Thinking About Birds

I only update the gallery photos occasionally. Sorry about that, too busy. See my Sri Lanka gallery though and also  the latest additions to my UK and Denmark galleries.

September 2021

18 September

I did the Ash Island survey in the morning, alone because of the COVID-19 restrictions. The surveygot away to a good start, with an adult Brahminy Kite as one of my first sightings. There were a couple each of Far Eastern Curlew and Pacific Golden Plover around the Milhams Pond / Phoenix Flats area, and three Australian Gull-billed Terns. I also had about 150 Red-necked Avocets there, and then there were another 800 or so of them at the main ponds later on. Also at those area E ponds were four Whiskered Terns, two Red-necked Stints and about a dozen Red-capped Plovers. Black Swans were in moderate numbers (perhaps 50 in total) and there were many pairs with cygnets.

13 September

From today there has been a slight easing of COVID restrictions for fully vaccinated people. Very slight! Anyhow, I met Ann Lindsey and we walked around the Wetlands Centre for half the morning. We found our target which was a group of four Radjah Shelducks - quite a Hunter rarity.  It's six years since they last were recorded from anywhere within the Hunter Region. There were plenty of Magpie Geese, and all the usual ducks etc. Afterwards, I went to Blackbutt Reserve where, eventually, I found the recently reported Square-tailed Kite nest. I didn't see any birds at the nest but there was one flying around when I first arrived, and later I saw the same or another kite flying over Richley Reserve.

12 September

I've been working intermittently on my frst mega crossword - it uses a 23 x 23 grid. It's taken me ages to get it done but that's primarily been because of frequent distractions. I call it The Bittern (= large and cryptic). I've asked Margaret and Sally to trial it for me.

9 September

Earlier in the week I organised a travel permit and today I went to the Gloucester Tops. My main purpose was to refresh the existing trail cameras at a Rufous Scrub-bird territory plus instal some new ones. I spent about two and a half hours at that territory, hearing the scrub-bird a few times but in one of those, he was only a few metres away and we had some delightful interactions (in which he responded to my calls). I also visited two other territroes but both those birds were quiet.

8 September

HBOC clubnight Zoom meeting. Also, Ann Lindsey and I completed a manuscript about large waterbirds in the Hunter Estuary submitted it to the journal Whistler today

2 September

HBOC Management Committee meeting. Also, I sent a draft booklet of my Cross-bird puzzles to BirdLife Australia who (possibly) will make it available on-line.

August 2021

13 August

Newcastle has been in lockdown since 5 August. One of my tasks has been to complete a manuscript about gulls and terns in the Hunter Estuary (written jointly with Ann Lindsey). We submitted it to the journal Stilt today. And, also today came acceptance (finally!) of a paper by Margaret and me about the singing behaviour of male Rufous Scrub-birds in the Gloucester Tops. It will appear soon in the journal Corella.

12 August

HBOC clubnight Zoom meeting.

5 August

HBOC Management Committee meeting.

1-4 August

Margaret and I spent three nights in Manilla. We weren't able to leave until Sunday afternoon so all we could do was drive there essentially without stops. On Monday morning we went to the Borah and Tarpoly Travelling Stock Reserves. Highlights included lots of Little Lorikeets, Tree Martins investigating hollows, Speckled Warblers, Fuscous Honeyeaters and Rufous Songlarks. The latter was a big surprise to me as a silent single bird at Borah (because its so early in the season) but at Tarpoly there were three birds singing and displaying. In the afternoon I went along Halls Creek, where my surprise was a Spotted Bowerbird - out of range or close to the extremity of its range. That was a young bird and it took me a while to be sure of the ID; however next day near the Namoi River I found an adult bird. I went to Split Rock Dam (lots of Australian Pelicans on the water, and a pair of Hoary-headed Grebe. Later in the morning I tried to get to Warrabah National Park but was defeated by the swollen Namoi River after driving more than 90% of the way there. In the afternoon Margaret and I walked along the Namoi at Manilla - it was quiet but I found Common Blackbirds, Brown Honeyeaters and a Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater.

