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Lake Cargelligo Tour Report
Australian Ringneck Christina Port
Australian Ringneck by Christina Port
Sydney traffic slowed our trip in the beginning but that didn’t stop the bird spotting and before we arrived at the Tutti Fruitti at Kurrajong Heights on the Bells Line of Road we already had seen 30 bird species from the bus. The stop was welcome and while some enjoyed apple pie, cream and coffee others had great close up views of a Lewin’s Honeyeater, New Holland Honeyeater and Eastern Spinebill feeding among the beautiful Camellias. We were soon on the bus again and on the trip over the Blue Mountains enjoying the glorious walls and mountains along the way. The route through the back streets of Lithgow was an interesting one and we had great cake and tea at Bowenfels. Here the scope was out and we saw Australasian Shovelers, Pink-eared Ducks, Hardhead and Australasian Grebe feeding at the Lithgow STW. Wonderful Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos came and landed close by.

Our next stop was Lake Canobolas and as we alighted from the bus Crimson Rosellas flew around. Great and Little Pied Cormorant rested after feeding in the lake and Silver Gulls swooped in. Australian Wood Ducks and Pacific Black Ducks rested along the edge. A walk along the edges and we had a large group of Grey Fantails, Superb Fairy-wrens and White-browed Scrubwren to keep us entertained until a very welcome lunch was ready.

We drove through the amazingly verdant (green and lush) countryside, the bus stopping now and then for White-browed Babblers and Apostlebirds and slowing for raptors on the wires. Our last stop for the day was Nangar National Park. The rain that had mostly held off all day decided to fall so with raincoats and umbrellas up we headed in. White-plumed Honeyeaters, White-browed Babblers, Rufous Honeyeaters and Mistletoebirds kept us focused on the trees. A Common Bronzewing and Brown Quail took off before we had better views. A Rose Robin posed briefly before hiding for good but the Jacky Winter sat beautifully.

Our second day started with a walk around Lake Forbes. Water species of Little Pied Cormorant, Australian Pelicans, a White-faced Heron and Eastern Great Egret were easily seen. A flowering Ironbark provided much to look at with many White-plumed Honeyeaters, Blue-faced Honeyeaters and Noisy Miners all busily bossing each other around. Among them was a lone Little Friarbird. As the weather started to drizzle again we spotted a fluffed up White-breasted Woodswallow on the top of a dead branch. After breakfast we headed out to Gum Swamp. Among the many Pink-eared Ducks a Blue-billed Duck was seen, as well as Australasian Shovelers, Hardhead, Grey Teal and Pacific Black Ducks. A lone Freckled Duck kept its head tucked right down. We saw a raft of Hoary-headed Grebes as well as Australasian Grebes, Dusky Moorhen, Eurasian Coot and Purple Swamphen. Flying around creating a huge racket was a large group of Little Corellas and perched on dead branches Rock Doves. Up very high were Dusky Woodswallows making for neck-breaking views.

We headed out along the back roads hoping for parrots which remained elusive but the White-winged Choughs were seen rising up from the roadside in an almost continuous stream. Grey-crowned Babblers were seen too and we watched as they were adding to a nest they were building. Stopping in an area of the Travelling Stock Route we went in and had a Western Gerygone calling. Rufous Whistlers, Silvereye and Yellow-rumped Thornbills were seen in the trees. Soaring up high were 3 Whistling Kites. Continuing along the road we started to see Cockatiels and had great views of a tree full of them. Black Kites were also seen from the bus. We stopped at Condobolin (Condi) by the Lachlan River where our walk before lunch produced Brown Goshawk, Red-rumped Parrots and White-plumed Honeyeaters. At lunch time Judy spotted our first Australian Ringneck (race barnardi). A quick walk after lunch and we spotted a Collared Sparrowhawk enjoying its lunch briefly before it flew off to eat in peace.

Back on the road and our first sighting was of a pair of Common Bronzewing flying along beside and in front of the bus for a distance. Emus were spotted with Bruce trying to dazzle them with fancy foot work and a Yellow Spoonbill was seen flying through. Blue Bonnets were finally spotted, but fleetingly. Also seen along the way here were Wedge-tailed Eagles and our first Yellow-throated Miners.

