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The Birding Triangle of Nyngan
Cobar & Bourke Trip Report
Nygan Cobar Bourke 07 by Robin Murray
The second Birding Triangle Tour of Nyngan, Cobar & Bourke was taken at the beginning of spring in fine sunny weather following winter rains so that throughout the trip everything was green and often quite lush. Who would have thought at the planning stage that the trip would end being an “APEC Escape Weekend”! Alas from Dubbo to Nyngan and Cobar the area was starting to dry off due to lack of recent rains although it was not initially apparent, however, on our return from Warren through Gilgandra, Dunedoo & to the Hunter Valley, recent rains had maintained the good seasons here and everythingthere looked great. The previous Triangle trip was in May 2003 when 132 species were seen, whereas this trip, leading into spring meant that more migrants could be expected and in fact over 155 species were observed this time by 13 very keen observers. Our trip out was via Lithgow, Mudgee, Goolma, Ballimore, Dubbo, Narromine, Trangie to Nyngan and there was much to see enroute. At Lithgow STW we caught up with c. 12 Blue-billed Ducks along with Hardheads and Hoary-headed Grebes while at a lookout over Windamere Dam at Cudgegong, a number of Great Crested Grebes, Black-winged Stilts, Coots & Nankeen Kestrels were seen in and around the waterway. Our lunch stop was at Lawson Park, Mudgee on the banks of the Cudgegong River and here Reedwarblers, Darter, Red-rumped Parrot, White-plumed Honeyeater, Yellow & Yellow-rumped Thornbills entertained us while we ate. Near Gollan, the first Rufous Songlark for the trip was sighted, while west of Narromine flocks of Cockatiels were worth the stop and here we picked up Blue-faced Honeyeaters & Black-shouldered Kite. Our first Emus & Apostlebirds were seen at Murraburra, Black Kites and Superb Parrots near Belaringar and Yellow-throated Miners at Mullengudgery. We arrived in Nynagn in the dark at the end of a long but successful day.

Mistletoe by Robin Murray
Our first morning walk from the Motel to the Bogan River and back produced 44 species in the hour with the top birds being Red-winged Parrot & Ausatralian Ringneck, Noisy & Little Friarbirds, Striped & Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters, nesting Black Kite, Grey-crowned Babblers, Rainbow Lorikeet, White-breasted Woodswallows & nesting Fairy Martins and Welcome Swallows. After breakfast we headed out the Canonbar Rd, checked the STW and found Pink-ears, Shovelers & Whistling Kite amongst the usual suspects and we had good views of Blue Bonnets. At Box Cowal, nesting Choughs & Apostlebirds, and White-winged Triller, Restless Flycatcher and Weebillls were the top birds, with an Emu+9 little chicks at Belar Ck and Jacky Winter and Rufous Songlarks at Gunningbar Creek. Back to the Bogan River for morning tea where the Spotted Bowerbird’s bower was located and the purple crest on the bird admired, Grey-crowned Babblers were found nesting and Pelican & Great Egret were seen on the water. Onto Cobar where we lunched at Cobar New Tank where the water level was quite low and there were few waterbirds although Black-fronted Dotterels were the exception, a Pink Cockatoo fed in a Cypress Pine, Double-banded Finches fed near the edge of the tank, Rufous Whistlers were located and Red Wattlebirds were unexpectedly seen. We walked across to the STW and had stunning views of a number of male Splendid Fairy-wrens in full breeding plumage and a few Variegated Fairy-wrens as well. There were plenty of waterbirds on the ponds, more Pink Cockatoos, Zebra & Double-barred Finches, Singing & Brown Honeyeaters, Mistletoebirds and more Bowerbirds. On the South Cobar Common we had great views of Red-capped & Hooded Robins, White-browed Babblers, Southern Whiteface and Crested Bellbirds were heard but not seen. Our final stop was the Cobar Lookout, and in the mine quarry below 5+ White-backed Swallows were found.

