Round Hill & Lake Cargelligo - NSW Tour Report
An eager group loaded up and we left Killara with everyone excited to be leaving the grey and drizzly city. On the way to Lithgow we had a huge display of flowering Waratahs and the glorious Blue Mountains to look at. At Lithgow we watched Australasian Shovelers and Hoary-headed Grebes on the ponds and Crimson Rosellas in the trees. Yellow-rumped Thornbills gave beautiful close-up views and Greg started his photographic journey.
Black-shouldered Kite by Greg McCarry
Blue sky beckoned and we followed it out to Lake Canobolas with birds along the way. While we enjoyed our lunch overlooking the shore we wondered how the Masked Lapwings nesting on an off-shore pontoon would get their babies onto land. A Whistling Kite flew over the lake and was the only raptor seen today. Other species at the water included Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants. The reeds gave great cover to the Australian Reed-Warblers and frustrating views for us. Red Wattlebirds were feeding young and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and a Golden Whistler were calling.
Off again and further west we turned in to Nangar NP to explore the Box Woodlands with Common Wallaroos (Euros) and Grey Kangaroos everywhere. A Pallid Cuckoo flew off like a rocket as did a pair of Australian Ringnecks. We walked among the rocks and were entertained by Grey-crowned Babblers. A Hooded Robin sat in the open and gave great views. Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters and Striped Honeyeaters were also seen. A Jacky Winter and White-plumed Honeyeaters were feeding young. Dusky Woodswallows and Sacred Kingfishers added to this great spot. We drove slowly along and at the next stop had great views of a Western Gerygone, Bar-shouldered Dove, Southern Whiteface and Common Bronzewing. As we were leaving we spotted White-browed Babblers and jumped out of the car again. There was a Restless Flycatcher here, too. Then back in the car and on to Forbes for our first night's stay.
As I emerged on Day 2 everyone was waiting for me, keen and ready to go. We walked along the shore of Lake Forbes. It was a beautiful morning with the mist rising from the water and lots of Fairy Martins and Welcome Swallows zipping around. Six Australian Pelicans were gliding around the lake while Darters fished. Australian Reed-Warblers were calling and showing well in the early morning light. We walked back to breakfast watching the Yellow-throated Miners and an Australian Wood Duck family sitting on the edge until we got too close.
Our first stop today was Gum Swamp, just out of Forbes. A pair of White-bellied Sea-Eagles perched watching. Pink-eared Ducks, some with young, were around, as were lots of Grey Teal. A Royal Spoonbill fed on the opposite bank and in the trees we had our first Little Friarbirds and Sacred Kingfishers.
On to Condobolin for lunch, with Sacred Kingfishers calling again. After we ate we wandered around and watched a pair of Apostlebirds collecting nesting material, as was a Little Friarbird. Red-rumped Parrots were feeding and showing well in the light. As we left we saw a lone Peaceful Dove.
At Banar Lake we had just a quick stop as the water was some distance from the road and the heat haze stopped us identifying the birds. There was an elusive group of White-winged Fairy-wrens across the road but eventually we left without seeing them.
Splendid Fairy-wren by Greg McCarry
On our arrival close to Lake Cargelligo, a Bird Hide sign lured us down near the water, what it was mostly quiet under the wonderful trees, but we found a lone Sacred Kingfisher, Australasian Darter and Australian Pelicans. As we walked back to the car we had Variegated Fairy-wrens and our first Black Kite for the trip. We then drove out to Sheet of Water where Grey-crowned Babblers, Apostlebirds and White-winged Choughs were everywhere. I was excited to see some Black-tailed Native-hens but they kept on running and running till they disappeared out of sight! Along the shore we had Black-fronted Dotterel, Red-kneed Dotterel and some Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, while in the distance were some Glossy Ibis and Royal Spoonbills. As we drove out and down the road we jumped out of the car for a close view of two Shingleback Lizards.
We had just enough time for a quick look at the Lake Cargelligo STW. A pair of Wandering Whistling-Ducks were a surprise and Greg was excited at his first Baillon's Crake. A pair of Black Swans had young cygnets and Little Grassbirds were calling their haunting call. A group of 10 Whiskered Terns fed over the ponds and a pair of Cockatiels flew over and landed, giving great views. A Major Mitchell Cockatoo flew over and was gone, the only one of the trip. An immature Black-shouldered Kite flew around and joined its family, such a great way to end the day.
Day 3 and everyone was ready for the early morning walk. We had timed our visit to coincide with a 2-day fishing tournament: boats were everywhere on the water and the banks of Frog Hollow were full of vans and caravans. We still managed to see an Eastern Great Egret looking for breakfast. Red-rumped Parrots and Galahs were also feeding in the early morning light. We had great views of a Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater but nothing on the lake except boats.
We travelled out today and had great hopes. Australian Ringnecks gave fleeting views but as we turned down towards Chat Alley, Brown Falcons were sitting on fence posts, as were Nankeen Kestrels; Greg's camera was going click click click. We stopped and walked along Chat Alley, with Zebra Finch everywhere. Then Joan spotted our first chat: a male White-fronted Chat and mate. Along the fence line Australasian Pipits were sitting. White-winged Fairy-wrens were calling but remained difficult to see except for the odd peek. Then, as we made our way back to the car, Joan spotted a little bird on the side of the road, a male Orange Chat! This one disappeared but as we got into the car I spotted another in front and we all got to see it well! As we headed out towards Round Hill, we finally got to see Bluebonnets. Then further along Emus in numbers were on both sides of the road.
