2014 — 2015 latest news

 Deniliquin and district (southern New South Wales) Australia
        Latitude:-35.5269 S Longitude: 144.9520 E
Elevation: 93.0 m

Philip N. Maher

AOS website

2015 Plains-wanderer Report
2016 Plains-wanderer Report posted soon
Cobar seed collection report with some birding posted 1 January 2017
Video by Chris Wood, Cornell University, of a pair of plains-wanderers mating. (This link does not work in Safari — or at least not in ours. Paste the URL into your browser if you have the same problem). http://vimeo.com/77521266
Ebird's link for plains-wanderer
Videos of mostly local bird species including female plains-wanderer calling (last video) http://www.youtube.com/user/AOS3141
Incidental sightings including Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens (updated December 2016)
Inland dotterel with two chicks video https://youtu.be/I6gF0ESH-7o

2013 to 2007 Latest News
2006—2003 Latest News
June 2002 — May 2003 Latest News
2001 — 2002 Latest News
Summer 2000 Latest News
Spring 2000 Latest News

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

2015 plains-wanderer stats

In 2015, Robert and/or I went out spotlighting for plains-wanderers with clients on 56 nights.

The number of clients including Australian and international birding tour leaders totalled 241 birders (196 in 2014).

We had 50 successful outings with a total of 230 very happy clients.

Six searches with a total of 11 clients failed to find a plains-wanderer, the same number of search failures and disappointed clients as in 2014. Four of these failed searches occurred in late July and August, and two in October.

Robert and/or I did three to four reconnaissance trips, of which one was successful, finding a male with chicks.

Rainfall for the year on the plains-wanderer property measured 267.5 mm (10.5 inches).


28 & 29 December 2015: Out with Rich from South Africa and Australians, Alan and Lindy, for a day and a half. Best birds morning 28th: red-capped robin, western gerygone, nankeen nightheron, two black falcons, black-tailed native-hen, magpie goose, plumed whistle-duck, red-kneed dotterel. Afternoon: bluebonnet, white-winged fairywren, brief look at six superb parrots flying off, grey-crowned babbler, adult spotted harrier, the first seen for several months; spiny-cheeked, singing and white-fronted honeyeaters, the latter feeding in my wire-leafed and fleshy mistletoes, which are in full bloom now. Out on the plains: southern white-face, a score of orange chats, Horsfield's bushlark, brown songlark, a pair Australian pratincole with two large chicks, ground cuckoo-shrikes at nest, black-faced woodswallows,a dozen or so inland dotterels, owlet nightjar, two barn owls, a male and probably a sub-adult female plains-wanderer, boobook owl, an adult and juvenile. Mammal: fat-tailed dunnart. Reptile: gibber gecko. Morning of the 29th: white-browed woodswallow, hybrid masked/white-browed woodswallow, chestnut-rumped thornbill, varied sittella, Baillon's and spotted crakes, pink-eared duck, shoveller, striped honeyeater, mistletoebird. Neither painted honeyeater seen, the nest blew down about a week ago.

23 December 2015: Started out at 5 pm with Belgium-born Pierre and his wife Dany. Best birds were superb parrot including adult males, banded lapwings, orange chat, a pair of Australian pratincole with two chicks, white-winged fairywren, brown songlark, ground cuckoo-shrike on nest, inland dotterel, owlet-nightjar, adult female plains-wanderer, little buttonquail, stubble quail, boobook owl. Fat-tailed dunnart also recorded.

22 December 2015: 6.30 am. Out with a group of four, Australian, Kris, an expatriate and her friend Dianne from the States and Steve and Catherine from Wales. Best bird in the morning included hooded robin, Baillon's and spotted crakes, owlet-nightjar, one painted honeyeater (nest blown down), striped honeyeater. After lunch, superb parrot, black falcon, white-winged and variegated fairywrens, orange chat, banded lapwing, inland dotterel, Australian pratincole, ground cuckoo-shrike, adult female and adult male plains-wanderer, stubble quail (first seen in a while), boobook owl.

19 December 2015: One of the hottest days of the year with the temperature peaking at 42 C and probably higher out on the plains and a hot northerly wind blowing. Starting at 6 am, Craig and Sam from Adelaide and Rod from Ballarat and I braved the day. Best birds in tough conditions: superb parrot, western gerygone, Baillon's and spotted crakes, painted and striped honeyeaters. After lunch, black falcon, orange chat (an adult sheltering in a calvert), banded lapwings, inland dotterel, Australian pratincole, ground cuckoo-shrike, a female plains-wanderer.

13/14 December 2015: In the late afternoon I took out my old friends, the Macartneys from Melbourne. Ian and Corrie had brought their grandson Will up to see the plains-wanderer plus other inland species. Also along was Mark, a biologist, and a tough, wiry Scotsman who has been doing a solo trip around Australia in an old 4WD he had bought in Brisbane. We headed out mid-afternoon in fairly hot conditions. Our first stop was the tip where, after a bit of searching, we managed to find the black falcon. We continued on to some boree woodland north of Pretty Pine where we had a female superb parrot feeding in grey mistletoe before we got out of the vehicle. Still, we wandered about for some time before we managed to find a couple of brilliant adult males. Not a lot of superbs out in the boree country as yet with only about half a dozen birds observed. Grey-crowned babblers were also recorded in the boree. We continued north onto the Hay plain where we connected with our first banded lapwings and in the cottonbush country we eventually had good looks at male orange chats. All the young have fledged now so the males are greatly outnumbered by uncoloured birds and they are quite flighty. As we drove through the cottonbush a small flock of inland dotterel got up from the track in front of us. It seems the property is crawling with them at present. We continued on, seeing many more orange chats and brown songlarks. On the red plain there was no sign of the pair of Australian pratincoles with their two young so I guess they have moved on as the young were almost full size last time we saw them. On the remnant pine ridge the ground cuckoo-shrike was still sitting on the nest and every now and then would glance down into the nest suggesting it has young. The sun was low in the sky now and we still had to get pratincole before dark so we raced back to another red plain and connected with a superb male close to the vehicle. We stopped at another red plain further along to have some tucker and saw more pratincoles. It appears there has been another influx of pratincoles in the last week, as they were starting to become a little scarce but now they seem to be in good numbers again and wanting to nest. As we made our way to the plains-wanderer paddock more inland dotterels were seen on the track and further along a curl snake. Spotlighting in the plains-wanderer paddock soon produced our first fat-tailed dunnart, which stayed still for everyone to have a good look. Not long afterwards we had our first plains-wanderer; what I think was probably an immature male, having fairly pale legs (difficult to tell when they reach a certain age).. We continued searching, hoping for an adult female, which have been elusive of late. We saw several more dunnart and after a while another plains-wanderer was located; this time a male with a single chick about two weeks old. This one was some distance from the other male with four chicks and the chick was slightly smaller. This is now the fourth clutch to have been brooded in this paddock this season. If these two males can raise their broods they will have done quite well, and it's only early days yet, there's still plenty of time for more breeding if we can get some rain. The troops were happy with that so we headed out, stopping for boobook owl but no sign of them tonight. We made up for it however seeing both tawny frogmouth and barn owl on the way back. Will, who is 14 years old, said that owls were a favourite of his. We arrived home about 1 am.

We started off at 7 o'clock next morning with everyone a bit weary but we were only birding for the morning so made the most of it. We went down near the river to check out the shriketits' nest and found the young almost fledged. One was sitting on the rim of the nest and the other a couple of feet away. There was some dispute going on with the adults, I think the parents may have been chasing away the previous brood and the two youngsters looked precarious with the adults whizzing by. It was too nerve-racking for us so we left them to it. We have followed this nest from the get go, having first located it when they were still building, right through to all but fledging. Our next stop was some black box woodland as Mark was still missing some woodland birds. After a slow start we did okay, seeing western gerygone, buff-rumped, yellow and striated thornbills, brown-headed honeyeater, varied sittella and white-winged triller. We headed out southeast of town to some more blackbox woodland. En route we connected with apostlebird in remnant cypress pine. Out in the blackbox it was starting to warm up. Still, the owlet nightjar was sitting out to greet us and we found hooded and red-capped robins, and the white-browed woodswallows are still thinking about nesting. We continued on heading north to a reedy irrigation storage dam where we located both Baillon’s and spotted crakes despite the water levels being up. Black-tailed native-hen , which is scarce in the district at present, was also seen here. Our last stop for the morning was the patch of boree where the pair of painted honeyeaters are nesting. We were pleased to find the striped honeyeaters were feeding young in a nest only about 20 metres from the painted honeyeaters' nest. The striped brought in a large green grasshopper for the young. With the temperature rising we called it a day and headed for home. It was great to catch up with the Macartneys whose company we have enjoyed on many tours and meeting young Will. His grandparents have done a great job in fostering Will’s interest in birds. He is well on his way to being a sharp birder. It was also great to chat with Mark about capercaillie, black grouse, golden eagle, Eurasian dotterals and other great birds they get in Scotland.

12 December 2015: Josh Bergmark organized two carloads of young birders from the Sydney area to descend on Deniliquin for a plains-wanderer outing. We met up at 4 pm at Willoughby’s Beach, Murray Valley Regional Reserve, where they'd set up camp. Four piled in to my vehicle and four followed in one of theirs. Our first destination was the boree patch east of town for painted honeyeater but we stopped en route to watch a farmer cutting a paddock of lucerne, hoping for black falcon. Sure enough, one was spotted, perched in a box tree and then another circling overhead. I suspect they take prey (probably mice) from the black kites and little ravens. We moved on to the boree patch for nice looks at painted honeyeater with one bird now sitting tight on the nest before heading back to the north and seeing some bluebonnets along the way. We met Robert out on the plains and continued on in two 4WD. In the cottonbush country we were pleasantly surprised to find that a pair of Aussie pratincoles had moved into an adjoining area of red plain since our last visit. Some of the lads were keen photographers and were instantly out and crawling along the ground like caterpillars trying to get closer. They got covered in bidgee widgee burrs not realizing that we could have driven much closer and they could have had great shots from the comfort of the vehicles! Ah, to be young and keen! Next were the orange chats that were quite flighty, as the juveniles have now fledged. Eventually we managed some decent views of the adult males. The nesting ground cuckoo-shrike was sitting tight. As we watched the sitting bird, one of the mates flew in and they swapped over on the nest. Here, we also had southern whiteface and black-faced woodswallows. We moved back south to try for inland dotterel before dark. On the first red plain we had banded lapwing and more pratincoles, indicating that more had recently arrived and were attempting to breed — but no dotterel! We pushed on to another larger red plain and could see dotterels in the distance. Driving over closer we discovered there were at least twenty birds present. This is the largest group so far this season. More pratincoles were seen. The lads were on a high now as we stopped for some tucker before making haste for the plains-wanderer paddock and soon located our first fat-tailed dunnart that posed nicely for photos. After 30 minutes or so, we found our first plains-wanderer, an immature female, one that we have been seeing of late. The lads were keen to find an adult female so we continued on, seeing more dunnarts. After another 30 minutes, we located another plains-wanderer, this time the male with chicks. The male stood up to reveal he now has four half-grown chicks. It was great to see the male with chicks again as we have not seen him for a while. He has lost one chick, which is not too bad considering how dry it’s been. While looking at the plains-wanderer, some of the guys were able to get their eyes on a tesselatted gecko. On our way out of the paddock we located another male plains-wanderer, which we debated as to whether it was an adult or immature (difficult to tell once they get to a certain age). I suspect it was probably immature as the legs were quite pale. We called it a night at that and the boys were pleased with their assortment of wanderers. Saying goodbye to Robert, we headed for town. The lads had had little sleep in the prior twenty-four hours but youth was on their side. At their camp on the Edward River they were intending to get a big telescope out to do some stargazing. I had to pass on that as it was after 2 am and youth had sadly left my side decades ago but it was fun to take out such a lovely, knowledgeable bunch of young birders and it gives us hope for the future .

10 December 2015, 4 pm start with Brits Mike and Sue, Simon from Sydney and Dave and Jackie from Melbourne. Best birds superb parrot, orange chat, Astralian pratincole, ground cuckoo-shrike, inland dotterel, immature female plains-wanderer. Best birds on the morning of the 11th, owlet nightjar, hooded robin, apostlebird, Baillon's and spotted crakes and painted and striped honeyeaters.

8 & 9 December 2015 Bass Birdlife mid-week plains-wanderer weekend 3 pm start: Wendy Davies from Bass Birdlife, down on Victoria’s southern fringe, organized a mid-week plains-wanderer ‘weekend’ for her club. Meeting up at 3 pm, we headed out with a hot northerly wind blowing. First stop, the Deniliquin tip, where, just as we were about to leave, a black falcon flew overhead, affording good looks. North of Pretty Pine, we stopped in some grey mistletoe-decked boree and almost immediately saw a small group of superb parrots including a glorious adult male, as well as grey-crowned babblers cavorting about. We continued over to the revegetation plot at the Monimail and added spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters and had the owlet nightjar in one of my nest hollows. Out on the plains north of Wanganella, we had our first looks at banded lapwing and in the cottonbush country the spectacular male orange chat, as well as white-winged fairywren, brown songlark and Horsfields bushlark. As we drove through the cottonbush country, we were surprised when a group of four inland dotterel flew up from the track. They soon alighted and we had great views of an adult and three sub-adults birds. At our next stop on the red plain we had the Aussie pratincole and two almost full-grown young. On the adjacent remnant pine ridge we located southern whiteface, and of course the ground cuckoo-shrike on the nest. Black-faced woodswallows were also on display at this locality. The sun was setting as we headed back south for some tucker. Red kangaroos were plentiful as we crossed the plains. After some food we headed for the plains-wanderer country. Sharp-eyed Robert spotted three different reptile species in about a kilometre of track. We had both gibber and tessellated geckos, as well as hooded scalyfoot, which we rarely see. A short search in the plains-wanderer paddock produced a beautiful adult female and later and immature female was also seen. Several fat-tailed dunnarts were seen while searching and a single adult male stubble quail. On the way out, we stopped in at the ancient clump of redgums for the resident boobook owl.  A barn owl was spotlighted on our way back to town. Home at around 1am.

Next morning the weather had improved somewhat and we headed out at 7 am. Checking out the crested shrike-tits’ nest near the river, we were pleased to see they now have young and then we headed out southeast of town stopping to check out apostlebirds, which were building a nest. More superb parrots were recorded here. In the black box woodland, the owlet nightjar was sitting out at the entrance of its hollow. Up the track a bit, we were delighted to find a single diamond firetail, the first seen here this season. Another surprisewas lots of white-browed and a few masked woodswallows, which had come in the previous day on the hot northerly wind. They were checking out sites for nesting so hopefully that might happen. Other good woodland birds were also seen here including hooded and red-capped robins, jacky winter and western gerygone. We continued north, stopping off at an irrigation storage dam with cumbungi. We were admiring spotted and Baillon’s crakes when an Australasian bittern flew up from the reeds causing great excitement. Various ducks including pink-ears were also seen here. After our great success here we moved on to our last stop of the tour, in a small patch of roadside boree. Here the pair of painted honeyeaters, which now is incubating eggs did not disappoint. Also thrown in for good measure was a pair of striped honeyeaters. It was time to pull up stumps. A lovely bunch of babbling birders!

