2013 to 2007 News

 Deniliquin and district (southern New South Wales)

        Latitude:-35.5269 S Longitude: 144.9520 E
Elevation: 93.0 m

Philip N. Maher


2011 Easter tour Chiltern, Deniliquin, Hattah Kulkyne NP

Videos of mostly local bird species http://www.youtube.com/user/AOS3141

Revegetation plots around Deniliquin
Union Plain revegetation plot
Update revegetation plots 21 October 2010
Update revegetation plots 2014

Incidental sightings including Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens

Picture by Marco Lammers, a Dutch birder who lost his Madonna Girlie Show
cap out on the plains ... somehow appropriate that a female plains-wanderer
should be seen wearing it.

Female plains-wanderer calling July 2010 Video http://www.youtube.com/user/AOS3141

photo: S Rankin

Wanganella swamps update re the drop in water levels late January/early February (posted 25 February 2011

Notes on waterbird breeding activity at the Wanganella Swamp to16 February 2011 Updated
Photos documenting waterbird breeding at Wanganella Swamp Nov/Dec 2010/January 2011 Updated

Australian painted snipe summary for the summer of 2010/2011 in the Wanganella area

Giant bango frog Limnodynastes interioris (not 100% sure of this identification, could be Limnodynastes dumerili) Crucifix frog Notaden bennetti Nth of Wanganella  
  Unidentified beetle  


Recent sightings Deniliquin district (Only the more interesting sightings get a mention).

28 & 29 December 2013 plains-wanderer weekend: The temperature on Saturday morning was rising rapidly, heralding a pretty unpleasant day's birding, weatherwise. Best birds for the morning were superb parrot, little bittern, spotted, spotless and Baillon's crakes, spotted harrier, Australian hobby, striped, painted and black honeyeaters, diamond firetail and owlet nightjar. At 4 p.m. we headed north, getting at the Monimail, bluebonnet and white-winged and variegated fairywrens. North of Wanganella, we had Horsfield's bushlark and brown songlark panting in the sun. Also recorded were Australian pratincole, some off nests; one adult and three juvenile boobook owls, and emus. Sightings of plains-wanderers totalled five birds: one adult male (the parent of the four young that are now independent), a mating pair of plains-wanderers, another adult male plains-wanderer, and later in the night, another adult male plains-wanderer. Other species seen after dark were inland dotterel, stubble quail, banded lapwing and two fat-tailed dunnarts and an unidentified gecko*. Not the hottest plains-wanderer day we've had but with a north wind blowing and dust swirling about, it was challenging. The glow of a grass fire burning north of Boorooban added to the surrealness of it all. Home about 1 a.m. Sunday morning: a cool change had blown in overnight and we set off at 7.30 a.m.The better birds down at Gulpa included more superb parrots, hooded and red-capped robins, southern whiteface, chestnut-rumped thornbill, varied sittella, white-winged triller, diamond dove, white-browed babbler, diamond firetail and rufous whistler. Closer to town we saw a pair of white-backed swallows, and a black falcon at the local tip. We finished about 1.15 p.m.134 birds seen for the weekend.
* Now identifed as gibber gecko Lucasium byrnei.

22 December 2013: Around twenty fork-tailed swifts seen by Robert north of Wanganella.

21 December 2013: Simon from the UK and David and Sandra from Brisbane joined forces for a day's excursion. Better birds east of town included grey-crowned babbler, apostlebird, western gerygone, diamond firetail, striped honeyeater, superb parrots with fledged young, owlet nightjar, plumed whistle-duck, painted honeyeater, six or so black honeyeaters, spotted crake, black-faced and white-browed woodswallows, southern whiteface, rufous songlark and white-winged triller. Good sightings after lunch were a boobook owl in my neighbour's yard, and northwards, three black falcons, white-backed woodswallow out at the Wang sandhill revegetation plot; bluebonnet and more black honeyeaters at the Monimail, white-winged fairywren, red-kneed dotterel, black-tailed native-hen and a bevy of plains-wanderers: the male with four chicks seen on the last plains-wanderer weekend — two of these young are now independent. Also seen was another juvenile or possibly two; I'm not sure if we saw one bird twice or two different birds. And then the finale: a mating pair.

18 December 2013: Robert took an English couple, Rob and Irene, out for an evening excursion. They did particularly well given it was about 43°C when he collected them from the Wanganella store. Among the better birds they saw were painted, black, spiny-cheeked and striped honeyeaters, superb parrot, white-winged fairywren, stubble quail, inland dotterel, Australian pratincole, banded lapwing and a pair of plains-wanderers.

8 December 2013 Plains-wanderer Weekend. Sunday morning's best birds were a pair of little bitterns, Baillon's crake and not so good views of spotted and spotless crakes, grey-crowned and white-browed babblers, diamond dove, half a dozen diamond firetails and tawny frogmouth with two chicks. Home about midnight. One hundred and twenty-two species recorded.

7 December 2013 Plains-wanderer Weekend. Saturday's best birds east of town in the morning were a pair of black falcons, superb parrot, diamond firetail, striped honeyeater, southern whiteface and owlet nightjar and four species of woodswallow. Afternoon birds in the revegetation plots north of town included painted honeyeater, black honeyeater and white-backed swallow. We also saw a large tiger snake raiding a singing honeyeater's nest. North of Wanganella were a couple of inland dotterel, thirty or so Australian pratincole, little curlew, banded lapwing, white-winged fairywren and white-fronted chats and a bookbook owl with three fledglings. The evening's spotlighting produced a male plains-wanderer with four chicks, a pair of wanderers, and then two males together. It's a long time between drinks since we've recorded nine plains-wanderers in one evening. More inland dotterels, Australian pratincoles and banded lapwings were seen. Mammals included lots of fat-tailed dunnarts, some with pouched young.

6 December 2013: One little curlew seen by John in the same spot as last night's oriental plovers, which were still present today. The only little curlews I've recorded on the Hay plains were in October 2003 when there was somewhat of an invasion. (See Lastest News: June 2003 to January 2004 little curlew invasion (bottom quarter of the page).

5 December 2013: We thought that the plains-wanderer excursion last night with Karen and Terry from the USA; Australians, Jane and James; plus Trevor and Jenny (UK) and Simon (AUS) who were on the aborted, damp excursion yesterday evening, was going to be one for the books. As it turned out, the paddocks weren't too much of a challenge, and with Robert assisting, we got two male plains-wanderers, one with small chicks (hooray!), and another flighty male in a different paddock on our way out. Two oriental plovers with about twenty Australian pratincoles were recorded. This is only my second record of oriental plover for the Riverina (see 4 December 2008 entry below), although not a new record for the property —John recorded this species around 1990. About ten inland dotterels were also seen, some with juveniles, and a couple of fat-tailed dunnarts. Forty-two millimetres of rain was recorded on the property.

5 December 2013 note: As of 9 am this morning, the previous 24 hours' 45.6 mm of rainfall topped the Deniliquin December daily record 1997>.

4 December 2013: Finally some decent rain! We've had some good downfalls in the last two days with a couple of inches recorded in Deniliquin. The plains north of Wanganella tonight were decidedly damp. Not good for the planned plains-wanderer excursion but great for plains-wanderers and the country generally.

1 December 2013 Second morning of the plains-wanderer weekend. Best birds included a handful of superb parrots with one pair feedng a fledged young at the Island Sanctuary. We had a female Australian little bittern, two azure kingfishers and an adult male crested shriketit in north Deniliquin. Out at a gravel pit northeast of town we had spotted and Baillon's crakes and out at some boree also northeast of town, at least two painted honeyeaters. Finished about 1.30 p.m. 132 species seen and one heard for the day and a half. World birder, Jonathon Newman, achieved his 7000th bird species today — the little bittern. Well done Jonathon!

30 November 2013 First of the year's plains-wanderer weekends: Best birds Saturday morning were black honeyeater, diamond firetail, Gilbert's whistler, saw one male and heard two others; and western gerygone at the nest. After lunch, best birds included plumed whistle ducks, buff-banded rail, black-tailed nativehen, and two black falcons. At the Monimail, we had blue bonnets feeding in the revegetation plot and grey-crowned babblers, and white-winged fairywrens including a coloured male nearby. Out at Robert's place we had a pair of boobooks feeding three fledgings and after dark, Australan pratincole, banded lapwing, one inland dotterel, a female plains-wanderer that proved harder to find then recent sightings, anda couple of fat-tailed dunnart. Home at 2 a.m.

26 November 2013: Day five of a nine-day SE Australia tour with Beverley and Paul from the UK. Bill, also from the UK, and a veteran of several plains-wanderer weekends, joined the tour in Deniliquin. The hectic schedule is getting the better of the Latest News write-ups. We got the usual array of birds today including a pair of plains-wanderers, inland dotterel, Australian pratincole, stubble quail etc tonight. Heading for the mallee in the morning.

26 November 2013: Black honeyeaters continue to enjoy the Eremophila longfolia in my front garden.

22 November 2013: Robert took an American couple out for a mid afternoon/evening excursion. Best birds written up later, they got the plains-wanderer pair and another male plains-wanderer.

21 November 2013: Robert took out an English couple for the day. Best birds written up later, suffice to say they got the plains-wanderer pair.

20 November 2013: Field Guides Inc, half day in Deniliquin before heading south.

19 November 2013: Day three of tour with Field Guides Inc from the States. Five best birds: owlet nightjar, pair of plains-wanderers, inland dotterel, Australian pratincole, and emu, which was new for their trip list. (More when time allows).

16 November 2013: Evening excursion with a Southern Birding Services group. Five best birds: Owlet nightjar, pair of plains-wanderers, stubble quail, striped honeyeater, black honeyeater.

15 November 2013: A morning excursion with Mary Ann and George saw us birding the Gulpa area first up. We had superb parrots with fledged young, western gerygone, hooded robin, diamond firetail with recently fledged young, an adult male crested shriketit, a pair of Gilbert's whistlers, red-capped robins, mistletoebird, heaps of white-winged trillers and rufous whistlers, and a forest full of white-browed and masked woodswallows all wanting to nest. Dusky woodswallow on a nest with young and an adult male Horsfield's bronze-cuckoo were recorded. East of town we had a painted honeyeater building a nest, and at some ponds, Baillon's and spotted crake. Black-faced woodswallows were seen as we headed back to town.

14 November 2013: Håkan from Sweden, who had come out with me in early March last year when the district was awash with water and the paddocks non-negotiable, joined Mary Ann and George from the States for a second try for plains-wanderer. In North Denilquin we got a pair tawny frogmouths with two young. Out at Union Plain pandemonium erupted when a brush-tail possum came out of a hollow in the same black box tree that the resident owlet-nightjar was sticking his head out of from another hollow. The nightjar thought it was a goanna and bird and mammal went every which way. Also at Union Plain the family of variegated fairywrens is still about, and we saw a nice male black honeyeater and singing and spiny-cheeked honeyeaters. En route to Union Plain, we had a pair of tawny frogmouths incubating eggs (this was the nest building pair seen on 17 October). heading to Wanganella, bluebonnets were ticked and at the Wanganella revegation plot we got white-backed swallows, the regular trio of striped, singing and spiny-cheeked honeyeaters as well as four black honeyeaters. North of Wanganella, we saw a black falcon, singing bushlark and brown songlark, as well as some nice male white-winged fairywrens plus white-fronted chat, a banded lapwing with four chicks, up to twenty emus and red kangaroos. We spotlighted four inland dotterels, a pair of plains-wanderers courting and a pair of Australian pratincoles.

13 November 2013: En route to Wanganella to meet Nick and his Tropical Birding group I swung by Union Plain, and was delighted to get a new species for the farm list — variegated fairywren. Also happy to see the owlet nightjar still in residence. After connecting with Tropical Birding at Wanganella we had white-fronted chats, white-winged fairywrens, white-backed swallows in the constructed pit in the Wanganella sandhill plot and two or three black honeyeaters Only one Australian pratincole (the cold weather we are having seems to have put this species off nesting), two black falcons, four or five inland dotterels, the same pair of plains-wanderers as seen on 11 November, banded lapwing including a pair with four chicks and fat-tailed dunnart.

12 November 2013: With Caroline incapacitated with a leg injury, it was just John and me at Deniliquin's Island Sanctuary to kick off a second days' birding. We had dollarbird, two adults and two young crested shriketits and superb parrots going into a nest hole, red-capped robins feeding fledged young, assorted thornbills and little eagle. In the Murray Valley Regional Park (formerly Deniliquin State Forest) we saw the owlet nightjar looking out of its hollow, and long-billed and little corellas, with the little corellas being the first sighting of that species in the area for a long while. The Murray Valley Regional Park was full of white-browed woodswallows looking for nesting sites. East of town we got spotted and Baillon's crakes and heard spotless, and around the boree with grey mistletoe, grey-crowned babblers and two male painted honeyeaters. Also recorded in that area were black-faced woodswallows, five budgerigars, white-winged triller, rufous songlark and a noisy friarbird on a nest. After dropping John back to his accommodation, I saw a boobook owl being scolded by a red wattlebird and blackbirds in Hunter Street, a few doors from home.

11 November 2013: John and Caroline from the UK and I, accompanied by some foul weather, headed down to Gulpa first up. We had superb parrots, with the first of the fledged young out of the nest. (This is quite early for this species to have fledged young). Also seen were hooded robin, white-winged triller, a group of varied sittella with one on a nest, and assorted thornbills. In the revegetation plot at Gulpa we got more thornbills, red-capped robin, dusky woodswallow and masses of white-browed and masked woodswallows. Over in North Deniliquin after lunch, we saw a tawny frogmouth on a nest with two young and out Wanganella way, half a dozen black honeyeaters, striped, spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters and heaps of little friarbirds. Great to see the white-backed swallows using the nesting pit I made for them at the Wanganella revegetation plot. We saw emu, white-winged fairywren, Australian pratincole, banded lapwing and after dark, inland dotterel. We looked for a plains-wanderer in the more recent site we've been getting them to no avail so went over to our previous site, having called Robert out to help, and found the earlier recorded pair, with the female calling. Also after dark, we had brown songlark and singing bushlark.

7 October 2013: Before leaving the Deniliquin area for Beechworth with my Spanish group, we had spotted and Baillon's crakes, two freckled ducks and about fifteen pink-eared ducks. Good sightings in the Denilquin Island Sanctuary included four superb parrots with a pair feeding young in a nest hole; a pair of crested shriketits with two juvenile young, dollarbird (first one seen by me this season around Deniliquin) and little eagle (possibly nesting on the other side of the river).

6 November 2013: Day five of an eight-day South-east Australia birding tour with Isabel, Marcos, Alvaro, Jose and Lidia from Spain. We spent two nights in Deniliquin, with the better observtions being superb parrots, a diamond firetai, white-winged triller, western gerygone nest building, hooded robin, mistletoebird, dusky woodswallow (nest with eggs), white-browed babbler, and masked and white-browed woodswallows at Gulpa Island.

At Wanganella mid afternoon, we had about six black honeyeaters, spiny-cheeked honeyeater, striped honeyeater, red-kneed and black-fronted dotterels and black-tailed native hen.

After dark, and with Robert assisting, we got four Inland dotterel (an adult with a chick and another two adults), a pair of plains-wanderers courting, six Australian pratincoles, banded lapwing (three on nests) one barn owl, brown songlark, singling bushlark, stubble quail (family with large young), brushtail and ringtail possums,and three species of kangaroo: western grey, eastern grey and red.

4 November 2013: Robert collected Peter from the UK and Stuart from the ACT at 5 pm for an evening excursion. They got, after dark, the young male plains-wanderer that has been seen a number of times now. On moving to the inland dotterel site, they got, besides the inland dotterel, a different pair of plains-wanderers (with the female calling) than the pair seen elsewhere on the property recently. Also seen were Australian pratincoles, stubble quail, little buttonquail and banded lapwings. The ground cuckoo-shrike 'pair' at Boorooban, which looked they might nest, couldn't be located, so they may have moved off. This was a bit of an unusual pairing as the male looked like a young bird.

3 November 2013: Robert photographed a Pacific golden plover, in post-breeding moult, in the Boorooban area around a rice crop. This species is a regular migrant through the district at this time of year in low numbers.

27 October 2013: VENT on their annual visit and with Dion at the helm, we had a full day's birding. Down at Gulpa Island we saw about twently superb parrots, again mostly males, hooded robin, Horsfield's and shining bronze-cuckoos, assorted thornbills and western gerygone and lots of white-winged trillers. In the Murray Valley Regional Park (formerly Deniliquin State Forest), we had an owlet nightjar, striated thornbill and spotted pardalote. Seen out near the Deniliquin sewage works were spotted crake, red-kneed dotterel, black-tailed native hen and about fifty plumed whistling-ducks. Wanganella produced a mixed bag of inland honeyeaters: black, striped, spiny-cheeked, singing and lots of little friabirds. Boorooban gave us the resident pair of ground cuckoo-shrike plus southern whiteface and white-winged fairywren. After dark, and assisted by John and Robert, we had a stubble quail, half a dozen Australian pratincole with at least two on nests, twenty banded lapwings, an inland dotterel, one of the young male plains-wanderers, now seen a few times, and a fat-tailed dunnart.

23 October 2013: Rainer, from Germany, was primarily after three waders (hooded plover, inland dotterel and plains-wanderer) plus any other new birds we could find him. Steve, had collected Rainer a few days earlier in Melbourne and had got hooded plover and a raft of other species in southern and north-eastern Victoria before delivering him to Deniliquin. Before I headed over to the mallee with Rainer, we had most of the usual stuff including about thirty superb parrots, mostly males, a couple of diamond firetails, a male Gilbert's whistler, rainbow bee-eater, an inland dotterel, Austraian pratincole, a stubble quail and a young male plains-wanderer, most likely one of two young birds seen on 14 October.

21 October 2013: Dutch couple, Nolilie and John joined forces with Richard from the UK and Dave from the States for a day's birding. We got pretty much what we've been getting lately including a female plains-wanderer, about five inland dotterels, including some juveniles, five or so Australian pratincoles, the resident pair of ground cuckoo-shrike, not such great looks at an owlet nightjar, plus barn owl, Horsefield's bronze-cuckoo, spotted crake, plumed whistling-ducks, black honeyeater, rainbow bee-eater, five hooded robins, diamond firetail and a pair of black falcon with one carrying a dead galah.

18 October 2013: Robert at Black Swamp this afternoon saw the area's first crimson chat for the season and a late migrating blue-winged parrot.

18 October 2013: A morning's birding with Suzanne and Jeff. Down at Gulpa (Murray Valley Regional Park)l we had about thirty superb parrots, mostly males, three pairs of hooded robins, varied sittella, western gerygone, white-browed babbler, crested shriketit, yellow thornbills feeding young in a high nest (as this species does), two late-arriving pallid cuckoos and a diamond firetail. East of town we saw striped honeyeater, more bee-eaters (good to see this species re-establishing its numbers after the 2005 fatal cold snap), a pair of rufous songlarks and little grassbird.

17 October 2013: Canadians, Suzanne and Jeff and I set off in a northerly direction mid afternoon. Off to a good start with a black falcon seen from the Conargo Road. At Union Plain we had the resident owlet nightjar, two male black honeyeaters feeding in Eremophila bignoniiflora, four cockatiels, brown songlark and singing bushlark. The Black Swamp area was swarming with thousands of white-browed and masked woodswallows. Boorooban produced bluebonnets, mallee ringnecks, southern whiteface, red-capped robin, rainbow bee-eaters, the seemingly paired up adult and immature ground cuckoo-shrikes from the night before and one Major Mitchell. (It's a fair bet his mate was on eggs). Back at Wanganella we had at one spot an adult and dependent juvenile inland dotterel (probably from the nest located 10 August) and elsewhere another six inland dotterels. There were ten banded lapwings including two immatures, a timely had female plains-wanderer, a barn owl and homeward bound, we saw two tawny frogmouths, most probably in the throes of nest building.

16 October 2013: Birdquest was here for their biennual visit. Best birds for the day were 30 - 40 superb parrots, mostly males, a pair of crested shriketits, more bee-eaters, a painted buttonquail, Horsfield's and shining bronze-cuckoos, black honeyeater, two ground cuckoo-shrikes (an adult and an immature - whether they've paired up, I can't say), two pairs of banded lapwings sitting on nests with eggs (very late for this species to be breeding here; they're normally nesting in August), about five inland dotterels, an adult female little buttonquail and a female plains-wanderers. Two barn owls seen on our way home.

15 October 2013: Down at Gulpa (Murray Valley Regional Park) with the Avifauna group we had about thirty superb parrots, primarily males (females are on nests), hooded robins, the season's first rainbow bee-eater for Gulpa, first record for the season of diamond firetail and diamond dove, redcapped robins nesting, varied sittellas, a pair of crested shriketit, Gilbert's whistler calling, immature white-breasted sea-eagle, Jacky Winters, western gerygones, white-browed babbler, dusky woodswallows, among other species. Out at the Deniliquin sewage treatment works after lunch, birds included about a thousand plumed whistling-ducks, four pink-eared ducks and an Australian hobby. Nearby there were red-kneed dotterels, Australian spotted and Baillon's crakes, black-tailed native-hen and white-backed swallows.

14 October 2013: Out with AviFauna from Swedon this evening. John found two large plains-wanderer chicks in no time at all, and Robert followed up with an adult pair (the same two as the last outing). The adults recorded would have been the parents of the large chicks and are mating again. John also got a male little buttonquail at the plains-wanderer location. We moved off to the dotterel site, getting a barn owl en route, We saw about six inland dotterels including one with three small chicks. Looking for stubble quail in another paddock, we located another male little buttonquail with four tiny chicks about as big as your thumb nail. While looking for the wanderers, we got a fat-tailed dunnart.

11 October 2013: The Rockjumper/Cornell University group, which I had for a six-day southeast Australia tour, witnessed something incredible tonight. That being a pair of plains-wanderers doing a coutship display and copulating. Robert and I have seen other courtship displays but this was something I doubt anyone has witnessed before. The female would aggresively pull at the male, imploring him to copulate. Then, the pair whirled frenziedly in a tight cycle, quite cartoon-like. Chris, one of the guys from Cornell, got this on video. It took us until almost 1 am to find this pair but I don't think anyone was complaining. Much earlier in the night we had an inland dotterel and an Australian pratincole.

4 October 2013: Robert, with Victorian birders, Bernie, Hedley and Irena, and I with Michael (Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC) and Leo (CSIRO Canberra) ventured forth for some plains birding this evening. It was successful with a female plains-wanderer (there were two calling), inland dotterel, little buttonquail, stubble quail and boobook owl.

2 September 2013: The Strzelecki Outback tour has got off to a great start, not only with glorious weather, but also with Robert finding a letter-winged kite on a power line and after dark, a female plains-wanderer. Also seen was a pair of inland dotterel, among other species.

30 August: John had two Australian pratincoles, north of Wanganella, the earliest we've recorded them.

29 August 2013: Three rufous songlarks seen between Deniliquin and Gulpa; it's looking like there's going to be an irruption of rufous songlarks.

28 August 2013: A rufous songlark calling in the Gulpa revegetation plot.

26 & 27 August 2013: A pair of Major Mitchell's cockatoos about fifteen kilometres south of Wanganella.

25 August 2013: The first rufous songlark seen for the season, east of town.

22 August 2013: A Major Mitchell's cockatoo landed in a needlewood, Hakea tephrosperma, in the Monimail plot. Three superb parrots flew over. Spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters were in fine voice when the sun emerged. The appearance of the sun also elicited a lot of excited calling from a group of grey-crowned babblers.

22 August: Stuart Rankin observed a group of varied sittellas building a nest in the Murray Valley Regional Park (formerly Deniliquin State Forest). Also building are red-capped robins and brown treecreepers. A group of white-winged choughs have four well-grown young in a nest.

17 August 2013: Australians, Stephen and Tessa, keen to add plains-wanderer to their Australian list were doubly blessed to get a pair about fifty metres apart. The female, demonstrating courtship behaviour, was calling softly.

12 August 2013: Robert and Sarah, from the States, spent a cold and very windy day with me. Given the filthy weather we did okay. Out at the Monimail we had grey-crowned babblers and about a hundred superb parrots in black box surrounded by rice stubble. I'm not sure what they were feeding on; half a dozen or so were in some planted flowering ironbarks along the road. A swamp harrier sallying by put them up. We saw spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters, and around at Union Plain we had striped honeyeater, as well as boobook owl. The resident owlet nightjar gave us an all too brief look. Union Plain is awash with birds at the moment. The azure kingfisher, seen a couple of days ago at a water-filled gravel pit, was still there. We had three black falcons, hundreds of black kites and a wedge-tailed eagle at the Deniliquin tip.

After lunch, a flock of about thirty inquisitive emus were seen north of Wanganella. A flock at this time of year suggests they are not going to breed this year. Up at Boorooban we saw white-winged fairy-wrens, including two coloured males, bluebonnets, ringnecks and red-capped robins. The wind dropped late afternoon and with John's assistance we put in a couple of hours spotlighting, turning up a female plains-wanderer, calling. Probably the one seen a couple of nights ago, although not exactly the same area. We also got an inland dotterel, three banded lapwings and several fat-tailed dunnarts.

10 August 2013: Canadians, Daniel and Illya tested their luck with plains-wanderers and came up trumps. John and Robert and I were each searching different paddocks and it was John who took the honours with a pair of plains-wanderers. (Dan and Illya were ecstatic and I don't think John, Robert and I were any less so). It wasn't a quick find but a promising one. The habitat looks like it will be perfect in a month or so. We also found an inland dotterel on a nest with three eggs. I'm sure this is the earliest we've seen inland dotterels nest.

Our birding had started in the morning in the Murray Valley Regional Park in Deniliquin. Some of the better birds for the morning included flame robin, red-capped robin, varied sittella, brown goshawk, assorted thornbills, yellow rosella and brown-headed honeyeater. Out at Pretty Pine we had the dry country trio of honeyeaters: singing, spiny-cheeked and striped. In the boree at the Monimail there were four superb parrots and a pair of little eagles, one light phase and one dark phase.