On our way home we detoured via Gunnedah. I birded at a recommended spot on Rangari Rd where there was flowering mistletoe and therefore, lots of honeyeaters. Highlights were many Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters, also several Brown and some Singing Honeyeaters, and a couple of Little Friarbirds. At another spot along Kelvin Rd I found Dusky Woodswallows, Speckled Warblers and a pair of Rufous Songlarks plus many other good things. Our final stop was at the Wondoba State Conservation Area, which was remarkably quiet and I gave up fairly quickly. Saw a Black Kite at Aberdeen on the way home.

July 2021

29 July

I spent much of the day reviewing my Rufous Scrub-bird camera trap images. I now have 31 capture-events! One of the ones that I processed today has about 15 seconds of very high quality image. To celebrate, I ordered some additional trail cameras. Late afternoon, Margaret took me to where she had seen a Powerful Owl on Monday in Blackbutt Reserve. Unfortunately, the bird wasn't there today.

26-28 July

I joined four others to do the quarterly surveys in the Martindale Valley. On my way there I stopped at Jerrys Plains cemetery where I found a pair of Red-capped Robins as the highlight. Also, at the Jerrys Plains Rest Area (where I had lunch) there was a group of 46 Double-banded Finches feeding together. I visited some of my other regular sites on Monday but things were quiet.

We did all our targeted surveys and it was quite good (for a winter survey). I recorded 70 species (overall, there were 80+ species) with my highlights including Rockwarbler, Black Falcon, Grey Goshawk, Grey-crowned Babbler, and Speckled Warbler. But my ultimate highlight came when watching a flock of about 150 Galahs wheeling above a paddock and suddenly realising that there was an Australian Hobby amidst them.  It stayed with them for ages, presumably using the big flock as camouflage while it hunted.

24 July

Ross and I did the Ash Island survey in the morning, in very blustery conditions. We found one Far Eastern Curlew at Milhams Pond - our only migratory shorebird for the day. However, there were some Black-fronted Dotterels around, and we had 27 Red-capped Plovers including a bird with a nest and 2 eggs. There were 60-70 White-faced Herons overall, and about 130 Red-necked Avocets at the main ponds along with some Pied Stilts. The biggest excitement came when we found a Common Gull-billed Tern roosting alongside six of its Australian Gull-billed Tern cousins. The size difference was quite obvious.

23 July

I went to the Gloucester Tops, mainly to refresh my trail cameras. It was very quiet up there. I heard Crescent Honeyeaters at two locations. One Rufous Scrub-bird called, but only very briefly and I wasn't able to track it down.

19 July

Late afternoon I went to Hexham Swamp with Bob and Evelyn McDonald to see if we could find the Australasian Bittern now that the thermal drone has been repaired. It was cold, and blowing an absolute gale. Alas, the bittern wasn't "booming" and we couldn't find it with the drone either. Just before dark we packed up and went home.

16-18 July

Six of us went to Broughton Island for the winter program. The conditions were challenging - it was very windy all three days, approaching gale force at times especially on the more-exposed parts of the island, and to boot we had two rainstorms on Friday, one of those including hail. We also had COVID restrictions about how we operated. Moreover, the Monotoca was not fruiting, which limited the bird numbers and activity. However, we had some good moments. There was a Double-banded Plover present on all 3 days - the first winter record of one (the other records have been of birds on passage in autumn). We had first-time records for Rainbow Lorikeet and Pacific Black Duck. The Red-browed Finch population has exploded, to 25-30 birds. In May we recorded them for the first time ever on the island (with only 3-4 birds present). A Lewin's Rail was calling frequently from near the huts, but once again it went unsighted, due to the dense vegetation. We had a female Rose Robin, a pair of Grey Fantail, one of which was a bird we had colour-banded in May. There were at least six White-bellied Sea-Eagles always present, and three Ospreys one of which we colour-banded as a chick in November last year.