5 & 6 December 2015: Plains-wanderer Weekend: Species checklist 137 species. On our third Plains-wanderer weekend for the season the summer finally caught up with us with Sunday hitting 40 C. However, it was a brilliant weekend for birds and we saw most species we hoped for and then some. We started off at a lagoon in town looking at little grassbird when a diminutive male sparrowhawk flew over. From there we birded the redgum and black box timber along the river for a variety of forest birds, such as assorted thornbills, red-capped robin, brown-headed honeyeater, little and noisy friarbirds, rufous whistler … We were almost back to the vehicles when a magnificent adult square-tailed kite flew over and then circled us for some time. This was my first sighting in the district this season although some of my buddies had one fly over the Island Sanctuary in the early spring. The species often passes through in September and to have one here in December suggests that either a pair is nesting in the district or the nesting has failed and they are still on the move. At another spot along the river, I was surprised to find some superb parrots still present. I had thought they had all finished nesting and left the river. There were at least three adults present and one of last year's immatures just starting to colour up. They were mucking around looking in nest holes and I suspect they had failed to breed this season as had many suberbs, I suspect. The shrike-tits were still at the nest and are now feeding young and we also saw a juvenile from the previous clutch and an adult nearby. A tipoff from one of my local birding mates, Geoff Plumb, resulted in a boobook owl peering out of a hollow at us. We also had a nankeen nightheron roosting in a nearby tree. We checked out a pond near town where the highlights included plumed whistling-duck, three magpie-geese, Baillon’s crake and black-tailed native-hen. A nice finish to the morning.

After lunch and a break and with the mercury heading north, we did the same, stopping in at the tip where a black falcon appeared almost immediately soaring high overhead before closing its wings and diving to almost treetop height as it had done on my previous visit. We continued north stopping in at the Monimail revegetation area where we added bluebonnets, singing, spiny-cheeked and striped honeyeaters, white-backed swallow and grey-crowned babbler, as well as what I like to think of as my owlet nightjar peeping out of his nest box. (Have I mentioned that I made him that nest box?). With the list progressing nicely, we continued on, stopping off at Billabong Creek for a beautiful pair of white-browed woodswallows. Out on the Hay Plain we saw our first banded lapwings and in the cottonbush country, our first orange chats including the brilliant male seen on previous visits. This pair has two almost fledged young now. Many more orange chats were seen as we continued north. Our destination was an old remnant pine ridge. Here we added black-faced woodswallow, southern whiteface and white-winged fairywren including a coloured male. Nearby on the red plain we had great views of a pair of Aussie pratincole with a single almost fledged young, so at least one pair has been successful thus far. Our pièce de résistance was a trio of ground cuckoo-shrikes at a nest in a cypress pine with either eggs or small young. This was a great find by Robert the previous day while mustering cattle. The species has been scarce in the district over recent years and this is the first active nest we have found since 2010. Here's hoping they will be successful. The sun was now getting low in the sky and we still had one more bird to get before sundown. We headed back south to an area of bare red plain where inland dotterel was the target bird. We quickly spotted three birds feeding on the plain and before sunset had great views of an adult and two sub-adult birds. We went back to the shearers’ quarters for some tucker before heading out after the plains-wanderers. We had a short look on foot for one of the females last seen but we were out of luck. After almost an hour searching in the vehicles we had seen several fat-tailed dunnart but no plains-wanderer and the troops were starting to get a tad concerned. Suddenly we came upon an immature female probably about three months old. Where this bird originated from, I have no idea as her age did not match any of our known clutches. Presumably there is another pair somewhere around that we don't know about. We continued spotlighting our way out of the paddock when we came upon another two plains-wanderers; this time an adult female and surprisingly, a few metres from her, another immature female seemingly the same age as the first female found. I can't recall ever having seen an adult female with a juvenile female so close by before. I suspect both the juvenile females seen were probably from the same clutch judging by their plumage. There were plenty of smiles as we spotlighted some brown songlarks before heading southwards. We saw all three species of kangaroo as we made our way back to the highway, arriving home about 1:30 am in what had been a successful day.. Tomorrow would bring another species I've not seen for a long time.

Sunday 7.30 am start: Before we departed town, a dollarbird flew over, high up, setting us up for a good morning’s birding. We headed out southeast to some black box woodland. En route we caught up with one of the last groups of apostlebirds left in the district. Here we had a couple of barn owls roosted in a yellow box tree, and a small flock of adult and juvenile superb parrots. In the black box we enjoyed more views of an owlet nightjar sitting out at the entrance of its hollow. I was pleased to see it still there after the goanna scare on our last visit. Several hooded robins were duly located and we finally caught up with western gerygone and chestnut-rumped thornbill but sittella eluded us. We moved on to an irrigation storage dam where we had pink-eared and hardhead ducks, as well as Baillon’s and spotted crakes. We were walking around the edge of the reeds when the shout went up 'bittern!’, and sure enough an adult Australasian bittern flew up, the first seen here for about ten years and the first I have seen in the district for about five. On a high, we moved on to our next stop, a patch of roadside boree. In a few minutes we had a lovely male painted honeyeater, thrilling everyone. I think the female was on the nest already as they nest very soon after first arriving. We also recorded mistletoebirds and yellow thornbills and our only cuckoo for the weekend, a Horsfields bronze. With the temperature tipping 40 C we headed for home with our last two new birds for the weekend being a pair of rufous songlarks in roadside boree and rainbow bee-eater in sandhill country. We finished up with around 137 species for the weekend, making it our best for the season even if it was our hottest!


4 December 2015: Robert, while moving cattle, found three ground cuckoo-shrike with a nest.

29 November 2015: On Sunday afternoon, I took Paul Schofield and Vanesa De Pietri out birding. Paul was from Christchurch (NZ) and worked at Canterbury Museum. I had heard his name mentioned often over the years in relation to birds but I don't believe we had ever met. Vanessa was the chief author of the recent paper on the extinct NZ lakes wanderer, thought to be a close relative of our own plains-wanderer, with both being related to the South American seed snipe. Vanessa hailed from Argentina but had recently been working in Adelaide and Christchurch. Our first stop was the tip where the resident black falcon put on a spectacular display. Initially it was soaring up very high with wings slightly back indicating a strong wind up high. As we watched, it folded its wings in close to its body and power dived from hundreds of metres, down to treetop height, in rapid time. One of the most spectacular displays I have ever seen in any raptor. It was not after anything.

Travelling north, we stopped at some grey mistletoe-decked boree for striped honeyeater and eventually had great views of a male bird that serenaded us with its lovely cadence. We called into the Monimail revegetation plot where we had sightings of white-backed swallow and bluebonnets and was pleased to find the owlet nightjar again peeping out of one of my nest hollows. We continued out onto the saltbush plains, north of Billabong Creek.  Paul and Vanessa were excited to see banded lapwing up close. We continued on to the cottonbush country where we had good views of male white-winged fairywren, brown songlark and after some furtive sightings, good scope views of male and female orange chat. Our next stop was for Aussie pratincole looking resplendent in full breeding colour. Again, I believe this pair has young but still have not seen them. A brown falcon, hanging around, was up to no good. We hunted about for inland dotterel but located them in the adjoining paddock where they were on the track!

We initially set off on foot with the torches searching for the last female plains-wanderer I had seen. Proving fruitless, we took to the Toyota. Within thirty minutes, we located the female very close to where we had just been walking! Vanessa was excited to see what was the closest living relative of the NZ lakes wanderer on which she had written a paper. We continued on to see if we could find the male with chicks. After a short search, we came up with a surprise in the form of another adult female. This was good news as it means there are now at least three trios of plains-wanderers in the paddock. I had been a little puzzled by the adult male with chicks as he seemed to be a little far from either of the known females to be their mate as the territories are usually about 300 metres apart and he was about midway between the two known females ( ie. 400-500 metres from each female). Paul and Vanessa were happy so we gave it away after that. On the way out, I thought we might have a quick shot for little buttonquail although we had not seen them for some time. After a short search we located a juvenile male little buttonquail, probably from the clutch of young I had seen with the male a few weeks back. Vanessa was ecstatic as this was her third new member of the order Charadriiformes for the day. She was also keen to see an owl, not fussy which one, so we stopped in at the clump of ancient redgums out on the plains and quickly located an adult boobook. Home at 1 am.


28 November 2015: Big day out with the Wright family from Melbourne: Gary, Vicki and son Jim. We started off in the early morning around the town, birding the redgum and blackbox near the river. A stunning male superb parrot flashed overhead as soon as we stepped out of the vehicle. This turned out to be the only one seen all morning! Luckily the Wrights had seen them before so it was not a life bird. We moved down into some slightly thicker forest and had a nice lot of thornbills: yellow, striated and weebill, then later buff-rumped, as well as red-capped robin and western gerygone. An owlet nightjar called from high up in some redgums but as is often the case, it was hard to pinpoint the location of the call. Checked out the nesting tawny frogmouths in a black box along the river. They appear now to have only two young so it seems one young didn’t make it. I guessed this might happen when we last saw them as the adults had two young away from the nest while the other young was still near the nest. We also checked out the crested shrike-tits' nest and were pleased to see the female still sitting tight with just the bill and tail visible. The male flew in and they swapped over as we watched. This species has one of the most difficult nests to locate. After having heard the owlet nightjar call and not seeing it, I made the rash statement, ‘don't worry, I know where we can easily see one.’ I knew as soon as I said it I would regret it and sure enough when we headed out southeast of town there was no sign of my super cooperative nightjar in its regular hollow. White-plumed honeyeaters in a nearby tree soon alerted me to the reason why, — a large tree goanna was poking its head out of a hollow. Tree goannas are the nemesis of owlet nightjars so little wonder it wasn't in its usual hollow. I assured the Wrights they need not worry, I knew of another one a few hundred meters away. As we approached the tree, guess what?, another bloody goanna in the next tree! I scratched a few nearby trees and eventually found it but it was not very obliging and went straight into another hollow. There’s a lesson there somewhere … something to do with shooting my mouth off! We moved onto an irrigation storage dam where Baillon’s crake was a new bird for Gary and Vicki. Vicki and Gary had been getting all the life birds while Jim had been missing out! This was all to change at our next stop in some roadside boree with grey mistletoe. Here we had the first pair of painted honeyeaters for the season. What a joy it was to see them and what a beautiful bird. I had been sweating on them coming in and was not confident they would turn up. To put some ganache on the cake, we also added striped honeyeater to the list. This put a smile on Jim's face. We were going back to town and stopped at a rice crop when a Latham's snipe stuck its head over the channel bank. Two snipe were seen before we headed of again.

After lunch we went north, stopping at the tip where a black falcon was perched up in a tree but flew off before we could get a scope on it, not to be seen again. We called in at Monimail revegetation plot where we had nice looks at white-backed swallow circling around the nesting area. Bluebonnets were also seen and joy oh joy, an owlet nightjar was peeping out of a nest box. So we finally had a perched view of the nightjar! In some nearby saltbush we got nice looks at two different adult male white- winged fairywren, which sent Vicki into raptures. Our next stop was on the plains north of Wanganella where banded lapwing was new for Gary and Vicki. In the cottonbush country further along we eventually managed to get scope views of male orange chat as well as white-fronted chats. The orange was new for all. Our next target was Aussie pratincoles, which I still think have young but have not seen the chicks. We searched for quite a while for inland dotterel before finding one quite close to the vehicle. Boy, can those birds hide! Dusk was upon us so we then made haste for the plains-wanderer paddock. As we ate some tucker we were treated to one of the best sunsets I have encountered (and I’ve seen a few). We started off spotlighting on foot searching for the original pair of plains-wanderer we had been getting in recent times — I had had the male there the previous night. After about 45 minutes we gave the on-foot caper away and climbed into the Landcruiser. We worked our way up towards where we had previously seen the other adult female when we came upon the first of several fat-tailed dunnart.  A bulge indicated this was a female with pouched young . Not long after we found our first plains-wanderer, a juvenile male, probably the same one as seen on our last weekend's plains-wanderer weekend. I continued on hoping for the adult female when bingo, we located the same female plains-wanderer as last Saturday night, very close to where we had seen her that night. I had three very happy campers on board so we headed south. Like most of our homeward journeys of late, there was much dodging of roos. We made it back home around 1:00 am.

27 November 2015: Russell Woodford, owner of Birding-aus, and I went out for an evening's birding excursion. Hard to believe it is 18 years since he had been on one of our plains-wanderer weekends; it was great to see him again. Having been with us previously Russell had a short list of target species so we went out at 4:00 pm to see what we could do. On the way out, we encountered a small group of white-browed woodswallows coming south on the hot northerly winds. Banded lapwing was one of the first birds encountered on the plains. We enjoyed brilliant looks at a stunning male orange chat. Next up, at a remnant pine ridge, we had a small group of black-faced woodswallows and on a nearby red plain, a single Aussie pratincole. This was the first life bird for Russell and he was suitably impressed. Also on Russell’s list was chestnut-crowned babbler. They had become scarce about the pine ridge at Boorooban due to the ongoing drought and I had not looked for them for some years but we gave it a go. Initially it was a bit quiet but then we picked up a few species like southern whiteface, red-capped robin, spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters but no babblers. I was starting to think they might have died out but then we spotted their distinctive nests. Soon after, we spotted distant babblers and closed in for better views. The chestnut-crowned are notoriously wary so we approached cautiously, initially getting distant views in the scope of birds playing around a nest. They were on to us and started to disappear over the horizon as they are wont to do. However we spotted a second group nearby (or maybe part of the same group) and we managed to get much closer to them. Well pleased with our efforts we headed back south in search of more quarry. We stopped to admire a mob of about 50 red kangaroos crossing the saltbush plains in the late afternoon sun. Our next target was inland dotterel and a short scan of the red plain produced a single bird in close and a small group further out running through the light grass. A couple of pratincoles, which I think may have young, were also present. We moved on to the plains-wanderer paddock; Russell was keen be reacquainted with the species, not having seen one for nearly two decades. On the edge of the track as we drove in, a stubble quail flushed up, probably the same one I saw a few nights previously. As darkness set in, we set off on foot to try and find the (second) female we had now seen on two occasions. After about an hour I admitted defeat and we retreated to the vehicle. After a while we gave up on the female and a short time later we found the male with five chicks (although we only saw one, the rest being hidden under him). On the way out I checked out the area where the other pair had been and located the adult male back in the same spot. A couple of fat-tailed dunnart were also seen over the course of the night. Russell was elated to see the plains-wanderers again, particularly the male with chicks, so we called it a night and headed for home, dodging roos most of the way

27 November 2015: For something different this morning, I checked out the revegetation plots at tthe Monimail and Wanganella sandhill. Both areas look great after the recent rain. I have only lost a few of this season’s planting at Monimail but Wang’ sandhill has probably lost about two-thirds (around 800 plants) due to some getting hit with frost before I got the guards on in June and then no rain and high temperatures in September and October. Still it's not a complete disaster!

I was delighted to find an owlet nightjar in one of my nest boxes at Monimail and a yellow-throated miner was a new bird for the plot. They are usually found only a few kilometres away but I guess the noisy miners keep them out. At Wang’ sandhill, the highlight was about twelve white-backed swallows hanging around the nesting cliffs. Not sure if they were all adults or if there were some juveniles amongst them. There’s still a pair of mistletoebirds at Monimail so hoping they will nest. Heaps of spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters at Monimail and no doubt some have nested. Also, plenty of bluebonnets still present, feeding on the old man saltbush seeds. A couple of superb parrots flew over checking out the vegetation while I was there. These are the first back here since they have fledged their young. Hopefully they will start feeding in the plot; there is plenty of green acacia and hopbush seed available at present. Out at Wang’ sandhill I had a pair of yellow rosellas, probably also feeding on green acacia pods. I have seen them here a couple of times lately. The wire-leaf mistletoe will be out in flower soon and the fleshy mistletoe is budding up so there will be some nectar available soon and berries later on for honeyeaters.