After lunch, at a water-filled gravel pit northeast of town, we got spotted and spotless crakes and little grassbird. Here we also saw an azure kingfisher, roughly ten kilometres from the river. I assume it followed the channel system (not that it currently has much water in it). Also northeast of town we had an Australian hobby and a dozen or so white-winged fairywrens but no coloured males, and half a dozen or so white-fronted chats. North of Wanganella, there were more white-winged fairywrens (and again no coloured males), one male brown songlark, bluebonnets, three pairs of banded lapwings nesting, and stubble quail. Spotlighting we got the aforementioned pair of wanderers and the nesting inland dotterel, lots more stubble quail and four fat-tailed dunnarts. It was a good day.

14 July 2013: Robert took Dion Hobcroft and four lucky birders out for an evening, getting a male plains-wanderer. Also seen were Major Mitchell's cockatoo, stubble quail, banded lapwing, black-tailed nativehen, boobook, swamp wallaby and fat-tailed dunnart, among other species.

11 July 2013; Robert, doing some reconnaissance for a group on the weekend, got a male plains-wanderer this evening; also lots of stubble quail. Great to see the wanderer, they were very hard to locate earlier in the year.

21 March 2013: Scores of fork-tailed swifts were seen from Deniliquin to north of Wanganella, feeding on insects, low over the plain, after the first of several storm fronts had passed though the district. They were observed from early morning to late afternoon. When first observed they were flying into a northeasterly wind.

11 March 2013: David and his wife, from the Shetland Islands, spent a day around Deniliquin. In the morning, in the revegetation plot out on the Hay Road, we had about twenty or so superb parrots, pallid cuckoo, striped, spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters, two painted honeyeaters, the first for about ten years at that locality; and variegated fairywrens. In the afternoon, on the northern edge of town, a black falcon was observed harassing a swamp harrier and in the Deniliquin Murray Valley Regional Park we saw a boobook owl, assorted thornbills, rainbow bee-eaters and various other species. On the Hay Road, we got white-backed swallows, bluebonnets in the boree country; and out at Wanganella we had a bunch of pied honeyeaters and some white-winged fairywrens. Spotlighting we got a pair of inland dotterel, lots of fat-tailed dunnarts, a curl snake, stubble quail but sadly, no plains-wanderer.

5 March 2013: After the Great Plains-wanderer Weekend Disaster at the end of December, I wasn't in any hurry to go back out and look for wanderers, particularly given how dry it's been in the last couple of months. But it rained last week and I've clients soon, so it was time to bite the bullet. Robert, Stuart and I ventured out, getting an inland dotterel, a pair of banded lapwing, twenty or so stubble quail, one little buttonquail, at least ten fat-tailed dunnarts and one adult male plains-wanderer back in the paddock where we'd been getting them previously.

5 March 2013: Four ground cuckoo-shrikes (two adults and two immatures) just outside the Monimail revegetation plot, eating grasshoppers. Four or five superb parrots flew over.

1 March 2013: Ten to twenty pied honeyeaters still at the Wanganella sandhill revegetation plot.

28 February 2013: A spotted harrier flew over our house in town; a first for the yard list.

27 February 2013: I measured 56 ml of rain in my gauge in Deniliquin; the plains north of Deniliquin got between two and three inches. This is the first decent rain we've had since October last year.

26 February 2013: Robert saw four Major Mitchell cockatoos north of Wanganella drinking out of a trough

15 February 2013: About ten pied honeyeaters at Wanganella sandhill revegetation plot feeding on ruby and thorny saltbush berries.

14 February 2013 : A male red-chested buttonquail at Wanganella sandhill revegetation plot.

14 February 2013: Adult male black honeyeater in Monimail revegetation plot. Fifteen superb parrots flew over.

24 January 2013: Half a dozen varied sitellas in the revegetation plot at Gulpa.

18 January 2013: An adult male pied honeyeater at Union Plain, feeding on thorny saltbush.

10 January 2013: About twenty black honeyeaters feeding on flowering Eremophila longifolia at Wanganella.

10 January 2013: About ten pied honeyeaters feeding on thorny saltbush berries Rhagodia spinescens in the revegation area at Wanganella sandhill.

3 January 2013: Robert had about fifty pied honeyeaters in the revegetation plot near his house. They flew off in a south-westerly direction.


29 & 30 December 2012: Not one of our more successful plains-wanderer weekends with no plains-wanderers found. This has only happened once before on a plains-wanderer weekend, and without checking, I'd say that was about twenty years ago. Robert and I gave it our best shot, not giving up til 3 am. Overall 143 species were seen for the day and a half (and what a day that was!). Good birds were had including inland dotterel and Australian pratincole. The checklist of species seen.

26 December 2012: Happy to report that Union Plain's owlet nightjar has returned to the bee-free hollow of the blackbox (Eucalyptus largiflorens) near Susan and Neil's house (see 18 December posting about this owlet nightjar's misadventures).

18 December: Forty to fifty superb parrots out at the Monimail.

18 December 2012: Out at Union Plain my sister Susan and her husband Neil had an owlet nightjar conveniently (for me) in a blackbox tree close to their house. A while back the hollow was invaded by a hive of feral bees and the owlet nightjar wisely moved out. One of the places it unwisely moved to was Susan and Neil's fireplace. Susan found it in the nick of time, actually in the firebox when she was about to light the fire. They released it outside and covered the top of the flue. Early this morning, Susan and Neil woke to a noise in the flue. A rat ... a mouse ... or the owlet nightjar again? On opening the firebox door to investigate, the nightjar flew out, daubed the walls with soot and landed on the bookcase. The cover had blown off the flue with the recent strong wind. They released it outside and hopefully it will go back to the blackbox hollow. I'd got rid of the bees after the initial flue incident. Maybe not the smartest owlet nightjar about but certainly the luckiest.

15 & 16 December 2012: Third plains-wanderer weekend of the season: Check list of species recorded 153 bird species seen. Best birds on Saturday morning were black falcon, south of town; hobby on a nest feeding young, fifty or so superb parrots, adults and juveniles; two owlet nightjars, hooded robin, Gilbert's whistler, a massive flock of striated pardalotes, olive-backed oriole, crested shriketit on a nest; white-browed woodswallows feeding young and a square-tailed kite. Leaving Deniliquin mid afternoon, we had at least forty black and ten pied honeyeaters, orange chat (north of Wanganella), spotted crake, spotted and swamp harriers, boobook owl, adult and two juveniles; white-winged and variegated fairywrens, bluebonnets and two adult and two juvenile tawny frogmouths. After dark we got three male plains-wanderers (two males were about 100 m apart), inland dotterel, ten fat-tailed dunnarts, two barn owls, banded lapwing and ten or so Australian pratincole, some with young. Sunday morning, a pair of little bittern, adult female peregrine falcon, glossy ibis in rice, Baillon's and spotted crakes, two buff-banded rail, a good look at spotted harrier ... Next plains-wanderer weekend is 29 & 30 December. One place available.

1 & 2 December 2012: Second plains-wanderer weekend of the season: Check list of species recorded. 145 bird species seen, one heard. Best birds were a painted honeyeater, thirty black honeyeaters, fifteen pied honeyeaters, female plains-wanderer, little buttonquail, little bittern, three species of crake, freckled duck, diamond firetails doing courtship displays, olive-backed oriole, hooded robins with juveniles, white-backed swallow, crested shriketit, shining bronze-cuckoo, dollarbird, black falcon, female peregrine falcon, three hobbies, two spotted harriers, two pairs of orange chats, about fifteen Australian pratincoles, six inland dotterels, banded lapwing, stubble quail, barn owl and boobook. Better temperature than the last PW weekend, with the mercury around 31 C (88 F) on Saturday and 26 C (79 F) on Sunday.

27 November 2012: Out with a private Tropical Birding group in the evening. Best birds were black honeyeater, twenty freckled duck, spotted crake, red-kneed dotterel, ten or so Australian pratincoles, some with babies, six inland dotterels, two male plains-wanderers, banded lapwing, stubble quail and barn owl.

26 November 2012: Down in Gulpa in the morning with Peter Waanders' group we saw superb parrots, diamond firetails, hooded robin and, western gerygone, In the afternoon we had about ten black honeyeaters, black falcon, a pair of painted snipe, twenty freckled duck, spoted crake, Baillon's crake, spotless crake, ten inland dotterel, banded lapwing, ten Australian pratincole, some with chicks, two male plains-wanderers, stubble quail, owlet nightjar, two adults and two young tawny frogmouths and barn and boobook owls.

24 & 25 November 2012: The first plains-wanderer weekend of the season produced 149 bird species seen and one heard. Two male plains-wanderers together were recorded and another single male. Check list of species seen. Best birds were black and pied honeyeaters, orange chat, four Gilbert's whistlers (a pair and two juveniles), diamond firetail, hooded robin, crested shriketit, white-backed swallow, a crippling view of a pair of painted snipe in a rice crop, two little bitterns (separate localities), three species of crake, pair of black falcon, two spotted harriers, stubble quail, little buttonquail, dozen banded lapwing, about fifteen Australian pratincole including two clutches of small young), ten inland dotterel, twenty plus freckled ducks, glossy ibis, buff-banded rail, three species of crake, superb parrot (two clutches approximately, first fledged young for the season recorded) dollarbird and shining bronze-cuckoo. Warm weekend with temperatures around the ton (37 C) both days.

15 November 2012: Robert got a pair of ground cuckoo-shrike north of Wanganella.

9 November 2012: Dion Hobcroft had his VENT group in town for the day. Better birds in the morning included superb parrots, a male and a female Gilbert's whistler, lots of diamond firetails doing mating displays, hundreds of white-browed woodswallows looking for nest sites, dusky woodswallows, hooded and red-capped robins and around eight rainbow bee-eaters, the most seen in Gulpa for many years. Mid afternoon on the north side of town we had a black falcon and little and wedgetailed eagles. In the Wanganella area there were white-winged fairywrens, lots of white-fronted chats, fairy martins, at least twenty black and about half a dozen pied honeyeaters in flowering eremophila longifolia and spiny-cheeked, striped and singing honeyeaters about the eremophila. Around the swamps north of Wanganella there were about a thousand recently arrived hardheads, a hundred or so pink-eared ducks, whiskered terns, little grassbird, red-kneed dotterels, a sharp-tailed sandpiper, black-tailed native hens, six spotted crakes and swamp and spotted harriers. Spotlighting produced ten inland dotterels, eight Australian pratincoles, some on nests; a female plains-wanderer, stubble quails, fat-tailed dunnart and red kangaroos. Homeward bound we had tawny frogmouth, common brushtail and ringtail possums. Strangely enough, no barn owls.

5 November 2012: Sarah and Andrew from the UK were joined by Lynne and Denise from Victoria for a mid afternoon/ evening excursion with Robert. They did well, getting among other things, black and pied honeyeaters, white-backed swallows, five freckled ducks, spotted crake, Australian pratincole, banded lapwing, inland dotterel, stubble quail, tawny frogmouth, boobook owl, barn owl and a female plains-wanderer.

29 October 2012: An excursion with Rockjumper Tours in the evening produced a trifecta of dryland wader species: inland dotterels (about a dozen), Australian pratincoles (tenish) and three plains-wanderers (all males).

28 October 2012: Met up with a Tropical Birding group out at Boorooban mid afternoon. Some of the better birds included thousands of masked and white-browed woodswallows, thirty or so budgerigars, a pied honeyeater feeding on ruby saltbush, two black honeyeaters feeding on eremophila, two or three little eagles, three orange chats, around fifty banded lapwings, twenty Australian pratincoles, a gull-billed tern, a musk duck, dozen inland dotterels, pair of plains-wanderers, ten stubble quail, half a dozen singing bushlarks and barn owls and a red-chested buttonquail.

26 October 2012: Robert saw about a dozen Australian pratincoles on the plains, Wanganella area.

25 October 2012: A white-fronted honeyeater in my garden; a pair has been around town for about six weeks.

25 October 2012: About six pied honeyeaters east of Boorooban, observed by Robert.

24 October 2012: David saw some orange chats on the plains, Wanganella area.

22 October 2012: John observed the first (that I've heard of) dollarbird for the season, Wanganella area.

17 October 2012: Jens and Kathy from the USA and I went down to Gulpa first thing this morning. We saw, among other species, superb parrots, diamond firetails, three male Gilbert's whistlers, crested shriketit, assorted thornbill species, spotted and striated pardalotes, white-winged triller, masked and white-browed woodswallows, red-capped and hooded robins, jackie winter, rufous whister, varied sittella on a nest, four fan-tailed cuckoos, a black honeyeater in my revegetation plot at Gulpa, white-backed swallows and a pair of wedge-tailed eagles nesting just five kilometres from Deniliquin. After lunch, in the Wanganella area, we had black-tailed native-hens, musk duck, a swamp harrier, trying to steal, presumidly, eggs from the musk duck's nest, spotted harrier, yellow-billed and royal spoonbills, hundreds of whiskered terns, little grassbird, white-winged fairywren and singing bushlark. Out at Boorooban we had southern whiteface, diamond doves, bush stone-curlew, bluebonnets and ringnecks, rufous and brown songlarks and two little eagles. After dark we spotlighted banded lapwings, one inland dotterel, one adult female plains-wanderer, about five barn owls, a tawny frogmough on a nest (and another back near town) and a boobook owl in Deniliquin.

16 October 2012: A small flock of budgerigars was seen by David in the Boorooban area.

13 October 2012: About ten Australian pratincoles, the first for the seaon, were seen today by Robert in the Wanganella area.

8 October 2012: Robert got a red-chested buttonquail in the Wanganella area today.

8 October 2012: John, Jane and Elaine from the UK and I saw three male Gilbert's whistlers singing down at Gulpa this morning. This is more than I have seen for some years. We also saw my first pair of rainbow bee-eaters for the season. Other good birds included hooded robin, red-cap robins, western gerygone on a nest, around twenty superb parrots, two groups of sittellas, heaps of white-winged trillers and dusky woodswallows, two wedgetail eagles and a group of white-browed babblers. Coming back into town we had white-backed swallows and masked and white-browed woodswallows feeding in yellow box. Mid afternoon we headed north, first to Union Plain for not great looks at owlet nightjar and black honeyeater. There were still lots of masked and white-browed woodswallows about. In the Wanganella area we saw black and striped honeyeaters, lots of white-tailed native hens, two spotted harriers, whiskered terns, sharp-tailed sandpipers (first for the season), red kneed dotterels and yellow and royal spoonbills. Spotlighting, we had two inland dotterels, a banded lapwing, six stubble quail, about ten barn owls and two tawny frogmouths, one on a nest. The first pair of plains-wanderers was located in about fifteen minutes and a second pair found while we were looking for little buttonquail in a different paddock.

7 October 2012: There was a pair of brolga out at Wanganella swamp today.

6 October 2012: Canadians, Barry and Sharon ventured down to Gulpa with me first thing this morning. Better birds were superb parrots, hooded robins, Gilbert's whistler, white-winged trillers, dusky woodswallows and diamond firetails. Out at Union Plain we saw a brown goshawkwith a freshly killed rabbit, the resident owlet nightjar, white-browed and masked woodswallows, four black honeyeaters as well as spiny-cheeked and singing; with striped down the road a bit. In the afternoon we had bluebonnets, red-kneed dotterels and black-tailed native hens and after dark about six inland dotterels, a dozen banded lapwings, about ten stubble quail, eight barn owls, a pair of tawny frogmouths on a nest and a pair of plains-wanderers.

4 October 2012: Robert from the Netherlands and I headed out mid afternoon. First to Union Plain for white-browed and masked woodswallows, three black honeyeaters (one male) feeding in Eremophila maculata, and the resident owlet nightjar. The striped honeyeaters that were there the day before were not to be seen but we got a couple further down the road as well as spotted harrier, hobby and pallid cuckoo. In the Wanganella area we had another two pallid cuckoos, another spotted harrier, a couple of spotted crake, fifteen or so Australian painted snipe, heaps of black-tailed native hens and roughly fifteen red-kneed dotterels. After dark we had six inland dotterels, one banded lapwing, one male plains-wanderer, a dozen barn owls and closer to Denilquin, a tawny frogmouth.

1 & 2 October 2012: There is an irruption of black honeyeaters in the district, with birds seen yesterday and today at the three revegetation plots: Wanganella sandhill, Monimail and Gulpa. They were feeding on Eremophila longifolia and maculata. There was a red-backed kingfisher on wires on the Echuca Road today, the first for the season, and white-winged trillers at the Gulpa revegetation plot as well as two pairs of red-capped robins (possibly breeding) and a diamond firetail.

27 September 2012: Back from our Strzelecki Track outback tour. Mary and Howard from Oregon and I battled a windy day's birding to get, among other species, flocks of male superb parrots, an adult male Gilbert's whistler, diamond firetails, fan-tailed and Horsfield's cuckoos, dusky woodswallow, white-winged triller and little eagle at Gulpa in the morning. East of town we had a black honeyeater in flowering grey mistletoe and a tawny frogmouth. Heading north in the afternoon we got striped honeyeater, blue-bonnets, spotted harrier, black falcon, about twenty painted snipe, red-kneed dotterel, banded lapwing, inland dotterel, and a male plains-wanderer after a lengthy search.

18 & 19 September 2012: Robert took a couple of Americans and an Australian birder out on the afternoon/ evening of 18th and a British couple on the19th. Best birds included Australian painted snipe, red-kneed dotterel, spotted crake, spotted harrier, barn owl, inland dotterel, banded lapwing, and a pair of plains-wanderers on both evenings.

14 September 2012: Robert took a Sydney group out this evening, getting, among other species: a pair of plains-wanderers, stubble quail, bushlark, spotted crake, black honeyeater, banded lapwing and inland dotterel.

7 September 2012: Our Strzelecki outback tour spent a day birding in the Deniliquin area. Better birds were square-tailed kite, superb parrot, crested shriketit, spotted harrier, two inland dotterels, black-tailed native hens, banded lapwing, stubble quail, four plains-wanderers (a male, a female and a pair) and a barn owl.

7 August 2012: Italians, Leonardo and Itala, came with quite a short list of birds that they wanted to see; plains-wanderer, of course, being the main target. Better birds we saw, not necessarily on their list, included superb parrots feeding on Rhagodia spinescens' berries; bluebonnets, stubble quail on the Hay Road TSR, brown songlarks displaying on the TSR, lots of black-shouldered kites over the TSR, plenty of zebra finches, black kite at the tip but no black falcon; little, purple-crowned and musk lorikeets feeding in flowering gums near the golf course and surprisingly, a spiny-cheeked honeyeater there as well. Down at Gulpa we had an immature palid cuckoo, diamond firetails and red-capped robins. A Gilbert's whistler called but we didn't pursue it, it having already been ticked off the list. Mid afternoon we headed out again, seeing a few shoveller, blue-billed duck, hardhead, hoary-headed grebe, red-kneed dotterel and a couple of swamp harriers. We had three brown songlarks displaying over the Wanganella swamp, which was interesting in itself, and a spotted harrier near the plains-wanderer property. Spotlighting, we had pippits, stubble quail, six inland dotterels and a pair of plains-wanderers ready to nest with the next decent rain. We got one barn owl, three fat-tailed dunnarts and saw three species of kangaroo for the day. Heading home, we got another inland dotterel on the road, ciao.

30 July 2012: There has been a great influx of purple-crowned and musk lorikeets and a few little lorikeets around town in the last couple of months, feeding in flowering eucalypts. The purple-crowns have been seen inspecting nest holes in the Deniliquin Regional Park (formerly Deniliquin State Forest).

26 July 2012. This photo is of an eastern grass owl collected by Robert Nevinson from the Cobb Highway, 17 km north of Wanganella on 7 April this year. This is probably only the second grass owl record for the Riverina; the other that I know of being in Evan Thomas's wheat crop between Barham and Moulamein about a decade ago.


14 July 2012: Two male Gilbert's whistlers were heard calling in the sandhill area of Gulpa Island (Murray Valley NP).

27 June 2012: I called in to the revegetation plot at Gulpa on my way home today. There were six to eight diamond firetails, adults and immatures, drinking and bathing in a tiny puddle. This is the most I have seen in that plot. Also observed were singing honeyeater, jackie winter, red-capped robin, brown treecreeper, grey shrike-thrush, striated pardalote and yellow rosella.

4 — 25 June 2012: Headed to Karratha in the Pilbara region of in NW Western Australia for a few weeks. Got a grey falcon first day out, so a good start.

30 May 2012: Sighted out at the Monimail this morning were three banded lapwings and a ground cuckoo-shrike.

25 May — 28 May 2012 : I collected Martin, a UK birder, from Melbourne Airport in the late afternoon and headed for Deniliquin. Martin had lived in Singapore for many years and it was evident from his short 'target' list that he had visited Australia many times. On the 26th we headed out to the boree country and ticked off superb parrot and bluebonnet. We had a look at Union Plain for the owlet nightjar to no avail. (Got one in the late afternoon the following day in Hattah Kulkyne NP). Down at Gulpa we got yellow rosella. Heading north after lunch we saw spotted crake at Wanganella. After nightfall, we had two inland dotterels but NO plains-wanderers. John was helping and initially Robert as well so it wasn't for want of trying. We headed over to the mallee on the 27th. Returning from the mallee the next evening, we swung by the plains-wanderer property and landed two female plains-wanderers, the first one in the paddock we had found them over thirty years ago and the second one in another paddock as we were leaving.

24 May 2012: Robert got rufous songlark and sacred kingfisher in black box country at Boorooban, seemingly overwintering.

17 May 2012: A quick trip down to Gulpa Island this morning turned up myriad small passerine species in terms of both species and birds — such as buff-rumped and yellow-rumped thornbills, weebill, grey fantail, red-capped robin, a possible flame robin, silvereye, restless flycatcher, jackie winter, singing, spiny-cheeked and white-plumed honeyeaters, grey shrike-thrush and rufous whistler. Also recorded were non-passerines, yellow rosella, common bronzewing and black-shouldered kite.

Species seen in the last week or so by other Deniliquin observers include some good honeyeaters in the Deniliquin Regional Park (formerly Deniliquin State Forest) such as fuscous, yellow-faced and white-naped honeyeaters, and a swift parrot has been heard and seen around town. Other interesting observations include a freckled duck on a dam on the plains-wanderer property and a scarlet robin in John Nevinson's back yard. Some out of season breeding is evident with black-tailed native-hen chicks and red-rump parrots feeding babies being observed. Note: there seems to be an irruption of fuscous, yellow-faced and white-naped honeyeaters along the Murray and its anabranches.

14 May 2012: Back from the UK.
Bempton Cliffs RSPB Reserve
10 May 2012

22 April 2012: Robert took British birders, Paul and Fi, out for the plains' specialities. They got a female plains-wanderer and about ten inland dotterel, stubble quail and spotted harrier, among other things.

7 April 2012: Robert Nevinson picked up what is almost certainly an eastern grass owl, killed the prior night, on the Cobb Highway, south of Boorooban. This is only the second record that I am aware of in the Riverina, the first being in a wheat crop between Moulamein and Barham more than ten years ago.

31 March 2012: Off to Great Britain, back mid May.

29 March 2012: Tim, who was out with me on 2 March when we had several inches of rain, came back for another go at birding in this district. Some of the better birds of the day included superb parrots in Gulpa (and northeast of town); we heard a Gilbert's whsitler but didn't chase it, having got one over in the mallee on 3 March with Tim; boobook owl, which has become a regular in Gulpa; western gerygone; and a mammal, yellow-footed antechinus Antechinus flavipes. On the swamps to the north of Wanganella, we had a baker's dozen of freckled ducks, six blue-billed ducks, scores of pink-eared ducks, a lot of hoary-headed grebes and three great-crested grebes. Out on the plains we had eight blue-winged parrots, one spotted harrier and four swamp harriers, three inland dotterels, only one banded lapwing, six or so barn owls and a pair of plains-wanderers; and another mammal, fat-tailed dunnart.

24 March 2012: There was a pair of magpie geese out at the 8 Mile Creek swamp, just south of Wanganella, today.

20 March 2012: Lorraine and I ventured down to the Gulpa area today, getting another hobby, diamond firetail, southern whiteface and a massive migration of little friarbirds. Within Murray Valley NP (Gulpa Island) we had scores of dusky woodswallows, two pair (at least) of hooded robins, red-capped robins, jackie winter, varied sitellas, the two treecreeper spp., western gerygone, five species of thornbills, weebill, a huge influx of striated pardalotes, an adult male and a sub-adult male Gilbert's whistler, golden and rufous whistlers, more superb parrots, a boobook owl flushed from a hollow, a couple of restless flycatchers, a pair of painted buttonquail and red-browed finches, to name a few. Back in the Deniliquin Island Sanctuary we had azure kingfisher, a dark phase little eagle and crested shriketit. In sheer numbers of birds and species, I don't think I've had two better days birding in this district since the onslaught of the drought in the early 2000s.

19 March 2012: Canadians, Lorraine and Skip and I had a great day. We got an immature painted honeyeater in grey mistletoe Amyema quandong on boree Acacia pendula in the Mayrung area; this was a first for 2012, the last sightings being mid December. Also out that way we got an Australasian bittern in a rice crop, red-necked avocet, a pair of white-backed swallows and three hobbies. On Union Plain we had owlet-nightjar and further out the Hay Road, superb parrots. On swamps to the north of Wanganella we had ten freckled ducks, about thirty Australasian shovellers, ten or so pink-eared ducks, half a dozen each of blue-billed ducks and chestnut teal, about half a dozen red-kneed dotterel, ten to fifteen black-tailed native-hens and a Baillon's crake, among other water birds. Spotlighting we saw a pair of inland dotterel, about fifteen banded lapwings and an easily found adult female plains-wanderer as well as stubble quail and a fat-tailed dunnart. Coming back into town we spotlighted two tawny frogmouths.