Galahs Lake Cargelligo Christina Port
Galahs Lake Cargelligo by Christina Port
We arrived at Sheet of Water and were greeted by a pair of White-bellied Sea-eagles. Along the protected edges of the water we saw Intermediate Egrets, Darter, and Little Pied Cormorant. Ron spotted a Black-fronted Dotterel on a sand spit. Walking back we watched as two Grey Butcherbirds appeared to be hassled by a group of Noisy Miners. Ron spotted the Tawny Frogmouth that gave up and flew off to find a quieter spot. The Grey Butcherbirds, Noisy Miners and us were too much for it. As we left we stopped to watch a group of Australian Ringnecks bathing in a puddle on the side of the road. Continuing further along the road here we finally got wonderful views of posing Blue Bonnets.

Our final stop for the day was an extremely full Lake Cargelligo. Australian Pelicans swam peacefully along, a Pied Cormorant and Darter resting on the edge. On the shore a group of Silver Gulls hovered. A huge group of Galah and a pair of Masked Lapwing erupted in flight and we watched a beautiful display as they flew together around and around over the lake in the late afternoon light.

A glorious sunny morning greeted us on our third day. We raced down to the Lake Cargelligo foreshore where Galahs, Pied Butcherbirds and White-breasted Woodswallows greeted us. The lake was being fished by Pied Cormorants and a lone Australian Pelican. Our first Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters gave great views along with White-plumed Honeyeaters. A Grey Fantail, Yellow-throated Miner and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike were also seen. The call of the Restless Flycatcher was heard and we saw it race away. Variegated Fairy-wrens hopped along the scrub on the edge and delighted as we came away.

As we headed out, a Black-winged Kite posed and the fields were full of Straw-necked Ibis. We saw Cockatiel flying off and a Wedge-tailed Eagle was chased away by a Little Crow. We stopped to have a good look at the Apostlebirds hiding in the Bimble Box. Spotting a Fairy-wren we were out along the road and Saltbush and eventually we were rewarded with great views of White-winged Fairy-wrens including juveniles and a male with most of his colour still. Blue Bonnets, a Brown Songlark and some Zebra Finch had the bus stopping at intervals and binoculars focused on them.

We arrived at Round Hill Nature Reserve and a stop at the side of the road had us chasing the calling Chestnut-rumped Thornbills as they flitted here and there, with brief views of Splendid Fairy-wrens. Further along as we stopped for morning tea the White-eared Honeyeaters called and then posed well. A Mistletoebird called and a Grey-fronted Honeyeater was seen. A Grey Shrike-thrush surprised and Weebill started to be seen everywhere. Down the Nombinnie Track our first sighting was of Crested Bellbirds crossing on the track. A Common Bronzewing flew off, more White-faced Honeyeaters were seen and a fleeting view of a Southern Scrub Robin. We enjoyed lunch in the shade with hundreds of tiny Two-spotted Line-blue Butterflies.

White Rocks on Millthorpe to Bathurst Road
by participant Jan Ritchie
Just after Euabalong we stopped along the shady trees again by the Lachlan River. Brown Treecreepers, Jacky Winter, a Rufous Whistler, Peaceful Doves, a Striped Honeyeater, Yellow-rumped Thornbills and Striated Pardalotes had us training our binoculars all over the place. Just a little further along a field of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos was seen and a close to the Lake a large group of circling Black Kites with a Brown Falcon. We finished off a great day’s birding with more White-winged Choughs.

An early start on Day four saw us arrive at the Lake Cargelligo STW with Little Grassbirds calling in the long reeds. We headed along further, finding a gap as a Swamp Harrier flew through putting up lots of birds. When they settled we could see a variety of ducks in the distance: Pink-eared, Shoveler, Freckled and Hardhead along with Grey Teal. Also a preening Black Swan and a highlight, our first Australian Shelduck. A small group of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers flew over, and a Black-fronted Dotterel landed at Janene’s feet. Hoary-headed and Australasian Grebes were present and Bernice finally found a Dusky Moorhen after a great hunt. Red-rumped Parrots and Cockatiel flew over too. As we were leaving we were entertained by a group of Zebra Finches and Yellow and Yellow-rumped Thornbills.

On the road we slowed and stopped continuously for birds such as Spotted Harrier, Square-tailed Kite and Superb Parrots. Morning tea was at West Wyalong with Red-rumped Parrots and Noisy Miners. We had our second sighting of Emus this trip and glimpses of Wedge-tailed Eagles flying high.

Our lunch stop was at the beautiful Millthorpe and we had a Black-shouldered Kite hunting and lots of Silvereye and a few Yellow-faced Honeyeaters flying over on their migration. The Meadow Argus butterflies were fantastic here too. Here too we met up with Tiffany Mason our local area guide.

