Birdwatching in Wagga Wagga


Nest Hill Nature Reserve

Nest Hill Nature Reserve, formerly Pulletop State Forest, was gazetted in January 2001. It is located roughly 35km south of Wagga Wagga and 25km north of Holbrook. It is accessible only via management trails. The management plan can be found here, but is sadly rather light on details.

Surveys carried out by the National Parks and Wildlife Service recorded only 20 bird species in the park. The following is a list of more than thirty recorded by me in the space of a single visit (the discrepancy is hard to explain):
1. Australian Magpie
2. Australian Raven
3. +Australian Wood-Duck
4. +Black Swan
5. Black-Faced Cuckoo-Shrike
6. Brown Falcon
7. Brown Treecreeper
8. Common Bronzewing
9. Crested Pigeon
10. Eastern Rosella
11. Eastern Yellow Robin
12. Flame Robin
13. Galah
14. Grey Fantail
15. Grey Shrike-Thrush
16. Laughing Kookaburra
17. Magpie-lark
18. +Masked Lapwing
19. Pied Currawong
20. Red Wattlebird
21. Red-Rumped Parrot
22. Restless Flycatcher
23. Rufous Whistler
24. Striated Pardalote
25. Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo
26. Superb Fairy-Wren
27. Weebill
28. Welcome Swallow
29. White-Plumed Honeyeater
30. White-Throated Treecreeper
31. White-Winged Chough
32. Willie Wagtail
33. Yellow Thornbill

(Those species marked with a + were recorded on a farm dam immediately adjacent to the reserve). Of particular note is the Brown Treecreeper, the eastern subspecies of which (Climacteris picumnus victoriae) is classed as Vulnerable. (Though there is some debate as to whether the local subspecies is C. p. victoriae or C. p. picumnus). The Fantail Cuckoo and Cockatiel were recorded in the surrounding area in spring.

The Reserve is dominated by three vegetation communities:
1. Rough-Barked Red Box (Eucalyptus polyanthemos)/White Box (E. albens)
2. Inland Scribbly Gum (E. rossii)/Norton’s Box (E. nortonii)
3. Red Stringybark (E. macrorhyncha; pictured above)/Inland Scribbly Gum/Rough-Barked Red Box

Nest Hill NR contains what is probably the largest stand of Red Box in the Wagga area (it is found in smaller quantities in Livingstone NP and Mates Gully Rd TSR). The presence of Red Stringybark is also noteworthy for similar reasons.

The understorey is sparse and generally lacking in diversity, owing to extensive grazing prior to the Reserve’s gazettal. Weeds (including *Sonchus asper, *Galium aparine and *Trifolium spp.) are encroaching on the Reserve’s boundaries.

Among the species recorded were the heaths Melichrus urceolatus (Urn Heath; pictured above) and Lissanthe strigosa (Peach Heath); the orchids Pterostylis sp. aff. parviflora (Tiny Greenhood; see here and here) and Pterostylis falcata (Autumn or Sickle Greenhood); and the small herbs Goodenia hederacea (Ivy Goodenia; pictured below), Cymbonotus preissianus (Austral Bear’s-Ear; pictured below), Geranium solanderi (Native Geranium), Hydrocotyle laxiflora (Stinking Pennywort) and Dauchus glochidiatus (Austral Carrot).

Also recorded were the grasses Austrostipa scabra (Rough Speargrass), Microlaena stipoides (Weeping or Meadow Rice-Grass; uncommon) and a species of Poa (Tussock Grass). Grass Trees (Xanthorrhoea sp.) were also present.

There was also a substantial fungus population, including several large colonies of Phylloporus clelandii (pictured above), Limacella spp., Pisolithus tinctorius (Horse Dropping Fungus) and a small, woolly bracket fungus (possibly a species of Stereum; pictured below).

There were also a number of mosses and lichens.

***

This information comes from a single visit to the Reserve. Future visits are likely to yield much more.



Report: Matong State Forest – October 25, 2009
November 1, 2009, 11:20 am
Filed under: Flora, Reports | Tags: , , , ,

1. Apostlebird
2. Australian Magpie
3. Australian Raven
4. Australian Wood Duck
5. Brown Falcon
6. Brown Treecreeper
7. Buff-Rumped Thornbill
8. Cockatiel
9. Common Bronzewing
10. Crested Pigeon
11. Dusky Woodswallow
12. Galah
13. Grey Shrike-Thrush
14. Hooded Robin
15. Jacky Winter
16. Long-Billed Corella
17. Nankeen Kestrel
18. Red-Capped Robin
19. Red-Rumped Parrot
20. Rufous Songlark
21. Rufous Whistler
22. Southern Whiteface
23. Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo
24. Superb Fairy-Wren
25. Weebill
26. Western Gerygone
27. White-Browed Babbler
28. White-Winged Chough
29. White-Winged Triller
30. Willie Wagtail
31. Yellow Rosella
32. Yellow-Rumped Thornbill
33. Yellow Thornbill