25 November 2015: Welshman, Richard Thomas and I went out birding this evening. Richard is a gentle giant who, as a long-time resident of Newfoundland, Canada, had me completely flummoxed by his accent!. He is doing a rambling tour of eastern Australia in a campervan, taking in all points from Tasmania to Cairns. We were as one politically so Richard was the best of company!  We headed off in the late afternoon stopping in at the tip for black falcon but to no joy. We continued north with temperatures still in the high thirties and a hot northerly wind blowing. The plains north of Wanganella produced our first new bird for Richard, banded lapwing. The big mob of lapwings had disappeared today and initially we only saw a single adult seeking respite from the hot conditions at a dam. We caught up with others later on. Orange chats were next on the list and we shortly had a couple of pairs in the cottonbush country. One male was particularly bright and seemed to glow in the late afternoon sun. Next up we looked for inland dotterel around the edges of the red plain country where they often hide out during the day. Soon we spotted a single bird that squatted down in the grass when it saw us. Richard like most British birders loves his waders, so was over the moon with the inland dotterel. This was followed by a single Aussie pratincole, which I hope had young hiding somewhere nearby. We had only driven a short distance when we came upon a couple more inland dotterels and as we watched, more dotterels began to materialise from nowhere until nine birds were visible. We watched them feeding (one grabbed a mole cricket) and racing about like road runners, and then they seemingly dematerialised before our eyes. We, engrossed with the dotterels, had lost track of time so hastened over to the plains-wanderer paddock before nightfall set in. We listened for calls where we had located the new female on our last night out but heard nothing. Fortunately the wind had pretty much dropped as we walked out with the torch to see if we could find her on foot. After walking around for 45 mins or so I admitted defeat and went back for the Toyota. I had only driven about 150 metres when we came upon the adult female plains-wanderer in quite sparse cover. I had been mainly searching in heavier cover as I thought with the heat and wind she might have been sheltering. Anyway Richard was completely besotted by such a peculiar bird — part quail — part wader. As there is no male with this bird at present she is probably still recuperating after having recently laid a clutch of eggs. If we can get another rain out here soon she will probably have another go. We called in at the clump of ancient redgums for boobook owl before heading for home, arriving back before midnight.

23 November 2015: I took out Simon Starr from Firetail Birdwatching and his group: an American couple, and two Scots both now residing in Australia, We started late in the day so did not have a lot of time before dark. Heading straight out onto the Hay plain, our first bird was banded lapwing. There’s been an influx of lapwings over recent weeks with about 80 birds seen. We moved quickly onto the cottonbush country where in quick succession we had brown songlark, white-winged fairywren and orange chat. The sun was getting low as we moved onto the red plain for Aussie pratincole. We found a pair, which I believe has young as one was persistent in seeing off a brown falcon. As we were about to head off to the plains-wanderer paddock, a couple of inland dotterel were spotted nearby. We were cleaning up nicely! We arrived up at the plains-wanderer paddock just on dusk and had a bite to eat while nightfall set in. After dark Robert and I headed off on foot with torches. But after about thirty minutes of searching we came to the conclusion the pair we'd been seeing had moved. The writing had been on the wall after our last time out when we had found them about fifty metres apart. This indicated to us that they had lost interest in breeding for the present and now had decided to shift camp. It was great while it lasted! So, Plan B kicked in and we started spotlighting from the vehicles. After about twenty minutes the shout “PLAINS-WANDERER!” came over the two-way followed by ‘MALE WITH CHICKS!’. There’s a prayer answered. As we approached he stood up to reveal not three, not four but five little beauties — little balls of fluff on long legs! He rounded them all up again and was settling them down as we left. This is the second clutch of five now in twelve months and both in almost the same spot twelve months apart. They appear desperate to get their numbers up (which are at an all-time low). In the previous thirty-odd years we only ever recorded about one clutch of five and one of six and both were in seasons a lot better than the current one. So all power to them! We continued our search hoping for a female but soon turned up another male, probably an immature bird with quite pale legs. We were only going to give it a few more minutes when lo and behold we located an adult female. Definitely, a different female from the one we had been seeing as the chestnut patch was smaller. So now we know what we have suspected for some time, i.e., we have two females for sure. Simon’s group was over the moon so we  headed for town; I again went ahead in the 4WD to clear the road of roos for Simon in the van. We arrived home before midnight.

21/22 November 2015: Plains-wanderer weekend: Our second plains-wanderer weekend for the spring, and again beautiful weather. We had a diverse group with three from Britain, one from the U.S. and four Australians. David and Kathy from Canberra were back after coming on one of our weekends ten years ago.We started off around the town hoping for the now mobile superb parrots that have fledged their young. A clutch of about five young with two adults was located feeding in black box. The troops seemed happy with the sightings so we moved on to some nearby more extensive black box and redgum woodland. Here we almost cleaned up on thornbills, having yellow, buff-rumped and striated as well as weebill, western gerygone and brown-headed honeyeater and other common birds of the forest. Moving on to another patch of forest closer to the river I was pleased to find the shrike-tit still sitting tight on its nest. We also saw one of the young from the previous clutch not far from the nest. The birds are really going for it at the moment, trying to get their numbers up after the recent rains. I was also surprised to see the frogmouths have three young, two sitting away from the nest with the adults and one still sitting near the nest. Maybe this latter one won't make it but still they have done well. This is the second clutch of three we have seen this season. Nearby a beautiful pale phase little eagle flew over. We were just contemplating where we would go next when I received a call from Geoff and Sandra Plumb telling me that they had just seen a group of varied sittella not far away. They have been quite scarce in the district of late so we dashed down to see them. We found them quickly, not far from where Geoff and Sandra had seen them. As we watch the two adults we realized that they were feeding three recently fledged young, huddled together on a branch — they looked so cute! Cameras were in overdrive. We also had a family group of red- capped robins at this locality with a splendidly coloured male and a male white-winged triller. We checked out a couple of ponds around the town and surprisingly turned up a trio of magpie geese, the first I have seen in the district for some time. A small flock of plumed whistle-duck was also present and a single black-tailed native-hen was briefly sighted, possibly the only black-tailed native-hen  in the whole district ! We adjourned for lunch and a break as we had a big afternoon/evening ahead of us.

After lunch we headed north calling in at the tip where black falcon did not disappoint, sitting up in a nearby tree where we scoped it. Moving on to Monimail white-backed swallow put on a good performance and we added spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters, and quite a few bluebonnets still feeding on the old man saltbush seeds. A pair of mistletoebirds also put on a good show. Hopefully they might nest in the revegetation plot again this season. Our next stop was 8 Mile Creek at Wanganella but we could not find the brolgas. However, we did have a pair of striped honeyeaters here, which appeared to be feeding young in a nest in a clump of river cooba. They were coming from the direction of my revegetation area so may be feeding in there at present. Out on the plains north of Wanganella we scored the first of many banded lapwing. Moving on to the cottonbush country we located a family group of orange chats, mum, dad and at least one fledged young. Further along we encountered several groups of orange chats and some splendid males were seen. This is the biggest irruption we have had in the district for many years. Good views were also had of several brown songlark and a well coloured male white-winged fairywren. We continued north stopping at an old remnant pine ridge for a pair of black-faced woodswallows, now a rare bird in the district. Continuing north we eventually came to the pine forest near Boorooban, the first time we have birded here this season. At our first stop we had three immature diamond firetails, the first seen in the district for some months. Also here were southern whiteface and a pair of white-browed woodswallows. We continued through the woodland with brief sightings of mallee ringneck and yellow-rumped thornbill. The sun was getting low in the sky now and we were still holding out for Major Mitchell's and ground cuckoo-shrike, both of which Roberts brother, David had seen in the area recently. But it was a forlorn hope and the light beat us. Our last bird before nightfall was Australian hobby perched beside the road. We headed back south to have our meal break at Robert's shearers’ quarters. After our break, we headed up to the plains-wanderer paddock and after a short search on foot with the torches we located the male plains-wanderer. We were slightly puzzled that the female was not nearby as they have been close together for the last week or so. However, after a bit more of a search we found the female about fifty metres away. Fantastic! Five outings in a row we have had them on foot. The fact they are now apart indicates they have lost interest in breeding for the present. We spotlighted in some heavier grass nearby and soon found Horsfields bushlark. Next, we headed across to the dotterel paddock spotlighting tawny frogmouths and brushtail possum in the black box clump on the way. The dotterel paddock soon gave up its treasures and we had a half dozen or so inland dotterels plus a couple of Aussie pratincoles. On the way out through another dotterel paddock, we had an adult dotterel with a large juvenile in tow. I had no idea they were breeding in this paddock. Our last stop of the night was the clump of ancient redgums were we succeeded in locating an adult boobook. We headed for home on a high although it was 2 am before we got back to Deniliquin.

Next morning we had a bit of a lay in before heading out south-east of town. Our first new bird of the day was a nice flock of about twenty cockatiels. On the way out in some yellow box country we had both grey-crowned babbler and apostlebird as well as a small family group of recently arrived superb parrots. We continued on to some black box woodland where our resident owlet nightjar was waiting to greet us. A bit further along we located the pair of hooded robins in a frisky mood. Nearby we had chestnut-rumped thornbills and another owlet nightjar flushed out as we walked through the woodland. Striped honeyeater called but refused to be seen. We moved on to an irrigation storage dam where we added Baillon’s crake to the list. At our next stop in some roadside boree we finally had better looks at striped honeyeater, which some had not seen well the previous day. We called in at a gravel pit with a small amount of water and heard a couple of spotless crakes call but they refused to be seen. Our last stop of the day was a clump of flowering eremophila where we had a couple of white-fronted honeyeaters, our last new bird for the weekend. Our final tally for the weekend was 131 species, three more than our previous PW weekend; not too bad given the run of dry years and little surface water in the district. Species seen

19 & 20 November 2015: I took out a couple of Ballarat lads, Warwick and his buddy Warren. Warwick, an affable participant on our Top End tour earlier in the year is an asset on any tour. Warren is a very keen photographer sporting a colossal camera lens. The boys were only after a few targets, which were mostly out on the plains so we headed out there in the late afternoon. It was quite a hot day with the temperature in the high 30s and strong winds forecast. We went straight to the cottonbush country for orange chat, which was high on their list. Robert had filled a ditch with water as he thought the orange chats would probably be looking for a drink on such a hot day. Sure enough, a couple of males were at the puddle when we arrived. The boys were ecstatic, Warren got a couple of shots but we thought we could do better. The wind was still holding off. The chats were a bit slow coming back so we tried a nearby dam. This proved a good move as there was quite a few chats about the water, both male and female. We moved on to our next quarry, Aussie pratincole. We soon had several pairs on an area of red plain and they were confiding, as is their nature, allowing close approach. Warren got some great shots. Next, we went for inland dotterel, which proved a little more difficult, however after a short search we located two birds. They were rather skittish and although the boys had good views, they were not great for photography. The sun was getting low in the sky now so I decided to leave the dotterel photography till after dark and head up to the plains-wanderer paddock. We arrived in good time and good conditions as the wind had dropped away completely. I like it when they get the forecast wrong sometimes! Again, the plains-wanderers did not call at dusk but I was not too worried. I set out on foot with the torch and had only gone a few metres when I spotted a stubble quail. Amazing! We had not had one out here for a couple of months — they had been scarcer than plains-wanderers. The boys had a look and I continued my search for the plains-wanderer. After a short while, the pair, a couple of metres apart, were located. I called the boys over and they had great looks at both male and female. We backed off and let them be. I think the female is still building up her resources before she lays another clutch of eggs, so is staying put at present. That is four times in a row now we have found them on foot. Long may it continue! We went back to try for some better shots of the dotterels and eventually after one took off we located a pair with two tiny chicks. They were so cute! This is the first breeding that we are sure of out here this season. Warren was now well satisfied so we headed for home. We also had several fat-tailed dunnart while searching for the dotterels. On the way back to the highway, we had a barn owl fly across, the first for a couple of weeks. Like the Lou Reed song, it had been a Perfect Day! Next morning the boys’ only other target was superb parrot . This could have been a challenge as they are now on the move after fledging their young. However, I had done some homework and had managed to locate a couple of clutches of flying young around the town. We soon located them early morning and although they were rather restless, we eventually managed to get some photographs. Warren was over the moon! The two clutches I had been monitoring, appeared to have done rather well and had four or five young apiece. The adults were feeding in the fresh growth on the black box and appeared to be taking lerp from the leaves to feed the young. I dropped the boys back at their vehicle — two happy campers. Last I saw of them, they were heading for a celebratory breakfast at McDonalds!


16 & 17 November 2015: Chris Doughty and his group of mainly Aussie birders went out with me for a day and a half. Chris and I go way back. He was the first person John and I took out spotlighting for a plains-wanderer back in 1981 (having only seen a pair in daylight prior to that). We set out in the late afternoon stopping in at the revegetation area at Monimail for my delightful white-backed swallows. Heading north onto the plains, our first bird was Aussie pratincole, follow closely by banded lapwing. Next up, the cotton bush country gave us a beautiful male orange chat although not quite as approachable as yesterday's outing. After my last success at finding inland dotterel in the day, I tried again and we quickly located a couple of adults. Everything was going like clockwork so far! We moved on to the plains-wanderer paddock and had a bite to eat. No plains-wanderer was calling at dusk but that did not surprise me as the female has found a new mate. After a short search on foot, we located the pair together. They were quite relaxed, never moving, as the troops came over. It doesn’t get better than that. We had all three species of kangaroo on our way out, and had a quick look for little buttonquail but very few have been present this season and none were seen. However, we did manage boobook owl calling away in an ancient clump of redgums The troops were on a high so we called it a night,. I drove home in the lead to clear the kangaroos off the road for Chris in the van.

Next morning we went down along the river in town hoping for superb parrots. It was great to see the crested shrike-tit now sitting tight on its nest. The tawny frogmouth was also still on its nest with two young but won't be there much longer as they are now well grown. A couple of nankeen nightherons were also seen but I was becoming a bit anxious about the superbs as I had only heard one call. With panic setting in, I realized the young had left the nest and they had cleared out! I tried another spot where they had been nesting but it appeared they too had flown the nest. Eventually we managed to find a single immature male. Boy, that was close. It appears that most superbs have fledged pretty much on the same day, which once was often the case. Where they have gone now, who knows? We headed out east of town to check out the Baillon’s crake only to find water was being pumped into the dam, which had mucked up the edges where they had been feeding. Another crisis! We did manage to find a single crake still viewable. We tried a spot on the way home for striped honeyeater but no joy there. After lunch, we called into the tip for black falcon but we were skunked again. We went out a bit further northeast and in some roadside boree with grey mistletoe we finally scored striped honeyeater as well as zebra finch. Next, we visited some black box woodland where western gerygone was the target. We soon had a bird singing, just above our heads. This pissed Chris off as he was hoping to get it on his own next morning as they were starting to run out of new birds. Sorry mate. We tried our luck at the tip again on the way home, and this time we were in luck with a single black falcon circling overhead. With that, we called it a day. Good to finish on a high note.

