Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tamworth to Warialda

Bird List:

  • Brown Quail         
  • Black Swan          
  • Australian Wood Duck
  • Pacific Black Duck
  • Australasian Grebe
  • Great Crested Grebe
  • Rock Dove                    
  • Common Bronzewing     
  • Crested Pigeon          
  • Diamond Dove            
  • Peaceful Dove   
  • Bar-shouldered Dove    
  • Australasian Darter
  • Little Pied Cormorant
  • Great Cormorant
  • Little Black Cormorant
  • Pied Cormorant  
  • Australian Pelican
  • White-necked Heron
  • Eastern Great Egret
  • White-faced Heron
  • Australian White Ibis
  • Straw-necked Ibis
  • Royal Spoonbill  
  • Eastern Osprey   
  • Black-shouldered Kite
  • Whistling Kite      
  • Brown Goshawk
  • Spotted Harrier   
  • Wedge-tailed Eagle
  • Little Eagle           
  • Nankeen Kestrel
  • Brown Falcon      
  • Dusky Moorhen  
  • Eurasian Coot     
  • Black-fronted Dotterel 
  • Banded Lapwing
  • Masked Lapwing
  • Galah    
  • Little Corella        
  • Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
  • Cockatiel              
  • Rainbow Lorikeet
  • Musk Lorikeet   
  • Little Lorikeet       
  • Australian King-Parrot 
  • Red-winged Parrot
  • Eastern Rosella
  • Pale-headed Rosella
  • Red-rumped Parrot  
  • Budgerigar           
  • Turquoise Parrot    
  • Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo
  • Fan-tailed Cuckoo
  • Laughing Kookaburra
  • Sacred Kingfisher
  • Rainbow Bee-eater
  • Dollarbird             
  • White-throated Treecreeper
  • Brown Treecreeper
  • Superb Fairy-wren
  • Variegated Fairy-wren
  • White-winged Fairywren
  • White-browed Scrubwren
  • Speckled Warbler 
  • White-throated Gerygone
  • Striated Thornbill
  • Yellow Thornbill  
  • Yellow-rumped Thornbill
  • Buff-rumped Thornbill
  • Spotted Pardalote
  • Striated Pardalote
  • Eastern Spinebill
  • Lewin’s Honeyeater
  • Yellow-faced Honeyeater   
  • White-plumed Honeyeater
  • Noisy Miner         
  • Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater
  • Red Wattlebird    
  • Brown-headed Honeyeater
  • Noisy Friarbird    
  • Little Friarbird      
  • Striped Honeyeater
  • Grey-crowned Babbler
  • Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
  • Golden Whistler
  • Rufous Whistler 
  • Grey Shrike-thrush
  • Masked Woodswallow
  • Dusky Woodswallow 
  • Grey Butcherbird 
  • Pied Butcherbird
  • Australian Magpie 
  • Pied Currawong
  • Grey Fantail         
  • Willie Wagtail     
  • Australian Raven
  • Torresian Crow   
  • Leaden Flycatcher
  • Restless Flycatcher  
  • Magpie-lark         
  • White-winged Chough  
  • Apostlebird          
  • Jacky Winter        
  • Eastern Yellow Robin
  • Golden-headed Cisticola
  • Australian Reed-Warbler
  • Rufous Songlark
  • Silvereye              
  • Welcome Swallow 
  • Fairy Martin          
  • Common Blackbird
  • Common Starling   
  • Common Mynah
  • Mistletoebird        
  • Zebra Finch         
  • Double-barred Finch 
  • Plum-headed Finch
  • Red-browed Finch
  • Diamond Firetail  
  • Chestnut-breasted Mannikin
  • House Sparrow       
  • Australasian Pipit


It is with reluctance that I blog about this place - I'd like it to remain a secret! Cranky Rock Nature Reserve is about 8k east of Warialda, and it has everything: giant boulders tumbled into fantastic balancing acts by ancient volcanic action; interesting flora including the wonderful Tumbledown Gum (Angophora leiocarpa) which is the source of the dark, richly flavoured honey the area is famous for; regular sightings of the Dulgar or Hairy Man of Aboriginal legend, also known as the Yowie;  a deep clear swimming hole; kilometres of interesting walks; a lively legend that involves Cranky Chinamen and murdered widows, its contradiction by history not lessening its popular appeal; well mapped and signposted birding routes; kangaroos and possums up close; and an abundance of birds. On top of all this it allows leashed dogs in the camping area and on the trails.

Originally only going to stay a day or two, we ended up staying for four days, with at most one or two other campers. While many birds were seen from my tent, including Little Friarbirds, the drive along Mosquito Creek Road to Pallamallawa produced some highlights including Pale-headed Rosellas, Budgerigars, Banded Lapwing and White-winged Fairywrens.


I stopped at the Ponds Camp about 30k south of Bingara, where the trees were full of Musk, Little, and Rainbow Lorikeet.  There were a number of juvenile birds, including some young Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike.

Monday, March 25, 2013


Dusky Woodswallow

Leaden Flycatcher

Jacky Winter

Barraba was one of the first regions to map and publicise Bird Routes and to conserve and maintain the travelling stock reserves as the cornerstone of a nature-based tourism industry. The routes are well signposted, and detailed descriptions of the routes and bird checklists are available from the visitor information centre.