10 March 2012: One blue-winged parrot at the 8 Mile Creek bridge, Wanganella, five days earlier than last year's first sighting in exactly the same location.

5 —9 March 2012: A boobook owl roosting in the Agonis flexuosa at my back door.

8 March 2012: Brits, Bryan and Marjorie and I had about eighty superb parrots, some feeding on (introduced) box thorns and fifteen Major Mitchell cockatoos feeding on dillionbush berries in the Monimail area, the closest I have seen Mitchells to town; the usual assorted honeyeaters at Union Plain and the resident owlet-nightjar. In the Deniliquin Regional Park we got red-capped robin and crested shriketit, western gerygone and various thornbills, an adult male painted buttonquail and dusky woodswallow. Out on the plains we saw wedge-tailed eagle, five inland dotterel, four banded lapwing, an adult male plains-wanderer and a couple of barn owls.

6 March 2012: Jim and Susan from Queensland were joined by John, also from Queensland, for the day. Doing better than our last outing, and with Robert on an ag bike, we located in a still saturated paddock, a male juvenile plains-wanderer, about two months old and the first juvenile seen this year. We also got an inland dotterel, a couple of stubble quail, about six banded lapwings, a couple of barn owls and a fat-tailed dunnart. In Deniliquin Regional Park earlier in the day we saw red-capped robin and an adult male painted buttonquail. Up to eighty superb parrots were seen north of Deniliquin. Union Plain offered its usual feast of birds including owlet nightjar and the garden honeyeaters: striped, singing and spiny-cheeked. Further north we had rainbow bee-eaters in the Monimail area.

2 March 2012: While Deniliquin got about four inches of rain it was nothing compared to the rain to the east and north of Deniliquin. Parts of the plains-wanderer property received almost seven inches in the first four days of March. The plains are awash with water and the creeks and swamps are filling. Fantastic! However, as far as the much-organised plains-wanderer trip for Tim (a US academic working in Canberra) and Håkan (a Swedish birder) went, it was a washout. The property had had five inches by the time we arrived, which made driving on the plains impossible. We searched on foot but to no avail. We did see a large curl snake and fat-tailed dunnarts and a growling grass frog. Earlier in the day we got an Australasian bittern and plenty of superb parrots east and north of town. On the 3rd we headed over to the mallee where we were a lot more successful.

21 February 2012: Early this morning five Australasian bitterns were seen in one rice crop, about 40 km east of Deniliquin. One appeared to be on a nest. (Hopefully, if that is indeed the case, the young will have fledged by harvest. Unlike many of our wetland species, numbers of Australasian bitterns in this district have not improved since the 2010/2011 season's flooding. Over a hundred rice crops have been searched in the last couple of months and bitterns located in five crops. Bitterns may be attempting to breed in three of those crops, the other birds having moved). A golden-headed cisticola was recorded in two rice crops. Also east of town were about thirty superb parrots, both adults and juveniles and two black falcons hunting.

16 February 2012: Steve Seymour saw two folk-tailed swifts over Deniliquin Regional Park (formerly Deniliquin State Forest).

2 — 12 February 2012: away on our Tasmanian birding and mammal tour.

29 January 2012: I recorded two Australasian bitterns in separate rice crops east of town this morning (one in each crop), almost certainly breeding. Also east of town, about ten plumed whistling-ducks in a rice crop and another twenty or so were seen on a dam near a dairy. A pair of brolga was seen in a rice crop southeast of town, most likely attempting to breed. Pairs of golden-headed cisticolas were seen in four rice crops, not such a common bird in the district since the drought.

It has been raining steadily out on the plains since mid afternoon, let's hope it continues.

28 January 2012: An Australian pratincole seen by John Nevinson, north of Wanganella.

25 January 2012: Sighted from the dining room, a yellow-footed antechinus Antechinus flavipes in a black box Eucalyptus largiflorens; a post-dinner treat at Union Plain.

24 January 2012: Brylie and Simon the UK didn't share Julie and David's luck of a couple of day's ago but we did okay. South of town we had a juvenile diamond firetail, two juvenile mistletoebirds, a boobook owl and a brown goshawk; east of town we had a nice pair of painted snipe and about six cockatiels, a black falcon pirating food from little ravens and black kites over a lucerne paddock that was being stripped. Northeast of town we had bluebonnets and striped honeyeaters and north of Wanganella, a little grassbird. At Boorooban we saw brown quail, owlet nightjar, little eagle and after dark, about five inland dotterels, a female plains-wanderer, four banded lapwings, two juvenile little buttonquail, a stubble quail and a gorgeous female red-chested buttonquail. A dozen or so barn owls were seen for the evening.

22 January 2012: It seems that it's not just the Irish that are lucky — Scots, Julie and David, had their fair share today. In the morning we saw the adult male Gilbert's whistler in Gulpa, which was more obliging than usual, rainbow bee-eaters feeding babies and two unexpected owls, one a barn that we inadvertently flushed and the other, a boobook sitting in a hollow of a tree. Three white-throated needletails soaring were my first sighting of swifts this season. East of town we turned up two female Australian painted snipe in a gravel pit; good numbers of cockatiels and a few striped honeyeaters. In town, after lunch, we had crested shriketit, restless flycatcher and a male freckled duck. Scores of royal and yellow-billed spoonbills and great egrets were feeding on the ever concentrating food in receding swamps north of Wanganella. Also seen were red-kneed dotterels, black-tailed native hens, spotted crake, musk duck, spotted harrier and a couple of swamp harriers. In the Boorooban area we saw little eagle, bluebonnets, about forty adult and immature rainbow bee-eaters and three Major Mitchell's cockatoos, their pinkness exquisite in the setting sun. Julie and David's luck held out, getting a pair of mating plains-wanderers without too much effort, two sub-adult inland dotterels, two banded lapwings, a juvenile little buttonquail and an adult pair of red-chested buttonquail. About ten barn owls were had for the evening and one fat-tailed dunnart.

10 January 2012: Heading east in the late afternoon with Dan from Canberra we got a marsh sandpiper on a drying out dam, a buff-banded rail with a big chick in a gravel pit and a mob of fifty or so cockatiels. To the north we had around fifty superb parrots feeding on Rhagodia spinescens berries, and to the north of Wanganella a spotted harrier. We saw only one inland dotterel, about ten stubble quail, a fat-tailed dunnart and three plains-wanderers, a female and a pair.

New Year's Eve Plains-wanderer Weekend: Some classic hot, dry summer weather saw the temperature dancing around the high 30s; still, we managed 143 bird species for the day and a half, so not too shabby. Saturday morning's excursion along a backwater in town produced a pair of azure kingfisher, a pair of restless flycatchers and a pair of crested shriketit, the latter two species with recently fledged young, the first of the season. South of town, in the grey box country, we had our first diamond firetail, also with fledged young, and later, down in the sandhill country, a pair was building a nest high up in a mistletoe clump on a river redgum. Sittellas were unusually plentiful, one group performing beautifully. Two pairs of hooded robins were seen, one in the grey box and the other in the sandhills; the sandhill pair had a nest of young nearby. (Hooded robins have raised two or three clutches this season). The adult male Gilbert's whistler was his usual difficult self but we later managed to see the sub-adult male, which is starting to colour up. Rufous whistlers were abundant and we saw some lovely male white-winged trillers. Our resident owlet nightjar in the sandhills played hard (and won), having moved residence but still teased us with its call. We caught up with most of the thornbills, plus weebill and western gerygone, and unusually for this area, southern whitefaces. There were a few mistletoebirds about and a couple of painted buttonquail flushed from Exocarpus bushes. As we headed out of the forest we had a dollarbird at Gulpa Creek as well as white-browed scrubwren and striated thornbill. A dark phase little eagle was seen out near the highway, the first around Gulpa for some time.

After lunch we headed north, stopping on the edge of town for nankeen nightherons and white-breasted woodswallows. Nearer Wanganella we picked up white-backed swallows and zebra finches. Out on the plains north of Wanganella the swamps are drying and many of the waterbirds have disappeared. The black-tailed native-hens have taken off as have Baillon's crakes. Big rains and flooding up north will have lured lots of species in that direction. A few spotted crakes and red-kneed dotterels were still present. We had swamp and spotted harriers and numerous wedge-tailed eagles. In the black box country near Boorooban we got an owlet nightjar and a bonus tawny frogmouth. The sandhill country produced striped, spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters, diamond dove, white-browed and masked woodswallows, mallee ringnecks and bluebonnets. Barn owls are still in abundance and we saw several as we headed onto the plains to spotlight. We soon had banded lapwings, inland dotterels and then a lovely female plains-wanderer. We had good looks at a few stubble quail and then a couple of male little buttonquail with small young and then an adult female. Mammal-wise, we got a few fat-tailed dunnart. After seeing the New Year in, and satisfied with our haul, we headed home.

On Sunday morning we got the New Year off to a good start with a juvenile little bittern pretending to be a cumbungi stem only a couple of metres from us. Nearby on the Edward River we had five or so dollarbirds with at least one fledged young present. A striking male common bronzewing was calling from high up in a grey box. A bunch of sulphur-crested cockatoos and long-billed corellas scolding a large tree goanna in a river redgum hollow proved a real crowd pleaser. Walking back to the vehicles we spied an adult and juvenile tawny frogmouth. Numerous spotless crakes were calling In a water-filled gravel pit northeast of town but only a few of us sgot a glimpse. While herons, egrets and spoonbills were seen about the rice crops, Australasian bittern remained elusive. However, another gravel pit was productive, giving us no less than two species of snipe: one Latham's and three Australian painted snipe. Buff-banded rail was also seen in the pit with a small chick. A couple of black-fronted dotterels were thrown in for good measure. In nearby pines we had cockatiel and superb parrots, including a couple of full adult male superbs. Chestnut teal, hardheads, quite a few red-kneed dotterels and yet another Australian painted snipe were had on a drying-out dam. Driving back to town we saw our fifth woodswallow species, the black-faced, now a hard to get bird in the district. While the species count was down and the mercury up on the previous Plains-wanderer Weekend, we had some great sightings.

29 December 2011: A handful of both red-chested buttonquail and little buttonquail were seen by Robert Nevinson north of Wanganella

19 December 2011: Good to excellent rain fell across the district. yesterday with some properties north of Wanganella receiving more than three inches; .all of which made birding a bit more challenging for four Swedish birders and me. First we got the little bittern with up to three chicks in North Deniliquin, and to the northeast, two spotless crakes, six white-backed swallows, superb parrots with fledged young, apostlebirds, grey-crowned babblers, a brown quail and black-faced woodswallows. Better birds down Gulpa way were owlet nightjar, diamond firetails with fledged young and hooded robins. North of Wanganella we got spotted harrier, up to four spotless crakes, a pair of Major Mitchell's cockatoos feeding on dillonbush, bee-eaters nesting, white-browed and masked woodswallows, mallee ringnecks and bluebonnets, a diamond dove and another brown quail. Back on the plains-wanderer property we got an inland dotterel trying to keep its feet dry in the middle of the road, about eighty white-necked herons feeding on frogs (frogs calling like crazy), a black falcon flying across the plains at dusk and thirty to forty banded lapwings. With the ground sodden we set off on foot for a plains-wanderer, which we heard calling at dusk, as was a little buttonquail. We got several female stubble quails (I don't know where the males are) and a female plains-wanderer. Walking back from where she flushed, we got her mate. We saw about six barn owls, a banjo frog, and a long-necked tortoise migrating from the drying Forest Creek to the Billabong Creek.

18 December 2011: Orange chats seen by Robert Nevinson north of Wanganella.

17 December 2011: A warm windy day saw Australians, Roz, Pru, Nick and I venture out for a day's birding. It was great to see that the little bitterns (nest with eggs first seen on 10 December over in North Deniliquin) now have babies. Northeast of town we got spotless crake, Australasian bittern in the rice, a male painted honeyeater, as well as striped, spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters; white-backed swallows, superb parrots with fledged young, some feeding in Dodonea attenuata. In town we saw an azure kingfisher, a tawny frogmouth and a little eagle with at least one young in the nest. Best birds after lunch, north of Wanganella, included spotted and Baillon's crakes (numbers diminishing), red-kneed dotterels and white-fronted chats. Boorooban offered up white-browed and masked woodswallows, diamond doves and rainbow bee-eaters. (Probably the best breeding of bee-eaters since the lethal cold snap of February 2005). Out on the plains we got black-faced woodswallows (making five woodswallows for the day), inland dotterels, stubble quail, an adult male little buttonquail, barn owl, a ton of budgies and, after an exhaustive search, a lovely female plains-wanderer.

14 December 2011: Ole, Susan, Russ and I had a successful morning, getting the male little bittern in North Deniliquin and two pairs of spotless crake in a pit on the Conargo Road, the first in about six years at that site. We recorded an Australiasian bittern in a rice crop and white-backed swallows at a gravel pit, both northeast of town; and species of the day, two male painted honeyeaters calling in grey mistletoe on boree. Also saw cockatiels, striped honeyeaters, one pair with fledged young, and singing and spiny-cheeked honeyeaters. East of town we got black-faced woodswallows and on the rice were twenty to thirty glossy ibis, intermediate egrets, royal and yellow-billed spoonbills and on a nearby dam, pink-eared ducks. There were quite a few superb parrots with fledged young east of town.

13 December 2011: Ole from Denmark joined Canadians, Susan and Russ, for a day and a half tour. We headed south of town for superb parrots, adults with juveniles, an owlet nightjar, pair of diamond firetails, the Gilbert whistler pair and the young male, rainbow bee-eaters going into a nest, assumed to be feeding young, crested shriketit and two emus feeding on exocarpus berries. In North Deniliquin after lunch we saw azure kingfisher, nankeen night-herons and white-breasted woodswallows. Good birds north of Wanganella included black falcon, spotted and Baillon's crakes, little eagle and spotted harrier. Around Boorooban we got white-browed and masked woodswallows, chestnut-crowned babblers, mallee ringnecks and bluebonnet. Spotlighting we saw stubble quails, inland dotterels and a male plains-wanderer. Homeward bound, we got several barn owls along the highway, and a tawny frogmouth in North Deniliquin.

12 December 2011: John Nevinson saw a red-chested buttonquail, and an Australasian pratincole nesting north of Wanganella.

12 December 2011: Fifty or more budgies and a painted honeyeater seen by Robert Nevinson north of Wanganella.

10/11 December 2011. COG Plains-wanderer Weekend 151 species seen. Best birds on Saturday morning south of town included an adult spotted harrier, grey-crowned babbler, brown quail, Horsfield's bronze-cuckoo, white-winged triller, singing honeyeater, azure kingfisher, diamond firetail, western gerygone, superb parrot in grey box, Gilbert's whistler in one of the old revegetation plots in Gulpa, adult and juvenile hooded robins, emus feeding on exocarpus, diamond firetails, owlet nightjar, fantail cuckoo, dusky woodswallow, dollarbird and peaceful dove (breeding). On the northern edge of town after lunch we had nankeen nightherons and darter, Further afield we got black falcon, spotted harrier, spotted and Baillon's crakes, red-kneed dotterel, white-fronted chat, pink-eared duck, hardhead and white-winged fairywren. At Boorooban we had a pair of Major Mitchell's cockatoos feeding on cyprus pine seeds, as well as white-browed and masked woodswallows, striped and spiny-cheeked honeyeaters, little eagle, mallee ringneck, bluebonnets and diamond dove. Spotlighting produced around twenty barn owls, a tawny frogmouth, about twenty stubble quail, a brief look at a little buttonquail, twenty or so inland dotterels, banded lapwings and western grey and eastern grey kangaroos and a lovely pair of plains-wanderers.

Sunday morning birds included an adult male little bittern and a bittern nest with three eggs in North Deniliquin; also white-browed scrubwren, red-browed finch, striated thornbill, brown-headed honeyeater and swamp wallaby. To the east and northeast of town we got a good look at an Australasian bittern on the rice, intermediate egret, white-backed swallows, cockatiel, superb parrots feeding on Dodonea attenuata seeds; Baillon's and spotted crakes, buff-banded rail, black falcon, about two hundred glossy ibis, royal and yellow-billed spoonbills, black-faced woodswallow and four ground cuckoo-shrikes, the first seen east of town in about eight years.

8 December 2011: First up with Paul, Peter and Frayda we saw ten or so superb parrots flying over the Finley Road on the edge of town. Heading southeast we got a male peregrine falcon perched in the dead top of a grey box Eucalyptus microphylla; a pair of cockatiels, also a recently fledged diamond firetail, chestnut-rumped thornbills, two male western gerygones having a territorial dispute, a pair of superb parrots with recently fledged young feeding on Eremophila longifolia flowers and Dodonea attenuata (narrow-leaf hopbush) seeds. On dams we saw a male chestnut teal, eight pink-eared ducks along with hundreds of grey teal and a lot of hardheads. There were two to three hundred glossy ibis on rice crops, a couple of greenshanks sharp-tailed sandpipers, the biggest numbers I've ever seen of intermediate egret on rice, lots of white-necked herons, straw-necked ibis, royal spoonbills and good numbers of yellow-billed spoonbills, a spotted crake on a weedy dam near a rice crop; and collectively, a hundred or more banded lapwings seen on about six crops. An immature spotted harrier and a pair of wedge-tailed eagles were seen both morning and afternoon. After lunch we had the bird of the day and a first for the season, a little bittern in North Deniliquin. Out at Union Plain we located the owlet nightjar (may be the same one that recently had an adventure down a chimney flue), and a pair of striped honeyeaters that quite possibly are nesting. To cement a good bittern day we had pair of Australasian bitterns sitting in full view on a rice bank east of town. A just reward for searching dozens of rice crops!

7 December 2011: Sydneysiders, Paul, Peter and Frayda joined forces for a two-day birding tour of the district. Better birds south of town included thirty odd superb parrots feeding on Acacia rigens on private property along the highway. (it is the first time I have seen superbs feeding on Acacia rigens; it's also quite a gratifying sighting as the property owner got the acacia seedlings from me nearly thirty years ago). Along the railway line we saw a lovely pair of spotted harriers; the grey box Eucalyptus microphylla on the TSR near Gulpa produced a pair of hooded robins with a fledged young; the first hooded robins seen on the TSR for many years; also in the grey box on the TSR were white-throated treecreepers and varied sittellas, likewise the first for a long time, and also a pair of rainbow bee-eaters, a tad unusual for this habitat. In the forest we got assorted thornbills, western gerygones, a female Gilbert's whistler, which proved somewhat easier than her elusive mate, but he was had in the end. A leaden flycatcher was the bird of the morning. After lunch we headed north. There were about fifty nankeen nightherons on the edge of town and a couple of white-breasted woodswallows in the same spot. At Wanganella swamp we had Baillon's and spotted crakes and buff-banded rail as well as several swamp harriers and a little eagle. Swamps to the north of Wanganella produced more crakes, red-kneed dotterels, pink-eared ducks, hardheads, hoary-headed grebes, another spotted harrier, another little eagle, white-fronted chats, white-winged and variegated fairywrens and an emu with a big clutch of three-quarter grown young. After an exciting chase we located four Major Mitchell's cockatoos near Boorooban. We dined on the sandhills at Boorooban with big flocks of white-browed and masked woodswallows circling overhead. Spotlighting we got about fifteen inland dotterel, ten or so banded lapwing, and after a long search we located a pair of plains-wanderers sitting about two feet apart. We also spotlighted a few stubble quail and one adult female little buttonquail, of which there have been very few this season. About fifteen barn owls were seen on the drive home.

6 December 2011: Called in to the Gulpa revegetation plot late afternoon on my way home from Melbourne and was surprised to see a white-browed babbler there; a first for the plot. Also a young Horsfield bronze-cuckoo being fed by superb fairywrens.

28 November 2011: Took out Lars and his friend from Sweden. Lars had been here before and had very few target birds; his mate had not been to the Deniliquin area so had a bigger list. From Lars' list we got varied sittella, white-backed swallow and Major Mitchell's cockatoo, missing Australian painted snipe, budgies and brolga. Other good birds of the day included Gilbert's whistler, superb parrot, hooded robin, rainbow bee-eaters, a little eagle at Gulpa, lots of waterbirds on the rice including a hundred or more glossy ibis, half a dozen intermediate egrets, a single gull-billed tern, greenshank; and unusually, a lot of banded lapwings on rice banks. On and around swamps to the north of Wanganella we got Baillon's and spotted crake, musk duck, red-kneed dotterels and pretty much what we saw out there on the weekend. Out at Boorooban we got a pair of white-backed swallow, three or four little eagles and Australian hobby. Four Major Mitchell cockatoos were recorded, two adults and two recently fledged young; the adults were feeding on the green berries of dillonbush and later were seen feeding regurgitated berries to their young. Still with some daylight left on the plains we located the banded lapwings and inland dotterels and after dark we saw another dozen inland dotterel, three fat-tailed dunnart, and in less than an hour, the sub-adult female plains-wanderer that we've seen a couple of times previously . Homeward bound we got about fifteen barn owls and one stroppy tiger snake (the second tiger snake I have ever seen out on the plains, i.e, away from the creeks).

26/27 November 2011 Plains-wanderer Weekend: The better birds south of town on Saturday morning included superb parrots, black falcon, spotted harrier, brown and rufous songlarks and singing bushlark. Had some excitement heading into Gulpa when we spun around 180º on a wetter track than I thought, so left Gulpa until Sunday. East of town we got brown quail, an Australasian bittern in a rice crop, dozens of white-necked herons, great egrets, some in breeding plumage, a hundred or more whiskered terns, about thirty sharp-tailed sandpipers, yellow and royal spoonblls, plumed whistling-ducks, red-kneed dotterels, and interestingly, my first ever record east of town of variegated fairywren (along Avalon Road). Good birds north of town after lunch were the three local species of crake, hundreds of adult and immature nankeen nightherons roosting beside a swamp on the edge of town. At the same spot were white-breasted woodswallows and an azure kingfisher. North of Wanganella we got another black falcon, which circled us, another spotted harrier, red-kneed dotterels, black-tailed native hens, four Major Mitchell cockatoos in the distance, bluebonnets, Australian ringnecks, a male painted buttonquail flew from a nest with four eggs, white-winged trillers, hundreds of white-browed woodswallows along with a few masked, red-capped robin, little eagle, which are feasting on the rabbit hordes; southern whiteface, chestnut-rumped thornbill, white-winged and variegated fairywrens, around eight stubble quail and about eight barn owls. There has been a big influx of inland dotterel with about thirty seen and around fifty banded lapwing. We got a male and a sub-adult female plains-wanderer. Robert's vehicle saw a fat-tailed dunnart.

Another attempt at Gulpa on Sunday morning gave us diamond firetails on the TSR, the first in several years at this location; an adult male and a sub-adult female Gilbert's whistler, red-capped robin, white-winged triller, crested shriketit, and more superb parrots. About 140 species seen and six heard for the day and a half.

9 November 2011: Under difficult conditions Robert, with some Swedish clients, got a female plains-wanderer before dark (and rain).

31 October & 5 November 2011: Robert got a male plains-wanderer, painted snipe (31 Oct), Baillon's and spotted crakes, inland dotterels, white-winged fairywrens, black falcons, spotted harrier, banded lapwings, barn owls ...

31 October 2011: We are away with a Borderland (USA) group until 21 October on a four State/Territory tour.

30 October 2011: David Nevinson saw an Indian mynah at Boorooban today, I saw one about fifteen kilometres east of Deniliquin on 25 October. Quite a worrying development.

29 October 2011: It was all hands on deck when a large Tropical Birding group and a few ring-ins converged on the plains for a plains-wanderer expedition. Earlier in the evening we got a owlet-nightjar sitting in its hollow, at least two spotted harriers, spotted and Baillon's crakes, twenty or so red-kneed dotterels, about six painted snipe, white-backed swallows, white-winged fairywrens, and white-fronted chats. After dark we got ten or so barn owls, six banded lapwings, four inland dotterels, a male little buttonquail, a male red-chested buttonqail, four plains-wanderers (one immature female, one adult male and a mating pair), and two fat-tailed dunnarts.

28 October 2011: Tom Hince from Canada arrived with a group; we saw pretty much what we saw the day before with VENT. The freckled ducks were gone and we didn't see last night's little buttonquail or tawny frogmouth, nor the pink-eared ducks and shoveller or black falcons; however, we did see an Australasian bittern, and we had two female plains-wanders and a pair of inland dotterel.

27 October 2011: The international birding tour groups are coming thick and fast. Today was spent with my old mate Dion who was leading a VENT tour. Better birds to the south of town were budgies, hooded robins, a pair of Gilbert's whsitlers plus a male calling; diamond firetails, twenty or so superb parrots, spotted harrier, crested shriketit, shining bronze-cuckoo, and superb blue-wrens giving curry to a Horsfield's bronze-cuckoo in my revegetation plot on the highway. In the afternoon in the Wanganella area we got the three local species of crake, three black falcon, nine freckled duck, a shoveller, six pink-eared duck, up to three hundred black-tailed native-hen, twenty to thirty red-kneed dotterel, a pair of tawny frogmouth, about six Australian painted snipe, three inland dotterel, thirty barn owls, around fifteen banded lapwing, two male plains-wanderers; and a pair of little buttonquail, which were the first for the season.

25 October 2011: Lenora, Dick and I put in another morning; only new bird was white-backed swallow. This evening we met Tropical Birding out at Boorooban for a plains-wanderer excursion. Before sunset we got white-backed swallow, little eagle, spotted harrier, white-browed woodswallows, at least four Australian painted snipe, spotted crakes, red-kneed dotterels, around ten barn owls; and after nightfall, six banded lapwings, three inland dotterels, around thirty stubble quail and a male and a female plains-wanderer.