15 November 2015: Went out with a couple of sweeties yesterday, Bruce and Lynn Richardson who are from the U.S. but live for part of the year in Australia. Bruce is a acclaimed singer/songwriter. This was their second time out with me this year, so they had some specific targets. Bruce was also doing a Big Year (August - July) so wanted some birds for that mission as well as some life birds for them both. We started off in the black box woodland in town with western gerygone and red-capped robin . We then shifted over to the redgums along the river where a pair of superb parrots put on a good show. Heading out southeast of town to some more black box woodland we were pleased to find the owlet nightjar at the entrance of its hollow, waiting for us. A short walk in the woodland (mixed black box and boree) produced both striped honeyeater and hooded robin. We moved on, heading north, where we pulled up at a turkey-nest dam for some great looks at Baillon's crake which was a new bird for Lynn. We stopped in at a patch of boree woodland hoping for painted honeyeater but they haven't arrived as yet. On our way home for lunch we watched a farmer cutting hay accompanied by a black falcon taking prey (probably mice) from black kites and ravens. We headed north after lunch calling in at Monimail for white-backed swallow before heading out on the plains. Aussie pratincole and banded lapwing put on a good show and I thought Bruce was going to wear the shutter out on his camera! We moved on to the cottonbush country to search for the dreaded orange chat, which for a brightly coloured bird has an amazing ability of slipping away before a decent view can be had. However, on this occasion we had the upper hand and superb views were had of a male that seemed to be on fire in the late afternoon sun. Again Bruce's camera was in danger of meltdown! Next I decided to try for inland dotterel in the daytime when they are generally much more difficult to find than at night. Again we came up trumps finding four birds after a short search. As it was a lifer for both Bruce and Lynn, Bruce had to take a 'lifer selfie' of him and Lynn out on the plains — crazy yanks! Our next stop was the plains-wanderer paddock, where I hoped the female might be calling at dusk. Not a sound could be heard. As I approached the patch of grassland where we had been seeing them of late, I noticed the male plains-wanderer move in the half light. As he moved away from her, she immediately started calling so I had them both! He almost immediately returned to the female's side. As it became darker we edged in a bit closer. The pair relaxed and Bruce got some nice shots. We backed off and let them go about their business. Bruce and Lynn were over the moon and I have pleased we had seen all the big birds before 9 pm! (Bruce and Lynn are blessed with good luck, having got a mating pair in February and another pair tonight in no time at all). We should have quit while we were ahead but tried briefly for little button-quail and boobook owl but no joy with either. Nothing could dampen our spirits after such a brilliant day. We finished the night off checking out the constellations with the App on Lynn's phone!

13 November 2015: Michael Szabo from New Zealand and his two Scottish buddies Angus Hogg (UK) and Colin Campbell who lives in USA went out for an evening excursion. Our first port of call was the Monimail revegetation area where bluebonnet and white-backed swallow were new for them. About a dozen or so bluebonnets were feeding on the seeds of old man saltbush and one white-backed swallow was flying around the nesting area and perched briefly in a dead tree. We headed out to the plains-wanderer property north of Wanganella. Here we had brown songlark and Horsfield's bushlark as well as a single Aussie pratincole and twenty or so banded lapwings. The pratincoles haven't been doing too well with their breeding this year as many nests have been abandoned and no young birds have been seen yet. Hopefully they will get some away soon. Several groups of emu were also encountered which got the lads excited. We had a brief look for orange chat but the wind was howling so we didn't stand much of a chance. We headed up to the plains-wanderer paddock at dusk, hoping the female would be calling again. However, the wind didn't drop at dusk as I was hoping so it was unlikely she would call. However, after about a 15 minute search we located the pair only about a metre apart. I suspect the female may have found a new mate, which was why she was calling so strongly two nights ago (her other mate is probably on a nest). We left them to it and went to another paddock to search for inland dotterel. After a short search we came up trumps and went on to find about six inland dotterels including a couple of immature birds not seen previously — indicating a good deal of movement is still occurring in this species. The windy conditions apparently kept the fat-tailed dunnarts indoors as none were seen. I tried again for little button-quail in the cottonbush country and found the male after a short search, this time with two half-grown chicks in tow. Incredible that they could breed at all in such a dry spring. We had a quick look for boobook owl but the wind made it difficult. With three very happy campers we called it a night.

11 November 2015: Out with a lovely British couple, Bill and Gillian Slade from Wales. Bill and Gillian were both keen on photographing birds so we spent most of the day doing just that. We did quite well in the early morning about the town, catching up with the superb parrots returning to their nests to feed young. The pair of crested shrike-tits are still working on their nest high up in a redgum. We had killer views of the weekend's azure kingfisher. Good looks were also had of nankeen nightheron, great egret in full breeding plumage and dusky and white-breasted woodswallow, with the former on nests. There is now only one pair of tawny frogmouths still atttending their nest, the other two having successfully fledged in the last week. It always amazes me how quickly they get the young out of the nest. We headed out southeast of town to some blackbox woodland where my resident owlet nightjar did not fail me. This bird is great in that it is almost always sitting out at the entrance of its hollow, so can be viewed without disturbing it. It was nice to see a bit more activity in the black box since the rain with southern whiteface and brown-headed honeyeater recorded, both of which have been scarce of late. Also seen was a pair of striped honeyeaters in breeding mode, and hooded robin. A couple of apostlebird were also observed on the drive out. After lunch and a break we headed north, stopping in at the tip where an on cue black falcon was sitting in a tree. We moved on to the Monimail revegetation area where we got reasonably close to the wary bluebonnets feeding in the old man saltbush and flowering eremophila. Plenty of spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters were seen, as well as mistletoebird and the in residence white-backed swallows. Out at the drying 8 Mile Creek, Bill photographed red-kneed dotterel. Happily, the pair of brolga are still present. A male white-winged fairywren was seen but refused to sit up for a photo. On the plains-wanderer property we had brown songlark and photographed banded lapwing and Australian pratincole. Three species of kangaroo were observed on our drive to the plains-wanderer paddock. We had a bite to eat near where we have been finding the plains-wanderers and I was elated to hear the female calling just before dusk. I waited until it was almost dark before closing in on foot with a torch and found her in a matter of minutes. It is only possible to do this a few times a year as the female has to be calling consistently. The recent rain has got her fired up. We followed with another brown songlark before heading off to a different paddock to look for inland dotterel. We located three inland dotterels in short time as well as a couple of fat-tailed dunnart. The dotterels may have settled down to breed now after giving us the runaround over recent weeks We were on a roll now and had a family of frogmouths in the black box clump on the way out. Now full of confidence and with time on our hands, I decided to try for little button-quail, which has been scarce to say the least. Again we came up trumps finding the male in about fifteen minutes! Still plenty of time so went for boobook owl and again had it within minutes. What a dream night! Home by midnight.

9 November 2015: Day and evening with a large and jovial group of British and South African birders, led by Barry Davies of Gondwana Guides. We started off along the river in town getting nice looks at superb parrots, with some feeding young in nests. Two pairs of tawny frogmouths still with young in their nests were observed; they were lucky not to have lost them in the recent storms. They won't be in the nests for much longer as the young are almost ready to go. We also relocated the shrike-tits' nest we found on the weekend, which the male is still working on. The recent rain has fired them up to nest again; they have only just fledged two young. We also located the wekend's azure kingfisher; it stayed still for a change. Good views were also had of nankeen nightheron. A few pairs of great egret are thinking about nesting and are coming into nice breeding plumage with their lime-green faces. It seems unlikely they will nest as there is precious little surface water in the district. We had cleaned up on most of the species we were after with only dollarbird, which we heard, eluding us. We moved on, heading south-east of town. Stopping in a patch of remnant cypress pine and yellow box we scored apostlebird and grey-crowned babbler with a bonus barn owl flushed from a hollow. Further out in a large area of riverine woodland we had owlet nightjar, a pair of striped honeyeater (which had not been present before the recent rain), hooded and red-capped robins, western gerygone and chestnut-rumped thornbill. We headed home for lunch, happy with our haul. After a siesta we ventured north, stopping in at the tip where we had prolonged views of black falcon eating something it had taken from a black kite. Next stop was the Monimail revegetation area where white-backed swallow did not fail to oblige. Spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters were in good supply feeding in the flowering emubush and quite a few bluebonnets were seen feeding on the ripening seeds of old man saltbush. Out at Wanganella at the drying 8 Mile Creek we had both red-kneed and black-fronted dotterel. On the plains-wanderer property we had Australian pratincole, banded lapwing and white-winged fairywren before sunset. We headed for the shearers' quarters, stopping for both eastern and western grey and many red kangaroos along the way. Trisha had cooked up a feast with lamb casserole (appropriate shearing quarter food) followed by pavlova and Nigella's Italian Christmas cake). The beer and wine flowed and the troops were in a jolly mood when we headed out for the plains-wanderer! Luck was with us tonight and we relocated the same female not far from where we had seen her on the weekend, and within about 15 minutes. She put on a good show calling to the male which was probably nearby. Another pair of pratincole was seen and we had both brown songlark and Horsfields bushlark as well as fat-tailed dunnart. We moved on to another paddock to look for our last quarry of the night — the elusive inland dotterel. They have been giving us a hard time of late with the rain stirring them up, shifting from paddock to paddock. However, tonight they behaved and we located a couple of birds almost immediately in the first locality we looked. Emus were viewed in the spotlight. The troops were overjoyed so we called it a night just stopping for a family of frogmouths and spadefoot frog on the way out. We arrived home around 12.15 am.

9 November 2015: Robert had a black-eared cuckoo at Picnic Point (Mathoura). This is the first record for many years. The species was a regular migrant to the district before the onset of dry years.

7/8 November 2015 Plains-wanderer weekend: One adult female plains-wanderer and about four inland dotterels. Home 2.00 am. 128 species recorded

4 November 2015: Testing my luck with the likelihood of heavy rain, I headed out onto the plains late afternoon to meet up with a Tropical Birding group comprising Americans and Brits and led by Sam and Wes. First up we tried for the white-backed swallows and some other species at Wanganella. Worryingly, we picked up a single brolga at the 8 Mile Creek. They are always together, so where's the other one? We got white-fronted chats. Across to the constructed sandpits to look for white-backed swallows, only to see one disappearing over the hill as we approached. Singing honeyeater was seen. We headed back out onto the plains with the rain still holding off. There were several Australian pratincoles in beautiful plumage nesting, and banded lapwings, one of which also appeared to be nesting. This is unusual for this species, which nests exclusively in the early spring. With the climate the way it is, many species have become much more opportunistic. We moved on to the cottonbush country to look for orange chats, Again, we were thwarted with a pair flying off as we approached that couldn't be relocated. Light was poor and with the wind picking up, conditions were not great. With an ominious bank of dark cloud bordering the horizon and lightning splintering the sky, we headed out onto the plains-wanderer country. After bolting down some food, we started spotlighting as soon as it was dark enough. Thunder was close and rain not too far away. In a perfect world, we would have found a plains-wanderer or even better, two, in a timely fashion in the spot we saw a pair two nights ago. But no. We decided to try back at a spot we found a pair four nights ago, on another stormy night. Rain had now set in as had desperation. Fifteen minutes later, we found a forlorn-looking adult male plains-wanderer sheltering behind a tussock of grass. Now buoyed by success, we thought we'd push our luck with inland dotterel in another paddock. Twenty minutes later a beautiful adult inland dotterel. Good looks were also had of fat-tailed dunnart. With that, the heavens opened with a deluge of rain. We beat a hasty retreat back to the highways and with happy troops, we headed for home. Thirty millimetres of rain fell, which combined with the previous week is probably the best rain since 2011. It shoud get some cover back on the country and give plains-wanderers a chance to boost their numbers.

3 November 2015: Morning with Richard.

2 November 2015: Set off with Welshman Richard, his wife, a Scot and her father (who now lives in Canberra) at 3.30 pm. We got the usual things including a pair of plains-wanderers.

1 November 2015: An evening's outing with Birding Ecotours after an afternoon of wild weather that saw good rain fall around the district. We recorded an adult female plains-wanderer, about eight inland dotterel, pratincoles and banded lapwings, as well as fat-tailed dunnarts and a holy-cross frog.

31 October 2015: 7 pm start with Australians, Geoff and Lyn on a stormy night with thunder, lightning, wind and a few millimetres of rain. We got the usual stuff — pratincoles, banded lapwings, as well as a male orange chat. After dark we saw fat-tailed dunnart and a pair of plains-wanderers, which may or may not have been the pair we've been recording lately. I thought they would be sheltering in thicker vegetation but found them just after midnight in a bareish area sheltering behind small cottonbushes.

31 October 2015: On my way out to meet Geoff and Lyn, I called into the Monimail revegetation plot. The rain gauge showed 22 mm of much needed precipitation. There had been a big hatching of insects overnight and lots of butterflies present, namely small grass, saltbush blue, stencilled hairstreak and painted lady, all feeding on flowering sugarwoods, and a big variety of other insects. A male black honeyeater and a displaying male rufous songlark were seen, neither of which were there yesterday.

30 October 2015: Collected John, Vernon and Neil, three individual birders who had joined forces for the day. Set off at 7.30 am. In town we had superb parrots, with some lovely looks at four males; a different pair of shriketits to yesterday's outing; red-capped robins, western gerygone, two pairs of dusky woodswallows nesting, white-breasted woodswallows, and a pair of dollarbirds, the first I've seen since out with Birdquest two weekes ago; as well as assorted thornbills and two pairs of tawny frogmouths, one with eggs and the other with young. Southeast of town, in the black box country, we saw what was most likely the varied sittella seen a couple of days ago; a couple of brown-headed honeyeaters, which were the first seen for a couple of months; owlet nightjar, chestnut-rumped thornbill, jacky winters nesting and about four apostlebirds. Spotless and Baillon's crakes were seen at a turkey nest dam. After lunch, we headed north, but not before finding another tawny frogmouth with three babies on the North Reserve. We stopped at the Monimail revegetation plot where we had two white-backed swallows, heaps of spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters feeding in flowering eremophilas, grey-crowned babblers and bluebonnets. There was a pair of brolga at the 8 Mile Creek and at Wanganella, striped honeyeaters, and a little eagle perched beside the road. North of Wanganella, brown songlark, female orange chat, banded lapwings, pratincoles and five inland dotterels. Spotlighting produced the same pair of plains-wanderers we've been seeing lately, almost immediately — the female still calling to the male; as well as a Horsfield's bushlark, a little buttonquail and three species of kangaroo.

29 October 2015: Out all day and evening with Tom Hince's birding group. Some of the better sightings for the day include a pair of shriketits with two fledged young; superb parrots, four nankeen nightherons, collared sparrowhawk, white-backed swallows, one in a nest hole in the bank constructed for them; a pair of orange chats, pratincoles, banded lapwings two inland dotterels, a boobook owl and the pair of plains-wanderers that we've not seen for a week, and around eight fat-tailed dunnarts.

27 October 2015. My old mate Dion Hobcroft and his group from VENT here for their annual visit. Dion, who was looking only slightly ragged at the tailend of a marathon tour covering all parts of Australia, had a delightful group of senior Americans. We started off our day on the river in town with tawny frogmouth on a nest, followed up with nesting superb parrots, probably feeding small young. We eventually located a male crested shrike-tit. A male collared sparrow-hawk sailed through the redgums. All the regular stuff was seen such as yellow and eastern rosellas, red rumps, white-throated and brown treecreepers and little and noisy friarbirds. Content with our haul we headed south-east of town to some black box woodland. Here we scored red-capped and hooded robins, western gerygone, jacky winter, chestnut-rumped thornbill and weebill. A varied sittella flew over — the first I have seen in the district for some months. We finished off with owlet nightjar, which had the troops oohing and aahing. Happy enough with our mornings haul, we headed home for lunch and a break as we had a big night coming up.

In the afternoon we headed northwards, calling in at the tip for black falcon.. This proved to be unnecessary as a better view was had of one out on the plains, the first I have seen out there for some time. Our next stop was some roadside boree where we scored a bunch of zebra finches, spiny-cheeked honeyeater and variegated and white-winged fairywrens. We moved on to the Monimail revegetation area but the white-backed swallows did not oblige. However, we had plenty of spiny-cheeked, singing and a single striped honeyeater. The emubushes are in full bloom at present so there is plenty of food for honeyeaters. I suspect the striped honeyeater has young in a nest in nearby black box and is feeding in the revegetion area. We headed north out onto the plains, stopping for several groups of emus, which delighted the troops. Out in the plains-wanderer country we had pratincoles and banded lapwings and in the cottonbush country, brown songlark and a female orange chat. Just on dusk we had about eight inland dotterals on a track. We were having dinner in the black box clump when a barn owl called but could not be located. Spotlighting, first up, we had a fat-tailed dunnart and then a few minutes later we scored an immature female plains-wanderers (I think there are two of these immature female plains-wanderers from the same clutch — see 24 October's news).The group was overjoyed. After showing them a brushtail possum in the black box clump and heaps of red kangaroos, we had a bunch of happy campers and called it a wrap.