However keep in mind that the birds don't read the brochures. My first stop was not mentioned in any of the guides and trip reports and yet gave close-up views of Spotted Pardalotes, Willie Wagtails, Brown-headed Honeyeaters, Dusky Woodswallows, Jacky Winter, Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Leaden Flycatchers, and White-plumed Honeyeaters. The spot was Adam's Lookout.

I headed west on the Trevallyn Road to Plumthorpe TSR, where the water was flowing strongly in the Manilla River, with signs that levels had recently been very high. The White Box trees were just starting to flower, with Brown-headed Honeyeaters  and Striped Honeyeaters gleaning among the leaves. Dollarbirds returned to perches high in a dead tree, an Eastern Yellow Robin flew in close, King and Red-winged Parrots flew overhead, and Striated Pardalotes kept to the tops of the trees.

At Little Creek TSR  Noisy Miners called an alarm, and a White-throated Gerygone flitted in the creek-side shrubs. The grass here was also close to waist height which made walking fairly unpleasant, and combined with the vandalised picnic facilities didn't encourage me to linger.

Brown-headed Honeyeater
I drove the Cobbadah-Upper Horton Route but there was little in flower, and it was mid-afternoon, so I added only fleeing Grey-crowned Babblers and a Pacific Heron to my day list.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Borah Creek

In the town of Manilla there is a very pleasant walk along the river, around 3k return, starting at the Manilla Street bridge and running past the junction of the Manilla and Namoi Rivers to the showground. Not a lot of birds when I was there, but I imagine it would be a good spot for honeyeaters a little later in the season. Behind Chaffey Park off Strafford Street ducks and coots paddled near the weir, and Straw-necked Ibis wandered the playing fields.

Split-rock Dam, north of Manilla on the Barraba Road, had Australian Coots and Little Pied Cormorants, Apostlebirds, White-plumed Honeyeaters, Willy Wagtails and Pied Butcherbirds, including a youngster who was very interested in my lunch.

On the road to Barraba, about 25k north of Manilla is a well signposted turnoff to the Tarpoly and Borah Creek Travelling Stock Reserves. Driving through Tarpoly there were Brown Tree-creepers, Apostlebirds, White-winged Choughs, Sacred Kingfishers, Rufous Songlarks, and Peaceful Doves.

The track down to the creek was overgrown, it had been a while since there was any traffic along it, and the creek side which had been neatly slashed on my last visit was waist high grass. We disturbed two snakes soaking up the sun. Lots of Brown-treecreepers here, and large numbers of White-plumed Honeyeaters,  Little Lorikeets and Musk Lorikeets high in the trees, Bee-eaters foraging over the creek and a Black-fronted Dotterel on the rocks.

Back in Manilla, taking the Boggabri road then turning into Corella Road I parked the car at the gate to Borah Crossing TSR and walked down to the water with Dusty, at the northern end of Lake Keepit. It was a day for parrots with Little Corellas, Galahs, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos perched in the trees, and then a wonderful sight of a flock of Cockatiel.

Back towards Manilla I pulled into the Spring Creek TSR. An impressive sign welcomed a list of people including walkers, picnickers and bird watchers, but the gate was firmly padlocked and there was no pedestrian access. 

Manilla Road

Little Corellas, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Galahs
On the road from Lake Keepit to Manilla a grain truck had spilled part of its load on a sharp bend in the road, attracting large numbers of birds. The big parrots claimed the lion's share, but smaller birds including Plum-headed, Zebra and Red-browed Finches managed to eat their fill and raptors took their place in the food chain.

Zebra and Plum-headed Finch

Australian Pipit

Spotted Harrier

Red-rumped Parrot

Black-winged Kite

Friday, March 22, 2013

Lake Keepit

 I liked the organisation of the accommodation and facilities at Lake Keepit State Park, turn left from the entrance gate and you were among the playgrounds, kiosks, cabins, skate bowls and swimming pools, turn right down the eastern side of the lake and you had grass, trees, and the lake - and a toilet block. From Monday to Friday Dusty and I had this side of the lake to ourselves. We were woken up by Apostlebirds fussing and chattering, and went to sleep as the last colours of the sunset faded over the lake.

Twelve months ago Keepit Dam was at near capacity, with official figures reporting it at 98%. However, irrigation demand driven by the record summer temperatures had reduced this to around 35% by the time of our visit.

There were good number of birds to be viewed from my camp chair, and it was a perfect base from which to explore the bird routes of Manilla, Barraba and Bingara.


Black-shouldered Kite

Little Corellas

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Camp site

Quipolly Dams

Hunter River, Scone
After weeks of wet weather I packed up the car and headed north west. There were still traces of floodwaters, requiring unplanned detours, but we were in no hurry. I pulled into Lake Glenbawn to check the nesting Great Crested Grebes, but as I feared the water had risen significantly and all nests were well under water. Two pairs had built new nests and laid eggs, but no birds went near the nests during our lunch break.

Before Tamworth I turned off towards Quirindi, and south of Werris Creek turned off following the sign to Quipolly Dams. There was a rather impressive bird hide looking out over good numbers of Maned Duck, Pacific Black Duck and Chestnut Teal, but it was hot and still so I didn't stay long.