24 October 2011: With Canadians, Keith, Lenora and Dick, we headed south of town. A not too shabby morning was had with the first black honeyeaters of the season seen, as well as red-backed kingfisher, budgies, up to eighty superb parrots, heaps of white-winged trillers, diamond firetails displaying, a pair of spotted harriers, a black falcon, three Gilbert's whistlers, Horsfield's and shining bronze-cuckoos, cockatiels and two collared sparrowhawks carrying food among other species seen. The afternoon saw Australian painted snipe, a pair of black falcons, three species of crake, heaps of red-kneed dotterels and stubble quail and a female plains-wanderer and an inland dotterel were had in a timely fashion tonight.

12 to 22 October 2011: Away in SA on our Great Scarlet-chested Parrot Quest.The gods were very very good to us. We saw somewhere around sixty over two days in the mallee country north-west of Ceduna.

10/11 October 2011: Ran out of time to write up the species seen on the 10th and 11th. Suffice to say we got a male plains-wanderer in the evening of the 10th.

9 October 2011: Headed south of Deniliquin for a final few hours' birding with Sunbird. Some good birds included a pair of spotted harriers over farmland, about fifteen male superb parrots and a few females; three Gilbert's whistler, including an adult male, gratifyingly in one of my revegetation areas; about four diamond firetails including a male displaying, two painted buttonquail, pair of crested shriketit; dusky, white-browed and masked woodswallows, hooded robins including juveniles being fed, sittellas on the nest feeding three young: a pair of painted buttonquail, a male mistletoebird feeding on ruby saltbush berries in my regeneration area near the highway. My observations would suggest that mistletoebirds extract the juice from ruby saltbush rather than swallow the seed).

8 October 2011: Again with Sunbird, better birds this morning along the Edward River at Deniliquin included two pairs of azure kingfishers, sacred kingfisher, two species of friarbird, blue-faced honeyeater, a pair of crested shriketit, tawny frogmouth on a nest and a male nearby, two restless flycatchers, white-breasted and dusky woodswallows, western gerygone, red-capped robin, four species of thornbills and some weebills, two species of treecreeper, nankeen nightheron, collared sparrowhawk, brown goshawk, wedgetail eagle, among other things. In the afternoon we headed out to Boorooban observing an emu with seven well-grown chicks, two female painted buttonquail, spotted and Baillon's crakes, five blue-billed ducks, hoary-headed and Australasian grebes, two species of harrier, peregrine falcon, two or three little eagles, owlet nightjar, bluebonnets and mallee ringnecks, southern whiteface, singing, spiny-cheeked and striped honeyeaters, white-winged triller, white-winged fairywrens, three species of kite, another collared sparrowhawk, an abundance of masked and white-browed woodswallows, two species of martin ... Went out for a quick look at a boobook after dark.

7 October 2011: Sunbird arrived in town this afternoon for their annual spring visit. Heading north, the better birds included two spotless crakes, half a dozen spotted crakes, red-kneed dotterel, six Australian painted snipe, a score of barn owls, dozens of black-shouldered kite, white-winged fairywrens, one Major Mitchell's cockatoo south of Wanganella, hundreds of black-tailed native-hen, emus, a pair of red-backed kingfishers excavating a nest in a dilapidated mudbrick house, lots of brown songlarks, banded lapwings, two male plains-wanderers and one inland dotterel.

6 October 2011: A good day was had with Birdquest. We were down to one pair of Gilbert's whistler last spring/summer that I wasn't able to locate recently so I was delighted to find a young male Gilbert's this morning. Better birds of the day south of town included fifteen or so male superb parrots feeding on the seed heads of flat weed Hypochaeris radicata, a mating pair of diamond firetails, about four shining bronze-cuckoos — the first seen in this location for some time; white-winged trillers and quite a few dusky woodswallows. Again near the Deniliquin Golf Club, a little lorikeet seemingly showing the door to one of the pair of purple-crowned lorikeets. In the afternoon, around Wanganella and to the north, we got the three local species of crake, about ten painted snipe, half a dozen blue-billed ducks, a musk duck, Australian hobby, probably the first clutch of emu chicks I've seen in the district for the season; striped and spiny-cheeked honeyeaters, a female plains-wanderer, expertly spotted by Trisha, a pair of inland dotterel, banded lapwings and a dozen or so barn owls.

5 October 2011: Went back out north of Wanganella to locate some Australian painted snipe; found eight to ten in a drying out goosefoot swamp, adjacent to a clump of redgums. Also lots of red-kneed dotterels, about half a dozen Baillon's and spotted crakes, dozens, if not scores, of black-shouldered kites in and around the redgum clumps. Also, a large Eastern brown snake, fat from feasting on mice and frogs.

3/4 October 2011: Tom and Dale from Michigan and Elizabeth from Melbourne spent two days with me around the district. On the morning of day one we got the usual stuff south of town — up to thirty superb parrots feeding on, among other things, wild oats; a pair of diamond firetails, hooded robin, crested shriketit, assorted honeyeaters and thornbills, grey-crowned and white-browed babblers, two azure kingfishers and a couple of white-winged trillers. After a late lunch, we headed out to the Wanganella district getting spotless and spotted crakes, Australasian bittern, about four spotted harriers, scores of stubble quail, up to twenty banded lapwings, the same for barn owl, a pair of inland dotterel (a species that gave me untold grief on the recent Strzelecki trip) and a mating pair of plains-wanderer. This morning, at the back of the Deniliquin Golf Club, we swung by the purple-crowned lorikeets' tree, only to find they were sharing a nest hole with a little lorikeet. Weird! Also saw a pair of crested shriketit, two female and two male painted buttonquail and a tawny frogmouth on a nest. Back out Wanganella way and north to Boorooban we got a wandering whistle-duck, the first one seen since last summer, blue-billed duck, Baillon's and spotted crake, dozens of black-shouldered kite, owlet nightjar, scores of white-browed and masked woodswallows, chestnut-crowned babblers, mallee ringnecks, bluebonnets ...

26 September 2011: Out Gulpa way, Rick from the USA and I got about ten superb parrots, scarlet robin breeding, spotted harrier, the first white-winged trillers of the season, the first seen by me at least, and four diamond firetails, with a male displaying. In the afternoon we inspected the Union Plains' resident owlet nightjar and north of Wanganella we had about six blue-billed ducks, the three local crake species, two Australasian bitterns, many stubble quails, around ten banded lapwings, one male plains-wanderer and ten or so barn owls. Robert Nevinson reports that red-backed kingfishers are looking to nest in an old building on the property where they attempted, unsucessfully, to nest last year. Other good sightings by Robert this week include orange chat and the first red-chested buttonquail for the season.

5 September 2011: Before the Strzelecki group headed out of town we called in to the purple-crowned lorikeet spot near the Deniliquin Golf Club and got five purple-crowns. North of Deniliquin, we saw an Australasian bittern in the same area as the one seen yesterday, two Baillon's crakes and two blue-billed ducks, as well as a pair of musk duck with babies. Approximately fifteen spotted harriers were observed between Deniliquin and Hillston, the most I have seen in a day in the Riverina; about half being juveniles.

4 September 2011: Our Strzelecki outback tour spent the day in Deniliquin. Best birds in the morning were superb parrots feeding in flowering Eucalyptus leucoxylon, diamond firetails, a pair of black falcons, a peregrine falcon and a spotted harrier on a nest. Best birds in the afternoon included the three species of local crake, about ten Australian painted snipe, one Australasian bittern in a table drain in the Wanganella area, about ten banded lapwings, fifty or so stubble quails, six barn owls and a mating pair of plains-wanderer.

30 August 2011: The last of this year's Wanganella sandhill plantings went in today. Approximately 1500 trees and shrubs were planted including native pines, various local acacias, stenna, sweet bursaria, olearia, quandongs, pimelea, sugarwood, moonah, hopbush, fringe myrtle, eremophilas, hakias and rosewood. Many thanks to Steve Seymour for his tremendous help in not only assisting with the Wanganella plantings but also looking after the nursery during my frequent absences from home. Jeff and Sandra Plumb kindly came out on Monday to lend a hand. On many a weekend night, Robert, James and Thomas Nevinson helped with rabbit eradication. Another 500 or so plants have been planted at the Monimail and Gulpa plots.

At around 5 pm at the Wanganella sandhill, three Major Mitchell's cockatoo flew over, heading north; about an hour later, we saw one heading back.

26 August 2011: Hectic week planting trees and shrubs out at the Wanganella sandhill, the Monimail and the Gulpa plot. Interesting sightings included the first pallid cuckoo back for the season at Gulpa; a rufous songlark singing at Gulpa (and everywhere else); superb parrots back at Gulpa and looking to nest; the brolga family from last spring's breeding event recorded at Wanganella swamp, after not being seen for several months; swamp harriers displaying over the swamp; and lots of tiger snakes with attitude on the Wanganella sandhill, as thick as your arm. Also about ten superb parrots flying over the house a couple of days ago, and today, a white-fronted honeyeater feeding in the flowering Eremophila maculata in the garden.

10 August 2011: Not long back from a reconnaissance trip to the South Australian mallee desert country so it was good to get out and see what's what in this district. In the morning Barry from Sydney and I headed to Union Plain and the Monimail. We got about ten superb parrots at the Monimail, an unprecedented number of striped honeyeaters* as well as spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters and the resident owlet-nightjar at Union Plain, and at Pretty Pine, a buff-banded rail. Back in the Deniliquin forest (Murray Valley Regional Park), we got a heap of stuff including painted buttonquail, western gerygone, all the local thornbills, flame and red-cap robins and a fan-tailed cuckoo. After lunch we headed north of Wanganella, seeing spotted crake, red-kneed dotterel, black-tailed native-hen, about twenty-five Australian painted snipe, white-winged fairywren, emu, spotted harrier, swamp harrier, stubble quail, banded lapwing, tawny frogmouth, barn owl and a pair of plains-wanderers preparing to breed (female calling). * The number of striped honeyeaters at Union Plain, where previously there were none, is testament to what a revegetation programme can achieve.

23 July 2011: It is decades since I last took Sydney birder Tony Palliser out plains-wandering but yesterday afternoon we ventured forth, getting a black falcon and twenty to thirty Australian painted snipe on the way. In a timelier fashion than four nights ago, four plains-wanderers were seen — two single males and a pair — early to be pairing up but there you are.

19 July 2011: Headed out in the afternoon with a Canadian couple in the hope of getting an Australian painted snipe and a plains-wanderer, among a short list of other species. We got a score of painted snipe, and after a long search, a stunning female plains-wanderer. It was lovely to see the brolga pair with their large juvenile back at Wanganella swamps. In further news of the Wanganella area, John Nevinson had around half a dozen red-necked avocet on his dam today, the first for probably a decade or more, and an inland dotterel on the road last week. The dotterels seem to be in transit.

28 June 2011:. It was good to see a diamond firetail back in the Gulpa revegetation plot this morning, the first one for several years. Also observed a brown quail, at least four flame robins, four Jackie winters, up to ten white-plumed honeyeaters, two singing honeyeaters, yellow-rumped thornbills, superb fairywrens, brown treecreeper, restless flycatcher, silvereyes and a brown goshawk; and several painted buttonquail scratchings.

15 June 2011: The sandhill at Zara Station, in the Wanganella area, was fenced about fifteen years ago by the Southern Riverina Field Naturalists' Club but it was the Miss Officers, aunts of Victorian birder, Dr Colin Officer, in the early 1900s who recognised the botanical significance of this low sandhill. Indeed one of the aunts collected specimens of plant species on Zara that have not been seen in this district for a very long time; species wiped out by plaguesof rabbits. The sandhill today is covered with a natural regeneration of cypress pine, hopbush, eremophila, quandong, sandlewood, rosewood, native jasmine, clematis and various saltbushes including old man saltbush. Steve, Stuart and I put in a day dispatching rabbits in the enclosure. Painted buttonquails, white-backed swallows, black-faced woodswallows, variegated fairywrens, striped, spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters, an immature Horsfield's bronze-cuckoo, brown falcons, whistling kites, wedgetail eagle, rufous whistler, red-capped robins and an assortment of thornbills were seen either in the enclosure or flying over.

13 & 14 June 2011: In and about the revegetation plot at Gulpa were six painted buttonquail, up to eight brown quail, a party of flame robins, Jacky winters and a pair of black-shouldered kites behaving like they are nesting or about to nest. Flame robins were also seen by Trisha and her friend Joy who put in a good walk through the forest from Mathoura to Barker's Bridge in Gulpa, taking in the sandhills enroute . There was a time when these sandhills were alive in the winter with flame robins. In the Deniliquin Regional Park there were a couple of species not seen in the previous days' walks, i.e., Jacky winter and a fluttering of varied sitellas. I was surprised to hear an Australian owlet nightjar calling; only the second owlet nightjar I have ever heard in the Deniliquin State Forest, as the Regional Park used to be called.

12 June 2011: A seventy-five minute fast-paced walk around the Deniliquin Regional Park (sans binoculars) produced a large group of eastern rosella as well as galah, long-billed corella, red-rump parrot, grey shrike-thrush, rufous whistler, magpie lark, white-winged chough, Australian raven, buff-rumped, yellow and striated thornbills seen and chestnut-rumped heard, weebill, red-capped robin, grey fantail, white-throated and brown treecreepers, white-plumed honeyeater, noisy friarbird heard, white-necked heron, white ibis, little pied cormorant, and four Australasian grebes on the Edward River.

Australian owlet nightjar, Union Plain, 6 June 2011

10 June 2011: There was a hive of bird activity at the Deniliquin Regional Park, aka Deniliquin State Forest, in the middle of the day. Small passerines included red-capped and flame robins, striated, yellow, and buff-rumped thornbills, weebills, white-throated treecreepers, rufous whistler, brown-headed honeyeaters and grey fantails. We also flushed three brown quail. The park is alive with painted buttonquail, their scratchings all over the place. White-bellied cuckoo-shrike and fantail cuckoo were seen by S. Rankin in the same park today. (White-bellied cuckoo-shrike is an unusual sighting in the winter but has been rare in the district even in the spring/summer over the last decade).

silvereyes in the garden, 8 June 2011

7 May 2011: George and Judith from Queensland joined me for a day's birding. George is a keen photographer and we got some crippling shots of superb parrots bathing in the early morning dew north of Pretty Pine. There were about twenty in that lot and another half a dozen north-east of town in grey mistletoe on boree. All the regular honeyeaters were seen — singing, spiny-checked, white-plumed ... The resident and obliging owlet nightjar at Union Plain has a mate, with a different bird seen there today. All three crakes were present at Wanganella, including spotless which hasn't been seen at Wanganella since summer 2006/2007 when the swamp was allowed to dry out. A male and sub adult female plains-wanderer were spotlighted. Also spotlighted was a group of eight to ten Australian painted snipe, not far from the 26 February sighting. At least three were juveniles, with one at the very least having a downy head. Lots of spotted crakes calling here. Notable by their absence were the red-chested buttonquails.There in numbers last Monday (2 May) when I was last out but they have since moved north. Little and red-chested are summer visitors to these parts, with just the occasional bird overwintering.

5 May 2011: Busy day at the Wanganella sandhill revegetation plot guarding the more vulnerable plants with car tyres. There were seven magpie geese at the swamp at the back of the sandhill, the most I have seen in one flock in this part of the Riverina. Nice to see a couple of flame robins on the sandhill, up to a dozen brown quail, a pallid cuckoo, which was a first for the plot, and an immature Horsfield's bronze-cuckoo.

1 May 2011: The white-winged fairywrens, as reported on 26 March 2011, are still in the old man saltbush in the Gulpa revegetation plot, cohorting with superb fairywrens.

29 April 2011: The waterbird breeding surveys continue at Wanganella swamp.The most interesting sighting today was one adult Baillon's crake and a juvenile Baillon's crake about 40 metres away from the adult bird. This marks the third record I have of Baillon's crake breeding in this district in thirty plus years. It is also the latest record I have for the species, normally they would have left the district by this time. More than one thousand pairs of straw-necked ibis and about a hundred pairs of white ibis are still nesting. Around ten pairs of royal spoonbill have almost-fledged young and another two pairs still have small young, less than two weeks old. One baby tiger snake, about a foot long, was also seen. In the Wanganella sandhill revegetation plot, grey fantail and red-capped robin was seen, first records for the plot; and spiny-checked honeyeater, only the second record for the plot. Also an immature Horfield's bronze-cuckoo, white-fronted chat, brown quail and immature spotted harrier hunting mice over the sandhill were recorded. Singing honeyeaters, white-winged fairywrens and willy wagtails are resident in the plot.

Young Baillon's crake, 8 Mile Creek, Wanganella
29 April 2011
Adult buff-banded rail, 8 Mile Creek, Wanganella,
29 April 2011
Baby royal spoonbills, 8 Mile Creek, 29 April 2011  

24 April 2011: First thing this morning, three crested shriketits around the Golf Club, about five pied cormorants, the largest flock I have ever seen around Deniliquin and a male painted buttonquail. To the east of Deniliquin — a set of thornbills, a barn owl flushed from a hollow, brown quail, more painted buttonquail, about 100 plumed whistling-duck, pair of brolga, golden-headed cisticola, immature spotted harrier, apostlebirds and azure kingfisher. In the afternoon we ventured over to Coreen, between Cowora and Oaklands, to have a look at the Australian painted snipe that have been reported there in the last week. We saw anything up to 15 birds.

23 April 2011: Having collected Singaporeans, Margaret and Albert at Melbourne Airport yesterday, we started a two-day tour around Deniliquin (and joined by Tun from Sydney). Best birds included superb parrots, striped and spiny-checked honeyeaters and the resident owlet nightjar and boobook owl at Union Plain in the morning. Also a peregrine falcon at Union Plain. After lunch we had pink-eared ducks, great-crested grebe, spotted crake, buff-banded rail, black-tailed native hen, red-kneed dotterels and a pair of black falcons. After dark: banded lapwings, two or three plains-wanderers, an immature female about three to four months old and an adult-plumaged male; possibly another male but it could have been the one already seen. Also, 50+ stubble quail, about 8 red-chested buttonquail including one sitting in the middle of the Cobb Highway and little buttonquail, also sitting in the middle of the Cobb Highway, and a barn owl.

19 April 2011: Out at Wanganella swamp (8 Mile Creek) to monitior the waterbird breeding event that continues even at this late stage. Nothing out of the ordinary to report — about 80 plumed whistling-ducks, a spotted harrier, two brown quail, another tiger snake ...

17 April 2011: Went back out to the swamp north of Wanganella to photograph the painted snipe seen on 15 April. Definitely saw four but there could have been five or six, it was difficult to get a count. Also saw two great-crested grebes, three spotted crakes, one adult and a couple of immatures; buff-banded rail, three or four red-kneed dotterel, heaps of white-fronted chats and white-winged fairywrens, little grassbird, reed warbler ...

15 April 2011: Jenny and Sandra from the ACT, who were most recently here on 24 February, returned with Lia and Jean for a day's birding. Around Pretty Pine in the morning we saw about 30 superb parrots feeding on the fruits of thorny saltbush Rhagodia spinescens and nodding saltbush Einadia nutans (previously called climbing saltbush Rhagodia nutans). Also got a fleeting look at a painted honeyeater northeast of Pretty Pine, only the second sighting for the season (see 4 April note). This bird, like the 4 April two, was feeding in grey mistletoe Amyema quandang var. quantang in boree Acacia pendula. Other honeyeaters about included striped, spiny-cheeked and singing. We got a new bird for Union Plain, a painted buttonquail, and the Union Plain resident and obliging owlet nightjar and boobook owl.

In the afternoon, in the same swamp north of Wanganella that I fluked a pair of Australian painted snipe with Don Taylor on 6 April, we got no less than seven Australian painted snipe, adults and young ones. Among other species we saw about the swamp were red-kneed dotterel, spotted crake, little grassbird and white-winged fairywrens. Three spotted harriers were had for the day. Out on the plains after dark we got three plains-wanderers, a female and then a male and female, not quite together but probably a pair. Also 10 to 12 red-chested buttonquail, mainly immatures; about 30 stubble quail; and a buff-banded rail, spotlighted in a table drain. There were heaps of brown songlarks (all immatures), pipits and singing bushlarks about. It was a good day.

13 April 2011: Out at Wanganella swamps today to continue the wetland monitoring survey that has been ongoing since November last year. The water is still high in the swamp, however it is expected to fall in the coming weeks with the current reduced volume over Warriston Weir. Over a thousand pairs of straw-necked ibis are still nesting at this very late point in the season. According to aerial surveys over 14,000 pairs nested and raised young earlier in the season. Today's exercise was looking at vegetation (photo points) but the more interesting bird species included buff-banded rail, brown and stubble quails, two spotted harriers (an adult and an immature) probably feeding on the large number of mice present, and lots of swamphens and coots. One tiger snake encountered when I was inspecting rabbit holes in the revegetation plot. Also in the plot was an albinistic hare — highly unusual.

8 April 2011: An immature white-throated gerygone seen by Steve Seymour and Stuart Rankin in the Deniliquin State Forest (Murray Valley Regional Park) with a mixed flock of small passerines. This is a rare passage migrant, the few records I'm aware of occurred at this time of year. It is at least 10 years since I have seen one in the forest.

6 April 2011: Englishman, Don Taylor, is chasing the waders of the world. I had taken Don out for some inland waders a few years ago and he is back to clean up on the few species he still needs, which were Australian pratincole, Australian painted snipe and red-kneed dotterel. He had no chance with the pratincole in this district, with only one seen in December, and they would have departed by now anyway had they arrived in their usual numbers. I optimistically gave him 50/50 with the snipe at this time of year and knew we had a good chance for the dotterel. Don had given himself a day and a half to pick up the two possible species. I collected him from the bus in Echuca this morning and headed out after lunch to a swamp north of Wanganella. Someone was looking after Don (and me) as we had both species without great effort. Tomorrow Don heads back to Melbourne to catch a flight to Townsville with the aim of heading west for the pratincole, with a day up his sleeve.

4 & 5 April 2011: Australians, Harriet, Judith, Don and Rhonda had what was essentially a private plains-wanderer 'weekend', albeit Monday and Tuesday. Best birds for Monday morning were two painted honeyeaters, with one at least being an immature bird and the first painted honeyeaters for the season. Around ten superb parrots seen north of town in the Pretty Pine area. Also north of town, a brown quail and striped and spiny-cheeked honeyeaters, and at Union Plain, owlet nightjar and boobook owl. In the afternoon we got a pair of wandering whistling-ducks, an immature spotted crake , red-kneed dotterels, three blue-billed ducks, a great-crested grebe, white-fronted chats and white-winged fairywrens, about four red-chested buttonquais, little buttonquails, mainly immature birds; about twenty stubble quails, adults with young ones about half to three-quarters grown; about twently banded lapwings, three plains-wanderers, an adult and an immature female together, and an adult male, plus the usual array of plains birds. Not so usual are the nankeen night-herons that are feeding out on the plains. Hundreds of whiskered terns and hoary-headed grebes are still breeding on the swamps to the north of Wanganella. Tuesday morning south of town: a pair of painted buttonquail, superb parrots have moved back into Gulpa after being absent for about three months, diamond firetail, pair of hooded robins, western gerygones, a couple of immatures, lots of thornbills — yellow-rumped, buff-rumped, yellow, striated and chestnut-rumped and weebills. A brief look at a diamond firetail, and noisy and little friarbirds, jacky winter ...

26 March 2011: Down at the Gulpa revegetation plot this morning I was surprised to see a couple of white-winged fairywrens. These birds may have come from the east where there's a small population in the Tuppal area or it's conceivable that a population may exist in the Caldwell area to the west. That they managed to find a small patch of old man saltbush on the edge of the redgum forest is astounding. It is my first sighting south of Deniliquin. Also today, heard the first golden whistler for the year (winter migrant) and saw a pair of grey shirke-thrush, brown treecreepers (first time they have been in the plot), yellow-rumped, buff-rumped and chestnut-rumped thornbills, common bronzewings, mistletoebirds and quite a few singing and white-plumed honeyeaters; first white-plumes that have been in the plot for several years. Flowering grey box is attracting lots of noisy friarbirds.

25 March 2011: While doing some more rabbit eradication on the Wanganella sandhill revegetation plot, I saw three tiger snakes, about eight brown quail and 20—30 plumed whistling-ducks, among the species I would expect to see. Heaps of superb parrots at the Monimail revegetaion plot.

23 March 2011: Out with Scots, Jim and Jerry. Saw around 30 superb parrots, a couple of striped honeyeaters, heaps of mistletoebirds including many young ones, owlet nightjar at Union Plain, boobook owl in town, wandering whistle-duck, pink-eared duck and the usual array of ducks, three species of fairywren in the same bush (variegated, white-winged and superb blue), red-chested buttonquail, brown quail spotlighted, heaps of immature nankeen nightherons hunting over the plains for frogs or mice — probably just come down from the Lowbidgee rookeries, waders flying around in the drizzling rain, stubble quail, a female plains-wanderer, which we were lucky to get as the drizzle was turning to heavy rain.

22 March 2011: A pair of great-crested grebe seen at the Wangenella swamp. Also found a dead Australasian bittern, dead for at least a month.

15 March 2011: The first blue-winged parrot for the year was seen overhead, flying north, at the 8 Mile Creek bridge, Wanganella.