24 & 25 October 2015 two days with a great German couple, Alfred and Hanna. Alfred was a keen photographer and only had a few targets species. The first bird we spotted as we stepped from the vehicle was a tawny frogmouth on a nest along the river in town. We spent most of the first morning photographing nesting superb parrots in the same area with reasonable success. A drive out to the east of town produced two black falcons hunting over a field where a farmer was cutting hay. The falcons appeared to be pirating mice from the black kites and ravens that were following the tractor around. Alfred got good photos of both black falcons, one perched and the other in flight!. After lunch we travelled north calling in to the revegetation area at Wanganella where Alfred photographed a white-backed swallow in flight. Out on the plains-wanderer property we called in at an ancient clump of redgums out on the plains and located a roosting boobook owl in lovely plumage. We continued on to the plains-wanderer paddock and at dusk heard a female plains-wanderer calling close by. As she'd stopped calling after dark, we couldn't find her on foot but soon located her with the vehicle. She turned out to be an immature around three months of age.This bird was obviously looking for a mate and confirms what I've long believed, i.e., this species breeds at a young age. I am unsure if this is the same immature we had a few nights ago, but if not, it's certainly from the same clutch of young we located 1 September. Alfred got some great shots of the plains-wanderer as well as Horsfield's bushlark and so we called it a night. Alfred's excellent photos of the immature plains-wanderer can be viewed on his website: http://www.fotowarkstee.de/galleries/birds/plains-wanderer/index.php http://www.fotowarkstee.de/galleries/birding-trips/deniliquin-2015/index.php

Next day we headed down to Gulpa to see if we could get some photos of superb parrots feeding on the ground. We located ten or so birds but were unable to locate where they were feeding. Due to continuing drought and lack of flooding the superbs have all but deserted Gulpa Island. We continued on to the Reedbeds bird hide, which proved rather quiet. The only birds of note were around eighty royal spoonbills thinking about nesting, a single musk duck, a pair of little grassbirds and we witnessed a contest between a pair of sea-eagles, a swamp harrier and an Aussie raven. After lunch, having unfinished business, we headed back out onto the plains north of Wanganella. Our first quarry was Aussie pratincole and banded lapwing and some great shots were had of birds in full breeding colour. Our next target was much more difficult as Alfred wanted photos of the difficult orange chat. We managed to locate a couple of pairs out in the cottonbush country but as is typical of this species they were elusive and the wind didn't help. Alfred did get a few decent shots of brown songlark on our hunt for the chats. Just short of dusk we managed to locate a male and two female orange chats and Alfred got a few shots of the female. We were surprised to discover that they had a nest in the cottonbush with three eggs. Amazing given the district is in drought and the chats only showed up a week or so ago; the urge to procreate is obviously very strong. On that bright note we called it a day and headed for home.

22 October 2015: Dipped on plains-wanderer in what has to be one of the worst day's local birding, possibly ever! Sorry Sjaak and Joke!

20 October 2015: Yesterday afternoon I took out a group from Tropical Birding, led by Scott, a tall, gentle American with a nice sense of humour. It was a delightful group of mainly Ohio women doing a private tour around Australia with Scott. We started off with a pair of white-backed swallows at my constructed pits at Wang sandhill. The group was impressed with the revegetation work we've done on the sandhill. We ventured out onto the plains country north of Wanganella. Our first sighting of note was a pair of brown falcons, one of which carried off an eastern brown snake about three feet long. Further along the road we had two young wedge-tails in a nest, one vigorously exercising its wings was not far off flying. Our next stop at a dry goosefoot swamp produced black-faced woodswallow on a nest in the top of a hollowed-out fence post. I had not seen this since I was a kid when the species was common. Also here was a family of white-fronted chats. A large group of emus and all three species of kangaroo were seen along the road, as well as stumpy-tail lizard. A very pretty female red kangaroo was seen that was actually red in colour, most in this area being the normal blue-grey colour form. Our next stop on the open plains produced many banded lapwings and Australian pratincoles looking resplendent in full breeding colour. We looked for orange chats in an area of cottonbush where Robert had seen them only a couple of days ago but they appear to have moved on. We took a break for the troops to enjoy their dinner and a glass of wine. After dinner Robert arrived in the other 4WD and we loaded up and headed for the plains-wanderer country. Our first quarry located after dark was fat-tailed dunnart and we had nice looks although it kept on the move. It was a hot, humid night and I was surprised how many insects there were around despite it being such a dry spring; I doubt I have ever seen as many mole-crickets. After half an hour or so we located the adult female plains-wanderer with the male a few metres away. It took a bit longer to find them as they had moved about 200 metres from where we last found them. They are still in breeding mode with the female calling to the male in the light. They took little notice of us and took advantage of the light to try and catch insects, with the male on one occasion jumping about six inches into the air to catch one! We left them to it and started heading out of the paddock. To our surprise we located an immature female plains-wanderer, just starting to colour up. This would make her about ten weeks old (fully coloured at about twelve weeks). She almost certainly came from the clutch of chicks we located back in August. We had seen them again in early September but not thereafter and were concerned something might have got them as there was not much cover about at that time. This is very good news as their numbers have been at an all-time low.

We headed across to the dotterel paddock and after a short search located a stunning pair of inland dotterels in full breeding colour. On the way out of the paddock, sharp-eyed Robert spotted a superb specimen of hooded scalyfoot, the first we have seen for many years, and a little further along a gibber gecko, another rarely seen denizen of the plains. On the way out to the highway I decided to have a quick look for quail while waiting for Scott to catch up in the other vehicle and came up trumps with a male little button-quail, only the second sighting for the season. We managed to keep it in sight until Scott arrived with the rest of the troops. A great night's spotlighting! The Cobb highway was alive with mole-crickets and I also saw a curl snake on the highway, making it a great day for reptiles.

17 October 2015: Robert and John report orange chats on the plains-wanderer property at three different locations.

16 October 2015 Margaret, son Tony and friend Tony, evening excursion: Pair of white-backed swallows at the Monimail revegetation plot's constructed pit, as well as white-winged fairywrens. Around eight pratincoles seen, including some while spotlighting. The same pair of mating plains-wanderers as seen with Birdquest two nights ago; around four brown songlarks, a Horsfield's bushlark, about eight inland dotterel, both adults and immatures; roughly eight banded lapwings, a barn owl and the usual three species of kangaroo seen.

14 October 2015 Birdquest(UK) from 6.30 am: First up in the Island Sanctuary, we had superb parrot, yellow and eastern rosellas, brown and white-throated treecreepers, and tawny frogmouth on a nest. Down the road in Murray Valley Regional Park we noted red-capped robin, western gerygone, rufous whistler, assorted thornbills, and my first dollarbird for the season. Southeast of town we saw owlet nightjar, a pair of hooded robins, group of grey-crowned babblers; and half a dozen plumed whistle-ducks and a couple of shovelers on a dam. About 4 pm, we set off northwards, calling in at the tip for black falcon. White-winged and variegated fairywrens, zebra finches, spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters were recorded In he boree country . In the Monimail revegetation plot, we had better looks at spiny-cheeked honeyeaters and a pair of white-backed swallows using the constructed nesting pit . Out on the plains, we had a wedge-tailed eagle along the roadside, and on the plains-wanderer property, emus and three species of kangaroo. After dark, pratincoles, fat-tailed dunnarts, a pair of all but copulating plains-wanderers, and a bit later on, while looking at a brown songlark, a male plains-wanderer flushed up in an area that didn't look all that suitable for them. In another paddock, John pointed out a barn owl, the first barn owl for several months. Home at 1 a.m.

10 October 2015 Rockjumper group at around 5.30 pm: Better species included white-winged fairywrens, Horsfield's bushlark, pair of nesting Australian hobbys and three species of kangaroo. After nightfall, we were blessed with a female plains-wanderer doing a courting behaviour, the male probably on a nest nearby; as well as about eight fat-tailed dunnarts, adult male brown songlark; about twenty banded lapwings, about ten Australian pratincole, some on nests; one adult inland dotterel, one gibber gecko, half a dozen giant bango frogs and about four spadefoot frogs.

10 October 2015 Monimail revegetation plot: The season's first black honeyeater arrives at Monimail revegetation plot, feeding in flowering in both Eremohila longiflolia and maculata.

8 October 2015 Monimail revegetation plot: A pair of white-backed swallows is nesting in a new pit I dug a couple of months ago. I'm chuffed!

6 & 7 October 2015: Late afternoon with Sue and David. Black falcon north of Deniliquin, spiny-cheeked, singing and striped honeyeaters, mistletoebird, zebra finch, white-winged fairywren and variegated fairywren in roadside boree country NNE of Deniliquin. There were several pairs of bluebonnets feeding in the Monimail revegetation plot. North of Wanganella we had a nesting pair of Australian hobbys and while spotlighting - brown songlark, fat-tailed dunnart, little buttonquai - the first return for the season. No plains-wanderer was sighted, due in part to the unseasonally hot, windy conditions. The next morning, in box woodland east of Deniliquin, we saw a pair of hooded robins and two juveniles; an adult male white-winged triller and two owlet nightjars including one in the same tree as a feral cat! Also, two pairs of red-capped robins and a pair of rufous whistlers. Also east of Deniliquin, on a dam near a dairy farm, about eighty plumed whistling-duck.

1 October 2015: First budgerigars and rainbow bee-eaters arrive back. Small flocks of budgerigars were seen by Robert and John about Wanganella and Boorooban over the next week but most if not all have since moved on, seemingly.

30 September 2015: Robert reports first Australian pratincoles arrive back.

24 September 2015: Gould's League bird study camp. Met the group at 7 pm. First up were sightings of pipit and brown songlark. It took an hour and a half to find a plains-wanderer but hit the jackpot with a copulating pair. Augers well! Robert flushed a stubble quail but it got away before we all saw it. In another paddock, we scored a pair of inland dotterel and about three pairs of banded lapwing.

18 September 2015: Robert took out a Birdfinder group and got a male plains-wanderer early in the search and then a female some time later. Great news!

18 September 2015: Robert reports season's first white-breasted woodswallows north of Wanganella.

6 September 2015: Still on the trail of superb parrots this morning. We got two females on the TSR north of Deniliquin and scored a beautiful adult male superb in the Deniliquin Regional Park with a large flock of long-billed corellas. Headed north to Hay for lunch and on to Hillston for the night.

5 September 2015: Passing through Deniliquin with our Strzelecki Outback people. Superb parrots were our first target for the morning. While we saw a group of about a dozen fly through the Island Sanctuary, a good look wasn't had. Down at Gulpa, we saw an assortment of thornbills, singing honeyeater and brown and white-throated treecereepers. Probably the highlight of the morning was a pair of late wintering flame robins. After lunch, at the rubbish tip, we witnessed a black falcon pirating food from a black kite. Out at the Monimail we had a couple of pairs of bluebonnets. A pair of brolga was recorded at the Wanganella swamps; the first for several years. We listened for the female plains-wanderer at dusk to no avail. Searched for the male with young seen on 1 September and eventually found it with John's invaluable help about 500 metres from where it was seen previously. Also saw a stubble quail, Horsefield's bushlark, half a dozen fat-tailed dunnarts and a couple of pairs of banded lapwings including one on a nest, among other species. Searched for the inland dotteral in another paddock; found it only for it to fly off without us getting a decent look. That should be one we'll pick up further inland.

1 September 2015: Italian bird photographer, Francesco, one very lucky uomo with a male plains-wanderer with two or three chicks seen. Best birds for the morning were approximately fifteen superb parrots flying fast and low towards the river 10 km south of Deniliquin, pallid cuckoo, rufus songlark (one male, first return for the spring) and about three southern whiteface. At Gulpa Creek : pair of diamond firetail, scarlet robin (adult male singing) , pair of flame robin, noisy friarbird (pair, first spring return), fantail cuckoo (first spring return) and two varied sittellas. In the afternoon, in the boree country north of Pretty Pine: striped, spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters, white-winged fairy-wren, zebra finch and bluebonnet. Black box country: pair of red-capped robin. South of Wanganella: emu (adult male with sixl small young) four white-backed swallows at Wanganella sandhill. Plains country north of Wanganella: black falcon (one roosting in a dead tree), an inland dotteral, about six banded lapwing, some nesting, an adult stubble quail and an adult male plains-wanderer with two to three young about two weeks old. This means they started nesting mid-July, (26 days to hatch eggs), despite there being very little cover due to dry conditions over several years. About ten fat-tailed dunnarts seen.

30 August 2015: Dipped on plains-wanderer with Graham and Liz.

28 August 2015: Gulpa revegetation area: striped honeyeater feeding in various trees, first record at this location for many years.

23 August 2015: First return of fairy martins with two birds seen north of Pretty Pine.

22 August 2015: Between Deniliquin and Hay, about ten adult male brown songlarks doing display flights; a pair of spotted harriers hunting over plains just south of Hay. A hobby hunting over my brother-in-law's property north of Hay. Pipit's nest with four eggs located in the paddock where we were planing trees, after the tractor had gone over the nest with a slasher. Also several vehicles had passed near the nest. Adult still incubating when we left!

19 August 2015: A pair of Major Mitchell's cockatoo came over to see what I was doing when I was making holes for white-backed swallows at Wanganella sandhill. Also at Wang sandhill, in sunny conditions, a striped honeyeater called most of the morning and a pair of western gerygones were singing.

18 August 2015: Three white-backed swallows at constructed nest banks, Wanganella sandhill.

16 August 2015: Olive-backed oriole in Victoria Street, North Deniliquin, seen by Sam Holden.

16 August 2015: Wanganella sandhill revegetation plot: about six pairs of spiny-cheeked honeyeaters, the first for several months; one adult striped honeyeater, the first for many months; many pairs of singing honeyaters now resident; one white-plumed honeyeater still present; pair of yellow-rumped thornbill still present; pair of kestrels with active nest; about twenty yellow-throated miners resident; several pairs of willy wagtails resident; several magpies appear resident; a pair and immature pied butcherbirds resident; one yellow rosella seen.

14 August 2015: Dipped on plains-wanderer with Rohan, Marina and Syvie.

13 August 2015: Two ground cuckoo-shrikes flying east late this afternoon, south of Pretty Pine.

10 August 2015: Jon, a Welshman, had amazing luck this evening, not only getting a male plains-wanderer after I'd convinced him his chances, going on my last two very recent outings, were zilch but also seeing a narrow-nosed planigale, a marsupial mouse I've not seen in about fifteen years. Earlier in the day we ventured down to a cold and overcast Gulpa. It was slow going initially but when the sun came out we found some birds, the highlights being eight flame robins feeding on the ground with five diamond firetails. What a feast of colour! The usual thornbill spp., weebil, brown and white-throated treecreepers, red-capped robin were also seen. We also managed brown-headed honeyeater, which is a scarce bird around here now. We scored a hobby on the drive back to town.