13 July

I wasn't intending any birding today but mid-morning I received an email reporting that the rare vagrant Black-fronted Tern from NZ was had been seen off the Stockton Breakwater. I knew it was a long shot but I went there straightaway - and I didn't find it. I stayed for almost an hour, seeing plenty of other waterbirds (in small numbers except when a fishing trawler went by). Late afternoon the person who made the report sent me a photo and it turned out to be a Greater Crested Tern i.e. it was a false alarm. Still, it was a nice day to be out.

9 July

It rained a lot overnight and was drizzling steadily when I set out. I went to The Drip, which I had all to myself and got fairly wet during my visit. The highlight here was a pair of Rockwarblers - I had prolonged close views of them.  There were at least a half-dozen Spotted Pardalotes foraging in a tree at one point. It rained heavily for the next hour, which I waited out at the Cassilis Park Rest Area. When the rain eased, I birded there and also across the road at a section of Durridgerie State Conservation Area. I didn't see anything special although the sight of 17 bedraggled Crested Pigeons sitting in a dead tree amused me and there were some Musk Lorikeets around.

8 July

I emerged from 2 weeks of enforced isolation and took off west for a couple of days. It was a cold foggy morning and not worth any birding stops, so I went all the way to Goulburn River National Park where I stopped firstly at the Fossickers area. The sun was out by then but the birding was quiet. However, I saw two pairs of Hooded Robins, also several Diamond Firetails and lots of Brown Treecreepers. I also stopped at the "Poggy" site where the highlight was an Eastern Shrike-Tit doing its beautiful call (which carries quite a way and it took me a while to actually see the bird). There were Speckled Warblers here, a bird I always delight in seeing, and some Buff-rumped Thornbills and Variegated Fairy-wrens. My final stop, just before Gulgong where I stayed overnight, was at the Cope State Forest. The tracks were difficult to negotiate as it had rained a lot recently. However, the forest was full of honeyeaters, especially Noisy Friarbirds (hundreds) and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters (many dozens), and there were White-eared, Yellow-tufted and White-naped Honeyeaters

June 2021

26 June

I did the monthly Ash Island survey in the morning. I didn't find any migratory shorebirds (they all have departed) but I was pleased to see some Red-necked Avocets back in the estuary after breeding inland. There were 168 of them, also a few Pied Stilt which also had departed to breed inland. At Fish Fry Flats there was a foraging group of 18 Red-capped Plover, and there were 270 Grey Teal on Wader Pond (especially unusual in that they normally prefer Swan Pond). It was a good day for raptors - I saw White-bellied Sea-eagle, Swamp Harrier, Whistling Kite, Nankeen Kestrel and Brown Falcon.

24 June

On my way back from an overnight Sydney visit, I firstly explored the Mandalong/Dooralong areas south of Morisset but that was wall-to-wall farmlets etc and I couldn't find any interesting places to stop. Instead I went to Cooranbong and did the Boys Walk along Dora Creek. The highlight was a male Regent Bowerbird perched at the top of a dead tree, also I had great views of both Shining Bronze-cuckoo and Fan-tailed Cuckoo. There were some mixed foraging flocks containing Yellow and Brown Thornbills, and I also saw a flock of Striated Thornbills. I had close views of a Yellow-throated Scrubwren foraging on the track for quite a while.

22 June

Reports of a very rare bird (Black-fronted Tern - it will be a new addition to the Australian list if accepted) took me to Fort Scratchley to do a sea watch plus scan the roosting and foraging terns. Alas, I didn't find it but I enjoyed socialising with other birders, and there were some other species to look at - e.g. lots of roosting Greater Created Terns, several Sooty Oystercatchers, some Australasian Gannets, Pied Cormorants, ... A young Humpback Whale (based on distance from flipper to tail) was lolling around quite close to shore for ages, doing flipper raising/slapping, tail basking, etc. Very pleasant to watch!