12/13 March 2011: Best sightings on the Saturday of our impromptu plains-wanderer weekend. Currently there is an irruption of diamond doves in the district and we saw three in a black box clump south of town. A pair of crested shriketit and a mixed flock of white-breasted and dusky woodswallows were seen near the bird hide at Mathoura. A pair of azure kingfisher was observed on the Gulpa Creek and in the same spot, a yellow-footed antichinus running up and down a redgum. Recorded three white-bellied sea-eagles of which one, at least, was an immature. These birds were feeding on a dead kangaroo, which is unusual but not unheard of. The immature bird was later seen attempting to take a young little black cormorant out of a nest in the Reedbeds' rookery. About half a dozen adult and immature diamond firetails were seen at Gulpa, as were a pair of hooded robins, a pair of western gerygones and two painted buttonquail swimming across a narrow table drain. Travelling north after lunch we got three pairs of blue-billed duck, a great-crested grebe, which appeared to be a sub-adult and hundreds of whiskered terns nesting in two separate swamps. Musk duck was seen on these two swamps and hundreds of hoary-headed grebes were nesting on both. Lots of singing bushlarks, brown songlarks, dozens of pipits and, incongruously, whiskered terns flying all over the plains. Large flocks of straw-necked ibis and white-necked herons were feeding on frogs and tadpoles in the ephemeral swamps that had formed on the plains in early February. After dark we got four plains-wanderers (two mature males close together and two flighty birds, one female and one male). Little buttonquails were calling, we saw about ten including a male with three or four half-grown chicks. One male red-chested buttonquail, about four stubble quail and three fat-tailed dunnarts were also had.

Sunday morning out north of town we got about twenty superb parrots including many mature males feeding in grey mistletoe in the boree. Several striped, spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters, two (brown-plumaged) white-winged trillers, rufous songlark, two or three mistletoebirds were seen. Recently flooded paddocks produced the first gull-billed terns seen in the district for many years (adults with some immatures). Called in to Union Plain for owlet nightjar and in doing so, flushed a brown quail at the front gate – a first record for the property. Striped honeyeaters were calling, which is only about the third time we have had them on the property in nearly twenty-five years. Saw two immature brown goshawks roosting in the borees and a lovely adult spotted harrier, and as we headed home, about six rainbow bee-eaters.

Reedbeds' bird hide rookery update 12 March 2011
Still a lot of young little black cormorants in the rookery. It would seem that most of the young nankeen night-herons and intermediate egrets have fledged. Still hundreds of straw-necked ibis circling over the rookery and some great egrets are still around the rookery. Most of the young royal spoonbills are almost at fledging stage. These were the ones that had their nests flooded in late December and laid again. Many of the birds have now left the Reedbeds, such as great-crested grebes and blue-billed ducks. No bitterns were seen or heard and only one musk duck recorded.

8 March 2011: Stuart Rankin and I went out to the Wanganella sandhill revegetation plot this morning to deal with the rabbit problem. With the flood down the 8 Mile Creek, the sandhill has become an island so now is an opportune time to deal with the bunnies that are eating the tops off last year's plantings, particularly the cypress pines. Saw a Latham's snipe on the edge of the sandhill, back about 200 metres from the water. Singing honeyeaters are now resident on the sandhill. While looking for rabbit holes, I was taken aback to see a large, fat tiger snake at my feet, flattening his neck out and rearing up at me. Later, I encountered a big fat brown snake, being scolded by white-winged fairywrens. Clearly snakes are doing well with all the frogs and mice that are about. Saw a white-backed swallow in the company of fairy martins when we were heading back to town.

Walking in the Denilquin State Forest just before nightfall, Trisha and I came upon a male painted buttonquail with about four chicks.

6 March 2011: One of the Australian painted snipe seen on 26 February was seen again today, as well as a breeding pair of freckled duck, a male blue-billed duck, a little eagle and two spotted harriers north of Wanganella.

26 February 2011: Stuart Rankin and Robert and John Nevinson and I put in a morning looking for the Australian painted snipe family seen by Robert on 22 February but to no avail; however, we located a group of three (a female and two males) at another locality late in the day. While we didn't see them, one of the male's behaviour would suggest there may have been young present. We flushed about ten red-chested buttonquail, found a stubble quail's nest with eight eggs, two black-tailed native-hens' nests, one with six eggs and the other with eight eggs, and a little grassbird's nest with two just hatched chicks and two eggs. Also recorded eight Baillon's crakes, two Australian spotted crakes and heard two or three calling; and a pair of black falcons. Another great day on the plains.

24 February 2011: Spent the day with Jenny and Sandra from the ACT. Both Jenny and Sandra have birded with me previously in this district so we didn't look for ever possible species. Some of the better birds in the morning included little bittern down at the Reedbeds at Mathoura. We saw one adult male little bittern and heard at least one juvenile begging and the alarm call of another. One of two diamond doves seen this morning was, oddly enough, down at the Reedbeds; the other being at the entrance to Gulpa. Shining bronze-cuckoo was another good bird at the Reedbeds. The afternoon's birds included two more spotted harriers, having seen two in the morning — there is an irruption of this species in the district. North of Wanganella we saw a pair of blue-billed ducks, a freckled duck, twenty budgerigars, eight stubble quail, six little buttonquail, two adult female red-chested buttonquail and two to three plains-wanderers (an adult female and two males although it is possible we saw the same male twice). Mammals included fat-tailed dunnart. Frogs included common spadefoot frog Neobatrachus sudelli, spotted grass frog Limnodynastes tasmaniensis, giant banjo frog Limnodynastes interioris, barking frog Limnodynastes fletcheri heard, growling grass frog Litoria raniformis heard, plains froglet Crinia signifera.

23 February 2011: An immature spotted harrier hunting mice in the garden at Union Plain; also in the garden, an immature pallid cuckoo being chased by several spiny-cheeked honeyeaters. Lots of stubble quail and little buttonquail in the paddocks. The first time in at least a month: a black falcon viewed from the Hay Road just a little way out of town.

22 February 2011: Robert Nevinson reports a group of up to seven Australian painted snipe north of Wanganella.

18 February 2011: A juvenile mistletoebird was found hanging by its wing in a spider web in the revegetion area at Gulpa. It was released and flew off, not much the worse for wear.
The spider appeared uninterested in its catch.

15 February 2011: Although we have been seeing red-chested buttonquail in good numbers out on the plains since 18 October last year, today saw the first breeding record, i.e., a nest with four eggs (R Nevinson, pers. comm.). Previous nesting attempts have probably been disrupted by heavy rain over the summer.



14 February 2011: A day out with a couple of Danes. Best birds were painted buttonquail, diamond firetail and crested shriketit at Gulpa; sixty to seventy superb parrots north of town; about ten little buttonquail, five red-chested buttonquail and three plains-wanderers, an adult male, an adult female and an immature male out on the plains. A holy-cross frog Notaden bennettii was also seen on the plains. (Photo posted soon).

12 & 13 February 2011: Another of our small, impromptu plains-wanderer weekends. Best birds included superb parrots, diamond firetails, leaden flyatcher, painted buttonquail, about ten little buttonquail, five red-chested buttonquail, seven plains-wanderers (two mating pairs, two immatures that were about three months old and an adult male). At Boorooban there was a spotted harrier and a diamond dove. North of Wanganella we saw about twenty swamp harriers and two Horsfield's bronze-cuckoos. Mammals included fat-tailed dunnart Sminthopsis crassicaudata and yellow-footed antechinus Antechinus flavipes. A freshly excavated wombat burrow with fresh foot prints was seen in Gulpa; whether it was a hairy-nosed or common wombat is, at this point, unknown. Both species have been known to occur in the area.

8 February 2011: A visit to Wanganella swamps produced an adult male peregrine falcon, about six Latham's snipe, about fifty red-kneed dotterels, a blue-billed duck, three musk ducks including the first juvenile seen and one wandering whistling-duck.

5 & 6 February 2011: The impromptu plains-wanderer weekend was a washout with 117 mm of rain falling on the plains-wanderer property on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, effectively flooding already damp paddocks. We didn't do too badly given the weather and that I was at the tail end of some sort of virus so not firing on all cyclinders. Birds we did manage to see at the Reedbeds' bird hide included Australasian bittern, blue-billed duck and brown thornbill. The road into Gulpa was flooded but we saw diamond firetail and hooded robin near the entrance. East of town we got about sixty adult and immature superb parrots, several brown quail, about twenty adult and immature budgerigars feeding on native millet, a group of grey-crowned babblers with apostlebirds, and adult and immature mistletoebirds and three or four striped honeyeaters in roadside boree.

29 January 2011: With the hope of photographing the Australian painted snipe at Wanganella swamps, Stuart Rankin and I went out spotlighting. Saw two painted snipe but failed to photograph either. At one point I had one close to me but was unaware of it until it was too late to get a photo.  I believe both birds were male but unsure as to whether either were immature birds. Also saw two immature Australian spotted crakes, half a dozen Latham's snipe and thirty to forty red-kneed dotterels. Saw lots of spotted grass frogs hopping about, no longer calling because of the receding water. Very dire situation there and with the heatwave conditons this week, it is only going to get worse.

On the plains to the north of Wanganella we got about fifteen red-chested buttonquail, some immatures although I don't believe that any have bred locally as yet; ten little buttonquails, adults and immatures; about thirty stubble quails, adults and juveniles and the usual, brown songlark, singing bushlark ...

28 January 2011: Stuart Rankin and I saw five or six Australian painted snipe today at the Wanganella swamps, quite possibly the two adult males and the female plus the young from the nest recorded in late November last year. Three of the four eggs are thought to have hatched. Also recorded were thirty to forty Latham's snipe; definitely the most seen in over twenty years; about a hundred red-kneed dotterels, adults and immatures; half a dozen sharp-tailed sandpipers; a few glossy ibis; twenty to thirty plumed whistling-ducks; fifty or so whiskered terns; some tern nests are in trouble because of the water level dropping; a few hoary-headed grebes' nests have been abandoned. The ibis are still hanging in there at the moment. See entry for 25 January.

26 January 2011: Down at the Gulpa Creek wetlands, otherwise known as the Reedbeds, at Mathoura with Andrew Silcocks. Heard four male Australasian bitterns, six male little bitterns and a spotless crake. We recorded a pair of great-crested grebes with three juveniles, three purple swamphen nests with eggs, about twenty royal spoonbill nests with eggs and young and about two hundred white ibis nests with eggs and young. Also an immature white-bellied sea-eagle seen .

25 January 2011: DECCW (NSW govenment environment/water) has put in place emergency plans to attempt to get more water into the fast receding Wanganella swamps in a last ditch effort to enable the breedng waterbirds, particularly ibis, to complete their breeding cycle.

24 January 2011: Went out with Andrew Silcocks from Birds Australia to look at the Wanganella swamps. We got a male Australian painted snipe, about two kilometres from where three snipe and a nest with four eggs were found in late November.  I didn't get a decent enough look to say if this flying bird was a juvenile or an adult. Also seen were about thirty Latham's snipe, the most seen in probably over tweny years; about thirty glossy ibis and about six sharp-tailed sandpipers.

Growling grass frog, Cobb Highway, north of Wanganella,  
22 January 2011  P Maher

22 & 23 January 2011: With the great condtions around Deniliquin we had an extra plains-wanderer weekend.
Best birds Saturday morning included a peregrine falcon down near Gulpa; about a dozen superb parrots feeding on the ground and another four eating ripening Acacia salicinia seeds; a pair of Gilbert's whistlers; a bunch of diamond firetails, mostly immatures; western gerygones feeding three large babies in a nest, and an adult female painted buttonquail.

In the afternoon the better birds included spotted crake at the swamps north of Wanganella, (spotlighted another on the way home); about fifteen sharp-tailed sandpipers on a receding swamp north of Wanganella, five ground cuckoo-shrikes (not great looks). After dark we got about ten little buttonquail including adults with half grown young; a male red-chested buttonquail: about ten plains-wanderers, comprising a male with one chick, another male with two chicks and two or three mating pairs; roughly thirty-five banded lapwings and a barn owl. Sunday morning was spent down at the Reedbeds near Mathoura, the best bird being little bittern (four heard and one adult male seen). Also recorded were a male blue-billed duck; an adult male musk duck displaying and about four juveniles; a great-crested grebe with three juvenile young; and hardheads with juvenile young. A crested shriketit was seen near the hide. Two Australasian bitterns were heard calling. On Saturday evening a dozen or so of the large growling grass frog Litoria raniformis were on the Cobb Highway, north of Wanganella. This species is listed as Endangered in New South Wales (TSC Act) and as Vulnerable nationally (EPBC Act).

superb blue wren with a courtship offering — a petal  
23 January 11
western gerygone chicks, Gulpa area,   23 January 11           P Maher

21 January 2011: Out at the swamps to the north of Wanganella where we saw five freckled ducks (a pair, two single males and a single female). Two of the males were in full breeding plumage and one in partial breeding plumage. Also seen were eight blue-billed ducks, some in pairs and some displaying. One pair was repeatedly dive-bombed by whiskered terns when they ventured too close to the baby terns, which was kind of fun to watch. There were about eighty pairs of whiskered terns nesting with hoary-headed grebes; a few of the terns had half-grown young and the rest had eggs. Quite a few hoary-headed grebes had small young. Besides one musk duck, there was a bunch of the more common ducks of which the grey teal and hardheads had ducklings.

21 January 2011: At dusk at Union Plain, an owlet nightjar flew across the garden and landed in a black box tree and commenced calling. Note from 25 January: Susan hears this bird calling through the night until about 5 am. A spotted harrier was seen earlier in the day at Union Plain (Susan Bull pers. comm.). 

20 January 2011: Emma Wilson (local project officer with the Waters, Rivers division within the Dept of Environment) and I met with a group from the Murray Darling Basin Authority to show them something of the Wanganella swamps' biodiversity. We discussed some of the challenges in establishing an appropriate water regime for successful waterbird breeding in the swamps.

Best bird of the day was a freckled duck, the first I have seen at the 8 Mile Creek swamps in more than ten years. Freckled ducks have been regularly recorded at the flooded swamps to the north of Wanganella this season. Two separate sightings of Australasian bittern, and a Baillon's crake, a blue-billed duck and a brown quail were also seen.

18 January 2011: Back out at the Wanganella swamps to monitor the waterbird breeding event that has been underway since October. While mostly looking at the ibis situation, I also recorded an Australasian bittern, three wandering whistling-ducks (a pair and a single), four blue-billed ducks (a pair and two males) two musk ducks (single sightings), lots of hardheads with ducklings, and a tiger snake swimming in the swamp.

15 January 2011:  Stuart Rankin and I spent the day exploring the swamps along the Gulpa Creek, near Mathoura. We heard two and saw one Australasian bittern, heard about twenty little bitterns and saw one; heard three spotless crakes; and observed a square-tailed kite interacting with a little eagle and a swamp harrier. Nesting at the Reedbeds and further back in the flooded forest are many hundreds of nankeen night-herons with small to three-quarter grown young; several hundred great egrets with half to three-quarter grown young; at least fifty pairs of intermediate egrets with smallish young; and several pairs of royal spoonbills with eggs — the spoonbills are re-nesting after being flooded out. Also several hundred pairs of little pied cormorants with half to full-grown young; several hundred pairs of little black cormorant with eggs to three-quarter grown young; about three thousand pairs of straw-necked ibis, some still carting nesting material but most with half to full-grown young; several hundred pairs of white ibis, some young flying. Heard two musk ducks calling, a female painted buttonquail calling and saw three azure kingfishers. Yet, another new butterfly that I have not previously recorded in the district, an orchard swallowtail.

13 January 2011: Gina, Jenny, Peter, Maartje and I headed down to a boggy Gulpa State Forest for a few hours. We got most of the regular species but also a group of about twelve white-throated needletails, the first I've seen this season. It was good to see a couple of clutches of diamond firetail juveniles with adults and three painted buttonquail (two females plus a male with a nest with eggs). A flock of about a hundred cockatiels was seen south of town, as were about fifteen superb parrots, juveniles and adults — the superbs have left the forest. At Gulpa, we saw a varied eggfly butterfly, the first I have seen in this district. I believe my sister, Susan, also saw a varied eggfly today on Union Plain. The eggfly makes for the third species of butterfly seen in the last two months that I have not seen in this district previously (the others being common crow and glasswing). Out in the afternoon east of town for a few hours, we got a flock of about twenty budgerigars, owlet nightjar, buff-banded rail (crossing the road), about eight striped honeyeaters (adults and immatures), a couple of mistletoebirds and the first group of white-browed woodswallows for the season.


12 January 2011: It was a dark and stormy night ...
With good rain forecast for the rest of the week it seemed prudent to head out to the plains-wanderer property as soon as Gina and Jenny, who were joining forces with Dutch birders, Peter and Maartje, arrived in town late this afternoon, rather than go tomorrow as planned. Wanganella had received about 50 mm from the current rain event so the paddocks were getting a tad spongey. We did well given the time restraints and weather conditions. Best birds on the way out were Australian spotted crake, blue-billed ducks and plumed whistling-ducks at Wanganella swamps, the ground cuckoo-shrikes at Boorooban with their three fully-grown juveniles; and after nightfall, about six little buttonquail, two red-chested buttonquail (separate sightings of a male and a female), about six stubble quail, a mating pair of plains-wanderers, two barn owls and an influx of banded lapwings. The bonus bird was a good one, a male Australian painted snipe, spotlighted in a table drain, north of Wanganella, on the way home. It wasn't worried by us and continued to feed.

12 January 2011:Union Plain — Half a dozen superb parrots seen in the area between the house and the front revegetation plot. It is very early for them to arrive on the property. There are a lot of seeding bushes for them to feed in on the property (Susan Bull pers. comm.).

8 January 2011: Messing about in boats comes highly recommended so Trisha, Neil Bull and I took to the waters of Gulpa Creek and kayaked down through the Reedbeds to Mathoura. The creekside vegetation was alive with birds as we set off. Striated and buff-rump thornbills, white-browed scrubwrens, crested shriketit, superb fairywrens and azure and sacred kingfishers could be heard or seen along the creek. A lovely male collared sparrowhawk landed above our heads.  About five little bitterns  were calling at intervals through the reedy parts. Scores of nankeen night-herons, white ibis and a few royal spoonbills fed along the creek. The tempo increased as we approached the rookery. In willow trees and higher in the redgums there was a mixed colony of little pied and little black cormorants, intermediate and great egrets and nankeen night-herons. A single darter and a female musk duck were seen beyond the Reedbeds. Black ducks and grey teals and purple swamphens had young. A black-faced cuckoo-shrike was chased across the stream by an olive-backed oriole. Paddling is a tranquil way to observe the Reedbeds' waterbird spectacle and with the water still quite high, this stretch of Gulpa Creek is traversible but not without its obstacles (fallen trees).

female red-chested buttonquail, Hay Plain,   6 January 2011
Major Mitchell's cockatoos, Boorooban  6 January 2011
Australian painted snipe, roadside table drain, north of Wanganella,
12 January 2011 
buff-banded rail with food in its bill, Cobb Highway, north of Wanganella    6 January 2011

6 January 2011: Brits, Georgina and John and I had an excellent day. There were two intriguing sightings, the first being an azure kingfisher out on the plains in box woodland, about 5 km away from the Gulpa Creek — the nearest water course. It was in a table drain filled with water in which there were some standing black box trees Eucalyptus largiflorens. The other sighting was a juvenile pallid cuckoo following and begging at a male hooded robin. We witnessed this on a number of occasions over ten to fifteen minutes when we were pursuing a furtive male Gilbert's whistler. It was odd then to see what appeared to be the same juvenile pallid cuckoo, some minutes later, being fed by a pair of white-plumed honeyeaters.

At Gulpa we got two pairs of diamond firetails, both with juveniles; a pair of western gerygones with an active nest in a clump of saplings; a group of brown-headed honeyeaters, which have been scarce in the district; a group of sittellas, good numbers of striated pardalotes and two pairs of weebills. Passerine numbers in Gulpa were the best since before the drought. Out in the box woodland there were about thirty superb parrots including juveniles.

In the afternoon, there were more superb parrots out at the boree to the north  of Deniliquin, and at the Wanganella swamps a male blue-billed duck, both whistling-ducks, a female musk duck and many clutches of recently hatched hardhead ducklings. At lignum swamps to the north of Wanganella we got two pairs of blue-billed duck and an immature spotted crake, and crossing the Cobb highway, a buff-banded rail with food in its bill. At Boorooban there was the resident Major Mitchell's cockatoo pair with their three full-grown juveniles and the pair of ground cuckoo-shrikes with their three full-grown juveniles still roosting near their nest tree.

Six plains-wanderers were had after dark, comprising a mating pair, an immature male about three months old, and three single adult females. The males were probably on nests. Saw about eight little button-quail, three red-chested buttonquail including a cracking adult female, about ten stubble quail, only one banded lapwing and a fat-tailed dunnart. Also observed two tawny frogmouths (on their second clutch) and two barn owls. Many small insectivorous bats, the first seen here for several years, were feasting on billions of insects.

4 January 2011: 09.20 am. A purple-crowned lorikeet entering its nest hole in a river redgum in the Murray Valley Regional Park (formerly Deniliquin State Forest). Purple-crowned lorikeets were sighted by S Rankin around late September/early October last year (male feeding a female) in this area. I first saw them going into the same nest hole as today's on 28 October. If incubation takes about 20 days and fledging takes 30 days it is a little surprising to see one of these birds still entering the nest hole, even allowing for a period of pre-nesting activity at the nest hole and egg laying.  With quite a bit of redgum blossom about the forest, these birds may stick around.

3 January 2011: Trisha and Joy kayaked a section of the Gulpa Creek, paddling a course that took them through the Reedbeds' rookery to Mathoura. They saw, nesting along the creek, great and intermediate egrets, little black and little pied cormorants and nankeen night-herons. White ibis fed along the creek's periphery while straw-necked ibis could be seen soaring overhead. Royal spoonbills and the ibis are nesting some distance back in the reedbeds. Trisha and Joy reported less waterbirds nesting along the main channel of the creek this year than in 2005 when they last paddled this section of the creek in flood. This could be because there are less birds due to lack of breeding during the drought and/or that there are a lot more breeding opportunities over the Murray Darling system this season and the birds are spread far and wide. Trisha saw four azure kingfishers along the creek (plus there was another one calling at Mathoura). Going home, we got a immature diamond firetail on the TSR on the north side of Mathoura.


30 December 2010 & 1 January  2011: Trisha and her friend Joy kayaked down sections of the the flooded Edward River. Best birds were several dollarbirds, a peregrine falcon that lives along the river, an azure kingfisher, a couple of yellow-billed spoonbills and lots of immature nankeen night-herons.

29 December 2010: A first breeding record for plumed whistling-duck in this district for about 20 years — roughly eight three-quarter grown young recorded with both parents at Wanganella swamps. A male musk duck doing a courting display and a pair of pink-eared duck with three or four ducklings were the other good sights today. Still a waterbird breeding bonanza happening at the swamps around Wanganella.

27 December 2010: Norwegians, Terje and Adel, and I battled strong winds this morning before giving up for an early lunch. Better birds in the morning were black falcon, the first I've have seen for three weeks and to the east of town superb parrots feeding on narrow-leaf hopbush seeds, apostlebirds with two fledglings, striped honeyeaters with three fledglings, two pairs of rainbow bee-eaters feeding young in nests, eight  white-backed swallows and about fifteen budgerigars. Heading back out in the afternoon we got plumed and wandering whistling-ducks and the regular assortment of ducks that I've been seeing at Wanganella of late. At the swamps to the north of Wanganella we saw Australian spotted crake, a male freckled duck in breeding plumage, crested terns feeding young, musk duck (the first I have seen to the north of Wanganella this season), a pair Major Mitchell's cockatoos feeding three juveniles, eight chestnut-crowned babblers, a juvenile diamond firetail (the first for five or six years at this Boorooban site) and little eagle feeding on plaguing rabbits. A total of four plains-wanderers with the first sighting of the evening an adult female found in less than a minute and the others being males. Also two plains-wanderer nests, one with four eggs and the other with three — these birds are probably re-nesting after being flooded out over the last month. Female little and red-chested buttonquails, a clutch of immature stubble quail, banded lapwings and an inland dotterel were also had.

26 December 2010: Eight to ten Major Mitchell's cockatoos seen at Pretty Pine this morning feeding in introduced pine trees. This is the second time in recent years they have been recorded in this location and probably marks the most southern sightings of this species in the Riverina. The recent drought has pushed Major Mitchell's further to the south and east over the last decade. (Not a personal sighting)

26 December 2010: Went out to Steven's Weir with my son, Philip, on Boxing Day to wet a line and take in the extensive flood waters downstream of Deniliquin. With the Edward River at its peak we punted down ten kilometres or so. The most interesting sightings were of four pairs of restless flycatchers, the most seen for many years; and a dollarbird going into a nest hole.

23 December 2010: Spent some time today at a couple of swamps to the north of Wanganella. Of the more interesting sightings were four pairs of blue-billed ducks courting, a Baillon's crake, fifty plus pairs of whiskered terns and hoary-headed grebes nesting in a mixed colony.

22 December 210: Not a birding day as such; out in the Wanganella/Boorooban area to collect some seeds and sheep manure. Diamond dove calling at Boorooban; red-chested buttonquail and little buttonquail with chicks north of Wanganella; and at the Wanganella swamps, the brolga pair with their young that are now almost as tall as their parents; wandering and plumed whistling-ducks and a clutch of newly-hatched hardhead ducklings.The water level is on the rise again at the Wanganella swamps.

18 & 19 December 2010: The last official Plains-wanderer Weekend of the year is done and dusted. Best sightings on Saturday morning were about eighty superb parrots with flying young, a male Gilbert's whsitler, five diamond firetails, adults and juveniles, five hooded robins (one pair, one male and two juveniles), white-browed babblers, two juvenile fantail cuckoos (one being fed by a white-browed scrubwren), a pair of crested shriketits with two juvenile young and a female painted buttonquail in blackbox woodland, which came up close. In the afternoon and after nightfall the better sightings included five Major Mitchell's cockatoos (a pair and three juveniles), ground cuckoo-shrikes (a pair with three fledged young), pair of freckled ducks in breeding condition, four blue-billed ducks, stubble quail, banded lapwings, about three pairs of little buttonquail and two plains-wanderers, a male and a female. South of Pretty Pine, on the way home, I removed a male painted buttonquail from the middle of the Cobb highway. Sunday morning was spent at the Wanganella swamps where we saw the male Australian painted snipe (didn't see the young but I am confident they are there), the brolga pair (again, didn't see the young but they are there), both whistling-ducks, Australasian bittern calling, another blue-billed duck and three musk ducks with a male displaying.