After lunch, we had black falcon, an adult spectacularly pirating food from a black kite near the Deniliquin Tip. In roadside boree NNE of Deniliquin there were spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters plus mistletoebird, white-winged, variegated and superb fairywrens and about forty zebra finches. In black box country north of the Monimail, there were chestnut-rumped thornbills, western gerygone, southern whiteface, the first return for the season of Horsfield's bronze-cuckoo; and a pair of red-capped robins. Nearby, we located forty or so adult superb parrots feeding in open ground on saltbush and other seeds. Also here were grey-crowned babblers and not too far away, bluebonnets. A wedge-tailed eagle flew over sending the superb parrots into a frenzy . Spotlighting north of Wanganella, we had pipits, a pair of stubble quail, around eight fat-tailed dunnarts, the aforementoned narrow-nosed planigale, thankfully, an adult male plains-wanderer, which sent Jon into raptures. In another paddock we had around twenty banded lapwing, some of which were nesting — two pairs were incubating and two pairs already had chicks, about one week old. This is the earliest this species has bred in over thirty years of records.

8 August 2015: A pair of superb parrots was perched in a white cedar in Crispe Street — the first stationary superbs I've seen from my yard. Also recorded were the season's first return of a spotted harrier, an adult near Deniliquin Airport, and an adult little eagle about 10 km south of Deniliquin. Down at Gulpa Creek, just behind the revegetation plot, my mate Sam and I observed a varied sittella, two golden whistlers, including one adult male; several pairs of superb parrots, with some checking out nest holes; six flame robins including three adult males, and back in town, in Hunter Street, an adult rainbow lorikeet feeding in a lemon-scented gum. Rainbow lorikeets are now seen more frequently in town.

7 August 2015: First hatching of the season for spotted jezabel butterflies; about a month earlier than normal; the host plant is native quondong.

6 August 2015: Clarke's Creek, Cobb Highway, north of Deniliquin — flock of around fifteen superb parrots flying south. Western gerygone still present at Wanganella sandhill, feeding in native willow and following yellow-rumped thornbills. A male superb parrot fatally hit a powerline near the Monimail revegetation area.

2 August 2015: With Frank and Jean for the morning. Striped honeyeater, male white-winged fairywren, southern whiteface, and chestnut-rumped thornbill and good look at superb parrots,.

1 August 2015: Frank from Sydney and Jean from Texas at about 4 pm. Pipits, a brown songlark, Horsfield's bushlark, pair of inland dotterel but no plains-wanderers (oh dear!).

27 July 2015: Geoff and Natalie headed out at 4 pm, braving a very cold night looking for a plains-wanderer to no avai.l We had a brief look at superb parrots at the Monimail, and on the plain-wanderer property, about ten stubble quail, roughly fifteen fat-tailed dunnarts, heaps of pipits, a couple of Horsfield's bushlark, and pair of banded lapwing.

9 - 26 July 2015: away on the Atherton Tablelands & Iron Range NP tour

4 July 2015: A pair of western gerygones seen at the Wanganella sandhill revegetation plot. Three black-faced woodswallows seen on electricity wires along the Hay Road and a peregrine falcon flew over the Monimail revegetation plot.

30 June 2015: One western gerygone with a group of eight yellow-rumped thornbills on Wanganella sandhill revegetation area — the first western gerygone for the sandhill. A female red-capped robin has been around the sandhill for a week or more.

14 June 2015: A grey butcherbird was hunting small birds at Gulpa revegetation plot. Grey butcherbird is an uncommon species in the redgum forests.

13 June 2015: The first white-winged fairywrens since the feral cat plague that occurred after the mouse plague in 2012 were heard at Wanganella sandhill revegetation plot . A female eastern rosella emerged from a nesting box at the Monimail revegetation plot and others were checking out nest boxes. This is exceptionally early for parrots to be nesting — we haven't even reached the shortest day yet!. Even the acacias are starting to flower.

6 June 2015: A blue-winged parrot seen by Robert on the plains-wanderer property.

25 May 2015: Robert took Australians, Ron and his wife, out for plains-wanderer. They got a male plains-wanderer in a timely fashion.

21 May 2015: Trisha and I flew to Darwin for the start of our Top End tour.

1 May 2015: An adult male red-capped robin in the Monimail revegetation plot. Pairs and small flocks of superb parrots continue to fly across from the boree country to the black box country and back at the Monimail. An immature swamp harrier startled a flock of superbs. Swamp harriers are becoming rarer in the district.

1 May 2015: Imperial jezabel butterfly in my backyard, the first one I've seen in the district since taking note of butterflies. It was feeding on gargaloo, Parsonsia eucalyptophylla and Euculyptus leucoxylon (autumn-flowering form of yellow gum).

30 April 2015: John had five ground cuckoo-shrikes southeast of Boorooban and I saw about forty superb parrots flying over the Monimail revegetaion area.

29 April 2015: Ten white-breasted woodswallows north of Wanganella; possibly the latest record I have of this species. Six white-backed swallows at the pits at Wanganella sandhill.

18 April 2015: New bird for the Wanganella sandhill: pallid cuckoo. (A lot of hairy caterpillars present at the moment). A group of at least ten spiny-cheeked honeyeaters feeding in ruby saltbush berries and heaps of singing honeyeaters there as well.

17 April 2015: A 7.30 am start with Rhys and Terri in what promised to be a cold, dull, drizzly day. Southeast of town, after some effort, we located an owlet nightjar as well as Jacky winter, red-capped robin and rufous whistler. There were very few passerines to be seen. A nearby dam accommodated a plumed whistle-duck. Out Mayrung way, there were striped, spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters and about three mistletoebirds in a patch of boree with a lot of grey mistletoe, as well as a brushtailed possum curled up in a clump of mistletoe. A black falcon was spotted down the road. Back out north of town to get a better look at superb parrots, we eventually secured a good look at a pair in a tree. We ventured down to Gulpa after lunch but very few birds were to be seen in the intermittent drizzle. Eventually we got onto a few thornbills: buff-rumped, yellow-rumped, yellow, striated and chestnut-rumped; as well as golden and rufous whistlers, Jacky winters, a diamond firetail, brown and white-throated treecreepers and grey shrikethrush. Called it a day as the rain got heavier about 5 pm. Deniliquin had 34 mm of rain, Monimail 53 mm, Wanganella sandhill 35 mm. On the plains-wanderer property, Robert got 32.5 mm and John 34 mm. Yet to see what rain my revegetation plot at Gulpa received.

16 April 2015: Rhys and Terri from Vancouver Island had a day and evening scheduled for tomorrow but with the BOM forecasting up to 40 mm of rain and a cold day to boot, we suggested to them that they go out tonight. So on their arrival in Deniliquin in the late afternoon we headed out north of town, calling into the Monimail for unsatisfactory looks at superb parrots flying over but did see a bunch of bluebonnets and a small group of grey-crowned babblers. Spotlighting, north of Wanganella, we recorded a male stubble quail, an immature male plains-wanderer, then an immature female plains-wanderer and then another immature female plains-wanderer, and a couple of Horsfield's bushlarks and a female brown songlark. Half a dozen fat-tailed dunnarts and six emus were also spotlighted, as were ten banded lapwings and three inland dotterels (the first dotterels in that particular paddock for a couple of months). Three species of kangaroo were seen on our way out. Home at 10.30 pm.

13 April 2015: David from the UK and Evonne from South Africa were collected at 4 pm and we headed north, calling into the Deniliquin rubbish tip for black falcon and then the boree for a score each of superb parrots and bluebonnets and a couple of singing and spiny-cheeked honeyeaters. Spotlighting north of Wanganella, we had three species of kangaroo, three or so fat-tailed dunnarts, three plains-wanderers (two adult males and a young adult female), two stubble quail, half a dozen pipits, one inland dotterel and on our way out, an owlet nightjar. Back in Deniliquin at the civilised hour of 10.15 pm.

11 April 2015: Dave from LA was keen to add to his bird families and so between Bhutan and New Caledonia he'd scheduled two days with me for a bristlebird, plains-wanderer and a quailthrush. I collected Dave at his South Yarra hotel at 6 am and we headed to Pt Addis for the rufous bristlebird. Back to Deniliquin and out on the plains, it took about an hour and a half to find our first female plains-wanderer, a young adult female, and then another fully adult female about ten minutes later. A pair of banded lapwings and three stubble quail were new birds for Dave as were emus while we were en route to Deniliquin. Half a dozen fat-tailed dunnarts were seen. A swarm of moths attracted a battalion of small insectivorous bats. There were two white-striped mastiff bats flying up high above the vehicles, probably catching moths attracted by the spotlights (Robert, Rhonda, James, Thomas and Shelby were out shooting foxes and had joined us for a chat when James and Thomas spotlighted the mastiff bats). Three species of kangaroos were recorded, including some massive reds. The next day (12th) we headed for the mallee for the chestnut quailthrush and back to Melbourne. Mission accomplished!

6 April 2015: Seven Major Mitchell cockatoos feeding in Acacia oswardii, north of the Monimail. Again, a pair of striped honeyeaters on Wanganella sandhill, as well as a rufous whistler, a white-backed swallow and two yellow-rumped thornbills.

30 March 2015: Six white-backed swallows at the Wanganella sandhil revegetation plotl. Also a pair of striped honeyeaters, which is the second record for the sandhill. There was a pair of black-faced woodswallows about 35 km out the Hay Road (Cobb Hwy); the first seen here for many years.

26 March 2015: Fifteen Major Mitchell cockatoos, including two juveniles being fed by adults, at the Monimail revegetation plot.

24 March 2015: The cutest yellow-footed antichinus in one of my nest boxes at Gulpa.

23 March 2015: Two fork-tailed swifts observed by Robert.

22 March 2015: Robert had eight blue-winged parrots feeding in cane grass.

22 March 2015: The season's first golden whistler to return to Gulpa Isand was heard today.

17 March 2015 Wanganella sandhill revegetation plot: a pair of white-backed swallows, the first since nest holes collapsed after heavy rain in January.

14/15 March 2015 NSW Parks Plains-wanderer Weekend. 7 am start: Richard, Nerida, Christine and I headed appropriately enough for the Gulpa section of the Murray Valley National Park. We called in at the revegetation plot at Gulpa for yellow and yellow-rumped thornbills, weebill, rufous whistler, singing honeyeater, white-plumed honeyeater, white-throated treecreeper, red-capped robins, yellow-footed antechinus, little friarbird, superb fairywren and a whistling kite feeding on a road kill. Further into Gulpa, in the redgum, we had at least three crested shriketit, a diamond firetail sitting atop a dead tree and then feeding on the ground, a group of sittellas, buff-rumped thornbill, striated pardalote, brown treecreeper, rainbow bee-eaters (mostly juvenile birds), peaceful dove and restless and leaden flycatchers and heard an owlet nightjar calling. Heading to lunch down at Edward River picnic ground, one emu was seen with nine young and four wedgetail eagles were recorded. Half a dozen southern whiteface were feeding on the sandhills. While at the lunch spot there was a pair of azure kingfishers, a sacred kingfisher, noisy friarbirds and white-browed babblers in the dwarf cherries (Exocarpus strictus), We returned to town for a break after lunch, resuming at 5 pm. Now with Richard's wife, Gwen, on board, we called in to the Deniliquin tip for black falcon. A group of grey-crowned babblers was seen near the tip. Out at the boree, north of town, there were about twenty superb parrots feeding in the boree, as well as bluebonnet, white-winged fairywren, two pallid cuckoos and eastern rosella. At the Wanganella sandhill, there were lots of spiny-cheeked honeyeaters, singing honeyeaters and brief looks were had of yellow-throated miners. Dinner was eaten in the black box clump on the plains-wanderer property . At 9.15 pm, we started spotlighting, and got a female plains-wanderer at 10.45 but just prior to that, we found a recently hatched plains-wanderer egg shell. Not long after, a second adult female plains-wanderer was located, only about 150 metres away from the first female. I suspect both these birds were last season's young. A couple of stubble quail were located in denser grass as were Horsfield's bushlark and pipit. Trying a barer paddock for inland dotterels, we got a pair of banded lapwing. We tried another paddock for the dotterels, a spot where John had seen them in the morning, and succeeded in finding an adult inland dotterel with three almost full-grown young. During the evening we'd seen three species of kangaroo, a brushtail possum and about ten fat-tailed dunnarts - one feeding on a moth. We called it a night and arrived back in Deniliquin at about 2 am.

15 March 2015: Breakfast at 8 am over at the Riverside Caravan Park's camp kitchen. As we were leaving town, we saw a hobby, Northeast of town, we checked out some roadside boree and got three striped honeyeaters, a single, immature painted honeyeater feeding in the mistletoe, mistletoebird, zebra finch and more white-winged fairywrens. A bit further up the road, in box country, we had a pair of peregrine falcon and black-faced cuckoo-shrike. Rice crops rendered yellow-billed and royal spoonbills, great egrets, white-necked heron, white-faced heron and swamp harrier. Still northeast of town, we recorded blue-faced honeyeater and apostlebird in roadside trees. Two turkey-nest dams were scanned for waders; one greenshank, eight marsh sandpipers, couple of pairs of black-fronted dotterels, red-kneed dotterel, a few black-winged stilts, a couple of pink-eared ducks, some hardheads and a pair of freckled ducks. Back to the camp kitchen for lunch and finished up around 3 pm. We did okay given the poor season. We appreciate the support of NSW Parks in sponsoring this event in celebration of New South Wales' national parks. Thank you to Gwen, Richard, Nerida and Christine for attending. Checklist of species seen.

23 February 2015: 7 am start on a warm, muggy day with Rik from the Netherlands, Lyn and Bruce ex USA, now Melbourne, and Robert from Parkes (NSW) who'd join forces for the day. Out at the Monimail we had twenty or so superb parrots, about six bluebonnets, spiny-cheeked, singing and striped honeyeaters, mistletoebird, white-winged fairywren and swamp harrier. We headed east for the painted honeyeater to no avail but called in at the turkey-nest dam to see two pectoral sandpipers, which had been joined by a black-tailed godwit and four greenshanks. Also on the dam were about a dozen marsh sandpipers, about twenty sharp-tailed sandpipers, a few red-kneed and black-fronted dotterels and around fifteen black-winged stilts. Ducks included pink-eared, shoveler, hardhead, freckled (1), shelduck, grey teal and black. There were forty or so glossy ibis and ten yellow-billed and a couple of royal spoonbills. A black falcon was pirating food from black kites that were following a potato harvester. The owlet nightjar was seen at its regular hollow at Tuppal Creek and nearby we had a diamond firetail drinking at a dam and a western gerygone in the blackbox. Also drinking at the dam were brown-headed and white-plumed honeyeaters and peaceful doves. A wedgetail eagle soared over. While heading back to town, we saw fifty or sixty plumed whistling-duck on a dam at a dairy farm. Arrived back at 2 pm. Resuming at 5 pm (after a thunderstorm), we headed south to look for white-backed swallows, also to no avail, before heading north. At Wanganella we saw a male emu and eight almost well-grown young drinking at a cattle trough.Called into the Wanganella sandhill but didn't see anything we hadn't already seen. A spectacular thunderstorm on the plains north of Wanganella lit the sky and sent a brief deluge of rain. As night fell, we noticed a pine tree had been struck by lightening and was burning brightly. John was called and duly arrived with his water cart. Spotlighting after dark gave us stubble quail and a couple of Horsfield's bushlarks. Another three-quarters of an hour and we had a mating pair of plains-wanderers, with the female calling to the male. The thunderstorm probably motivated them to attempt to breed. If this is the same male that was recorded on 14 February with two week-old chicks and then seen without them on 21 February, it's a quick turnaround to have another breeding attempt. We searched another paddock for inland dotterel without finding any but saw around eight fat-tailed dunnarts and half a dozen banded lapwing. Home about 1.30 am.

