Birdwatching in Wagga Wagga

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


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:


Flame Robin (Petroica phoenicea)

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


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.


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