17 December 2010: Out at Wanganella swamps this afternoon to meet personnel from CMA. The water level is are now dropping in the swamps. The megalitres of water coming over Warriston Weir have increased quite a bit but it takes about a week for water to get down to the swamps. On a happier note, the brolga pair was sighted; not the young but I'm confident that they are there.

16 December 2010: Wanganella swamp: Took a boat upstream today. Frightening situation there with water draining. A report will be posted in a couple of days.

13 December 2010: Spent the day out at the Wanganella swamps. Very happy to report that the water level is now rising after some disturbing drops in depth in the last week or so. As previously, there are an estimated* four to five thousand pairs of straw-necked ibis nesting.  Roughly, about a fifteen hundred pairs are incubating eggs, another thousand pairs are just starting to lay eggs; about a hundred pairs have small to half-grown young; a couple of hundred pairs of are just hatching, eight hundred or so pairs are in the process of bashing down reeds to construct platforms for nests; and there are roughly a thousand pairs I didn't inspect that have eggs (they were inspected last week). About one hundred pairs of Australian white ibis also have small to half-grown young and another hundred pairs are incubating eggs. There are eighty to one hundred nankeen night-herons roosting - not nesting; another six pairs of royal spoonbills nesting in willow trees (not the ones previously reported); a yellow-billed spoonbill was present yesterday, another clutch of headhead ducklings about three to four days old were seen; two hardheads' nests with eight and ten eggs (also not the same nests as previously reported); four Latham's snipe recorded ; black-winged stilts and red-kneed dotterels with young; one wandering whistling-duck and a few plumed whistling-ducks. Three clutches of black duck ducklings and about three clutches of grey teal ducklings were seen. Also happy to report that the male and female Australian painted snipe were seen, only one egg remains in the nest and that is most probably addled. The behaviour of the adults would suggest that they had young hidden somewhere in the vegetation. Worryingly, the brolga family was not to be seen.
* hard to have any kind of accuracy in numbers in this situation.

11 December 2010: Down at Gulpa Island State Forest this morning with Alastair (a Scot) and Gary (a Brit). There were plenty of superb parrots with fledged young coming out of the forest and into box woodland. In the forest we saw diamond firetails with recently fledged young and hooded robins with two recently fledged young; also a pair of Gilbert's whistler that appeared to be looking for a new nest site. Painted buttonquail calling. In the afternoon we recorded two pairs of blue-billed ducks, one pair at the Wanganella swamps and one pair at a swamp to the north of Wanganella; I haven't seen them in this area for about twenty years. Got the female Australian painted snipe at Wanganella swamps. Also heard an Australasian bittern calling at the swamp (different locality to 3 December's record) and also saw an Australasian bittern in a rice crop along the Hay Road; the first in a rice crop for the season. Saw a couple of stubble quail along the highway. The ground cuckoo-shrikes at Booboorban have three almost fledged young. On the sodden plains we got some banded lapwings, two little buttonquail, a male plains-wandererwith a chick about four days old and well and truly bogged!

9 December 2010: Robert Nevinson and I spent the day recording waterbird breeding activity in the swamps to the north of Wanganella. We located three Australian spotted crakes’ nests, one with five eggs, one with eight eggs and one with two eggs; one buff-banded rail’s nest with nine eggs; a hardhead’s nest with eight eggs; Australasian grebe’s nest with one egg; two red-kneed dotterels’ nests with four eggs each; black-winged stilt’s nest with three eggs; grey teal’s nest with eight eggs; four little grassbirds' nests with three to five eggs; about fifty pairs of whiskered terns nesting with eggs; about twenty pairs of hoary-headed grebes with eggs; and at Wanganella swamps, south of Wanganella, a pair of hardheads with eleven ducklings.

6 December 2010 :  Brits, Sue and Paul and I set off for a plains-wanderer excursion at 5 pm, however, by 5.30 the heavens had opened and rain bucketed down for the next couple of hours rendering the paddocks a no-go zone. In the wetlands north of Wanganella we got two Australian spotted crakes, one freckled duck and along the Cobb Highway we saw two stubble quails and dozens of black-tailed native-hen chicks. We also got striped honeyeater, which was another new bird of Sue and Paul, so the evening's jaunt wasn't a complete waste of time. We witnessed a spectacular lighting storm north of Wanganella that caused a grass fire. The Wanganella fire brigade was on the job and I think the fire was ultimately doused by heavy rain.

4/5 December 2010: The third Plains-wanderer Weekend of the season produced on Saturday morning superb parrots, a pair of Gilbert's whistlers, diamond dove, diamond firetail and painted buttonquail. Better birds in the afternoon included spotted crake, plumed whistling-ducks, pair of ground cuckoo-shrike (with young in nest), about half a dozen red-chested buttonquail and stubble quail. After nightfall we got our the first inland dotterel since 30 September, two to three pairs of little buttonquail, four plains-wanderers (a pair and two males), about a dozen inquisitive banded lapwings and two fat-tailed dunnarts.  When we arrived back at the Riverside Caravan Park at about 12.30 AM (Sunday morning), there was, bizarrely, a kookaburra chasing a yellow-footed antechinus around a power pole.  Sunday morning's best birds were Australian painted snipe (breeding), brolga pair with two-chicks (now almost three-foot high), two great-crested grebes, (different birds to those seen on Friday), three wandering whistling-ducks and black honeyeater (first for the season). Also the little eagle that nested in the Island Sanctuary has one fledged chick.

4 December 2010: John Nevinson doing some reconnaissance for the Plains-wanderer Weekend on Saturday morning saw a couple of budgerigars, a pair of red-backed kingfishers trying to build a nest in the wall of an old mud brick homestead; and the first Australian pratincole of the season.

3 December 2010: Stuart Rankin and I took a look at the east side of the Wanganella Swamp. Present were about fifty pairs of hoary-headed grebes in a colony with six whiskered terns that were just starting to nest.  About twenty pairs of royal spoonbills nesting in dead trees and around 200 pairs of white ibis nesting with the royal spoonbills. Also seen were two great-crested grebes, the first recorded on the swamp since the early 1980s; Australian bittern calling, possibly nesting; about three wandering whistling ducks (different birds to those seen on the other side of the swamp from 27 October onwards), black falcon, a Baillon's crake and dozens of coot and swamphens' nests. A Latham's snipe was seen on the other side of the swamp.

1 December 2010: One peregrine falcon at Gulpa Island State Forest and one calling loudly over the house yard at Union Plain.

27 November 2010: Henrik, Mikael and I spent a rewarding morning in the Wanganella area. Worth noting were three Australian painted snipes, two males and a female, plus a nest with four eggs; two wandering whistling-ducks, an Australian spotted crake and three red-chested buttonquail, a female and two males; and lots of black-tailed native-hens with babies.

26 November 2010: Down at Gulpa Island State Forest with a couple of Swedish birders in the morning. Among other species, we saw a pair of diamond doves, three painted buttonquail with several other females calling (these buttonquail were on the sandhills, which is an unusual location for them); about twenty superb parrots feeding on green Acacia hakeoides seedpods, a male Gilbert's whistler and a pair of shriketits seen and others heard. Also got a yellow-footed antechinus Antechinus flavipes on a cypress pine.  Heading out in the afternoon the best birds were ground cuckoo-shrike, two to three freckled ducks and owlet nightjar and after dark, stubble quail, a male little buttonquail with three chicks, barn owl and four plains-wanderers —  a mating pair and a single male and a single female.

25 November 2010: Seen by John Nevinson north of Wanganella — three freckled ducks, two females and a male; orange chat and red-chested buttonquail.

25 November 2010: Wanganella swamp — buff-banded rail, heard one, saw another; two Australian spotted crakes calling; a black-tailed nativehen's nest with seven eggs; two coot nests, one with eleven eggs and the other with six; a swamphen's nest with one egg (just starting); four to five thousand pairs of straw-necked ibis nesting.

23 November 2010: A pair of Australian painted snipe out at the wonderful Wanganella swamp.   

Painted snipe 23 November 2010         Philip Maher          video of straw-necked ibis

20 November 2010: Best birds in the morning of the second plains-wanderer weekend of the season — superb parrots with fledged young, Gilbert's whistlers building a nest, white-backed swallows with fledged young, crested shriketit with fledged young. Best birds in the afternoon were spotted crake, first (for me) for the season, five or six Major Mitchell's cockatoos, ground cuckoo-shrikes feeding young, owlet nightjar, painted buttonquail, variegated fairywrens and white-winged fairywrens. Heard Australasian bittern at Wanganella, first for Wanganella swamp for some years. Best evening birds were five plains-wanderers (three females of which one was an immature and two males), a lot of little buttonquails, stubble quails including young, barn owl, boobook owl and banded lapwings.Sunday morning best birds were three purple-crowned lorikeets near their nest hole, little eagle at nest with one baby, tawny frogmouths with two babies, brown goshawk and best of all, the Wanganella pair of brolga have two small chicks and have not abandoned their nest as I feared. We had a bumper weekend for butterflies, with eleven species seen including common crow butterfly, which I had only first seen in this district on 9 November.


13 November 2010: A freckled duck seen by John Nevinson on a dam north of Wanganella (only stayed a day).

12 November 2010: Three different parties converged in Deniliquin to share a one day personal tour. Hot windy day. Best birds in the morning were little buttonquail, a first record for Deniliquin State Forest; only fleeting looks at the purple-crowned lorikeets, painted butonquail, budgerigars flew over, crested shriketit; nice lot of superb parrots down at Gulpa, another crested shriketit down a Gulpa; adult Horsfield's bronze cuckoo, adult male hooded robin. Afternoon excursion produced a spotted harrier at the Monimail, wandering whistling-ducks at Wanganella swamp, a few sharp-tailed sandpipers, red-kneed dotterels. The brolgas are off their nest, whether they have abandoned their nest or the chicks were hidden by long grass; I couldn't tell. Out at Boorooban, we got owlet nightjar, ground cuckoo-shrikes nesting, painted buttonquail calling. After dark we found a male plains-wanderer with a nest with four eggs ((fifth nest found in less than three weeks); then we got an adult female and shortly after a mating pair. Also seen little buttonquail, couple of immature stubble quails and about twenty banded lapwings.

10 November 2010: A red-chested buttonquail and a Latham's snipe seen by Robert Nevinson north of Wanganella.

9 November 2010: Small flock of budgerigars; also orange chat, red-backed kingfisher and diamond dove seen by Robert Nevinson, north of Wanganella. The first sighting of the three latter species this season.

9 November 2010: In our garden, my first sighting of a common crow butterfly in the district.

8 November 2010. Out with Brits, Marc and Harriet. In the morning we got a brown quail and the purple-crown lorikeets at their nest hole in the Deniliquin State Forest. A little buttonquail was seen at Gulpa Island State Forest, the first one I have ever recorded in the forest. Some of the afternoon species included wandering whistling-duck, plumed whistling-duck, musk duck, variegated fairywren, ground cuckoo-shrike and owlet nightjar. The spotlighting expedition produced two male plains-wanderers and a female plains-wanderer, two plains-wanderer nests: one with three eggs and one with four eggs; about six little buttonquail, three or four stubble quail, two barn owls and a boobook owl. Mammals included a couple of fat-tailed dunnarts.

6/7 November 2010. The first plains-wanderer weekend of the season. Best bird Saturday morning was a square-tailed kite down at Gulpa Island State Forest; also saw a pair of Gilbert's whistlers, about thirty superb parrots; pair of black falcons out near Gulpa, a courting pair of diamond firetails and a pair of copulating hooded robins.  Best birds Saturday afternoon: three wandering whistling-ducks at Wanganella, owlet nightjar, Major Mitchell cockatoo, ground cuckoo-shrikes (pair with a nest), chestnut-crowned babblers. After dark: a male and a female plains-wanderer, little buttonquail, stubble quail, boobook owl and barn owl. Best birds Sunday morning: magpie geese to the east of town (breeding) purple-crowned lorikeet (breeding), painted buttonquail (Deniliquin forest), crested shriketit at a nest, little eagle at a nest; great egrets have started to form a rookery in the Deniliquin Island Sanctuary; also superb parrots at the Island Sanctuary.

5 November 2010: Little bittern calling at the Reedbed Swamp, Mathoura

3 November 2010: A couple of magpie geese out to the east of town.

1 November 2010: Spent the day out at the magical wonderland that is the Wanganella wetlands. The flood water in Billabong Creek is pushing water into the Forest Creek. The Delta Creek, which was flowing for the first time in decades a couple of weeks ago and then stopped, is again flowing. Cooper's Swamp has got water in it for the first time in twenty years. The brolgas that were trumpeting on the 20th October have a nest with two eggs; about a thousand pairs of straw-necked ibis are starting to build nests; there were about a dozen Latham's snipe present, fifty or so red-kneed dotterels, ten sharp-tailed sandpipers and about a hundred black-winged stilts (six nests with eggs recorded). A little buttonquail was seen at the Monimail revegetation plot.

30 October 2010: Dana, Denise, David and I birded until the rain stopped us about mid afternoon, not even breaking for lunch. At Gulpa SF (now national park) best birds were superb parrots; a male Gilbert's whistler with a juvenile; diamond firetails, the males displaying (seedheads in the bill, jumping up and down) and a female leaden flycatcher and a restless flycatcher. In town we got a couple of tawny frogmouths on nests but best of all, a couple of pairs of purple-crowned lorikeets, with one pair having nested in a redgum at the Deniliquin Regional Park (Deniliquin State Forest). Over an inch of rain fell on the plains today so it was a good move to go for the plains-wanderers last night.

29 October 2010: Decent rain is forecast for tomorrow when I'm scheduled to take Californians, David and Denise, out for a day and evening's birding so they were trundled into the 4WD and taken out plains-wanderering as soon as they arrived in town this evening. Dana, a Texan birder, was also in town and joined David and Denise. We saw three wandering whistle-ducks at Wanganella along with four plumed. This is only my second sighting of wandering whistle-ducks in this district. Out on the plains we got a pair of plains-wanderers and another female, about eight little buttonquail, two stubble quail and two banded lapwings.

26 October 2010: Out with a large Tropical Birding group this evening. Lost count of the plains-wanderers we saw, two females and about six males with one of those being an immature bird; also nest with four eggs. Two pairs of little buttonquail, couple of stubble quail. Earlier in the evening, two Major Mitchell's cockatoo, a ground cuckoo-shrike, chestnut-crowned babblers and about half a dozen red-kneed dotterel.

25 October 2010: Best birds this morning in Gulpa while out with VENT were a male and sub-male Gilbert's whistler, about twenty to thirty superb parrots, six diamond firetails and a male crested shriketit; plus the usual assortment of small passerines. In the afternoon we got a pair of black falcons just north of town; a brolga at Wanganella, red-kneed dotterel north of Wanganella, dozens of black-tailed native hens that are interested in breeding; a late-staying blue-winged parrot (female or immature) north of Wanganella; the regular stuff like singing bushlarks, brown songlarks, pippits, white-winged fairywrens, emus ... In the evening we got three male plains-wanderers (one a juvenile about three months old) and one beautiful female; two juvenile stubble quails, the first young seen for the year; a few pairs of banded lapwings and one little buttonquail in flight.

23 October 2010: A pair of rainbow bee-eaters at Union Plain

20 October 2010: A pair of brolgas trumpeting out on the Forest Creek floodplain.

18-19 October 2010: Union Plain recent sightings: a pair of sacred kingfishers in the garden, three nankeen night-herons roosting in the garden; a budgerigar seen on the 19th; and a pair of black-faced cuckoo-shrikes nesting in an old Eucalyptus nicholii in the front garden.

18 October 2010: Out with Avifauna, a Swedish group. In the morning we got fleeting looks at Gilbert's whistler down at Gulpa Island. Gilbert's have gone from their usual spot but tracked one down half a kilometre away. Also down at Gulpa — a couple of painted buttonquail, diamond firetails and lots of superb parrots. The superb parrots have fledged young, which is the earliest fledging I have seen by about six weeks. In the afternoon we got  a black falcon close to town and then another out at Boorooban. Other good birds at Boorooban were ground cuckoo-shrike, brown quail, owlet nightjar, Australian ringnecks with fledged young, two pairs of Major Mitchell's cockatoo and a little eagle. With about three inches of rain falling on the plains this week we searched for a plains-wanderer on foot and found a beautifully marked female that was calling at dusk and a little buttonquail.

18 October 2010: David Nevinson got a red-chested buttonquail north of Wanganella; the first sighting for this area for about eight years.

17 October 2010: The Forest Creek at Wanganella is rising; a big flood is coming down the Billabong Creek and the Delta Creek is flowing for the first time in over 20 years; that is a dream come true scenario.  On the Forest Creek, brolgas are back, musk ducks are displaying, hardheads are pairing up and there are about twenty plumed whistle-ducks.

9 October 2010: Slow going down at Gulpa SF this morning with the Sunbird group. We got two female painted buttonquails together but showing no aggression towards each other, and a couple of male superb parrots. The group was startled by a large brown snake which was not overjoyed that they happened upon him. This is only about the second or third brown snake I have ever seen in Gulpa. The tiger and red-bellied black snakes have largely gone from the forest since the onslaught of the drought and demise of the frog population — whereas brown snakes prey on mice. Outside the forest, we saw cockatiels, brown treecreepers, rufous songlarks ... In the afternoon we witnessed great crested grebes mating down at Reedbed Swamp at Moira SF, several pairs of hardhead duck that may breed, which will be the first breeding event in well over ten years if it happens;  musk duck with one male displaying and several females; Australasian biitern calling, southern whitefaces on the sandhills at Gulpa SF; and one diamond firetail.

8 October 2010: Sunbird (UK) arrived for their annual visit. Best birds this afternoon were a pair of pink-eared duck with about half a dozen ducklings, red-kneed dotterels, twenty to thirty cockatiels, some nesting, four wedge-tailed eagles and various other species. This evening's spotlighting excursion garnered two pairs of plains-wanderers and one other female; five being the most we've seen in a night in the spring for several years. Also got about eight stubble quail, and three or four little buttonquail.

1 October 2010: Out with the Field Guides group again this morning. Best birds were owlet nightjar and striped honeyeater on a nest east of town; a striped honeyeater in the Island Sanctuary was a first for me at that location although others have seen it there; male peregrine falcon on the eastern edge of town; pair of hobbies nesting east of town; pair of black falcons at the rubbish tip; and little eagle nesting in the Island Sanctuary.

1 October 2010: First bird I saw this morning as I walked out my back door was a boobook owl just off the back verandah in the Agonis flexuosa.

30 September 2010: Best birds while out with Phil Gregory's Field Guides group tonight were male plains-wanderer on nest and a female plains-wanderer; one inland dotterel; pair of little button-quail; and two pairs of stubble quail. Earlier in the day we got a pair of painted buttonquail down at Gulpa Island (the first in over two years for Gulpa), great looks at the female; three diamond firetails bathing, a crested shriketit on a nest, a Jackie Winter on a nest, varied sittella with juvenile young, superb parrots going into nest holes and western gerygone.

27 September 2010: A plains-wanderer outing tonight with a birding group from Quebec; three plains-wanderers, one female and two males; plus stubble quail, banded lapwing and a few fat-tailed dunnarts.

Last days of August 2010. We have been madly getting trees into the ground at Wanganella and the Monimail revegetation plots before I head off on the outback trip in a few days' time. Enjoyed seeing some of the spring/summer migrants returning, such as white-winged trillers, Horsfield's bronze-cuckoos and pallid cuckoos.

24 August 2010:  Canadians, Roger and Andrew Rafoxall and I braved inclement weather to look for plains-wanderers this evening. We got a female plains-wanderer about a hundred metres from where we got the pair a few nights ago; then another female wanderer about 300 metres away.  Also recorded nineteen inland dotterels; pair of stubble quail, tawny frogmouth and forty to fifty black-tail native hens. Earlier in the day we got two black falcons at the tip, four superb parrots and a frogmouth in the Deniliquin Island Sanctuary, plus a pair of little eagles nesting in the Sanctuary. Gulpa Island State Forest had dried out enough to get into and we saw a pair of crested shriketits, three diamond firetails and a western gerygone, half a dozen red-capped robins, hooded robin and fantail cuckoo among a few other things . Pallid cuckoos are everywhere - Gulpa, Echuca Highway, north of Wanganella ...

19 August 2010: What a joy to see the district saturated with rain. Deniliquin has had a couple of inches this month and about fifteen and a half inches for the year, which is the long term annual average rainfall. It was with some trepidation that I ventured out to the sodden plains last night with UK birder Gary Howard.  We managed a pair of mating plains-wanderers before 7 pm and got another male a while later. Saw about fifteen inland dotterel, two pairs of stubble quail and hundreds of banded lapwings, most nesting. And we managed not to get bogged! In the morning we had tried Gulpa State Forest but it was too wet; however, along the roads we got at least three pallid cuckoos and three diamond firetails. East of town we saw three magpie geese and at the rubbish tip, a black falcon. The usual assortment of honeyeaters were had.

8 August 2010: the first stubble quail seen in the Gulpa revegetation plot. Superb parrots moving back to Gulpa Island State Forest to nest. The first tree martins have made an appearance heralding spring.

7 August 2010:A group of varied sittella in the Gulpa revegetation plot, the first sighting for about five years.

24 July 2010: Joel and Fiona Porter kindly took Stuart Rankin and me for a tour of their property at Boorooban today . Best birds were a pair of bush stone-curlews, four flame robins, about four red-cap robins, two fantail cuckoos, a pallid cuckoo, a Horsfield's bronze cuckoo, a couple of western gerygones, a couple of black falcons, a huge flock of white-fronted chats, rufous songlarks singing their heads off, brown songlarks, black-tailed native-hens in full breeding colour, a couple of male chestnut teal and about ten Australasian shovellers.

13 June 2010: Trisha and I took an hour and a half walk around the Deniliquin State Forest this morning seeing a reasonable list of birds: black duck, long-billed corella, galah, superb parrot (two lots of two), yellow rosella, red-rump parrot, common bronzewing, laughing kookaburra, fantail cuckoo, brown and white-throated treecreepers, grey shrike-thrush, golden and rufous whistlers, yellow-rumped, buff-rumped, chestnut-rumped, yellow and striated thornbills, weebill, western gerygone, red-capped robin, striated pardalote, varied sittella (several groups), white-browed scrubwren, superb fairywren, Australian magpie, Australian raven.

11 June 2010: John and Robyn Dietz (Queensland) and I did some birding around the distict; didn't do too badly given it's winter. We got three ground cuckoo-shrikes east of town, fifteen superb parrots north of town feeding on grey mistletoe flowers on boree, eight flame robins east of town, two white-backed swallows in town. In the afternoon we got a lot of white-winged fairywrens in the Wanganella sandhil revegetation plot ,a golden-headed cisticola calling in the plot, a species quite rare in the district these days; yellow-rump thornbills, first record for the Wang sandhil plot, and about eighty white-fronted chats also on the sandhill.  Easily located the female plains-wanderer (calling) that John, Robert and I got on our reccy a few nights before. The male was nearby but not seen, perhaps on the nest. Also one or two pairs of inland dotterels and an owlet nightjar on the road found by J Nevinson. Ten black-shouldered kites, the most seen in a day for many years.

10 June 2010: Fantail cuckoo this morning on Zara sandhill.

7 June 2010: Robert, John and I checked out the plains-wanderer situation tonight, not having been out for several months actually looking for them. We got a female and a mating pair of plains-wanderers, a pair of inland dotterels and a bunch of fat-tailed dunnats, most with babies. The plains have received good rain in the last six months or so. November got the ball rolling with a couple of inches, February also saw a couple of inches, March was brilliant with a least five inches and then another couple of inches to finish May. Good stuff!

2 June 2010: Eleven Major Mitchell's cockatoos seen on Zara Station this morning and a pallid cuckoo and four superb parrots on the Zara sandhill.

31 May 2010: There was a white-browed scrubwren in our garden today; while not being a new species for the garden, it marks a rare occurrance this far from the river.

26 May 2010: The two pairs of Major Mitchells seen on the 19th in the Wanganella area were seen again today, pretty much in the same spot.

23 May 2010: A black falcon cavorting with a bunch of black kites over the Union Plain gate today.

20 May 2010: Steve Seymour and I had a flock of about a dozen superb parrots fly through the Zara Station sandhill regeneration area while we were working there today. Zara is about half way between the Murray or Murrumbidgee rivers so it is hard to say where these birds have bred.

18 & 19 May 2010: Two pairs of Major Mitchell cockatoos in the Wanganella area; two pallid cuckoos, one in the Wanganella area and the other about four kilometres out the Conargo Road; and on Zara Station, a pair of wedgetail eagles preparing to nest.

16 May 2010: An immature pallid cuckoo in the boree at Union Plain. Also at Union Plain, an olive-backed oriole, which has been around for a week or two, mimicking various species — today, superb parrot.

15 May 2010: Magpie larks have bred very late out at Union Plain with three fledglings seen today; also superb parrots around the farm and about six common bronzewing pigeons. (S Bull)

14 May 2010:  About twenty superb parrots at Robert Nevinson's house today. At least three inland dotterels seen by Robert on the 13th and plains-wanderer on the 4th May.

13 May 2010: On investigating a great commotion in the back yard, I found pied currawongs, magpies and little ravens in hot pursuit of a barn owl.

3 May 2010: Three fantail cuckoos in the Deniliquin State Forest (S Rankin).

3 May 2010: Spotted harrier above the homestead on Union Plain (S Bull).

1 May 2010: While walking early this morning, Susan and Neil Bull flushed a boobook owl from an old man saltbush. It flew into the revegetaion plot on the other side of the track. Given that old man saltbush comprises mostly vertical branches and is dense, it is an odd place for a boobook to roost.