21 February 2015: I collected Steve Davidson and his client, David, at 4 pm and we headed east of town where we got an owlet nightjar. One black falcon was had back at the Deniliquin tip and further north, in the Monimail area, around fifty superb parrots were flying between the black box and boree with some feeding on the boree's grey mistletoe. At the Wanganella sandhlil revegetation plot, in one of the nest boxes, there was another owlet nightjar — needless to say I'm happy about that! North of Wanganella, we spotlighted a male plains-wanderer, which, if it's the same male of 14 February's outing, was worryingly without his two chicks; hopefully it wasn't. We then got a female plains-wanderer about a hundred or so metres away. Also seen were a Horsfield's bushlark, four stubble quail (the first seen since mid October), two inland dotterels, about four fat-tailed dunnarts, ten banded lapwings and a couple of foxes.

20 February 2015: With a baby's car seat installed in the Landcruiser, Americans, Ryne, Jenny, seventeen-month old Cyprus and I headed out to the plains at 7.30 pm, dropping by the Deniliquin tip en route, where we picked up two black falcons. Three hours later we had a female plains-wanderer. Also seen were Horsfield's bushlark, pipits, half a dozen each of banded lapwings and fat-tailed dunnarts; and heading home we saw two barn owls. Back in Deniliquin at 1 am. Cyprus, our youngest client yet, was delightful and clearly taking his Australian adventures in his stride. Sadly (or perhaps not), Cyprus fell asleep before we found the plains-wanderer - still, he's not the first to have nodded off on a plains-wanderer search.

14 February 2015: Still with Morna and Jim, we ventured out at 8 am east of town. At the eremorphila clump, where the black honeyeaters had been, there were still two white-fronted honeyeaters present. Out at the roadside boree patch, we got the briefest look at a painted honeyeater but failed to relocate it. We did get good looks at two striped honeyeaters. The drying out turkey-nest dam, mentioned in 29 January's entry, accommodated about eighty glossy ibis, a freckled duck, a pair of pink-eared duck, a couple of shovelers, a shelduck, and hundreds of grey teal and black ducks. Also present were about thirty sharp-tailed sandpipers, two pectoral and six marsh sandpipers, ten black-winged stilts and red-kneed dotterels and a couple of black-fronted dotterels. At the Tuppal Creek, we had owlet nightjar in his regular hole, assorted thornbill species, weebill, western gerygone, red-capped robin, brown treecreeper, rufous whistler, white-browed woodswallow and wedge-tailed eagle. Heading back to town, there was a nice lot of plumed whistling-ducks on a dam. Finished at 2 pm.

13 February 2015: Morna and Jim, from Sydney, and I headed out at 4 pm, calling into the Deniliquin tip for black falcon. At the Monimail, we had a group of eight grey-crowned babblers, about ten bluebonnets, a group of white-winged fairywrens including a fully coloured male and a couple of spiny-cheeked honeyeaters. Superb parrots were flying across the road so we ventured over there to the boree and found a nice adult male, and then several other groups; about fifty superbs in total. North of Wanganella, there was a lovely adult spotted harrier patrolling the plains and a Horsfield's bushlark. At dusk, a female plains-wanderer gave a couple of calls, which allowed me to pinpoint roughly where she was. After three-quarters of an hour or so, we located a male with at least two small chicks, less than a week old. (A result after the good rain in January). Another half hour's searching gave us the female, in full breeding plumage, about a hundred metres away. Half a dozen fat-tailed dunnarts were spotlighted. We spent about an hour looking for inland dotterel without success. (John had seen three the previous day while mustering). Home about 12.30 am.

29 January 2015: Pieter, a Dutch birder, called for some birders to share the costs of a plains-wanderer excursion on Facebook. Australians, Kris and Milton, answered the call and opted to go out for the whole day. First up, in some boree north of town, we had about 30 superb parrots flying about and feeding on Rhagodia spinescens, as well as bluebonnets, white-winged fairywrens chestnut-rumped, yellow-rumped and yellow thornbills and the trio of dryland honeyeaters: singing, spiny-cheeked and striped. In the Monimail area there was some chasing interaction between a pair of ground cuckoo-shrike, two pallid cuckoos and two black-faced cuckoo-shrikes. East of town in an Eremophila clump we had two white-fronted honeyeaters, and in the boree, the pair of painted honeyeaters was feeding mistletoe berries to one almost fledged young. The male painted honeyeater caught a large spider in the bark of a boree. It also hunted on the ground, which I'd not witnessed before. Also east of town we had one spotless crake, two hobbies and groups of cockatiels and apostlebirds. Further still, east of town, at a large drying out turkey-nest dam, we recorded a freckled duck plus about fifteen pink-eared ducks, one Australian shoveler, roughly 150 grey teal and five hardhead ducks. Also present were one intermediate egret, two royal spoonbills, and a score each of yellow-billed spoonbills and glossy ibis; the ibis in breeding plumage. (The ibis are only the second lot I've seen in the district this season). Waders included black-winged stilt, red-kneed dotterel, a greenshank, two marsh sandpipers, a sharp-tailed sandpiper and most interesting, a pectoral sandpiper, the first recorded in the district since December 2002.

We took a break for lunch and resumed at 4 pm with Pieter now on board. Finding no black falcon at the tip, we continued north, getting an immature white-breasted sea-eagle over a rice crop — about 30 km from the river. Not a lot in the Monimail revegetation plot that we'd not already seen except for mistletoebirds. Out on the plains I was the only one to see an owlet nightjar in a hollow and which wouldn't be coaxed out. At dusk we heard the magic sound of two female plains-wanderers calling a short distance away in another paddock. Having stopped calling, we couldn't locate either one. Robert, Shelby and Thomas came out to help and we located the young, partially coloured female that we found ten days ago, which subsequently took off, and an adult male plains-wanderer together. This female can't be much more than three months old and here she is seemingly ready to mate. it's heartening to see this breeding activity after the recent rain. Also while spotlighting, we saw a Horsfield's bushlark and a brown songlark, two pairs of banded lapwing and a pair of inland dotterels, and at the box clump, a tawny frogmouth. About eight fat-tailed dunnarts were seen. Nine year old Shelby spotted a gibber gecko Lucasium byrnei, only the second record I believe for the Deniliquin/Wanganella district.The first record was from a plains-wanderer weekend 28/29 December 2013.
Home at 2.30 am.

19 January 2015: Stuart and John from South Australia teamed up with Allan from the UK for the first plains-wanderer outing for the year. Heading off at 4 pm we saw one black and one or two white-fronted honeyeaters at an Eremophila clump. Out Mayrung way we had the male painted honeyeater in a clump of boree with grey mistletoe (female was possibly on another nest). There were a few waterbird species on the rice including yellow-billed and royal spoonbills. A gravel pit provided a spotless crake. There was no black falcon at the tip but we did see a wedgetailed and little eagles there soaring high up, upsetting the scavenging ibis. Monimail way we about six superb parrots in the boree and north of Wanganella, Horsfield's bushlark, white-winged fairywrens and a beautiful adult spotted harrier. On the plains, we saw one pair of banded lapwing, a family of white-breasted and a couple of white-browed woodswallows and a dozen or more emus. After about an hour's spotlighting we found an adult male plains-wanderer and later a young female plains-wanderer, about two to three months old and just starting to colour up. Searched for an adult female for another hour or so without success. While spotlighting we saw about a dozen fat-tailed dunnarts. Three species of burrowing frogs, responding to the recent rain, were spotlighted: giant bullfrog, holy-cross frog and the spadefoot frog. An inland dotterel flew up from beside us but didn't land and disappeared. Large numbers of red and grey kangaroos were feeding on the fresh pick along the roadsides. Home about 1.30 am.

17 January 2015: Three Major Mitchell's cockatoos opposite the Monimail revegetation plot, and a female black honeyeater and a white-fronted honeyeater in the revegetation plot. About a hundred white-fronted chats in front of the Wanganella revegetation plot.

16 January 2015: Beautiful day at the Monimail where superb parrots are flying back and forth, and lots of spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters are enjoying the early morning sunshine.

11 January 2015: Female black honeyeater feeding in Eremophila longifolia, a mistletoebird singing like crazy and a juvenile Horsfield's bronze-cuckoo seen the Monimail revegetation area. Now that mistletoe has been established at the Wanganella revegetation sandhill, there was a mistletoebird flying about and some satin azure butterflies, another mistletoe specialist. A dozen or so spiny-cheeked honeyeaters and a score of singing honeyeaters seen at the Wanganella revegetaion plot. Three white-backed swallows are still at Wanganella sandhill. Their nesting holes need some restoration, having caved in a bit with all the rain. Wanganella sandhill was drenched with 70 mm (thus far) of glorious rain and the new plants are responding with fresh growth. Pied butcherbirds have raised a couple of young at the sandhill this season.

9 January 2015: Robert observed around thirty fork-tailed swifts over his place (Wanganella area).

31 December 2014: During the year Robert and I went out 47 times looking for plains-wanderers; four of those times were reconnaissance trips; we missed seeing a plains-wanderer six times (a 33 year record) and Robert encountered an adult female in the daytime while working on one occasion. Through 2014, we took out 196 birders, disappointing a total of 11 and delighting 185. It was quite a year!

27 December 2014: Ross from Canada, who had arrived in Deniliquin without a booking, had his share of luck this evening. Firstly finding me unexpectantly heading back to Deniliquin early evening from Yuletide in Numurkah for the night. Ross was collected from the Riverside at 7.30 pm and we made tracks for the plains-wanderer property. Enroute we saw, at the boree, about fifty adult and juvenile superb parrots, which have been missing, in any numbers, for about a month. A couple of male white-winged fairywrens and thirty-odd bluebonnets were had at the Monimail. North of Wanganella we saw a spotted harrier and black falcon. After dark, we spotlighted three plains-wanderers: an immature female, an immature male and an adult female wanderer, and at least thirty banded lapwings, a flightly inland dotterel and half a dozen fat-tailed dunnarts. Home 1 am.

20 & 21 December 2014, Saturday: The final plains-wanderer weekend for the year kicked off at 6.30 am with a pair of hooded robins, leaden flycatcher, tawny frogmouth with one young in an old chough's nest, crested shriketit, a juvenile diamond firetail, red-capped robin, brown goshawk, collared sparrowhawk, wedgetailed eagle, white-winged triller and dusky woodwswalow down at Gulpa. Heading north at 3.30 pm, we had a white-bellied sea-eagle and white-breasted woodswallow close to town. At the Monimail, we scored bluebonnets, superb parots, a pair of white-fronted honeyeaters, striped honeyeaters and white-winged fairywrens. Brown songlark, white-browed woodswallow and emus were seen on our way to Robert's place. Spotlighting we had an immature female plains-wanderer, then an adult male plains-wanderer, lots of fat-tailed dunnarts, finally an adult female plains-wanderer, an inland dotterel and a pair of banded lapwings. Two juveniles and one adult boobook owl were seen on our way out. Home 2 a.m. Sunday morning: 8 am start, we headed east of town, getting up to twenty black honeyeaters, a couple more white-fronted honeyeaters and white-backed swallows. At another spot in the same general direction, we had apostlebirds, grey-crowned babblers and Baillon's and spotted crakes. The often viewed pair of painted honeyeaters was feeding young in the nest. The young are now being fed mistletoe berries rather than insects. More striped honeyeaters were seen here. A nearby dam produced black-tailed native-hen and shoveler. Owlet nightjar on Tuppal Creek was our last bird of note. 134 species of birds seen.

18 December 2014: It's not often you see a shearwater on the Hay plain but Debi Shearwater (from Shearwater Journeys in California) and I went out for an evening's excursion. We took a look at the black honeyeaters at the eremophila clump east of town, then the painted honeyeaters still feeding young in the nest to the northeast; a flock of superb parrots flew over while we were there. Also seen in the same area were striped, spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters. The nearby gravel pit was holding less water then it had been but we got red-kneed dotterel and spotted crake. Nice looks were had of a pair of bluebonnets. Out on the plains, we found a male plains-wanderer fairly quickly in very windy conditions, a nice look at one of the two fat-tailed dunnarts seen, and an adult and an immature inland dotterel. Also spotlighted four pelicans on a small dam.

14 December 2014: A pair of Major Mitchell's cockatoo still around the Monimail, this morning feeding on dillon bush berries, Nitraria billardierei.

12 December 2014: Jim from Brisbane was back for a female plains-wanderer, having photographed a male a few years ago. Setting off at 5 pm, we had, east of town, a pair of painted honeyeaters feeding young in a nest; a pair of ground cuckoo-shrikes with a juvenile, which were disturbed by a spotted harrier; north of town, superb parrots in the boree country; and banded lapwings and another spotted harrier north of Wanganella. After dark we saw three male plains-wanderers, al appeared to be immature birds, then we found a male with three well-grown chicks, and about a hundred metres away, an adult female. Eight plains-wanderers in all. Three fat-tailed dunnarts, ten banded lapwings were seen, plus a curl snake on the way home.

8 December 2014: Out with Rolf from Sweden for the day, 6.30 am start. We had crested shriketit at the back of the golf club; east of town there was striped honeyeater, hooded robin, two owlet nightjars, western gerygone and southern whiteface. Northeast of town we saw painted honeyeater on a nest with eggs, grey-crowned babblers, apostlebirds, three species of crake, and sharp-tailed sandpipers and royal and yellow-billed spoonbills on a rice crop. We headed off again at 3.30 pm, getting a couple of hundred plumed whistle-ducks, a pair of red-necked avocets and red-kneed and black-fronted dotterels at the Deniliquin sewage plant; a pair of black falcons at the tip, a family of white-winged fairywrens and one Major Mitchell's cockatoo at the Monimai (MM possibly nesting), and bluebonnets at the Monimail revegetation plot. Out past Wanganella we had banded lapwings, and after dark we saw a pair of inland dotterels, one immature male plains-wanderer and a couple of fat-tailed dunnarts.

7 December 2014: After the Plains-wanderer Weekend finished, Robert, John and I headed off to Lake Tutchewop, arriving about 5 pm. The long-billed dowitcher was present at the inlet at the south-eastern end of the lake and still there when we departed at about 8 pm. Other waders included six curlew sandpipers, several hundred sharp-tailed sandpipers, hundreds of red-necked avocets, thousands of banded stilts; whiskered and Caspian terns, red-necked stints and red-capped plovers. En route to Lake Tutchewop, we got a pair of bush stone-curlews with two small young, about a week old, at a school sports ground in Barham township. A trio of Deniliquin birders saw this pair on a nest about three weeks ago. Three feral ostriches duly ticked in the Barham district. There were twenty or more black-shouldered kites hanging about a paddock of wheat stubble near Lake Tutchewop.

6/7 December 2014: Plains-wanderer Weekend
Saturday 6.30 am start: Down in the Gulpa area, spotted harrier, a pair of Australian hobbys, a pair of superb parrots, hooded robin, western gerygone, red-capped robin, rainbow bee-eaters, crested shriketit. a pair of leaden flycatcher nesting, white-winged triller on a nest and rufous songlark, among others. Saturday, 3 pm: Three ground cuckoo-shrikes near the Monimail, owlet nightjar in one of my Monimail nesting boxes, white-backed swallows at Wang sandhill, bluebonnets, white-winged and variegated fairywrens, spotted harrier and a pair of boobooks. After dark, we spotlighted at least three plains-wanderers, a pair and another male; three inland dotterels, four brown songlarks, two Horsfield bushlarks, two fat-tailed dunnarts, and a pair of banded lapwings with two young. Sunday morning, east of town: about a dozen black honeyeaters, painted honeyeater on a nest, striped honeyeaters, three species of crake, a freckled duck, three shovelers, little grassbird, brown-headed honeyeater, southern whiteface and swamp harrier.

4 December 2014: Lake Tutchewop is not in the Deniliquin district but it's not too far away. Ron, Alison, Victoria, John and I swung by there to see the much twitched long-billed dowitcher on our way back from birding the Victorian mallee.