After lunch at Millthorpe, we met up with the second guide, Tiff, who led us out of town along Pretty Plains Road. Christina took over driving duties, skilfully avoiding an Eastern Long-necked Turtle and pulling over next to a large dam so that would could admire a fine assortment of ducks, including Grey Teal, Pink-eared, Shovellers and Hardheads. A high “peet-peet-peet” call alerted us to a small flock (7) of Black-fronted Dotterels, which flew over our heads and settled on the far bank of the dam. As we drove off, there was a cry of “Yellow Spoonbill!” from the back of the bus. Reversing up the road, we got a slightly obscured view of the Spoonbill, wading in a very low-lying pond.

We crossed the Great Western Highway and entered Cashen’s Lane: Eastern and Crimson Rosellas, and Red-rumped Parrots (the males’ turquoise heads glowing in the afternoon light) flashed across the road. A Brown Falcon gazed lazily down from a power pole, digesting lunch no doubt. We alighted from the bus at Williamson’s Lane and began walking up to the ridge, admiring the huge granite boulders on the way. The robust breeze created an updraft that held two Wedge-tailed Eagles aloft. Drooping Mistletoe was prominent in the stringybarks and there were berries to attract a Mistletoebird. We heard the monotonous piping of a White-throated Treecreeper and the slightly mournful “mew” of the Double-barred Finches. Yellow-rumped and Yellow Thornbills appeared, as did Superb Fairy-wrens in the Hairy Wattle. As we reached the crest of the hill, and about 1 second after the guide had sighed resignedly “oh, well, no Scarlet Robin this time”, a family of four Scarlet Robins appeared, dividing their time between perching on the dead timber on one side of the road and the fence on the other. There was just enough light for a brief sortie down White Rocks Road to catch a couple of Diamond Firetails before heading back to Millthorpe for dinner at the bowlo.

The next morning, we headed east and after a brief look in a roadside dam near Vittoria were fortunate enough to see a Little Eagle flying overhead. We retraced yesterday’s steps up Cashen’s Lane then headed to Bathurst on the Ophir Road. Finches abounded and everyone got good views of Double-barreds sunning themselves on the rocky outcrops and Diamond Firetails perched at the top of Silver Wattles. A Dusky Woodswallow obliged all the photographers by sitting on the fence next to the bus.

Birding Christina Port
Busy Birding by Christina Port
The Macquarie River, lined with big old River She-oaks was flowing on our left as we arrived in Bathurst. We headed to the base of Mount Panorama, avoiding the race track to take in the woodland birds along Hinton Road. A male Rufous Whistler came to investigate, and a lucky few saw a Western Gerygone amongst the Silvereyes, Yellow and Yellow-rumped Thornbills that packed the foliage.

We climbed out of Bathurst to Yetholme and visited the Bird Block, where higher rainfall and richer soil produced tall forests of Ribbon Gum. As we entered, a White-browed Scrubwren greeted us; White-throated Treecreepers called, as did White-naped Honeyeaters from high in the canopy. There seemed to be a great many of these flitting about, and eventually, we all got to see the bird with its white belly, black cap and red-wattle brow. Emerging from the forest, we discovered a bogged bus and the cavalry had to be called! Half an hour later, rescue-effected, we were heading down the highway to our lunch stop at Lake Wallace, Wallerawang.

At Lake Wallace, we piled out of the bus just at a spot where a couple with a campervan had hoped to have a quiet lunch…it was too alluring a birding spot for good manners, though, as we almost immediately picked up a Little Egret in breeding plumage, perched in a willow across the water, then, a pair of Great Crested Grebes with a nearly full-grown (but still stripey-necked) chick in tow was spotted, a Musk Duck, parading its spiky tail, a thousand and one Eurasian Coots, flotillas of Hoary-headed Grebes and Australasian Grebes all made an appearance. It was Grebe Mecca out there!

I want to thank Jan, Bruce, Judy, Ron, Jan and Bernice for a great trip. We really enjoyed the birding and the great company.

By Christina Port and Tiffany Mason Ornithologist for FTB

And the much requested recipe from Garry Gleeson, famed-boat-chef






Follow That Bird   Phone: 61 2 9973 1865
Fax: 61 2 9973 1875
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Avalon NSW 2107
Sydney Australia
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Photos of Variegated Fairy-wren and Little Tern courtesy of Neil Fifer