12-14 June

I went to the HBOC camp at Appletree Flat near Jerrys Plains. I took a roundabout route to get there, stopping at Doughboy Hollow (with ~700 Plumed Whistling-Ducks and ~300 Straw-necked Ibis), Lake Liddell (too much water, too many campers), Muswellbrook sewage works (26 Pink-eared Ducks), Medhurst Bridge (Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater but not much else) and Bureen (nothing exceptional there). The camp was terrific - lovely days although cold nights, good company and good birds. On the property there was a large flock of 100+ Double-barred Finches in the front paddocks, Powerful Owl and Southern Boobook calling at night, a group of Grey-crowned Babblers, many Pied Currawongs, etc. On the Commission Road into Wollemi National Park I found Rose Robins, White-eared Honeyeaters, a Rockwarbler, Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters, Speckled Warblers, Weebills, Yellow Thornbills, and more.

3 June

In the afternoon I attended a meeting of the Hunter Estuary Shorebirds Working Group, held at the Wetlands Centre.  There were good discussions, and also I did a presentation (available here) which was an overview about the results from 22 years of surveys by HBOC members.

1 June

I joined the HBOC mid-week outing, which was to the Tocal College grounds. It was the first time in a long while that I've gone on one of the outings and it was fun to be birding in a group once again. Early on we found two young Shining Bronze-cuckoos together, hanging around with some Grey Fantails which perhaps had been their host parents. There were large numbers of Red-browed Finches down by the wetlands (in the vegetated areas) and also some Double-barred Finches in a few places. We had a nice view of an Azure Kingfisher at the creek - I'm always happy to see my favourite species! On the main ponds there were four Pink-eared Ducks and several Australasian Shovelers, also plenty of Pacific Black Ducks and scattered teal as well. Other highlights were a perched Wedge-tailed Eagle and a fly-through by a White-bellied Sea-Eagle.

May 2021

21-23 May

Six of us spent 3 days on Broughton Island, the first visit in six months (we had many failed attempts due to poor weather conditions). We had a new species for the island - some Red-browed Finches, two of which are now sporting coloured bands on their legs as is a Grey Fantail and two Bar-shouldered Doves. Overall the bush birds were quiet - partly that was to do with the seasonal pattern but there was very little fruiting berries available and that meant there weren't many Silvereyes (and almost no southern sub-species birds were there this time). In contrast, there were lots of birds of prey, especially White-bellied Sea-Eagles. There were 7-8 different individuals patrolling the island constantly. The reason seemed to be that there were many dead and dying Wedge-tailed Shearwater chicks. There always are lots of them at this time of the year - the parents abandon late-hatching chicks because they have to leave for their annual northern migration. I found 24 Sooty Oystercatchers during a high tide survey along Providence Beach, also nine Red-capped Plovers and two Double-banded Plovers, and also a pair of Eastern Reef Egrets flew past me as I walked along the beach.

17-19 May

Margaret and I spent 3 days on the Central Coast, staying at Ettalong Beach both nights but exploring a wider area over the three days. I have to say that the place isn't very birdy!! Admittedly I wasn't specifically out birdwatching, but I didn't see much. Highlights were a pair of Aust. Pied Oystercatchers at The Entrance, lots of Northern Mallards around Ettalong and at Cockrone Lagoon and an Aust. Brush-turkey in Bouddi National Park.

15 May

Ross and I did the monthly survey of Ash Island. There were many ducks including 600+ Chestnut Teal and 34 Australasian Shovelers. The ducks were tricky to count because of regular disturbance by six White-bellied Sea-Eagles in the area. We found a flock of seven Royal Spoonbills, and also 16 Red-capped Plovers together. The highlight was a male Australian Shelduck, loafing at the edge of the main ponds.