30 April 2010  Australasian bittern, flushed out of cumbungi in a dam east of Deniliquin. Also a group of eight and in another spot two white-backed swallows, again east of town.

28 April 2010: About 200 to 300 dusky woodswallows on the edge of Moira Forest, south of Mathoura, this morning feeding on grasshoppers; with them were ten or more black-faced cuckoo-shrikes and one olive-backed oriole.

25 April: A diamond dove was heard calling this morning near the shearing shed on Union Plain. A diamond dove was seen in this locality on 22 February (see entry for that date).

22 April 2010: There is a massive hatching of meadow argus butterflies in the district due to the early March rain and the current unseasonal warm weather.

12 April 2010: Early morning walk through the Deniliquin State Forest didn't produce anything unusual for the site except for a few superb parrots at the back of the golf course; however, it was good to see an array of birds such as chestnut-rumped, buff-rumped, striated and yellow thornbills, western warbler, grey fantail, rufous whistler, grey shrike-thrush, red-capped robin, brown and white-throated treecreepers, white-winged chough and common bronzewing.

9 April 2010: Following the rains, the Wanganella and Monimail plots look great. Monimail had four ground cuckoo-shrikes; heaps of superb parrots and spiny-cheeked honeyeaters feeding babies. The Wanganella plot had six spiny-cheeked honeyeaters, the first I have ever recorded there.

8 April 2010: Just home from our 2010 Central and Northern Thailand tour with side trips to Laos and Northern Borneo (Sabah). In the five weeks we have been away, Deniliquin has had nearly six inches of rain. We have had more rain in the first quarter of 2010 than all of 2009. I called into my Gulpa plot on the way home; plants are growing like crazy and butterflies and moths were everywhere but not one insectivorous bird species to be seen. Looking forward to seeing the Wanganella and Monimail plots tomorrow.

23 February 2010:  a sighting of yellow-footed antechinus Antechinus flavipes down at Gulpa Island State Forest this morning with US birder Stefan Williams. These cute little mammals were commonly recorded in the redgum forests before the drought; it is at least two years since I have seen one. We got the usual array of species — pair of Gilbert's whistlers looking for a nest site; immature painted honeyeater and so on but not superb parrots. Stefan was mainly chasing families: we saw emu, white-fronted chat, apostlebird/white-winged chough, and the pair of plains-wanderers seen on the last two outings.

22 February 2010: a single diamond dove feeding on the roadside at Union Plain; the first seen probably anywhere in the district for about two years. Susan Bull

21 February 2010: a hot windy day not conducive to good birding. UK birders Keith and Julie Ellis and I didn't do too badly given the conditions. We managed to get, among other species, about forty superb parrots, three Australasian bitterns, a painted honeyeater, a black falcon, two inland dotterels and three plains-wanderers — a female durng the day and a mating pair after dark. The day finished with rain falling on the plains.        

21 February 2010: a white-fronted honeyeater has been in the Eremophila alternifolia in our garden on and off for two months.

16 February 2010: Major Mitchell's cockatoos were calling near the Monimail revegetation site today. This would be the most southern point I have recorded Major Mitchell's in this district. 

15 February 2010: We jetted in from the SW Western Australia and Christmas Island tours on the 13th and hit the ground running, racing into the CBD to collect David Wilcove, Professor of Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Public Affairs at Princeton University, and heading to Deniliquin.  We did well over the next two days getting five plains-wanderers (two mating pairs and a single male), one little button-quail, two inland dotterels, four orange chats, one black falcon, ten superb parrots, three immature painted honeyeaters,  two Australasian bitterns, pair of Gilbert's whistlers, pair of crested shrike-tits with a juvenile, a hobby, a juvenile collared sparrowhawk and a bunch of fat-tailed dunnarts, among other species.

15 February 2010: Susan and Neil Bull, Union Plain, have had, up until today, a dollarbird in their garden for the past two weeks.

25 January 2010: An outing earlier this month, only three days after a successful plains-wanderer weekend, produced no plains-wanderers so last night Robert and his three children, his father John, friends from town, Tom and Stuart, and I had a look in one of the paddocks that was good for wanderers earlier in the season but then vacated. We got four male plains-wanderers — at least two were juveniles (one was on the wing so we didn't get a decent look at it) and the other was an adult. There were 20+ white-browed woodswallows up at Boorooban earlier in the evening. While at Boorooban I collected some sugarwood Myoporum platycarpum, quandong Santalum acuminatum and rosewood Alectryon oleifolium (formerly Helerodendrum oleifolium) seeds. Rosewood is a lovely shaped tree that attracts various mistletoe spp., particularly harlequin and fleshy mistletoes. The mistletoes attract small insectivorous birds while ringnecks and bluebonnets relish the rosewood seeds. Rosewood has a very low germination rate but it is well worth growing.

21 January 2010: six plumed whistling-ducks in the front paddock of Union Plain.  Susan Bull

2 & 3 January 210 Plains-wanderer Weekend — best birds on Saturday morning were Australasian bittern, pair of brolga, many painted honeyeaters including the nesting pair seen on the last plains-wanderer weekend, now with young; and five ground cuckoo-shrikes, east of town. A narrow-winged pearl-white was a new butterfly for Philip. In the afternoon we saw about thirty superb parrots, a pair of black falcons pirating food, orange chats, the pair of ground cuckoo-shrikes with juvenile, the adults first observed building a nest on 14 October; pair of inland dotterels, a mating pair of plains-wanderers, four little button-quails, two stubble quails, two barn owls and two boobook owls. Sunday morning's best birds were a pair of Gilbert's whistlers, crested shriketit, about three diamond firetails and azure kingfisher. Total number of bird species for the weekend was 136 seen and four heard. Deniliquin experienced a violent thunderstorm on Friday night. (While some people's guttering overflowed, ours simply fell off).  Temperatures for the weekend were mild with cool southerly winds.


15 & 16 December 2009: white-fronted honeyeater in our garden in an Eremophila longifolia. Last seen March this year in the same eremophila.

12 & 13 December 2009 Plains-wanderer Weekend. Saturday's best birds: eight plains-wanderers  — one mating pair, four other females and two other males; Australian painted snipe, little bittern and little button-quail.  Best Sunday morning bird painted honeyeater on a nest, three birds (female on nest and two males) seen, likely there are two pairs. Eighteen plumed whistling-ducks seen, the first recorded since 2006. 143 species seen, one heard.  The weather was perfect, around 28 degrees C both days and little wind.  A very satisfying weekend!

Australian painted snipe                        12 December 2009 painted honeyeater      13 December 2009
fledged ground cuckoo-shrike
12 December 2009  
Australian pratincole catching the last rays of the day's sun   12 December 2009     photos: P Maher

9 December 2009 evening reconnaissance for this weekend's Plains-wanderer Weekend. On the way we checked out the little bittern R. Nevinson heard Sunday afternnonon along the Billabong at Wanganella; I heard it but didn't wade in looking for it. Incidentally, S. Rankin saw a little bittern by the Edward River last week in the Deniliquin State Forest. Out on the plains we got three pairs of Australian pratincoles, one of which had a half-grown young (it may have had another but I didn't see it); a pair of orange chats, a pair of inland dotterels, an owlet nightjar, three to four stubble quails, a little button-quail and one female plains-wanderer — the same bird that crossed J. Nevinson's path in daylight last week. The ground cuckoo-shrike chick is now out of the nest but still in the same tree.

6 & 7 December 2009 Plains-wanderer Weekend141 species seen, two heard Best birds — square-tailed kite, one female plains-wanderer, two pairs of black falcons, a lovely adult spotted harrier, stubble quail, an Australasian bittern seen in two rice crops, a pair of brolgas building a nest in a rice crop, a pair of inland dotterels with four full-grown young, several pairs of superb parrots with flying young, north and east of town; pair of southern boobooks spotlighted, three barn owls, one of which was flushed in the daytime; a dollarbird in blackbox at Boorooban, a pair of ground cuckoo-shrikes (this pair, which was first observed on 2 October and seen building a nest on 14 October, has one almost fulll-fledged young). Good weather with little wind and a top temperature for the weekend of 28 C (82 F) on Sunday.

4 & 5 December 2009: a pair of ground cuckoo-shrikes with two chicks at the Monimail, north of Pretty Pine.
(R Nevinson/P Maher). This is the second known pair to breed north of Pretty Pine this season.

28 & 29 November 2009 Plains-wanderer Weekend: two separate juvenile plains-wanderers (a male and a female) and an adult male. 144 species seen, four heard Best birds:  a pair of Major Mitchell's cockatoo, inland dotterels with three clutches of half-grown young, a pair of freckled duck, Australasian bittern, Australian pratincole, pair of peregrine falcons and three black falcons, a pair and a single — two of thirteen species of raptor seen, red-backed kingfisher, superb parrots and at least fifteen black honeyeaters

While the temperature was more comfortable than the previous plains-wanderer weekend, it was windy and overcast on Saturday afternoon causing us to miss orange chat.

22 November 2009. Colin, Ros and I have gone over to the mallee but before we left this morning, we got a pair of brolga to the east of Deniliquin.

21 November 2009 outing with two Brits, Colin and Ros. With glorious rain falling on the plains we got three plains-wanderers, a female and male juvenile, of which one (the male), was the same bird Tony, Stella and I saw on 19 November. The third plains-wanderer was an adult female that was calling. We also got two juvenile little button-quails, a pair of Australian pratincoles with a baby, an inland dotterel with half-grown young. Mammals included six fat-tailed dunnarts, and reptilia, two curl snakes Suta suta. During the day we saw two spotted harriers, two Major Mitchell's cockatoos feeding on native cypress seeds, fifteen mallee ringnecks, also feeding on native cypress seeds, little eagle in Deniliquin, two black honeyeaters feeding on eremophila in the revegetation plot at Gulpa Island SF, lots of flying juvenile superb parrots, and the usual Gulpa species: Gilbert's whistler, crested shrike-tit, diamond firetail ...

19 November 2009 outing with two Brits,Tony and Stella. We found two young plains-wanderers, a male and a female, between two and three months old, proving me wrong that there has not been any early breeding success this season. We also saw about ten inland dotterels including adults with three-quarter grown young; about ten Australian pratincoles, some on nests; orange chats and stubble quail and black and striped honeyeaters. The Major Mitchell's cockatoo young are set to fly any time, The ground cuckoo-shrikes' young are still quite small and will be there for a while yet. Down in Gulpa Island SF I found another pair of Gilbert's whistlers, making three pairs of which I'm aware. Superb parrots now have a lot of young out of the nest. East of town we got a spotted crake and Australasian bittern, my first A. bittern since early October.  

14 & 15 November 2009: Plains-wanderer Weekend, five plains-wanderers: two females and three males. 138 species seen and two heard. The first Plains-wanderer Weekend of the season kicked off with a few surprises. Woodswallows, for instance, had been moving about in big numbers but most had departed the district and we would not have expected them to return unless we saw some decent rain. So we were taken aback to find large numbers of mainly white-browed either building nests or searching for nest sites in Gulpa Island SF. If they continue to nest, it will be one of the largest breeding events in the district for many years. Tagging along with them was a single crimson chat, my second record for the river redgum forest — ever. There are a lot of caterpillars in the forest at the moment, which may have attracted the woodswallows. A thunderstorm dumped 25 mm of rain on a strip of the plains about three weeks ago which appears to have prompted a hatching of a veritable plague of small flying insects (Rutherglen bugs). These highly annoying insects made searching for plains-wanderers somewhat trying. They would get in your eyes, ears, nose, down your shirt and up your pants. These irritations were but a small price to pay for the positive effect they had on plains-wanderers as we are suddenly seeing more of them, and more importantly, it seems to have prompted some breeding events. On our reconnaissance for this Plains-wanderer Weekend (see below) we found a nest with three eggs and on Saturday night we came upon a mating pair in the general vicinity of that nest. Earlier breeding attempts appear not to have been successful. The mercury got to around the 100 F mark on both days.

11 November 2009: Robert, John, Steve Seymour and I reconnoitred tonight for the upcoming Plains-wanderer Weekend in the midst of a lightning storm and a few drops of rain. We ended the night with six plains-wanderers — four males and two females. Two of the males and a female were close together and one of those males came off a nest with three eggs under a creeping saltbush. Robert found an inland dotterel with three little chicks in the vicinity of the plains-wanderer with eggs, and a pratincole on a nest. He also found an eastern hooded scaly-foot Pygopus schraderi on his doorstep when he returned home.

9 November 2009: An all day excursion wtih VENT. This morning produced, among the usual species we have been getting in Gulpa Island SF, black-eared cuckoo and shining bronze-cuckoo. To the east of Deniliquin we got glossy ibis, sharp-tailed sandpiper and red-kneed dotterel. It was all going so well in the afternoon with the ground cuckoo-shrikes, orange chats, inland dotterels, pratincoles, banded lapwings, black falcon and spotted harrier — up until the point when we failed to find a plains-wanderer.

7 November 2009: All day excursion for three Finnish birders. Morning: nothing that we haven't regularly recorded of late, except an olive-backed oriole calling in Gulpa Island SF and about ten royal spoonbils east of Deniliquin. Thirty to forty superb parrots observed feeding in a wheat crop. The afternoon and evening expedition reaped a ground cuckoo-shrike feeding babies, pair of Australian pratincoles, owlet nightjar (eventually), Major Mitchell's cockatoo, two little button-quail, spotted harrier, inland dotterel, orange chat and a female plains-wanderer called up at dusk; and a fat-tailed dunnart.

7 November 2009: White-fronted honeyeater seen by J Nevinson north of Wanganella, the first for 12 months or so.

6 November 2009: Black honeyeater seen flying from the Union Plain front revegetation plot; it probably had been feeding on flowering mistletoe. Quite a few black honeyeaters about but rewarding to see one in one of our revegetation areas.

2 November 2009: An all day excursion for Mark Harper from Surfbirder (UK), two of his friends, and David Batzler from the States: Notable birds in the morning were superb parrot, Gilbert's whistler, diamond firetail, little eagle, white-browed babbler, crested shriketit, Baillon's crake, black honeyeater and striped honeyeater. In the afternoon, among other species, we got Major Mitchell cockatoo, owlet nightjar, orange chat, spotted harrier, banded lapwing, inland dotterel, Australian pratincole and the ground cuckoo-shrikes, which have produced, presumedly, two babies. The tawny frogmouths have also produced two babies, the first successful breeding for at least eight years on the plains-wanderer property. Spotlighting resulted in a female plains-wanderer, about ten stubble quail and one little button-quail.

31 October 2009: Robert led a group from Tropical Birding out on the plains in the evening. They got, among other birds, ground cuckoo-shrike, orange chat, Australian pratincole, inland dotterel, budgerigar, black falcon and spotted harrier. I joined them later for the spotlighting expedition, having started the day in Port Campbell with Josep and Alejandro; we got one female plains-wanderer, one little button-quail, three stubble quail and five fat-tailed dunnarts, most of them about three-quarters grown.

27 October 2009: part of an eight-day tour with Josep del Hoyo, the editior of The Handbook of the Birds of the World and founder of the Internet Bird Collection, and Alejandro Sánchez, Chief Executive of the Spanish Ornithological Society. Both Josep and Alejandro are Spanish members of the Global Council of Birdlife International. The species they saw around Deniliquin included two female plains-wanderers, little button-quail, stubble quail, orange chat, inland dotterel, Australian pratincole, black falcon, spotted harrier, little eagle, Baillon's and spotted crakes, superb parrot, Gilbert's whistler, diamond firetail, crested shriketit, hooded robin, red-kneed dotterel, red-necked avocet and the previously mentioned nesting ground cuckoo-shrikes.

22 October 2009:  female plains-wanderer seen in the daylight; pratincoles are back.

18 October 2009. Again with Carole and Dave, a quick trip over to some closeby mallee: one malleefowl, about thirty regent parrotsincluding flying young, chestnut quail-thrush.

17 October 2009 excursion with two Brits, Carole and Dave. Called in the cavalry, aka John and Robert, last night after the fiasco of my last outing. We got a plains-wanderer in under an hour, two little button-quails, turned up the inland dotterels in the afternoon, ground cuckoo-shrike still sitting tight on its nest, four black falcons for the day, influx of budgerigars in three different places, south, east and north of town; and very large group of chestnut-crowned babblers. Surprise sighting of a blue-winged parrot in the sandhill area in Gulpa Island State Forest in the morning; not my first for the Gulpa area but we haven't recorded one there for many years.

15 October 2009 excursion with two Americans, John and Karen. Morning: square-tailed kite again, one red-necked avocet, five red-necked stints.  Evening: big dip on plains-wanderers and inland dotterels!  Did get ground cuckoo-shrike on nest, black falcons, crimson chats ... not a great night.

14 October 2009 (morning) Braving terrible weather a Birdquest group was rewarded with an Australian painted snipe, the first I have seen in the Deniliquin district for about sixteen years.   Evening: the usual suspects including three plains-wanderers (two males and a female); a pair of ground cuckoo-shrikes building  a nest north of Wanganella; a separate group seen by R. Nevinson; three black falcons, six crimson chats; the little button-quails seem to have moved on.

13 October 2009 a quick trip for Rita and John Squires, ex Cassowary House, reaped a mating pair of plains-wanderers.

7 & 8  October 2009 excursion for eight Swedish guys. Best birds: stubble quail, spotted harrier, two black falcons, Australian spotted crake, little button-quail, two female plains-wanderers, fifteen inland dotterel, Major Mitchell cockatoo, twenty superb parrots, ten budgerigars, Horsfield's bronze-cuckoo, Australian owlet-nightjar, white-winged fairy-wren, orange chat, Gilbert's whistler, and two white-bellied cuckoo-shrikes — the first I have seen in Gulpa Island State Forest since about 2001.

2, 3 & 4 October 2009 Sunbird  (UK) annual outing. Best birds: square-tailed kite, two Australasian bitterns, twenty inland dotterels, six black honeyeaters, three ground cuckoo-shrikes (one in one locality and two in another), one female plains-wanderer, one pied honeyeater feeding in Eremophila bignoniflora in Robert's garden.

1 October 2009 excursion for three overseas birders. Best birds: female plains-wanderer, inland dotterel with chicks, little buttonquail, first pratincole of the season and a pair of crimson chats.  Earlier in the day we got the freckled duck seen on the 30th September.

Between 29 September and 3 October 2009, there was a sizable movement of red-backed kingfishers through the district, with about eight birds seen in that timeframe.

29 & 30 September 2009 excursion for two Brits, Martin and Ann. Among the notable were one female plains-wanderer; about ten inland dotterels, some juveniles; several black honeyeaters including a first record for my plot at Gulpa Island; two late-leaving flame robins; superb parrots feeding on ruby saltbush berries; masses of white-winged trillers; rainbow bee-eaters; crimson and orange chats; Major Mitchell's breeding; hundreds of masked and white-browed woodwallows with budgerigars; black falcon; two Gilberts whistlers, owlet nightjar and a freckled duck on the 30th, the first for two years.

9 September 2009: an adult grey falcon seen perched in a belah tree between Hay and Hillston (Riverina, NSW); day 2, Strzelecki Track Outback tour.

19 July 2009: an excursion for two Americans, John and Linda, and Ed, a Brit. Recorded one female plains-wanderer, one pair of inland dotterel, about 20 banded lapwings (one pair nesting), about six stubble quail, an owlet nightjar, superb parrots, six diamond firetails, bluebonnets, white-winged wrens and orange chats among other species; plus a dunnart.  The unthinkable happened — we got bogged! It has been (unkindly) said that I am the first person to get bogged in ten years!

14 July 2009: Robert and I checked out the plains-wanderer situation tonight, having not been out since early March. After a slow start, and with gentle rain falling, we got a pair. We saw lots of stubble quail and fat-tailed dunnarts, and a couple of singing bushlarks and brown songlarks, some pipits and a barn owl. We didn't look for inland dotterel or banded lapwing but Robert has seen them about.

19 March  2009: a diamond firetail, Deniliquin State Forest; the first one seen by me in that locality for several years.

9 March 2009: white-fronted honeyeater still in our garden feeding on the Eremophila longifolia.

9 March 2009: again with the Norwegians — best birds, boobook owl, varied sittella, immature brown goshawk and little eagle, which is particularly interesting to Jan who has studied New Guinea's little eagle and Australia's little eagle and is proposing the species be split. Late afternoon we got two Australasian bitterns in a rice crop, two pairs of brolga, one pair in a rice crop and the other in a large dam; a magpie goose in the same dam; two black falcons, one in town and the other east of town; and a flock of about 200 cockatiels.

8 March 2009 evening: The four Norwegian birders who were on the Tasmanian bird and mammal tour arrived in town for some inland birding. They did well with a male plains-wanderer, stubble quail, little button-quail, owlet-nightjar, inland dotterel  and banded lapwing among others; also fat-tailed dunnart.

Philip, Per Gustave, Per, Livar & Jan relax by the Edward River, Deniliquin.                                                           10 March 2009

18 February 2009: white-fronted honeyeater in our garden feeding on the Eremophila longifolia.

18 February 2009: group of varied sittellas seen in the Deniliquin State Forest early this morning.

16 February 2009: black honeyeater still in our garden.

14 February 2009: The luck of the Irish was not with us tonight. No plains-wanderers were found on an impromptu plains-wanderer excursion for two Irish birders. Given the extreme heat conditions in the last week of January and first eight days of February, it is surprising that any birds are out on the Hay plains at all. We got about five stubble quail; little button-quail - a couple of adults and three juveniles; about ten inland dotterels, two brown songlarks; singing bushlark; pipits; about forty banded lapwings; and three superb parrots back in the boree country. Also on the plains, about a dozen fat-tailed dunnarts, three with pouched young.

8 February 2009: black honeyeater still in our garden

2 — 4 February 2009. A small group of varied sittellas feeding in the same regums and black box for the last three mornings in the Deniliquin State Forest. This species, like many other woodland birds, is declining in the district.

2 February 2009. A singing honeyeater in our garden for the last four or five days feeding in the Eremophila longifolia; about the third record for the garden. Six species of honeyeater were in the Eremophila today: noisy and little friarbirds, singing, black and white-plumed honeyeaters and red wattlebird.

2 February 2009. Two juvenile black honeyeaters in our Deniliquin garden feeding on the Eremophila longifolia.

18 January 2009. One or two black honeyeaters at Wanganella sandhill revegetation plot feeding on Eremophila longifolia. The first record for this species in a planted E. longifolia in the plot. A stencilled hairstreak butterfly at the Monimail revegetaion plot feeding on quandong flowers. Also a crested tooth-grinder grasshopper at the Monimail revegetation plot.

stencilled hairstreak Jalmenus ictinus feeding on quandong flowers 18 January 2009
crested tooth-grinder grasshopper Ecphantus quadrilobus stål 18 January 2009  

16 January 2009. Private tour with three Swedish birders. Best birds: pair of crested shriketits, nicely plumaged; two female plains-wanderers; two little buttonquail — one a juvenile; three stubble quail; Australian pratincoles on the move; about fifty inland dotterels; two black falcons; owlet nightjar; Baillon's and spotted crakes; ten superb parrots east of town and two north of town; variegated fairywrens at Boorooban; three tawny frogmouths at the Deniliquin cemetery; the wood sandpiper was back near the Deniliquin sewage ponds; and twenty  plumed whistle-ducks were at the sewage ponds — the first seen since the 17/18 December 05 plains-wanderer weekend.

15 January 2009. We found a freshly dead sugar glider on the road in the Deniliquin State Forest early this morning. No injuries were evident. It may have perished with yesterday's extreme and prolonged heat. The mercury reached 38.4 degrees C (101 F) by 11 am, maxed at 43.5 C (110 F) and was still loitering at 40 C (104 F) at 8 pm.

sugar glider Petaurus breviceps 15 January 2009

11 January 2009, owlet nightjar at Union Plain, heard and then seen in a black box Eucalyptus largiflorens, mid-afternoon, about 40 metres from Susan and Neil's house. The tawny frogmouths first seen with eggs on 26 November have successfullly fledged young (see 26 November entry).

3 & 4 January 2009, plains-wanderer weekend, best birds: a pair of plains-wanderers, diamond dove, owlet nightjar, inland dotteral, Australian pratincole, little buttonquail, stubble quail, black falcon, four peregrine falcons, spotted harrier, budgerigar, little bittern, Australasian bittern. Total number of bird species seen: 140 (2 heard).


31 December 2008, personal tour, best birds: diamond dove, my first record in this district this season; seen in sandhill country east of Deniliquin. Baillon's & spotted crakes, two pairs of Australasian bitterns in rice crops, little bittern calling in North Deniliquin, Major Mitchell cockatoo, black falcon, about 20 superb parrots (adults and juveniles on the move), owlet nightjar, Australian pratincole, inland dotterel, male plains-wanderer, little buttonquail, stubble quail. The plains-wanderer was the 400th Australian bird for Mary, one of our British clients — got at one minute to midnight.  We closed 2008 with a 100% success rate with our flagship species.

23 December 2008 personal tour, female plains-wanderer seen in less than five minutes; same female that it took several hours to find on the last plains-wanderer weekend.

20 & 21 December 2008 plains-wanderer weekend: best bird, a pair of plains-wanderers seen after Robert and I had gven up on them.  After months of being relatively easy, they presented a challenge on Saturday night. The pair was found in an adjacent paddock when we were homeward bound. Took the cockiness right out of Robert and me!  Other good sightings were inland dotterels, two on nests; several pairs of little buttonquail; orange chats; two black falcons, one catching grasshoppers; little bittern; a pair of Australasian bitterns mating; and a leaden flycatcher. Total number of bird species seen: 138 and 3 heard.

