Barraba - NSW Hot Spot Trip Report
Day 1. The bus was full as we headed north on a very warm spring day. Cicadas were buzzing as we drove through Bucketty, but the birds were keeping low. Then a farm pond had an Australian Reed Warbler and a male Superb Fairy-wren. A quick stop at Wollombi found flowering Silky Oaks attracting Noisy Friarbirds, Blue-faced Honeyeaters, and an Olive-backed Oriole. More ponds had Chestnut Teal, a White-necked Heron and Little Pied Cormorant, then a Pacific Black Duck, Grey Teal and little Black-fronted Dotterel. Next a Straw-necked Ibis showed well with breeding plumes and the cameras clicked. Soon we were adding Australasian Pipits, Royal Spoonbill, and Pied Butcherbirds.
Straw-necked Ibis by Greg McCarry
Our morning tea stop was at Broke, where Dollarbirds and more Noisy Friarbirds were seen. A distant Cicadabird called and in closer a White-throated Gerygone and Sacred Kingfisher were difficult to locate. As we left a Nankeen Kestrel and then a Brown Falcon stopped the bus. An Australian Pelican and then a Peregrine Falcon showed. Crimson and Eastern Rosellas became common and some Little Corellas were seen. At Scone we had a Black Kite, also a Yellow-billed Spoonbill with the most amazing orange bill.
A scrumptious lunch at the Wingen Pub did the trick and as we left we had House Sparrows. At Hayden's Lane Bridge we stopped for Musk Lorikeets, Blue-faced Honeyeaters, Red Wattlebirds and more Dollarbirds. As we drove along we saw huge numbers of Straw-necked Ibis filling the fields. A road stop produced Rufous Whistlers, Spotted Pardalote and White-naped and White-plumed Honeyeaters. A highlight was a very difficult White-winged Triller and our first view of Dusky
Woodswallows swooping around. As we drove off a Black-shouldered Kite hovered, and a Bearded Dragon flattened itself on the road along with Eastern Grey Kangaroos and a Swamp Wallaby posing.
King Parrot by Nick Giles
A walk at Crawney Pass NP revealed a male Leaden Flycatcher singing and posing well. The flowering trees were alive with bees and Scarlet Honeyeaters called. There were views too of an Olive-backed Oriole and King Parrots. On our second walk we had White-throated Treecreepers and a Grey Shrike-thrush. Arriving in Nundle at the end of our first day we were greeted by Rainbow Lorikeets, Pied Currawongs and more Scarlet Honeyeaters.
Day 2 brought Yellow-faced, New-Holland and Scarlet Honeyeaters, Red and Little Wattlebirds plus a Satin Bowerbird and Eastern Spinebill to name a few, even before we left the accommodation. Everyone was out waiting for the morning walk down to the Peel River at Nundle Bridge. Courting Eastern Rosellas stopped us; they were in perfect light. King Parrots and Yellow-rumped Thornbills featured too. Down at the river Australian Reed-warblers were darting around, Brown Thornbills and a standout male Mistletoe bird! That red! On the way we had a Bar-shouldered Dove calling, White-throated Gerygones posing, but the Rufous Songlarks were too far away as we returned to breakfast with 46 species already seen today. A great start!
Eastern Spinebill by Nick Giles
Our first stop today was Chaffey Dam. Great Crested Grebes were busy fishing, with White-headed Stilts, Australasian Darter, and Little Egret. The first of a few Australian Pelicans and Great and Little Black Cormorants. Musk Lorikeets and Eastern Rosellas were seen at nesting hollows and we had great views of White-throated Gerygones. As we travelled we had Australasian Pipits flying up and an Eastern Koel took off. Then there was our first view of what became a prolific bird,the Rufous Songlark. A Peregrine Falcon and a Nankeen Kestrel flew past as we looked for White-plumed Honeyeaters along with more Musk Lorikeets. Then a Wedge-tailed Eagle flew over, being harassed, and was soon joined by its mate as they circled higher.
