a monster had sneezed on it. That sounds terrible, but it was.

Happy birding everyone!

New birds! Wooo

I’m knackered so this will be short. I’ve added 3 new birds with Gilberts whistler, White-winged Fairy-wren and Plainswanderer today. Photos to come when I get back to Sydney. Also saw Curl Snake and a Fat-tailed Dunnart, and have the filthiest car ever, courtesy of a locust plague.

I think that has me at 477 now. I need to work it all out.

Goodnight!

Day one

Howdy. 620km travelled, nearly ran out of petrol, and now I’m nearly asleep and looking forward to labs and what not tomorrow.

Not much birding done, but I did manage to see 7 species of raptor on the way down, which is pretty alright. Depending on how cold it is in the morning, I’ll be heading out to Bartley’s Block in the morning.

And Facebook has decided I’m trying to hack myself, and I’ve been barred, so yeah – that’s weird. I’ll try to get in via a uni compoota tomorrow and sort that out. I also forgot my card reader, so no photos until I get to officeworks or something.

cheers!

Residential School

Being the early 30’s, stylish, trendsetting kinda guy that I am, people are frequently surprised to hear I’m at uni. Not that I work at one, but that I’m studying… still.

What they don’t realise is that one of the things that made me go back to uni and actually complete (not that I have, but only 2 subjects to go) is the promise of Residential School. This is time that work pays me to go and attend university off in rural NSW, and it almost always butts up next to a weekend. Add a bit of rec leave here and there, and you have a 6 day paid holiday in the bush someplace (Wagga Wagga or Albury, in my case) and you only actually lose 1-2 days of rec leave.

This time it’s paid off even better, and I don’t actually use up any rec. leave, and I’m going to see a Plainswanderer. Woohoo. That said, I will be driving significantly more than the RTA, or any normal person would consider safe in a very short period of time, but I’m going to see a plainswanderer, so I don’t care.

I also get to do some birding every morning around Chiltern, Vic, which is a seriously nice place that everyone should visit at least once, and conditions appear to be the goods at the moment as well, so I’m very much looking forward to that.

Anyway – I’ll post here when I can with updates to the excitement. I’m in labs from 9-6 each day as of Wednesday, with an exam Friday arvo, so I’ll only be able to bird in the early morning, but I should hopefully see some good things. I’m also heading out spotlighting each night looking for Barking Owl, so yeah… I’m gonna be a zombie when I get back to work on Tuesday the 20th… looking forward to that meeting with teh MacQuarie Uni librarians…!

2010, first 2 months.

Howdy folks,

Here we are in early March 2010. What has the first 2 months brought me, and what’s in store?

Thus far, the year list is as 150. Not too shabby. Given it’s about to go quiet though, I think I’d rather be at 200. Still – have picked up Ground Parrot – a bird that has eluded me for many years –  and this year is more about the lifer and click ticks rather than the year tick.

What’s in store? I’m off to Albury/Chiltern and then out to Pyramid Hill where I’m paying for a guide to get me Plains Wanderer and anything else awesome (probably 25-40 year ticks, and 2-3 lifers); off to the Warrumbungles for my midyear trip (probably 10-15 year ticks, 1 lifer possible); and either a Tasmania or a Lord Howe Island “hooray I’m finished uni” trip (how many year/life ticks depends where we go – ~15-20 lifers Lord Howe, ~5 Tasmania. but it would be good to wrap up Tasmania).

So. Should end up with ~250-300 for the year, and hopefully I’ll get the life list up to 480.

Off course, the BIG thing is the impnding purchase of the 500mm lens. I. Can’t. Wait.

Happy birding!