Matong State Forest covers an area of around 3200 hectares (so Bonzle tells me) and is located near Kockibitoo State Forest and Ganmain State Forest. These three forests, together with Currawarna State Forest and several well-treed roadside verges, form a substantial vegetation corridor along the Old Narrandera Rd. Matong is a large area and likely contains a diversity of vegetation types. The area surveyed (marked red on the map) is a narrow strip between agricultural land and Cypress-pine (Callitris sp.) forest. There is a diverse groundcover but little understorey (though there are large piles of debris), and this means that certain bird species are unlikely to be found in the area. You will notice, for example, that not a single honeyeater is listed above. Elsewhere in the forest the situation may well be different.

Matong State Forest is quite hot and quite dry at the present, and most plants have already flowered. A few stragglers remained, and the late-flowering Chocolate Lily (Dichopogon strictus) was present in numbers.


Most specimens of the above in Matong State Forest had already gone to seed at the time of the survey. A typical Vittadinia flowerhead looks like this.


Note that Chocolate Lilies actually smell quite strongly of chocolate.

A number of unusual groundcover species were present as well.



Pussytails (Ptilotus spathulatus)

Pussytails (Ptilotus spathulatus)



Pussytails (Ptilotus spathulatus)

Pussytails (Ptilotus spathulatus)



Maireana humillima

Maireana humillima

Among the more interesting bird species present were the White-Winged Triller (Lalage sueurii), the Southern Whiteface (Aphelocephala leucopsis; pictured), the Jacky Winter (Microeca fascinans), the Brown Treecreeper (Climacteris picumnus) and the Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata; pictured). The latter two are listed as vulnerable in this part of their range.


Most of the birds recorded in this part of the forest were small insectivores, making use, I suspect, of the enormous fly population in the area.



Report: Silvalite Reserve – September 29, 2009.
October 8, 2009, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Reports | Tags: ,

Map of Silvalite Reserve

Map of Silvalite Reserve

1. Weebill
2. Yellow Thornbill
3. Black-Faced Cuckoo-Shrike
4. Galah
5. Yellow Rosella
6. Australian Magpie
7. Australian Raven
8. Rufous Songlark
9. Crested Pigeon
10. Grey Shrike-Thrush
11. Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo
12. Noisy Miner
13. Red-Rumped Parrot
14. Willie Wagtail
15. Nankeen Kestrel
16. Common Starling
17. Blue-Faced Honeyeater
18. Superb Parrot
19. Pied Currawong
20. Red Wattlebird
21. Western Gerygone
22. Laughing Kookaburra
23. White-Plumed Honeyeater
24. Noisy Friarbird
25. Grey Fantail
26. Rufous Whistler
27. Red-Capped Robin
28. Striated Pardalote
29. Straw-Necked Ibis
30. Magpie-lark

The Friends of Silvalite website has not been updated since August of 2005, when the Red Hill Road highway bypass (which cuts the reserve in two) started to seem inevitable. The reserve itself shows similar neglect. The groundcover is increasingly dominated by invasive exotics: those native plant species that are present are at risk of being crowded out by weeds.


Scrambled Eggs (Goodenia pinnatifida)

Scrambled Eggs (Goodenia pinnatifida)


As you can see from the map above, Silvalite Reserve is a narrow strip between a highway and an area of human habitation. The area marked (1.) is a slope providing access to the gully that runs through the reserve. This gully leads under Red Hill Road and connects the two halves of the reserve.

In general, the reserve is quite open and sparsely treed, and this is reflected in the sorts of bird species recorded. Most of the species listed are common to abundant in urban or disturbed areas in this region: for example, the Galah (Eolophus roseicapillus), the Yellow Rosella (Platycercus elegans flaveolus), the Australian Magpie (Cracticus tibicen), the Crested Pigeon (Ocyphaps lophotes), the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo (Cacatua galerita), the Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala), the Willie Wagtail (Rhipidura leucophrys), the Common Starling (*Sturnus vulgaris), the Pied Currawong (Strepera graculina; still present, though less numerous), the Red Wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata) and the Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae). Also present were a number of small woodland birds: the Weebill (Smicrornis brevirostris), the Yellow Thornbill (Acanthiza nana), the Western Gerygone (Gerygone fusca), the White-Plumed Honeyeater (Lichenostomus penicillatus) and the Striated Pardalote (Pardalotus striatus). Two other birds, the Rufous Songlark (Cincloramphus mathewsi) and the Nankeen Kestrel (Falco cenchroides), are most commonly found in association with open grassland, such as that which can be found opposite the reserve.