A little further on we had our first Apostlebird which caused great excitement. Stopping again we had a Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo, Rainbow Bee-eaters in pairs hawking, Double-barred Finch, a Yellow-rumped Thornbill, and an Australasian Pipit waiting to feed young. Arriving at the Attunga State Forest Bird Route we entered the Callitris trees and had Fuscous Honeyeaters in places and a Black-eared Cuckoo: a first sighting for a very excited Brian and many others. As well, a Speckled Warbler proved difficult in the trees and finally a Pallid Cuckoo and female Leaden Flycatcher were spotted.
Our lunch spot today was under a tree on Crown Mountain Road, where we watched for birds as we ate. A male Red-winged Parrot flew by, Tree Martins flew around and Rufous Songlarks posed on the fence posts. Further along we had Brown Falcon and Peaceful Dove sitting in the middle of the road, then flying up and perching out in the open. Further on we had two groups of White-winged Choughs and then at the Split Rock Dam entrance the songlarks were Rufous and finally two Browns. Down on the water there was a Great Egret in the distance; closer in, Dusky Moorhens fed on the opposite bank and a Whistling Kite kept watch.
White-throated Gerygone by Nick Giles
A very hot day and a fantastic group of birds seen, with the finishing touch of an ice cream in Barraba.
Day 3 and everyone was present as we headed down to the shores of the Manilla River. A much cooler day today had most of us putting on jackets and initially it appeared quiet, but soon there were Musk Lorikeets feeding and our first Red-browed Finch, also a Pied Butcherbird with two young. Then we had great views of a Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater. Quick glimpses: a Little Friarbird gave fleeting views and a male Eastern Koel flew past making a racket.
We headed out and a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles sitting on the ground showed us just how big they are. White-winged Choughs and Rufous Songlarks were everywhere. The Woodsreef Common was very overgrown so we headed back to Casuarina Crossing at the Ironbark Creek Bridge where Jacky Winter were feeding young. A walk beside the creek had a male Scarlet Honeyeater and a calling Cicadabird that we finally managed to see. A pair of Fan-tailed Cuckoos were interacting up close and Eastern Yellow Robins were feeding two juveniles. Up high a squadron of Australian Pelicans flew over and a White-throated Treecreeper and a surprise Little Woodswallow were seen, as we headed out to Woodsreef Public Reserve. Similar species were seen here, except for a Turquoise Parrot pair that rocketed off.
Grass Trees by Nick Giles
Stopping again provided White-browed and Masked Woodswallows and a single Diamond Firetail which sat briefly. Our lunch spot under an ancient Angophora Floribunda had Musk Lorikeets, Rufous Whistlers and Little Raven to view. Craning our necks we finally found Weebills. Driving out we had Rainbow Bee-eaters and Little Friarbirds.
Swamp Wallaby by Nick Giles
Our target in the flowering Mugga Ironbarks near Conoor Road were the elusive Regent Honeyeaters. And elusive they remained. We could hear a large group of birds calling but as we approached all went quiet. Little and Musk Lorikeets zoomed around. Rufous Songlarks were being asked to quieten down and then we saw them: a large mixed flock of White-browed and Masked Woodswallows, about 500 plus, erupting from cover trees and circling before hiding again, only to erupt again. An unforgettable moment hearing and seeing them.
As we wandered down a TSR (travelling stock reserve) White-throated Treecreepers were common and Greg found a nesting hollow. White-plumed Honeyeaters and then a single Yellow-tufted gave a brief view. We also saw an Olive-backed Oriole and a Noisy Friarbird. Returning to the bus a different way proved quiet. Along the road more Wedgies were feeding near the road and then I thought I saw a Restless Flycatcher. After a U-turn there they were, briefly, along with Dusky Woodswallows.
Day 4 started with another walk down near the Manilla River in the opposite direction. We headed off in the brisk early morning. Our first bird was a Tawny Grassbird. Further down, Double-barred Finch and Silvereyes were trying to warm up in the morning sun. A Golden-headed Cisticola called while Yellow-rumped Thornbills zipped around the bank. Bernice watched a Red-browed Finch feeding young and as we returned an Australian Hobby flew by.
