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Outback NSW Bird Watching

Author: Carl from Pahrump (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: January 2007

We had just started birding at the Island Sanctuary (35.532S 144.968E) when we met Tom and Steve. They are local retirees and keen birders. They come here every Sunday to do a bird count. They asked if we would like to see a Twany Frogmouth. Off we went to the tree where they had just seen 3 Frogmouths. We couldn't see any until they pointed out that what we thought were limbs were actually birds -- then we could see the feathers.

southern boobook owlTom and Steve were looking for Southern Boobook Owls that morning. They invited us to come along. When we didn't find any on the Island, Steve left; but we went with Tom to the nearby State Forest (35.546S 144.978E) to keep on looking. Without much trouble we walked up on 3 Boobooks -- a Mom with 2 chicks in a small tree. They didn't seem to mind that we were real close -- what a photo op. We also saw several female Red-capped Robins, but no blokes.

Tom said he often saw Red-backed Buttonquail at this site. We formed a search line and started beating the brush. In a few minutes Tom chased a small buttonquail over to where I could photograph it. By now Tom had a better idea of what new birds we could possibly see around Deniliquin. He suggested we go to the local slaughter yard (they say "Aviator" 35.533S 144.944E) and of course the local sewage ponds. We saw Gray and Chestnut Teals, a pair of Musk Ducks (each one had its own large sewage pond), Red-kneed Dotterels, and White-fronted Chats.

After lunch Tom took us to the local cemetery to see the Black-tailed Native-hens. Then we went to a friend's farm to see Banded Lapwings and White-backed Swallows. We ended up back at the "Ponds" to see the Little Grassbirds and Australian Shovelers.

We had a fantastic day and saw 77 bird species. Tom invited us to come back on Jan 16 for more birding with him.

On Jan 15 we were off before sunrise to Deniliquin to search for the Superb Parrots Tom had told us about. In the Dawn light we saw a huge tree full of Long-billed Correllas with the pink morning light behind them. Later we saw two more large flocks of undulating Long-bills. We drove the suggested dirt roads (35.539S 145.047E). We saw heaps of birds, but no Superb Parrots.

gulpa islandWe headed south on the Cobb Highway to Gulpa Island SF (35.830S 144.938E ) near the small town of Mathoura. The creek here had a lot of water, but the area looked like it was dying of thirst. Around a water hole we found Dusky Woodswallows, Flame Robins, and Restless Flycatchers.

We headed home, but got stopped by a family of Wedge-tailed Eagles putting-away a Gray Kangaroo. Next we spotted a large flock of White-winged Choughs crossing the highway in front of us.

On Jan 16 we met Tom in Deniliquin at 7am and proceeded to the Slaughter Ponds to search for Crakes. Tom had a tape recording of their calls. At soon as we got to the cattails I saw a Baillon's Crake under a eucalyptus tree. We played the tape but no more crakes showed up.

We moved to another pond on the outskirts of town. This time the tape brought in a Spotless Crake.

We headed south of town on the Long Paddock Road (a.k.a. Cobb Hwy). This road has 1500-foot right-of-ways to allow for cattle drives. About 20Km south of town we turned off onto a dirt road (Walliston Rd) and stopped out in the middle of the Salt-bush Plain (35.704S 144.907E). Right off we saw a Yellow-throated Miner going after mistletoe. Then a pair of Red-vented Blue Bonnets flew in close to us. We continued looking around and found a pair of Superb Parrots -- Breath-takingly Beautiful!!!.

superb parrotWe moved to another location and found a tree with a pair of Superb Parrots, then we saw another Superb Parrot across the road, then more, and more -- finally we counted 17 Superb Parrots. Tom said he had seen as many as 80 in one place.

We returned to Deniliquin to have lunch with Tom at the Crossings Restaurant. I got Chicken Parmesan, which was a breaded chicken breast deep-fried and served over salad with Italian dressing and chips. Wilma had the Pumpkin and Spinach Quiche -- an interesting mixture of flavors.

On Jan 17 we went out late morning birding around the Tocumwal Wetland (35.823S 145.575E). In 2 hours we saw 41 bird species including the Mountain form of the Gray Fantail, some Gray Shrike-Thrushes, an Azure Kingfisher, some Purple Swamphens and a Yellow Rosella. When it got real hot we headed for the house to watch the Australia Tennis Open.

E-mail if you would like a file with the specific birds we saw each day.

Carl & Wilma Ball carlball@yahoo.com

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