Caladenia Carnea by Robin Murray

Our second morning walk out to the western edge of Cobar township yielded only 18 species for the hour the best birds being a single Glossy Ibis flying over and a Pallid Cuckoo, although Spiny-cheeked & Blue-faced Honeyeaters were seen along with Spotted Bowerbirds and White-breasted Woodswallows. We headed north after breakfast, stopping first at Cobar North Common, where we picked up Little Eagle, Inland Thornbill, more Trillers, Red-capped Robins and Whitefaces. At Tindara Tank, we had great views of Horsfield Bronze-Cuckoo checking out a family of Splendid Fairy-wrens, as well as close views of Red-winged & Ringnecked Parrots. We lunched at Dry Tank picnic area in Gunderbooka NPwhere everyone had great views of White-browed Treecreepers, a party of Sittellas, Cockatiel, Red-capped Robin and a few lucky ones saw a Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush and then we all saw two Crested Bellbirds. The walk up to Little Mountain Lookout through the Mulga yielded a female Rufous Whistler feeding a recently fledged chick, Red-capped & Hooded Robins, and more Crested Bellbirds, Inland Thornbills and Weebills. Departing the Park we spied Wedge-tailed Eagles and at nearby Corilla Bore, Emus and Little Corellas. At the Darling River near the Fort Bourke Stockade, there were plenty of Brown Treecreepers, one pair feeding dependent young and Tree Martins, Grey Shrike-thrush and a White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike. It was great to reach Brourke and to stay at the historic Riverside Motel and watch the sun set over the Darling River and listen to the Little Corellas going to roost.

Our walk along the River before breakfast again yielded 44 species and these included an early Sacred Kingfisher, a loudly calling Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Rufous Songlark, Reedwarblers, nesting Little Friarbird, Starling and Magpielarks and a lone Red-tailed Black Cockatoo. We headed for the Hungerford Road out onto the plains where recent rains had attracted a pair of Orange Chats, a Red-backed Kingfisher, Brown Songlarks and we located resident species like White-winged Fairy-wrens, Pipit, Chestnut-crowned Babbler and saw a number of Horsfield Bronze-Cuckoos and White-winged Trillers. We had morning tea beside the Darling River at the old road bridge at North Bourke where Black and Whistling Kites checked us out and Pied Cormorants and Darters fished in the River. From here we headed south east along the Mitchell Highway, where the Eremophila longifolia was flowering profusely and we stopped a number of times to check out the birds feeding on the nectar flow, including a large flock of White-browed and Masked Woodswallows, Ringneck Parrot and Pink Cockatoo, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters & Red-winged Parrot. White-winged Fairy-wren, Cockatiel and Brown Songlarks were prominent along this stretch.

Grey-crowned Babbler

A special stop was made at Byrock to check out the birds in the Aboriginal site and we were not disappointed. Plenty of Robins and White-faces, Noisy and Little Friarbirds were feeding in the Emu Bush flowers, Jacky Winter and Splendid Fairy-wren, nesting Grey-crowned Babblers, Spotted Bowerbirds & 3 Pink Cockatoos! Lunch at the Mulga Creek Hotel at Byrock was as entertaining as ever and we added to their bird list, prepared by one Alan Morris, after the last FTB Trip to Byrock in 2003! Onto Girilambone for an ice-cream but few birds, although the Warren STW had plenty of waterbirds to check out, including a Wood Duck with 4 ducklings, Intermediate Egret, 3 Yellow-billed Spoonbills, Pinkear, a Little Grassbird and Reedwarblers. We arrived at Gilgandra tired but satisfied after a good days birding.

Our final day started with the usual early morning bird walk, this time along the flowing Castlereagh River where we saw 38 species for the morning,the highlights being King & Red-winged Parrots, Little Raven, Rufous Songlark, Fantailed Cuckoo and Whistling Kite. A brief stop near Boyben Bridge on the Castlereagh River, west of Mendooran found 3 Banded Lapwings in paddock with two Pallid Cuckoos calling and perching on the fences close to the Coach. At the Arrowfield Wetland near Dunedoo, there were some Pinkears, many Grey Teal, a Hoary-headed Grebe on a nest and a lone Red-kneed Dotterel. Nearby we swerved to miss a Black Duck escorting 9 tiny ducklings across the roa din front of us! Phew! Morning tea was taken at Cassilis Park rest area, where could admire the ground orchids as well as Western Gerygone, Common Bronze-wing, Brown-headed Honeyeater & Yellow Robin. A Little Eagle was mobbed by ravens overhead and Eastern Rosellas were busy looking for nest holes, while a pair of King Parrots tried to hide in the thick foliage. The first White-throated Treecreepers for the trip were seen here. Our last stop was Broke Common, where White-throated Gerygones were in full song, Red-browed Finches were feeding in the Creek, Bar-shoulded Doves and Rufous Whistlers were calling well and a another White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike was found.

Watching Splendid Fairywrens
We finished with 155 species seen in lovely warm sunny weather; We stayed and dined at a variety of interesting motels because of their location close to good birding spots; we enjoyed great morning teas and lunches provided by Janene while Chris did a great job as driver. The trip was made enjoyable by the enthusiasm and interest in birding by Jean, Mary, Robin, Joan, Phillipa, Margaret, Ruth, Helen, Alan & Gordon while it was good to be travelling and birding in such a great and lovely landscape.

Alan Morris – Guiding for FTB

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Photos of Variegated Fairy-wren and Little Tern courtesy of Neil Fifer