14 May

I went to the Gloucester Tops, mainly to check out the honeyeater activity. There was almost no activity! That's very unusual in autumn but for the first time that I can remember, the Banskia was not in blossom. I visited two Rufous scrub-bird territories. Neither bird was active but I did hear some Crescent Honeyeaters (and get very close to one of them) and there were two pairs of Red-browed Treecreepers (one pair seen). It was chilly up there so I cut my losses and went to Copeland State Conservation Area for some rainforest birding. However, it was quiet there as well.

12 May

In the evening I went to HBOC's May meeting. There were two great talks and I found it a very interesting night.

8 May

Once again the scheduled visit to Broughton Island (planned for 7-9 May) was cancelled. That's the sixth time this year and with no successful attempts! Anyhow, I have used the time to knock over some chores e.g. prepare the material for May's HBOC Featured Bird and produce the next Cross-bird cryptic puzzle for Australian Birdlife. But this the morning, for a change of scene, I headed out for some birding, using the new Cessnock birding routes publications as my guide. I went to Stanford Merthyr Reserve, Neath Fire Trail and Shiralee Fire Trail (the latter and I think both are in Werakata NP).  All three were nice spots, none of which I knew about previously. However, the birding was quiet. Highlights included lots of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters (currently on migration passage) and some Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters. I also enjoyed some nice views of Variegated Fairy-wrens.

1 May

In the morning I helped at HBOC's display at the Tocal Field Days event. Although it wasn't massively busy, there was a steady stream of people coming through and there were some pleasant chats (helping with bird IDs etc).  After lunch I went to Walka Water Works and walked around the main trail. I saw three Great Crested Grebes and a female Musk Duck but overall there weren't a great many birds on the water. A nearby wetland had some Black-fronted Dotterels and a solitary Pied Stilt. The bush birds also were quiet, with the highlight being some Blue-faced Honeyeaters.

April 2021

26 April

I had a meeting late morning with the bird banders, mainly to set some dates for future project work. In the afternoon I worked on the Introduction for a paper about Hunter Estuary shorebirds - Ann Lindsey and I are working on this. It's one of the lengthiest Introductions I've ever produced.

23-25 April

Margaret and I went to the HBOC camp which was at the Baerami Creek Oil Shale relics site in Wollemi National Park. We've been there a few times before, but there had been bush fires 16-18 months ago and much of the area had been burnt. That limited the birding somewhat but there were unburnt patches and we found about 65 species including a group of Grey-crowned Babblers, some Speckled Warblers, Rose Robin, Restless Flycatcher and Jacky Winter. At night there were Southern Boobooks, Tawny Frogmouths and an Australian Owlet-nightjar calling. Highlights while in transit were six White-backed Swallows at Bureen and seven Dusky Woodswallows along Baerami Creek Rd.

21 April

I went up to the Gloucester Tops, my first visit in more than two months (becasue of heavy rains in March and much travelling in April). It was quiet up there - scrub-birds mostly silent, very little honeyeater activity, very little blossom. I replaced the batteries and SD cards in my five cameras at a Rufous Scrub-bird territory, and also visited three other territories.

11-17 April

I did a six-day walk from Newcastle (New Lambton) to Sydney (Manly), covering 155 km in a mainly-coastal route. My overnight stops were: Swansea, Toukley, The Entrance, Terrigal,  Ettalong Beach and Ashfield (where my daughter lives). Although birdwatching was not my objective, and I had no binoculars, I kept my eyes and ears alert for birds. Overall, I recorded 66 species, with some of thehighlights being Variegated Fairy-wren, Spangled Drongo, Osprey, Bar-tailed Godwit, Scarlet Honeyeater and Caspian Tern.

