Birdwatching in Wagga Wagga


Flowerdale Update
October 29, 2009, 8:57 pm
Filed under: Lists | Tags: , , ,

Eight species have been added to the list of species recorded on and around Flowerdale Lagoon. Most interesting of all is the Blue Bonnet (Northiella haematogaster). This is not a rare parrot, but Wagga Wagga represents the easternmost limit of its range. I have never previously seen the species within the city limits. It is typically seen by roadsides near open agricultural land.

This brings the species count for Flowerdale Lagoon to 61, 56 of them native. Also seen in the lagoon was this individual:
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This, I believe, is an Eastern Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis). They are the second most venomous snake in Australia (or the world, according to Wikipedia), and are responsible for most of the country’s snake-bite fatalities. The most venomous snake is the Inland Taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus), which is very secretive.

Eastern Browns are good swimmers – meaning that it was fairly stupid to stop and take pictures.

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Native Orchids in Livingstone National Park
October 26, 2009, 9:51 am
Filed under: Flora | Tags: , , , ,

Livingstone National Park and State Conservation Area is located around 30 kilometres south of Wagga Wagga. It covers just under 2,500 hectares of land and is something of a haven for native flora and fauna in the area. Sadly, few substantial areas of native vegetation remain around Wagga, and so Livingstone is extremely important.

The management plan developed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service can be found here, and is an excellent source of information on the park. Be sure to check out Appendix 1, which lists all native fauna species recorded within the park’s boundaries. My own list, unfortunately, is much smaller, though I suspect it more accurately reflects the sorts of species you are likely to find in the park.

This is the first in what I am sure will be a lengthy series on Livingstone. Part of the park’s appeal is that it supports a large number of native plant species that are not commonly found in the region. Most interesting of these, I think, are the orchids. According to the park’s Wikipedia article, three species of orchid have been recorded in the area. The management plan, however, mentions five. Neither is correct. To date I have photographed nine species of orchid in the park. They are shown here.

Waxlip Orchid (Glossodia major)

Waxlip Orchid (Glossodia major)


Tiger or Leopard Orchid (Diuris sp., possibly Diuris pardina)

Tiger or Leopard Orchid (Diuris sp., possibly Diuris pardina)


Pink Fingers (Caladenia carnea)

Pink Fingers (Caladenia carnea)


Hooded Caladenia (Caladenia cucullata), aka Cowl-Carrying Caladenia, Lemon Caps

Hooded Caladenia (Caladenia cucullata), aka Cowl-Carrying Caladenia, Lemon Caps



There is a very similar species called Musky Caladenia (Caladenia gracilis). To the best of my knowledge it can only be reliably distinguished from C. cucullata by smell. Whereas C. cucullata smells faintly of citrus, C. gracilis apparently has a very strong musky odour.

Dusky Fingers (Caladenia fuscata)

Dusky Fingers (Caladenia fuscata)


Nodding Greenhood (Pterostylis nutans), aka Parrot's Beak Orchid

Nodding Greenhood (Pterostylis nutans), aka Parrot's Beak Orchid


Blue Fingers (Caladenia caerulea)

Blue Fingers (Caladenia caerulea)


Mantis Orchid (Caladenia tentaculata), aka Green Comb, Fringed Spider Orchid

Mantis Orchid (Caladenia tentaculata), aka Green Comb, Fringed Spider Orchid


Caladenia tentaculata can be found within the park as individuals or as groups. In some cases multiple individuals grow very close to one another, as seen here.

The next (and last, for now) is undoubtedly my favourite:

Purple Beard Orchid (Calochilus robertsonii)

Purple Beard Orchid (Calochilus robertsonii)

The next post in this series will detail some of the other flora found in the park, as well as some of its fauna. The Willans Hill series (part one, part two) is also still in progress.



(More of) The Flora and Fauna of Willans Hill
October 22, 2009, 4:53 pm
Filed under: Flora | Tags: , , , , ,

This is the second in my series on the more interesting life found on Willans Hill. The first can be found here.

Yellow Burr-Daisy (Calotis lappulacea)

Yellow Burr-Daisy (Calotis lappulacea)

Bluebell (Wahlenbergia sp.)

Bluebell (Wahlenbergia sp.)


There are probably several species of Bluebell on the hill.

Daisy (Brachyscome sp.)

Daisy (Brachyscome sp.)

Native Geranium (Geranium solanderi)

Native Geranium (Geranium solanderi)

Common or Pygmy Sunray (Triptilodiscus pygmaeus)

Common or Pygmy Sunray (Triptilodiscus pygmaeus)


Not a spectacular plant: it reaches a maximum height of 8cm.

Twining Fringe-lily (Thysanotus patersonii)

Twining Fringe-lily (Thysanotus patersonii)

Creamy Candles (Stackhousia monogyna)

Creamy Candles (Stackhousia monogyna)

Carnaby's Wall Skink (Cryptoblepharus carnabyi)

Carnaby's Wall Skink (Cryptoblepharus carnabyi). Taken in Kooringal, Wagga Wagga.