Mugga Ironbark by Nick Giles
Driving out today along the Cobbadah - Upper Horton Bird Route 12 we saw Red-rumped Parrots and Maned Ducks along the road, and finally a Brown Treecreeper seen on the road. We walked in a TSR and had a Wedgie up high, Rufous Songlarks, Yellow-throated Gerygones, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Jacky Winter and a Sacred Kingfisher feeding along the fence line. A White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike was seen near the bus. As we drove off we had our first and only Grey Goshawk from the bus window.
We wandered around our next TSR spot under flowering Eucalypts and Rough-barked Apples, finding Eastern Yellow Robins, Little Friarbirds, Little Lorikeets, Peaceful Dove; a Turquoise Parrot was seen by Janene. Little Lorikeets, Spiny-cheeked and White-plumed Honeyeaters were feeding in the blossom. Across the road we had a White-winged Triller.
As we headed to Upper Horton, Apostlebirds, White-winged Choughs and Straw-necked Ibis were common. After a quick stop for a Bearded Dragon posing on the fence-post we travelled on to Bereen Mountain Lookout overlooking the Horton Valley for lunch. The red soil in the cutting was amazing, and we had Welcome Swallows and Silvereye chittering as we ate. We drove on to the Little Creek Recreation area and the place was pumping with Musk Lorikeets at hollows. A Red-winged Parrot took off and the Apostlebirds were shouted down by White-winged Choughs that had greater numbers and antics. On to Horton Creek and then the falls. People who walked down saw Buff-rumped Thornbills, while those who stayed up saw a juvenile Fan-tailed Cuckoo and heard the haunting call of the Brush Cuckoo. Common Bronzewing appeared as we drove to Wiry Station. We walked in paddocks to reach the ponds. Hoary-headed Grebe and a Black-fronted Dotterel pair were up close. A few walked to the further pond, with Nick narrowly missing a Red-bellied Black Snake on the ground. The pond was full of ducks, mostly Maned and Grey Teal, but a few Pink-eared Ducks showed well, plus a group of Masked Lapwings.
Dollarbird by Nick Giles
After returning to the bus we headed off to Plumthorpe TSR in the late afternoon. We were greeted by more Rufous Songlarks and a Common Bronzewing that posed briefly but quickly flew off. A Brown Treecreeper was on the track and nearby a White-throated Treecreeper. As well, w found a large mixed group of Tree and Fairy Martins and a few Dusky Woodswallows flying and perching. A Restless Flycatcher was heard and seen as we headed for the bus.
Day 5, our last day, was a glorious day for travel as we wended our way to Sydney. Our most prolific bird was the Straw-necked Ibis and we continued seeing them in quite large numbers feeding and flying as we drove along. We spotted Galahs and Kestrels too. Just out of Barraba we had Zebra Finch on a fence as we chucked our final uey! There were many birds to keep our eyes busy and bins trained out of the bus window. Brown Falcon, Hobby and still Rufous Songlarks were present as we headed down Halls Creek Road. Then we had Australasian Pipits, and Black-shouldered Kites hovering away. We stopped at Bendemeer by the river briefly. Rufous Whistler, Black-fronted Dotterel, and Crimson Rosellas kept us alert. Further on we had our first Brown Goshawks and a Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo flew over the bus. We drove through the Riamukka State Forest with more Wedgetails. At Nowendoc a Grey Shrike-Thrush appeared and our first Spotted Dove for the trip. More Eastern Rosellas and then Crimson Rosellas flew both sides of the bus.
Hairpin Lookout by Nick Giles
Lunch was at Rocks Crossing Reserve and the birds were prolific. Lewin's Honeyeaters, Grey Fantails flittering around. A Whipbird called and a Brown Gerygone eventually showed well. Brush and Fantailed Cuckoos, Golden Whistlers, and Silvereye all there kept us looking and listening.
We travelled on with a Whistling Kite, Black-necked Stork and a large group of Australian White Ibis seen as the bus thundered down the Pacific Highway. Our last stop at Ourimbah featured a Brush Turkey and a perched Regent Bowerbird, our last new bird for the trip.
I want to thank everyone for your wonderful company. A great group and trip. A total of 155 birds seen and heard.
White-browed Woodswallow by Nick Giles
Christina Port, guiding for Follow that Bird