10 April

Ross and I did the monthly Ash Island survey in the morning. The contrast to last month’s survey was remarkable. Last month it took me forever to count all the shorebirds, especially the avocets (there were about 1,000 of them). Today we found four Pacific Golden Plovers, a dozen Black-fronted Dotterels and modest numbers of Masked Lapwings, and no other shorebirds at all. The avocets have gone, and probably this species has left the estuary. Swan Pond was living up to its name, which isn’t always the case. There were almost 200 of them out there this morning, plus lesser numbers at locations elsewhere. One pair was on a nest and a second pair was building one. There were flocks of Chestnut Teal at several of the ponds, in smallish groups (20-50 birds) but totaling to around 200 birds altogether, and a female had seven ducklings with her. Brown Quail were at lots of places as we drove around; we saw six groups of them amounting to 30 or so birds, and also two Buff-banded Rails. It was a good day for raptors too, including we saw an adult Brahminy Kite near Scotts Point. The migration passage by Welcome Swallows is underway, and we had ~150 birds today, plus we saw a group of ~15 Chestnut-breasted Mannikins including several immature birds.

8 April

I went to Karuah in the afternoon for a meeting of the Port Stephens Shorebirds Working Group. It was a useful meeting, I thought. After it, I wandered the Karuah wharf area for a while, finding little bird activity, and then went across the bridge to the Alice St park. I was looking for the Bush Stone-curlews which used to roost there. I saw no evidence of them. The highlight for me was a Striated Heron, and there were some Brown Honeyeaters present too.

March-April 2021: western NSW trip

The main part of the trip was to join the HBOC camp at Round Hill Nature Reserve for Easter. We left on Monday morning (29 March), staying 2 nights at Wellington and then 2 nights at Lake Cargelligo. From there it was a shortish trip to the Nature Reserve on Good Friday. On Easter Monday we headed homewards, staying overnight at Condobolin and Gulgong en route.

7 April

From Gulgong we went to Durridgerie Road, where I birded at five Hunter Region locations (four of them planned). We were headed towards the Apostlebird site (where I found them last spring) when I noticed some birds alongside the road, a few kilometres before. The total count was 18 birds. I found none present at their old site but I did see a quite large group of Grey-crowned Babblers there. Prior to that, I stopped firstly at Ridgy-Didge, where before I was out of the car I had recorded Hooded Robin and Diamond Firetail. Other birds present included Dusky Woodswallow, Wedge-tailed Eagle and Eastern Shrike-tit. There was a calling Singing Honeyeater at Honeyeater Hill, but I didn't lay eyes on it. The final stop was at the end of Smedes Lane, where the birds were few and far between. After that, we headed homewards, with no more birding stops, alas.

6 April

Outside our motel room at Condobolin in the morning there was a very vocal Little Friarbird - a great start to the day. We drove via Tullamore, where during a brief stopover in town I found a Collared Sparrowhawk. Our next stop was Curra State Forest on our way to Peak Hill (quiet for birds, but I had nice encounters with Inland Thornbills). Closer to Peak Hill we stopped at Bogan Weir (the highlight was Brown Treecreepers), then later at Goobang National Park on the Yeoval side of it, at the Wanda Wondong campsite. That also was quiet for birds, although it looked to be a nice camping area for a future trip. We stayed overnight at Gulgong, with Blue-faced Honeyeaters and Little Ravens at the motel and stacks of live and dead mice everywhere.

2-5 April

After leaving Lake Cargelligo, we detoured over to Chat Alley again, where we also found several other HBOC members. The Orange Chat didn't show but most of the other species from Thursday were there again. I spent Friday afternoon and most of Saturday in Round Hill Nature Reserve, including on Saturday morning I walked to the top of the hill (it was a difficult walk because of all the rocks, and there weren't many birds once I started moving up the slope). On Saturday late afternoon, Sunday morning and late afternoon, and Monday morning, I visited the adjacent Nombinnie Nature Reserve which is prime mallee country.

At Round Hill, the first bird I saw was a Red-capped Robin, which I thought was a good omen. There were many other Red-capped Robins over the four days of the camp. Also at Round Hill, I saw birds such as Mulga Parrots, Australian Ringnecks, Splendid Fairy-wrens, Southern Whiteface, Chestnut-rumped Thornbills, and White-browed Babblers. There were Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters everywhere, very active and very vocal.

