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.

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(Some of) the Flora and Fauna of Lake Albert
November 5, 2009, 4:01 pm
Filed under: Flora, Fungi | Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve added a list of species recorded in the Wagga area since March of this year. It is available (as are all other lists) from the “Links” section on the left-hand column.

The vegetation surrounding Lake Albert is in places quite dense, and probably consists of several hundred species of plant. There is no chance of my ever documenting it thoroughly, but I hope through a series of posts to give a general idea of the sorts of plants likely to be encountered. At the same time I intend to point out a few of the interesting animals that may be spotted there from time to time.

Even a cursory examination of the lake’s flora reveals the presence of many introduced species, some of them highly invasive. They are a mixture of escaped ornamentals (Patterson’s Curse, Echium plantagineum, being the most well-known) and pasture grasses. I have made a special effort to locate and photograph the native species, but these posts will inevitably be dominated by exotics (indicated by an asterisk).

Bluebell (Wahlenbergia sp.)

Bluebell (Wahlenbergia sp.)

 

Jersey Cudweed (Pseudognaphalium luteoalbum)

Jersey Cudweed (Pseudognaphalium luteoalbum)

 

This is one of many species of plant with the word ‘weed’ in its name, despite actually being native.

Knotweed (Persicaria sp., formerly Polygonum sp.)

Knotweed (Persicaria sp., formerly Polygonum sp.)

 

This is another one.

Windmill Grass (Chloris truncata)

Windmill Grass (Chloris truncata)

 

This is a common and widespread native grass (according to PlantNet it is found in every botanical subdivision of NSW). The image shows it flowering, which it does opportunistically in response to rainfall.

Patterson's Curse (Echium plantagineum)

Patterson's Curse (*Echium plantagineum)

 

Capeweed (Arctotheca calendula)

Capeweed (*Arctotheca calendula)

 

These two are the most conspicuous and prolific of the weeds in the Wagga area. They tend not to be actively managed, probably because there is simply no hope of getting them under control. A recent spraying within Livingstone National Park may have had some success in reducing the Capeweed population there.

Medic (*Medicago sp.)

Medic (*Medicago sp.)

 

There are a number of Medicago species that are difficult to separate without close examination. There is no such thing as a native medic, however.

Wild Oats (*Avena fatua)

Wild Oats (*Avena fatua)

 

Tall, drooping exotic grass. Extremely prolific in the area (Willans Hill is covered in it) but less colourful than Capeweed and Paterson’s Curse, and hence less conspicuous.

Narrow-Leaf Clover (*Trifolium angustifolium)

Narrow-Leaf Clover (*Trifolium angustifolium)

 

Hare's-Foot Clover (*Trifolium arvense)

Hare's-Foot Clover (*Trifolium arvense)

 

Paradoxa Grass (*Phalaris paradoxa)

Paradoxa Grass (*Phalaris paradoxa)

 

Phalaris paradoxa is another major pasture weed. There are a number of similar Phalaris species in the area.

Shaggy Ink Cap (Coprinus comatus), aka Lawyer's Wig

Shaggy Ink Cap (Coprinus comatus), aka Lawyer's Wig

 

Shaggy Ink Cap (Coprinus comatus), aka Lawyer's Wig

Shaggy Ink Cap (Coprinus comatus), aka Lawyer's Wig

 

Many interesting and unusual species of fungus are found in the damp ground around the lake. The first picture shows a young Shaggy Ink Cap fruiting body. The second shows an older member of the same species, close to completing auto-digestion. This process can take only a few hours (according to Australian Fungi – A Blog) or up to 36 hours (A Field Guide to the Fungi of Australia, A. M. Young, 2005). Eventually only a stem and an inky black blob will remain.

Water-Rat (Hydromys chrysogaster)

Water-Rat (Hydromys chrysogaster)

 

This sighting was a one-off. Lake Albert seems like an unusual choice of habitat for a Water-Rat: too open, and too many predators (seven species of raptor have been recorded in the area). They are typically seen in closed-in bodies of water with convenient hiding places, like Wollundry or Flowerdale Lagoon.

More to come.



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.