Red-Capped Robin (Petroica goodenovii)

Red-Capped Robin (Petroica goodenovii)

Area (2.) is a row of eucalypts planted ostensibly as a windbreak. This area featured a Red-Capped Robin (Petroica goodenovii) and several Rufous Whistlers (Pachycephala rufiventris).

A single threatened species was recorded during the survey. The Superb Parrot (Polytelis swainsonii) has only a very limited distribution but seems reasonably common within the Wagga Wagga area at this time of year. On this occasion, only a single bird was seen.



Report: Wilks Park, North Wagga – September 15, 2009.
October 4, 2009, 3:20 pm
Filed under: Reports | Tags: ,

map_WILKSPK_sep15_09

An approximate map of the path taken (S = Start; F = Finish)

1. Laughing Kookaburra
2. Western Gerygone
3. Black-Faced Cuckoo-Shrike
4. Weebill
5. Australian Wood Duck
6. Pacific Black Duck
7. Superb Fairy-Wren
8. Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo
9. Galah
10. Australian Magpie
11. White-Plumed Honeyeater
12. Magpie-lark
13. Blue-Faced Honeyeater
14. White-Winged Chough
15. Australian Raven
16. Welcome Swallow
17. Common Blackbird
18. Crested (Eastern) Shrike-Tit
19. Red-Browed Finch
20. Eastern Yellow Robin
21. Yellow Rosella
22. Grey Fantail
23. Rufous Whistler
24. Tree Martin
25. Yellow Thornbill
26. Striated Pardalote
27. Willie Wagtail
28. Australian Reed-Warbler

The map above gives a rough idea of the area described in this report. I began the walk directly opposite Wagga Beach and, following a somewhat circuitous path, ended near the entrance to Wilks Park. In total, I recorded 28 species of bird in the area. The most interesting sightings are detailed below.

The first species to be recorded were the Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae; see image) and the Western Gerygone (Gerygone fusca). Two waterbirds – the Australian Wood Duck (Chenonetta jubata) and the Pacific Black Duck (Anas superciliosa) – were sighted in the shallower waters at the edge of the Murrumbidgee River.

The area marked (1.) on the map is a dense patch of greenery, consisting largely of eucalypts and casuarinas. The groundcover, however, is almost entirely composed of invasive exotic species, most obviously bedstraw (Galium sp.; see image). In spite of this, a rich and varied birdlife was present. Superb Fairy-Wrens (Malurus cyaneus) were present in numbers; Red-Browed Finches (Neochmia temporalis; see image) were gathering material for nest-building; a single Eastern Yellow Robin (Eopsaltria australis) was sighted; and, most interestingly of all, at least one Crested Shrike-Tit (Falcunculus frontatus) was present. Though probably not especially rare, the Crested Shrike-Tit is a shy, inconspicuous bird, spending much of its time feeding quietly in the canopy. Sighting one, therefore, is a special pleasure. Another surprise was the sighting of a pair of Swamp Wallabies (Wallabia bicolor) in this area; two more were sighted in Wilks Park itself.

Nearer Hampden Avenue, three Rufous Whistlers (Pachycephala rufiventris), including two adult males, were seen feeding in a eucalypt. On the opposite side of the road, in area (2.), Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos (Cacatua galerita) were seen (and heard) in large numbers. Another familiar flock-forming bird, the White-Winged Chough (Corcorax melanorhamphos; see image), was also seen in this area. Welcome Swallows (Hirundo neoxena) were seen flying overhead, together with the odd Tree Martin (Petrochelidon nigricans).

Area (3.) was dominated by small, insectivorous woodland species: Grey Fantails (Rhipidura albiscapa), Yellow Thornbills (Acanthiza nana), Striated Pardalotes (Pardalotus striatus) and Western Gerygones were all sighted in this area.

Area (4.) is notable largely for the presence of a substantial reed-bed, which contained many Australian Reed-Warblers (Acrocephalus australis). As is usual for this species, they were heard more often than seen.

Four species of butterfly – Meadow Argus (Junonia villida), Australian Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui), Common Grass-Blue (Zizina labradus) and Cabbage White (*Pieris rapae) – and two species of dragonfly – Blue Skimmer (Orthetrum caledonicum) and Wandering Percher (Diplacodes bipunctata) – were also recorded.