6 & 7 December 2008 plains-wanderer weekend: best birds, female plains-wanderer, little buttonquail, Australasian bittern, orange chat, Australian pratincole with two young in 'nest'. Total number of bird species seen on the plains-wanderer weekend, 130 and 1 heard.  Also the common but hard to find legless lizard, Delma inornata.

4 December 2008, oriental plover, feeding with Australian pratincoles on the plains north of Wanganella; my first record for the Riverina. (Last seen on this property by J. Nevinson around 1990). Also seen: two pairs of plains-wanderers and little buttonquail.

oriental plover              4 December 2008
oriental plover with Australian pratincole

3 December 2008, five ground cuckoo-shrikes, north of Wanganella — only stayed one day (R Nevinson).

30 November 2008, Plains-wanderer Weekend: best birds Sunday morning: little bittern, two Australasian bitterns, Baillon's crake, black honeyeater. Total number of bird species seen on the plains-wanderer weekend, 137 and 6 heard.

29 November 2008, Plains-wanderer Weekend: best bird Saturday evening: two male plains-wanderers, one with four eggs.

29 November 2008, Plains-wanderer Weekend: best bird Saturday morning, square-tailed kite in Gulpa Island State Forest, no doubt attracted to the hundreds of white-browed woodswallows starting to nest there. First square-tailed kite for a plains-wanderer weekend. Also, about 50 adults and flying young superb parrots. These young, the first for the season, are out of the nest a good week earlier than normal.

26 November 2008: found a tawny frogmouth nesting in an Acacia salicina over a small dam on 'Union Plain'* . The nest is constructed with twigs of the introduced weeping willow Salix x sepulcralis, which is close by. While there have been five nests found around town this year, this 'Union Plain' frogmouth breeding record is the first for that property for about eight years.

19 November 2008: a little button-quail in the Wanganella sandhill TSR revegetation plot, Hay Road.

16 November 2008: white-fronted honeyeater in our garden in the Eremophila longifolia.

16 November 2008 best Sunday morning sightings of plains-wanderer weekend: two Australasian bitterns, superb parrots in town, two brolgas east of town, black honeyeater, pair of little eagles with young on nest, light phase and dark phase birds. Total number for the plains-wanderer weekend: 136 species and three heard.

15 November 2008, best evening sightings of plains-wanderer weekend: one male and one female plains-wanderer, one little button-quail, pair of stubble-quail, 100+ inland dotterels, (another 100 in another paddock seen by J Nevinson), fat-tailed dunnart, (total Saturday count: 118 species seen + 5 heard ).

15 November 2008, best Saturday afternoon birds of plains-wanderer weekend: gull-billed tern, owlet-nightjar (saw one, heard two others), two black falcons.

15 November, 2008 best bird Saturday morning of plains-wanderer weekend: wood sandpiper on drainage water, near sewage works.

13 November 2008, plains-wanderer excursion: a pair of plains-wanderers, and one other female; a little button-quail, a stubble quail and 56+ inland dotterel. One to two pairs of crimson chats recorded at Boorooban, the first since November 2005.

13 November 2008, brown honeyeater, first record for the Deniliquin district, feeding in the same Eremophila longifolia clump as the black honeyeater on 5 November; black honeyeater is still there.

13 November 2008, Australasian bittern, east of Deniliquin; same locality as 10 November bittern, different bird.

10 November 2008, Australasian bittern, east of Deniliquin

9 November 2008, on the plains north of Wanganella: one female and two male plains-wanderers, still large numbers of inland dotterel, about 10 pairs of Australian pratincole, and stubble quails have returned.

8 November 2008, a little button-quail in the Monimail TSR revegetation plot, Hay Road.

8 November 2008, a group of 15 superb parrots feeding on a Dodonaea viscosa subsp. cuneata in the Gulpa Island SF revegetation plot, about 12 kilometres south of Deniliquin.

8 November 2008, a pair of brolga flying west, roughly 20 kilometres south of Mathoura, Moira channel area (Susan & Neil Bull); another pair of brolga seen 5 November, about 30 kilometres south-east of Deniliquin.

5 November 2008, an adult male black honeyeater in flowering Eremophila longifolia east of Deniliquin.

1 November 2008, amethyst hairstreak (butterfly), many on Senna artemisioides at Wanganella.

November — October 2008, inland dotterel, 60+ present in large group on plains north of Wanganella.

November, October and late September 2008, Australian pratincole, sporadic sightings on the plains north of Wanganella from late September and through October; about four pairs in early November looked like they had settled in.

November — October 2008, plains-wanderers, two mating pairs were seen in late October but there is no evidence of a successful breeding event so far this season. Plains-wanderers have been seen throughout 2008. There have been about forty plains-wanderer excursions for the year, rendering a 100% success rate in locating this species in very forlorn circumstances, i.e., drought.

24 — 29 October 2008, two budgerigars and a large flock of mostly white-browed woodswallows on 28 & 29 October. Both species seen in Eremophila bignonflora at 'Union Plain', my sister and brother-in-law's farm, north of Deniliquin on 29 October (Susan Bull).

3 October 2008, magpie goose, five birds resident on irrigation storage dam (bore water) east of Deniliquin. Also three birds attempting to nest at Corowa STW in October (Steve Seymore).

October 2008, two adult male red-backed kingfishers attempting to set up breeding territories at old gravel pits but both seemingly had moved on by early November.

November — October 2008, a few spotted crakes seen at two localities. Little surface water remains in the district.

October 2008, only one pair of spotless crakes left in the district.

Late October 2008, a few pairs of rainbow bee-eaters have turned up at six localities, about a month later than what is considered normal. This is more than last season and the most seen in the district since a cold snap on 2 & 3 February 2005 all but wiped this species out. Since that time, few, if any, have bred successfully south of Booroorban.

Early November — October 2008, large flocks of woodswallows, mostly masked but some white-browed, were in a black box Eucalyptus largiflorens at Boorooban in October but only a few pairs nested and were feeding young in early November. Other flocks were seen in Gulpa Island State Forest in October but have not settled. Also a large flock seen late October at Union Plain, feeding in Eremophila bignonflora (as mentioned above).

23 October 2008, a pair of crested shrike-tit at a nest in a river redgum Eucalyptus camaldulensis over the Edward River in Gulpa Island State Forest. Now scarce in redgum forests.

October 2008, at least two pairs of Gilbert's whistler attempting to nest in Gulpa Island State Forest.

October 2008, at least three groups of hooded robin nesting in Gulpa Island State Forest.

October 2008, white-winged trillers are moderately common in Gulpa Island State Forest in October but no confirmed breeding to date. Possibly some have moved on; scarce elsewhere in district.

October 2008, a few pairs and small flocks of cockatiels, mainly south and east of town. There were some breeding attempts in river redgums in town and in a clump of yellow box Eucalyptus melliodora south of town.

Early November — October 2008, up to sixty superb parrots, mainly males, feeding in a canola crop south of Deniliquin. A few pairs are attempting to breed in redgums in the town area, as they have done in recent years. Breeding is now more dispersed than formerly due to the drought.

4 & 5 October 2008, two single black falcons near Deniliquin; one bird at Boorooban on
19 October.

October 2008, a few pairs of orange chat in cottonbush country north of Wanganella.

1 October 2008, an adult Australasian bittern.

October 2008, a pair of diamond firetail nesting in the Tuppal Reserve in a black box. The nest was decorated with yellow buttons Chrysocephalum apiculatum and white paper daisy Rhodanthe corymbiflora.

30 September 2008, an adult inland dotterel with three small chicks north of Wanganella and another with one small chick on 2 September 2008.

* Union Plain, a cropping and grazing farm 19 kilometres north of Deniliquin, belongs to Neil and Susan Bull. Neil, Susan and I have been revegetating parts of the property over the last 20 years or so.

6 December 2008  plains country at sunset

Deniliquin's total rainfall in 2008 was 326 mm; uncannily, 2007's total rainfall was also 326 mm (12.8 inches). The long term average for Deniliquin is 404 mm (15.9 inches). Almost forty-one percent of 2008's rain fell in November and December.

The plains north of Wanganella received varying amounts of rainfall. One of the properties where we look for plains-wanderers received 229 mm of rain in 2008 and 250 mm in 2007; that property's long term average is 304 mm (12 inches).


February 2007 — February 2008

Despite the drought a few emus managed to breed out on the plains and in the river redgum forest. The year’s first young (8) was seen on the plains on 31 August. Only a few per clutch seemed to make it through the summer.

Winter’s usual influx of stubble quail out on the plains became scarcer in the spring when that season’s rains failed. There was a small influx in January and February after some patchy thunderstorms in November and December. No breeding was recorded.  

Mostly waterbirds were a non-event with little surface water about the district. Forest Creek at Wanganella has been dry for 12 months and we have lost that resource for the conceivable future. The only water left in the district was a few ponds about town, irrigation channels (filled for domestic and stock purposes, not irrigation), a few storage dams of bore water, a couple of rice crops irrigated with bore water, and a few ground water pits, which are dropping rapidly. Most of what waterbirds there were left the district after the big Queensland rains flooded some of the Darling and Bulloo river systems. 

Single freckled ducks were seen about the town and east of town in October and early December, with none seen since the SW Queensland flooding event. What grey teals and hardheads there were, left in December/January. Pink-eared ducks were scarce this summer with most leaving the district in November, earlier than the other ducks. Just a few shovellers were seen at the sewage treatment works in December.  

Magpie Goose
Up to five on a storage dam east of Deniliquin in November and December – provenance unknown. 

Most hoary-headed grebes left the district in December and January.  

Darter and cormorants
A few darters were about in early December with six seen on a storage dam. A pair bred successfully on the Edward River in Deniliquin, which is the first breeding record (of which I’m aware) for the town area and illustrates the desperation of this species to breed. Formerly, they would only have bred in colonies in large riverine wetlands with other waterbirds.  Most cormorants had departed the district by late December. 

A few pelicans remain in the district feeding in drying out canals and occasionally a few still scavenge at the rubbish tip. 

Egrets and herons
Just a scattering of great egrets and white-necked herons about in the spring and early summer. The last group of white-necked herons was seen migrating north on 16 December, presumably heading for the Paroo and other flooding rivers in northern NSW and south-west Queensland.  There was only one intermediate egret seen for the year (25 November 2007). 

Incredibly, little bitterns turned up at a small cumbungi-lined drainage lagoon in North Deniliquin in late November 2007. Up to six birds were seen on the 2 December Plains-wanderer Weekend when a couple of males were heard calling. They were obviously keen to breed but this is unlikely to have occurred as they disappeared late December/early January, probably heading to better conditions up north. Australasian bitterns have been quite scarce all of spring/summer with just a few turning up in the irrigation area east of Deniliquin.  The first was seen 24 November in one of the district’s few rice crops. Up to six birds were seen in this crop on the16 December Plains-wanderer Weekend and a few birds were seen at this locality for the rest of the summer.

 Ibis and spoonbill
A few small flocks of glossy ibises were seen in spring and early summer with the last group seen on 2 December. Undoubtedly they moved north to breed, as did virtually all the straw-necked and white ibis and royal spoonbill, in December and January. 

Just a few black-shouldered kite seen over summer. Black kite were scattered through the district and built up to hundreds at the Deniliquin tip towards the end of summer. Whistling kites were also scattered about the irrigation country and river in low numbers. A few white-breasted sea-eagles are present along the river, with a pair seen about town on several occasions by D. Seymour.

Swamp harrier
numbers were well down. A couple were still around the Wanganella swamp over summer even though the swamp is dry. For several months they flew over the dry beds of cumbungi, so they must have been finding something to eat. I guess they have been hunting there for so long they don’t want to leave. Several pairs have nested there annually. 

Wedge-tail eagles
remain common throughout the district although I don’t think many young were raised this year. Little eagles are uncommon; a pair of light and dark morph are still breeding in the middle of town and raised one young. This is the only pair seen with any regularity. A few black falcons are still seen occasionally on the plains but are now more likely to be seen in the irrigation country or around town. In the spring and summer they were sometimes seen following farm machinery cutting hay or harvesting crops east of town. One or two birds hang around the Deniliquin tip taking food from the black kites and ravens.  

Seemingly, peregrine falcons are having trouble finding prey along the river as they are now scattered around the district well away from the river where they usually reside. A pair frequented the rice meal in December preying on the nearby flock of grey teal until the teal departed after the Queensland rains.  


Just a single pair was seen over summer on a rice crop east of town. Quite a bit of displaying was taking place; however, breeding did not occur, presumably a rice crop is not an ideal breeding habitat for them. 

Baillon’s crakes
started to turn up on small cumbungi-lined ponds about the town on 8 September 2007. They were present in low numbers at a couple of localities from that date until 1 January 2008, when it is likely they also moved north.  A few spotted crake were present over spring/summer at ponds that still held water. Their presence in early January 2008 was surprising as I expected them to depart much earlier, along with the black-tailed native hens and red-kneed dotterels; they all breed in the same habitat, i.e., lignum and canegrass swamps. This type of habitat had flooded in northern NSW. Spotless crakes are barely hanging on in the district with the demise of the Wanganella swamps and the drying out of the once permanent groundwater gravel pits in the irrigation country.  No buff-banded rails were seen this summer.

Small groups of black-tailed native-hen were present in spring. They departed around 2 December with the aforementioned flooding up north. None had returned to the district by the end of summer. 

Little button-quails were seen in very low numbers on the plains in spring/summer. The first was seen on 7 September 07, then one on 19 October 07, none in November, and then one or two turned up on 15 December 07 in a locality that was subject to thunderstorms in November and December. They were only seen a couple of times and to my knowledge, didn't breed.

No red-chested button-quails were seen all year and it is now quite a few years since they have been recorded.

No painted button-quail have been seen this year. Due to the dryness there was no breeding, therefore no calling. There were a few scratchings seen along Gulpa Creek.

are still hanging in there although they have disappeared from most of their regular haunts, which have been bare now for two years. There has not been enough rain in that period to grow the couple of inches of herbage they need. Fortunately, an area of the property received a little more rain and a few plains-wanderers have moved there and have been breeding with some success. A mating pair was recorded on 30 September 07. Immatures were seen on 26 October 07 and on 24 November 07; whether these bred locally is not known.

They bred with more success after thunderstorm rain in November/December 07. An adult male with two well-grown juveniles were seen on 1 December 07. Mating pairs were seen on 15 and 22 December 07 and on 1 January 08. Another immature was seen on 29 December 07 and then an adult male with four chicks on 8 February 08. So they definitely finished the summer off in better shape than they started it.

A single little curlew was reported by D. Webb in November 07 at Tullakool Evaporative Basin (TEB). A couple of wood sandpipers were also present at Tullakool for most of the summer. There were low numbers of sharp-tailed sandpipers, marsh sandpipers, curlew sandpipers, greenshanks and red-necked stints. Five banded stilts were present on 7 February 08, the first recorded for some time. All red-necked avocets departed Tullakool this summer, which would suggest they were heading north to breed.

Inland dotterels have been about in reasonable numbers. The first one for the season was seen 30 September 07 and with up to six seen through October. Towards the end of November, the numbers increased to about 12 birds, then up to 18 by mid December. On 22 December, 14 birds were recorded with at least one on a nest with two eggs. They left their regular haunts towards the end of summer as it became desolate and started turning up about 15 kilometres away where we had not recorded them previously.

Banded lapwings were about in reasonable numbers with over 100 seen on 29 September 07. However, their numbers fluctuated greatly. A small group with immatures was recorded on a property south-east of Deniliquin — it is now an unusual occurrence to see them east of town.

A few red-kneed dotterels were about in the spring and early summer on ponds about town. Most had departed by mid December, after the Queensland rains. None had returned by the end of February 08.

A single Caspian tern was recorded on 19 October 07 on a storage dam east of Deniliquin, the furthermost east I have recorded this species. This bird then turned up at the Deniliquin STW a few days later.

Australian pratincoles started coming in towards the end of September 07. The first nest was seen on 19 October, with another two nests seen on 25 October 07; another pair already had juvenile young on 24 October. In another paddock a pair with large juveniles was seen on 13 December 07. They departed early, probably hastened by the big rains up north and dry conditions locally. The last bird was seen on 15 December 07.

What must be a first, not one diamond dove in the district this past spring and summer.

Cockatoos and parrots
Major Mitchell's
have been hard to find with just two pairs in sandhill country near Boorooban on 16 November 07 and a pair seen on the 29/30 December 07 Plains-wanderer Weekend.

Just a few cockatiels were recorded in the district this past spring and summer, mainly seen on the east side of town.

Lorikeets were about during winter and early spring 07, with the three small lorikeets present for at least two months. Musk turned up in June, and in July there were good numbers of purple-crowned and by August, little were present as well. This was an unprecedented event, no doubt brought about by the complete failure of flowering eucalypts in the box/ironbark forests of central Victoria. In Deniliquin they were mainly feeding in lemon-scented gums Corymbia citriodora and spotted gums Corymbia maculata.

Superb parrots continue to have a trying time; however they did manage to fledge some young. Food was so short in the Gulpa Island State Forest at breeding time that they again resorted to a canola crop, with about 30 adults feeding in a crop on 15 October. On the same day, about 20 were recorded feeding on seedheads of an annual velt grass Ehrharta longifolia and flatweed Hypochaeris radicata in the sandhills in Gulpa Island. On 25 October, about 20 birds were again feeding in the sandhills but this time on the heads of small purslane Calandrinia eremaea. The seedheads of this plant are minute, so they would have been spending a lot of time for little reward.
So focused were they on their feeding that they could be approached to within five metres. I have never seen them eat velt grass or small purslane previously. As has been the case in recent years when there has not been enough food to support the juveniles, they left the forest as soon as the young fledged.

In late November and early December 07 they became difficult to find and I wondered if breeding had failed completely; however, on 13 December 07 about 50 adults and juveniles were again feeding on ripening narrow-leafed hopbush Dodonaea viscosa ssp. angustissima along a lane east of town. They remained in this area, in varying numbers, for the remainder of summer. On 8 February 08, about 20 were feeding in another lane east of town, this time on ruby saltbush berries Enchylaena tomentosa.

In January and February 08 small groups of superbs were recorded in the boree country north of Pretty Pine feeding in grey mistletoe Amyema quandang; and one or two pairs again attempted to nest along the Edward River in town but I believe without success. On 17 June 07, a pair of superbs flew past my home in Deniliquin, a first for the yard list.

On 25 November 07 a crimson rosella was seen east of town. It is impossible to say whether it was an aviary escapee or a wild bird but it behaved like a wild bird.

For the second consecutive year not a single budgerigar was seen in the district.

A Neophema parrot was heard in the Deniliquin State Forest on 18 July 07. It only gave one call and I am unsure whether it was a blue-winged or a turquoise parrot. It is most likely the latter as they have been recorded in the forest on a previous occasion. A few blue-winged parrots were recorded on on the plains north of Wanganella in March/April 07, the usual time they move north. However, not a single bird was recorded in September/October 07 when you would expect to see them on the return journey south.

Cuckoos remain rarity in the district with just the odd pallid cuckoo passing through in July/August 07. A couple of shining bronze-cuckoo were calling along the Billabong Creek at Wanganella on 18 September 07 — my only record for the year.

A few fantail cuckoos were about the town over winter but did not stay long. My sister, Susan, had an early fantail cuckoo on 'Union Plain' on 15 March 07. Immature Horsfield's bronze-cuckoos were seen over summer indicating that some breeding had occurred but even this species is scarce.

A single black-eared cuckoo was recorded in the Gulpa Island SF sandhill area on 19 October 07, the first record here for some years.

Owls, frogmouths and owlet nightjar
Barn owls
are still about in low numbers with one or two seen on all plains-wanderer weekends in 2007. Likewise boobook owls are about in low numbers but there was not much calling in the spring and I doubt that breeding was successful.

Tawny frogmouths managed to raise a few young about the town with one clutch of four seen, which is exceptional. No breeding was recorded in the box clumps on the plains.

There's been a big drop in owlet nightjar numbers throughout the district. They appear to have all but disappeared from the box clumps on the plains where they were once common. Only at one locality along Tuppal Creek could we find an owlet nightjar on the plains-wanderer weekends. My old friend Bill Labbit ponders whether the severe frosts of last winter may have killed them given they would not have had much condition on them.

Swifts were another non-starter in the district this summer; the only birds I recorded were six white-throated needletails over the Murray River at Howlong at dusk Christmas Day 07.

Azure kingfisher
numbers along the Edward River have been down and this species was not recorded at all on our 2007 plains-wanderer weekends. Not a single red-backed kingfisher was seen in the district this year to my knowledge.

Bee-eaters and dollarbird
Just a few pairs of rainbow bee-eaters seen this season; a couple of pairs attempted breeding on a sandridge east of town and a pair south of town; a few were heard on the sandridges in Gulpa Island SF. A few pairs must have bred somewhere in the district as some recently fledged young were seen east of town in December 07. This is probably the most I have seen since the population crash of February 2005

Dollarbird numbers were also down this season with just a few pairs seen along the river.

Numbers for all honeyeaters are well down but the worst affected are probably the Melithreptus genus, the insectivorous brown-headed and black-chinned etc. Just a single black-chinned was seen in Gulpa Island SF this year on the 15 October 07.

Striped honeyeater has disappeared from several localities where they were formerly common. Only in one locality are they holding their numbers, that is, the boree with mistletoe beside an irrigation canal east of town.

Not a single painted honeyeater seen in the district this summer.

There's been the occasional white-fronted honeyeater passing through town in recent years but a couple turned up in our garden on 31 October 07. At least one of those garden birds stayed around until the end of summer. It would disappear for a few days, then turn up again, mainly feeding in the Eremophila longifolia. It is unheard of for this honeyeater to stick around the district for so long.

Just a few black honeyeaters were recorded this summer. Three were seen in an Eremophila clump east of town on 30 October 07. The following day there was a female or immature in our garden, which stayed for just one day, and the last seen for the season were three birds at another Eremophila clump east of town on 17 November.

chats were about in quite good numbers in the cottonbush country north of Wanganella during the spring and summer. They also bred successfully with some juveniles seen. They appear to like this area when it is in drought and can be seen feeding between the cottonbushes. Ten years ago this area would have been choked with grasses (mainly introduced).

White-fronted chats are now quite uncommon in the district.

At least one pair of scarlet robins was recorded in Gulpa Island SF on the December 07 plains-wanderer weekends, indicating that this species is still trying to breed in the district. Red-capped robins are hanging on with quite a few juveniles seen in Gulpa Isand SF and elsewhere over summer. Hooded robins have fledged young in the sandhill country in Gulpa Island SF although they were often difficult to locate, suggesting they forage over a large area. Small groups of flame robin were recorded in Gulpa Island over winter and on 'Union Plain', about 20 kilometres north-east of town. A single flame robin was seen at Wanganella on 1 September 07.

Despite the drought, grey-crowned and white-browed babblers seem to be hanging on; however, the Boorooban area was so dry over summer that chestnut-crowned babblers became impossible to locate.

Varied sittellas
attempted to breed again in Gulpa Island SF with an active nest seen on 26 October although the success of that was not established. More than any other species, sittella numbers have dropped throughout the riverine forests and are now uncommon.

Crested shrike-tits
managed to breed successfully in Gulpa Island with an adult and juveniles seen on our the plains-wanderer weekend on 24 November 07 but this species too is becoming scarce.

Again, at least three pairs of Gilbert's whistlers were located on the sandhills of Gulpa Island SF and breeding was attempted in October; however, and the outcome of these breeding events was not determined as no young was seen.

A single female leaden flycatcher was seen in the Gulpa Island SF on 25 October, the only record for this species.

Both white-bellied and ground cuckoo-shrikes have all but disappeared from the district.

A few white-winged trillers turned up in the spring, mainly in Gulpa Island SF; most had departed by January 08.

White-browed and mask woodswallows were only in low numbers this summer and the only breeding I am aware of occurred in the Gulpa Island SF; roughly six pairs of white-browed woodswallows managed to flede young in December 07.

Bushlark and songlark
Singing bushlark numbers were also well down, as were brown songlarks, out on the plains. Both species were restricted to areas that recorded extra rainfall and both species managed to raise a few young in early spring and after the December 07 rains. A few pairs of brown songlark also bred south of town in some grassy paddocks after that rain event. Rufous songlarks were much less plentiful. They arrived early, with one in our garden late July. Some were attempting breeding along lanes east of town in August. They departed after breeding and most were gone by the end of October.

Diamond finches
are still present, albeit, in very low numbers with just a few seen along Tuppal Creek and at Gulpa Island SF. Not a single juvenile was seen all summer.

Fat-tailed dunnarts are surviving the drought, a few were seen on all 2007 plains-wanderer weekends.

Black wallaby
Black wallabies
are still being recorded in the district. Two were seen east of town on 16 October 07, one of which was being chased by a fox! Another was seen in Gulpa Island SF on the 29/30 December 07 plains-wanderer weekend.

An Eastern brown snake was spotlighted on an extremely hot night on a plains-wanderer weekend, 29 December 07. This sighting is atypical as the species is mainly diurnal.

Butterfly numbers were well down last spring/summer. The highlights included several tailed emperors Polyura sempronius seen up close feeding on sugar gum Eucalyptus cladocalyx sap at the Deniliquin cemetery on the 25 November 07 plains-wanderer weekend. They rarely seem to settle in the area.

Saltbush blue, amethyst hairstreak and stencilled hairstreak were all feeding on the flowers of Hakea leucoptera on 'Union Plain' on 3 December 07. A few satin azure were seen about fleshy mistletoe Amyema miraculosum at Wanganella on 30 December 07 plains-wanderer weekend.


There was a report of about 20 brolga on an irrigation storage dam near Tocumwal in the autumn/winter 2008 period.

Drought report : To the end of December 2007, we have had 326 mm (12.8 inches) of rain in Deniliquin. The mean average for Deniliquin is 404 mm (just shy of 16 inches).


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