As we moved down the road we started seeing Rainbow Bee-eaters in pairs flying around. Another Shingleback Lizard was spotted on the red soil. Then we walked into the Mallee at Nombinnie Reserve, which was quiet. The highlight was great views of a beautiful group of Yellow-plumed Honeyeaters. Weebills were also around in numbers.
By now it was very warm and we headed out across the road and parked for our lunch near a corner in the shade. Many more birds were here: White-eared Honeyeaters, a Grey Shrike-thrush and Splendid Fairy-wrens. Returning to the car we had a Mistletoebird pair and a Western Gerygone calling.
Welcome Swallows by Greg McCarry
Everyone wanted to visit the STW again and we did that later in the afternoon. Fifteen Glossy Ibis took one look at us and left - I didn't think we looked that bad. A male Australian Shelduck showed well and we had better views of the Black-tailed Native-hens. A very proud male Musk Duck and a very close-in Baillon's Crake were a great way to end the day.
Day 4 and we drove to the STW for our final morning walk. It had been a great spot and this morning didn't disappoint. With great excitement we found a group of White-fronted Chats and then a brilliant Crimson Chat! The male White-winged Fairywren didn't stand a chance. We couldn't get close but we were able to see him well and some saw the female too. Another Black-shouldered Kite appeared, this time an adult. We had our first Golden-headed Cisticola briefly; then I saw a bird near the base of tree and it turned out to be a posing Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo in the early morning light, another new bird for Greg.
After a drive by the Lake to say goodbye we headed to West Wyalong. Here we wandered around the Wetlands among the River Redgums and finally had stunning views of Australian Ringnecks. White-breasted Woodswallows were calling high up and swooping around. The ponds were quiet but at the back we had a Yellow-billed Spoonbill and our first Great Cormorant for the trip. A White-faced Heron flew down as walked out, along with a family of White-winged Choughs and nesting Apostlebirds, and we were on our way.
We wended our way to Weddin Mountains NP for lunch, where we heard our first Grey Butcherbird for the trip. A pair of posing Rainbow Bee-eaters and Greg was in heaven. After a search we found a pair of Rufous Whistlers and then some thornbills feeding young but they proved difficult to identify because of low light and rather dense vegetation. In the end we prevailed: they turned out to be Yellow Thornbills. Superb Fairywrens and an Australian Raven appeared as we headed out.
Everyone was keen to try and find Eurasian Tree Sparrows known to be in Cowra. We found the place and plenty of House Sparrows and a European Blackbird, but the Tree Sparrows remained elusive. On to Blayney, where a welcome ice cream stop at the "Billy and Me Café" proved to be an inspired diversion with interesting flavours, memorabilia and different clothes and shoes to peruse. From there we drove to Millthorpe, where a walk around produced a Nankeen Kestrel, Crimson Rosellas and Yellow-rumped Thornbills. Everyone was very interested in the historic town and Joan and Barbara did a tour before we arrived at our motel.
Our last day was clear and crisp as we drove out to White Rocks down Cashen's Lane. I had to slam on the brakes for a posing Hobby; then a little further on we paused at a large pond with ducks, Black-winged Stilts and a Black-fronted Dotterel. We climbed up Williamson's Lane past some of the granite boulders; the formations are amazing and the view is wonderful. Yellow-rumped Thornbills and Grey Fantails called and flitted around. A Nankeen Kestrel hunted among the rocks and a Noisy Friarbird and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters were feeding in the flowering trees. As we headed out to Bathurst some little birds sitting on a fence turned into European Goldfinch.
Brown Falcon by Greg McCarry
Our next stop after Yetholme in the Bird Block turned out to be very productive. We walked down through the pine forest where it was relatively cool and quiet except for a persistent Grey Shrike-Thrush. We emerged and walked up the Ribbon Gum trail. Yellow-Tailed Black-Cockatoos called and flew overhead. White-naped Honeyeaters were with Yellow-faced Honeyeaters in the trees, as well as a pair of Sacred Kingfishers and many bush birds: White-browed Scrub-wrens, Silvereyes and Red Wattlebirds all in the mix and many flying Pied Currawongs. As we wandered back to the car I could hear an Eastern Yellow Robin and the call of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo.
Our lunch stop today was Lake Wallace where the wind was howling and dust was flying. We tried for a sheltered spot to eat our lunch, then went off in search of the birds. Eastern Rosellas and Pied Currawongs were around as we ate. Blue-billed Ducks were distant and difficult but just possible to identify; Great-crested Grebes were mostly resting all tucked up, except that we were lucky enough to see one pair doing their courtship ritual. Eurasian Coot and Purple Swamphen were on land, away from the choppy water. Some Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants sat in a row. We decided to leave early and Barbara suggested Evans Lookout just down the road as we moved out of the unpleasant wind. At the Lookout were two Superb Lyrebirds out feeding and not too bothered by cameras clicking from us and other visitors. A lone Satin Bowerbird was also there, our last new bird added to the trip list. Brown Thornbills called as we looked at the view and a White-browed Scrubwren hopped around under the car. We made one last stop for a very welcome ice cream and then headed down the mountains and on to Killara. A big thankyou to Joan, Barbara and Greg for making this a very enjoyable trip. We saw and heard 141 species in the 5 days.
Christina Port, guiding for Follow that Bird