Cryptoblepharus carnabyi is also known as the Spiny-Palmed Shinning Skink and the Spiny-Palmed Snake-Eyed Skink. It is commonly found in gardens in the area.

Yellow Admiral (Vanessa itea)

Yellow Admiral (Vanessa itea)

Australian Painted Lady (Vanessa kershawi)

Australian Painted Lady (Vanessa kershawi)


The number of butterflies recorded on the hill has increased to 12. Two additional species have been recorded elsewhere in and around Wagga, and many more are predicted to occur in the area.

Four dragonflies are found on the hill. They are depicted in an earlier post, but for the sake of completeness are included here as well.

Blue Skimmers (Orthetrum caledonicum) Mating

Blue Skimmers (Orthetrum caledonicum) Mating

Australian Emperor (Hemianax papuensis)

Australian Emperor (Hemianax papuensis). Taken in Kooringal, Wagga Wagga.


An unusual combination of common and scientific names: the dragonfly is neither exclusively Australian nor exclusively Papuan.

Tau Emerald (Hemicordulia tau)

Tau Emerald (Hemicordulia tau)

Wandering Percher (Diplacodes bipunctata)

Wandering Percher (Diplacodes bipunctata)

More still to come! (And I hope to begin a series on Livingstone National Park, too).



The Birds of Malebo Hill and Rocky Hill
October 20, 2009, 6:00 pm
Filed under: Lists | Tags: , ,

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Map of Malebo Hill (Area Marked in Red)

Malebo Hill is unlikely to be anybody’s idea of a perfect birding location. It is a small patch of land sandwiched between a road and private property. It is also sparsely treed and largely overrun by introduced pasture grasses. That said, its proximity to both woodland and open grassland means it does collect an interesting array of bird species, including some surprises. See here for a list of species recorded on Malebo Hill so far.

Highlights are the Brown Treecreeper (Climacteris picumnis), the Speckled Warbler (Chthonicola sagittatus) and the Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata). All three species are considered to be threatened or vulnerable (see here, here and here) in this part of their range, though the Brown Treecreeper appears to have substantial populations at Berry Jerry State Forest, Livingstone National Park, Pomingalarna Reserve and Galore Hill. The Speckled Warbler and Hooded Robin have also been seen at Livingstone National Park, and the Speckled Warbler has been known to breed on Willans Hill.


Other interesting sightings include the White-Winged Triller (Lalage sueurii), Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx basalis), Southern Whiteface (Aphelocephala leucopsis; pictured above) and a selection of raptors. Flora is generally unremarkable except for the presence of a few Early Nancy plants and a patch of Sundews (Drosera sp.)

Rocky Hill, and the Wagga Wagga Cemetery that sits alongside it, might also strike some as an unusual choice of birding location. Again, this is largely justified. Still, it has the capacity to surprise. Astonishingly, of the 31 species recorded in the area, six are raptors. The Black-Shouldered Kite (Elanus axillis), the Black Kite (Milvus migrans), the Brown Falcon (Falco berigora), the Collared Sparrowhawk (Accipiter cirrocephalus), the Nankeen Kestrel (Falco cenchroides) and the Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) have all been recorded in the area – no doubt making use of the large lizard and, I would guess, snake population of the hill. It’s likely also that they are able to grab the occasional rabbit and rodent from the surrounding fields.


The cemetery, however, has yielded the greatest surprises. In addition to the Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae) above, and two of its companions, the best sightings were of a group of Flame Robins (Petroica phoenicea) and a large flock of Double-Barred Finches (Taeniopygia bichenovii). These species are illustrated here:

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Flame Robin (Petroica phoenicea)



Note: the Flame Robin is listed as “near threatened” on the IUCN Red List.

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Double-Barred Finch (Taeniopygia bichenovii)



For a full list of species recorded on and around Rocky Hill, see here.

Finally, I’ve added two new species to the list for Lake Albert: the White-Winged Triller (Lalage sueurii) and the Little Grassbird (Megalurus gramineus). A bird resembling a Little Grassbird, but lacking the striated chest, was photographed in early September – I’ve only now confirmed the species’ presence. This brings the tally for Lake Albert to 85 species, 80 of them native.



Some New Arrivals (and Some Still to Come)
October 18, 2009, 8:25 pm
Filed under: Observations | Tags: , , ,

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Australian Wood Ducklings (Chenonetta jubata) on Wollundry Lagoon

We are coming to the end of the breeding season for many bird species. Australian Wood Ducks (Chenonetta jubata) have been seen with young since mid-August; Australian Magpies (Cracticus tibicen) and Magpie-larks (Grallina cyanoleuca) have been seen feeding chicks in recent weeks (and the former have been swooping for some time now); Speckled Warblers (Chthonicola sagittatus) have been seen with dependent young; an immature Brown Falcon (Falco berigora) has been spotted just of town; young male Red-Capped Robins (Petroica goodenovii) have been seen play-fighting; and Yellow and Yellow-Rumped Thornbills (Acanthiza nana and Acanthiza chrysorrhoa) and Eastern Yellow Robins (Eopsaltria australis) have been seen in the last six or so weeks gathering nesting materials.