I visited various locations in Nombinnie, and at most of them I found Southern Scrub-robins or Shy Heathwrens, and sometimes both species. By the end I had reasonable photos of both those species. I found a good spot for Black Honeyeaters - this site also had pairs of Hooded Robin and Red-capped Robin and a pair of Crested Bellbirds, of both of which I managed good photos.

There were woodswallows constantly overhead, heard more often than seen but I was able to confirm that both White-browed Woodswallow and Masked Woodswallow were present (but with far fewer of the latter).

We departed late morning, going via Lake Cargelligo (lunch by the lake) and thence to Condobolin where we stopped in the early afternoon. There was a Spotted Harrier seen on our way.

1 April

First thing in the morning I went back to the sewage works, this time walking the full loop. I found most of yesterday’s birds again, except for the Pink-eared Ducks. New additions included Splendid Fairy-wren, Cockatiel and Australian Ringneck. Next, I went to “Chat Alley”, which this time lived up to its name (unlike when I visited in 2019). I saw some White-fronted Chats almost immediately, and there were at least 10 of them eventually. Later  I found a male Orange Chat, got photos and had great and extended views. There were lots of Zebra Finches, and several each of Horsfield’s Bushlark, Brown Songlark and Stubble Quail.  Four Black Kite were hunting in the area the entire time that I was there. 

I went down the road, to Booberoi Creek which I visited 2 years ago. A Western Gerygone was calling, but I couldn’t track it down. Ditto for some White-browed or Masked Woodswallows

31 March

We headed south-west from Wellington, towards Parkes. Our first stop was the Goobang National Park, with the highlights for me being Restless Flycatcher, Inland Thornbill, Buff-rumped Thornbill and Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater. The intended next stop was Gum Swamp near Forbes, an old favourite. However, when we arrived, the gate was locked and the road signpost covered over. This made me very grumpy, but I later researched and found that they are doing a major upgrade with birdwatching the target activity. So, maybe next visit it will be OK. Instead we went to Lake Forbes, which is aesthetically pleasing but not so great for birds (unless you’re a bog-standard waterbird). Later we stopped at a newly upgraded wetland on the outskirts of West Wyalong (eg walking tracks & signage are new). Although I didn’t find a lot here, it has promise especially when the general countryside is drier than it is currently. 

After arriving at Lake Cargelligo and setting up camp, I went to the sewage works for a while. There was a lot of water, unlike when I visited two years ago. Highlights included Hoary-headed Grebe, Australian Shelduck, Pink-eared Duck and Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, also Red-kneed and Black-fronted Dotterel.

30 March

Our morning was spent at the Wellington Caves, with a couple of brief stops on the way. At a sculpture park there was a family of White-winged Choughs, and a nice view of a perched Nankeen Kestrel. After the cave tour we went to the Burrendong Arboretum, where I had a pleasant 90 minute wander (it wasn't intended to be that lengthy, but I became lost). The birding was quite good, with several groups of Apostlebirds, and sightings of Brown Goshawk, Speckled Warbler, Jacky Winter and a group of White-browed Babblers. Then, after a few hours break I headed to the sewage treatment works - unfortunately, it was all sealed tanks with nothing for birds.

29 March

We set off after breakfast, with our first stop being at Battery Rock Rest Area just before Merriwa and then a lunch stop at Cassilis Rest Area. Both of these were uneventful so far as birds were concerned, although a pair of Musk Lorikeets flew through during our Cassilis stop. We spent an hour or so at The Drip, near Ulan. Almost my first bird seen was a Rockwarbler, so things were off to a very good start. Not long afterwards, a youngish cuckoo, which eventually I decided was a Brush Cuckoo. It was independent although when I first saw it, some White-browed Scrubwrens were right with it (but I wasn't clear what sort of interaction they were having with it).

We arrived at Wellington late afternoon, with a lovely river setting for our cabin. There were parrots galore, mainly Red-rumped Parrots and Little Corellas. Overnight there was a nearby Southern Boobook.