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Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca) Juvenile

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Magpie-lark (Grallina cyanoleuca) Juvenile

But Spring is not over yet. Many birds are still incubating eggs, many others are still accompanied by juveniles, and others are still nest-building (though most likely in preparation for their second brood of the year).

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Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles)

This Masked Lapwing (Vanellus miles) is nesting (not for the first time) in the carpark of the Charles Sturt University’s Agriculture Campus. Another Lapwing appears to have set up a nest in the oval nearby. Neither is at all sheltered from the elements and the individual photographed above is no more than half a metre from the nearest car. One can only hope that incubation doesn’t take too long!

Possibly my favourite sighting of the season is the juvenile White-Plumed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus penicillatus) shown below. Click on the image to view it at full size.

White-Plumed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus penicillatus) Feeding Young

White-Plumed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus penicillatus) Feeding Young

[In the next few weeks I hope to profile Malebo Hill and Rocky Hill, continue my series on the flora and fauna of Willans Hill, and begin a similar series on Livingstone National Park.]



(Some of) The Flora and Fauna of Willans Hill
October 15, 2009, 11:14 am
Filed under: Flora | Tags: , , , ,

This will be the first of several posts detailing the more interesting flora and fauna of Willans Hill. These posts will consist largely of photographs (taken on Willans Hill itself, except where specified), with a minimum of text.

Sticky Everlasting (Xerochrysum viscosum)

Sticky Everlasting (Xerochrysum viscosum)

Early Nancy (Wurmbea dioica)

Early Nancy (Wurmbea dioica)

Early Nancy is, as you would expect, one of the first flowers to come out. The form found on Willans Hill typically lacks the purple markings common to the species, and when they are present they are extremely pale.

Blue Heron's Bill (Erodium crinitum)

Blue Heron's Bill (Erodium crinitum)

Note that there are several other members of the genus Erodium present on the hill. These are weeds – the blue-flowered E. crinitum is the only native Erodium to be found here.

Black-Anther Flax-Lily (Dianella revoluta)

Black-Anther Flax-Lily (Dianella revoluta)

Scrambled Eggs (Goodenia pinnatifida)

Scrambled Eggs (Goodenia pinnatifida)

Swamp Wallaby (Wallabia bicolor)

Swamp Wallaby (Wallabia bicolor)

Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus)

Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus)


Unfortunately, the Echidna sighted on the hill refused to pose for photographs, instead opting to bury its head in leaf litter.


This is a female parasitic wasp of the family Gasteruptiidae. The long attachment to its abdomen is its ovipositor, which it uses to lay its eggs into the nests of other wasps and bees.

There are many more photographs to come. See this earlier post for images of the four dragonfly species sighted on the hill. Note that that post states that nine species of butterfly have been recorded on the hill. That number has now increased to 10, with three more found elsewhere in Wagga. I hope to post photographs of some or all of these at some stage.



The Birds of Flowerdale Lagoon
October 11, 2009, 6:18 pm
Filed under: Lists | Tags: , ,

[A list of birds recorded on and around Flowerdale Lagoon to date can be seen here].

Map of Flowerdale Lagoon

Map of Flowerdale Lagoon

Flowerdale Lagoon is located near Moorong Street and the Sturt Highway. One side of it can be viewed from the Wiradjuri Walking Track; the other side abuts private property and cannot, so far as I’m aware, be accessed. These cultivated areas have attracted a large number of Rufous Songlarks (Cinclorhamphus mathewsi) to the area. The lagoon itself is surrounded by trees, including a number of impressive River Red Gums (Eucalyptus camaldulensis).

Rufous Songlark (Cinclorhamphus mathewsi)

Rufous Songlark (Cinclorhamphus mathewsi)

The species list accompanying this entry was compiled from just two visits. In all, 53 species were recorded – 50 of them native. There is no reason to suppose that this list is at all comprehensive. I would certainly expect to see other, rarer, species from time to time.

Probably the most interesting sighting so far was of a family of Nankeen Night Herons (Nycticorax caledonicus; see image). Two adults were seen (on October 8 of this year) accompanied by two or three juveniles in the area marked (1.) on the map. A single migratory wader, most likely a Sharp-Tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata), was also seen in this area. Area (2.) is home to the majority of the lagoon’s species: ducks, waders, woodland birds and raptors have all been sighted here. Area (3.) is a small pond adjacent to the lagoon proper. An Eastern Great Egret (Ardea modesta) and a number of ducks have been seen here, and the reeds surrounding it are home to a large number of Australian Reed-Warblers (Acrocephalus australis), Superb Fairy-Wrens (Malurus cyaneus) and Red-Browed Finches (Neochmia temporalis).


Other interesting species recorded in the area are the Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus), and the threatened Superb Parrot (Polytelis swainsonii). The latter species was seen investigating tree hollows, presumably for nesting possibilities.