3 December 2014: Robert got five plains-wanderers, including a female calling to a male, another two males and a juvenile, while out for an evening's excursion with an American and three Portuguese birders. Also seen during the afternoon and evening were white-backed swallows and a black honeyeater on the Wang sandhill; crested shriketit, tawny frogmouth, restless flycatcher, half a dozen inland dotterels, an owlet nightjar, a spotted harrier, boobook owl and fat-tailed dunnart.

1 December 2014: Out with old clients Ron and Alison, with their friends, Victoria and John. Good night, getting a male and a female plains-wanderer. Earlier in the evening we had an owlet nightjar in one of my nest boxes at the Monimail revegetation plot, two black honeyeaters in the plot and two ground cuckoo-shrikes in the Monimail area. More later ...

28 & morning of the 29th November. In Deniliquin for day four and five of a five day tour with Field Guides Inc leaders John Coons and Rose Ann Rowlett and a group of eleven North Americans. First up down at Gulpa, we had about fifty superb parrots, which comprised quite a few pairs of adults with fledged young. Also seen was a rainbow bee-eater that came out of a nest hole; as well as hooded robins, diamond firetails, brown treecreepers, a Jacky Winter sitting on a nest, red-capped robins, varied sittellas, white-browed woodswallows and a wedge-tailed eagle. After lunch, at a swamp on the edge of town,,we saw about twenty pairs of little pied cormorants and about five pairs of darters on nests, as well as a pink-eared duck and white-breasted woodswallows. A hundred or so black kites, and little and Australian ravens were observed at the tip. In the boree country we had spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters, mistletoebirds and zebra finches. At the Monimail revegetation plot, there were a few yellow rosellas, and around twenty bluebonnets feeding on the seeds of old man saltbush, and nearby we had good looks at white-winged fairywrens. The first emus were seen out near Wanganella and fairy martins were nesting under Clarkes Creek bridge. We met up with Trisha on the plains-wanderer property for dinner. A pair of hobbys was buzzing around and an owlet nightjar called while we ate laksa. Joined by Rick Webster and Robert for the spotlighting expedition, we found around nine plains-wanderers including at least one fully grown juvenile male, and an adult male with five young about two-thirds grown. Possibly only our second record of five young (normally they have three or four), which is an excellent result given the dry season. Several brown songlarks were seen, as were three fat-tailed dunnarts. A pair of banded lapwing with three half-grown young and one inland dotteral were also recorded. Three species of kangaroo were seen for the afternoon/evening.

The following morning at a gravel pit east of town, we saw three species of crake and some apostlebirds. In rice crops there were two species of spoonbill, two species of heron, great egret, black-tailed native-hen and red-kneed dotterel. We had striped honeyeaters at a patch of boree and a pair of painted honeyeaters on a nest with eggs. On a turkey nest dam there was a freckled duck, plus hardheads, a plumed whistleduck, two species of grebe, another Bailon's crake, more black-tailed native-hens and Australian shelduck. Returning to the tip we got a black falcon. After lunch,before heading south for Melbourne, we called in at a local gravel pit and got white-backed swallows and a juvenile wedge-tailed eagle sitting on a nest.

25 November 2014: Robert took Stephen Booth and two of his friends out for an evening's excursion. After getting a male plains-wanderer they called it a night.

20 November 2014: Stuart Butchart, Head of Science at Birdlife International in the UK and three others, went out with Robert for an evening's birding. On the Wanganella sandhill they got white-backed swallow, bluebonnet and a rainbow bee-eater around the nest holes that I made for the white-backed swallows. On the Wanganella Reserve, they saw crested shriketit, white-browed, masked and white-breasted woodswallows, restless flycatcher, striped honeyeater and grey-crowned babbler. Further on, they recorded black-tailed nativehen, red-kneed dotterel, hobby, white-winged fairywren, black-faced woodswallow, inland dotterel, Australian pratincole, owlet nightjar, a boobook owl and three or four male plains-wanderers.

15 November 2014: Robert, guiding Bellbird Tours on an evening excursion, was particularly successful, getting what I think is the first crested shriketit recorded for Wanganella. Also seen were little eagle, restless flycatcher, striped honeyeater, a male plains-wanderer and two female plains-wanderers.

7 November 2014: Robert, out with Martin & Sarah from the UK got a male plains-wanderer with four chicks. Fantastic news! Also inland dotterel, owlet nightjar, tawny frogmouth and boobook owl.

6 November 2014: Robert, scouting for wanderers, found a pair back in their old haunt.

4 November 2014: Orange chats recorded by Robert.

2 November 2014 : No plains-wanderers to be had on an evening's search

1 November 2014: Robert got a pair of plains-wanderers in a new location on the property.

30 October 2014: No plains-wanderers found on an evening's search.

2 November to 23 November: away leading a tour in New Zealand

28 October 2014: A big group fromTropical Birding joined John, Robert and me for an evening excursion: A pair of plans-wanderers seen and one inland dotterel.

27 October 2014 with Dion Hobcroft leading a VENT tour: One hundred and one species seen on gusty day including a female plains-wanderer in the same area as Saturday night's male.

25 & 26 October 2014: Plains-wanderer Weekend. One male plains-wanderer observed, Checklist of species seen.

19 October 2014: Pete from New York, with me on a four day tour of the Deniliquin area and the Victorian mallee, got a pair of plains-wanderers. Also one inland dotterel.

18 October 2014: Brits, Steve, Ann, Brenda and Pete were here for the day. Time is beating us in writing up the species seen but suffice to say we saw a pair of plains-wanderers and a couple of inland dotterels.

17 October 2014 Peregrine Bird Tours: This morning down at Gulpa we had a score of superb parrots up close, hooded robin, western gerygone, buff-rumped and striated thornbills, white-winged trillers, wedge-tailed eagle, diamond firetail, white-browed babbler and rufous whistler. After lunch at the sewage treatment ponds, there were about two thousand plumed whistling-ducks, and east of town, nankeen nightheron, little grassbird, royal and yellow-billed spoonbills, Baillon's and spotless crakes and owlet nightjar.

16 October 2014 Peregrine Bird Tours: Late afternoon start with Chris Doughty and five Brits. heading out to Wanganella we saw emus and on the plains-wanderer property we had about six Australian pratincoles, a score of banded lapwings, two inland dotterels, fat-tailed dunnarts, the same pair of plains-wanderers as the previous night, two barn owls and a boobook owl.

15 October 2014: Canadians, Janet and Heather and Australians John and Roger joined forces for a day's birding. First up, down at Gulpa, we had superp parrot, hooded robin, white-winged triller, western gerygone, little eagle, shining-bronze and fantail cuckoos and crested shriketit. Deniliquin produced white-backed swallow and black falcon. Monimail's honeyeater trio: striped, spiny-cheeked and singing were seen, as well as the resident bluebonnets. In the Wanganella area we had white-winged fairywren, a pair of Australian pratincoles, banded lapwing, three inland dotterels, barn owl, stubble quail and a pair of plains-wanderers found by Robert in a paddock we've not seen them in for four years. Also fat-tailed dunnarts.

13 October 2014: Down in Gulpa first thing with Dutch birders, Siep and his partner, where we had superb parrot, hooded robin, diamond firetail, western gerygone, red-capped robin, white-browed babbler, white-winged triller, white-browed and masked woodswallows and varied sittella. Around Deniliquin we saw hobby, brown falcon and white-backed swallow. Out at the Monimail, there were striped, singing and spiny-cheeked honeyeaters, variegated fairywren and bluebonnet. Wanganella supplied white-winged fairywren, a juvenile spotted harrier, two adults and two young tawny frogmouths, another hobby, brown songlark, Horsfield's bushlark, stubble quail, a pair of Australian pratincoles, inland dotterel, about eighty banded lapwing and fat-tailed dunnarts. Sadly no plains-wanderers after a good run of getting the same pair in the same paddock for several weeks.

11 October 2014: Erik and Carol, leading a large Rockjumper group, met me at the Boorooban Pub in the late afternoon. Sticking around Boorooban, we saw white-winged fairywren, bluebonnet, white-browed and masked woodswallows, southern whiteface, diamond and peaceful doves, rainbow bee-eater and brown falcon. Meeting up with John, Robert, Trisha and our three year old granddaughter, Olivia at sunset we found a pair of plains-wanderers straight away in the same spot that we've been finding them recently . Later we saw stubble quail, little buttonquail (first for season) Horsfield's bushlark, brown songlark, banded lapwing and inland dotterel (not the one Robert saw on the 6th but not far away) and a flighty pratincole. Also two fat-tailed dunnarts, of which one was three-quarters grown.

6 October 2014: Robert found an inland dotterel with eggs.

29 September 2014: An evening's excursion with Tropical Birding produced a pair of plains-wanderers in no time at all, one inland dotterel after the species has been absent for a while and then another male plains-wanderer in a different paddock. Also three or four stubble quails, a couple brown songlarks, Horsfield's bushlark and around twenty banded lapwings, some with juvenile young.

19 September 2014: Steve Davidson and his client, Karl, went out with Robert for an evening's excursion. As well as a pair of plains-wanderers found in a very timely fashion, they saw stubble quail, brown songlark, Horsfield's bushlark, barn owl, boobook owl, tawny frogmouth and banded lapwing.

16 September 2014: Robert took Belgian birder, Filip, out from mid afternoon. They got white-backed swallow, varied sittella, western gerygone, owlet nightjar, tawny frogmouth, and after dark, stubble quail, barn owl and boobook owl and one pair of plains-wanderers, among other species.ge

8 September 2014: Adam and Geoff joined Kevin and Leanne for a late afternoon and evening's birding excursion with Robert They saw black-faced woodswallow, banded lapwing, white-winged fairywren, black-tailed nativehen, Horsfield's bushlark and boobook owl, among other species. A pair of plains-wanderers was found in a different locality to last night's female.

7 September 2014: Our Strzelecki Outback tour spent day two in Deniliquin. Details of what species we saw wll be posted when time allows. Suffice to say, with Robert, Thomas and John's help, we got a female plains-wanderer.

2 September 2014: Still with the Brits, we headed southeast of town and got pretty much the same species as we saw in Gulpa yesterday. Golden whistler, pallid cuckoo and wedgetail eagle were probably the only additions to the list. Two black falcons were seen at the Deniliquin tip. After lunch we had crested shriketit and restless flycatcher; and south of town, our final bird was white-backed swallow.

1 September 2014: Lincolnshire birders, Phil, Robert (good names), John and Andy were in town for two day's birding. They brought rain with them; only about nine millimetres but with less than three recorded in August, any rain is welcome. Down at Gulpa in the morning, we had hooded robin, diamond firetail, superb parrot, chestnut-rumped thornbill, buff-rumped thornbill, yellow-rumped thornbill, yellow thornbill, weebill, western gerygone, rufous whistler, collared sparrowhawk, spotted pardalote, fantailed cuckoo, red-capped robin and varied sittella. Battling deteriorating weather after lunch, we had white-winged fairywren and striped honeyeater at Wanganella. Spotlighting got us stubble quail, fat-tailed dunnart, Horsfield's bushlark, brown songlark, Australasian pipit, banded lapwing, a pair of plains-wanderers in a different area to either Robert or my recent sightings; and homeward bound, we spotlighted a tawny frogmouth.

27 August 2014: Robert took John from North Carolina out for some birding in the late afternoon and evening. The highlights included white-backed swallow, fan-tailed cuckoo, western gerygone, varied sittella, stubble quail, tawny frogmouth, boobook owl and a female plains-wanderer.

9 August 2014: Winter is not a great time to bird in the Riverina; nevertheless, Cagan and I set out at 7.30 am, visiting the Island Sanctuary first up. Among other species, we saw crested shriketit, yellow rosellas, red-rump parrots, long-billed corellas; ten superb parrots flew over. On the way down to Gulpa Island, we had another couple of superb parrots and at Gulpa, chestnut-rumped thornbills, a couple of varied sittellas, white-throated treecreepers building a nest, white-browed babblers, a pair of red-capped robins, fantail cuckoos, a sub-adult white-breasted sea-eagle on the creek, little and wedge-tailed eagles, rufous and golden whistlers and a couple of diamond firetails.
In the afternoon, we headed north, calling in to the Deniliquin tip and had black falcon perched in a tree close to us. In the Monimail area, there were grey-crowned babblers, two pairs of bluebonnets, a striped honeyeater and a group of white-winged fairywrens.

On the plains-wanderer property we pulled up, at nightfall, at the point where I planned to start searching and straight away could hear a female plains-wanderer calling within 200 metres of us. It took minutes to locate her on foot. The male, nowhere to be found, was probably on a nest. A plains-wanderer by 6.30 pm is a good night. In longer grass nearby we saw a pair of stubble quail. Looking in another paddock for inland dotterel, we found about fifteen banded lapwings including one on a nest; two or three fat-tailed dunnarts, and finally one inland dotterel. Checking another paddock, we had Horsfield's bushlark and from the road on our way out, we saw a barn owl and another inland dotterel. A tawny frogmouth flew across the road near Pretty Pine. I think Cagan is the first Turkish birder ever to see a plains-wanderer. Young Turks, all power to them!.

31 July 2014: A rufous songlark, the first for the year and a couple of months earlier than 'normal' was seen at the Monimail. Fairy martins, about a month early, were around the Forest Creek, Wanganella, and looking to nest; and three pairs of eastern rosellas using the nesting boxes at the Monimail. I would have preferred bluebonnets but there you are.

29 July 2014: Tonight, a cold winter's evening excursion with Harlan, who unfortunately didn't get the family he was after, i.e., plains-wanderer. The inland dotterels had returned after several weeks' absence, with three seen. We had about twenty banded lapwings, three pairs of stubble quail and about eight fat-tailed dunnart. Some rain, right now, would be handy.

11 — 27 July: Gulf of Carpentaria tour

3 July 2014: Still with Michael and Julian for the morning, we had in the Murray Valley Regional Park, buff-rumped, striated and yellow thornbills, weebill, varied sitella, brown and white-throated treecreepers, red-capped robin, yellow rosella, collared sparrowhawk, fantail cuckoo, lots of common bronzewings, and at Gulpa, six diamond firetails.

2 July 2014: Birding Africa's Michael Mills and Englishman, Julian, and I went out for an afternoon/evening excursion, getting boobook owl, superb parrot, bluebonnet, a banded lapwing with four chicks, stubble quail, adult female plains-wanderer, singing bushlark, barn owl, tawny frogmouth and fat-tailed dunnart.

30 June 2014: John Weigel, who triumphed in his Big Year in 2012, is not only attempting to beat his own Big Year record but had set himself a new challenge of 700 bird species in six months. He'd already hit the 700 mark when he arrived in Deniliquin in the dwindling hours of the financial year so the pressure was off to some degree. We went out for plains-wanderer, stubble quail and inland dotterel. With Robert and Shelby's help, we got a male plains-wanderer, about six stubble quail but no inland dotterel. Lots of fat-tailed dunnarts, the females with pouched young, and a dozen or so banded lapwing.

28 June 2014: Thirteen keen photographers from the Feathers and Photos club braved bone-chilling weather conditions on the plains tonight. We had a male plains-wanderer quickly and a little later, a female that had been standing around patiently with us while we'd been swapping a 4WD. Also observed were about six stubble quails, up to a dozen banded lapwings including a pair with four chicks, two pairs on eggs, and a large juvenile; as well as a pair of tawny frogmouths huddled together for warmth. Mammals numbered around eight fat-tailed dunnarts and several red kangaroos.

21 June 2014: Barbara. from the USA, had been out with me in 2003 looking for plains-wanderer. Luck was not with us that night and it looked for a long while tonight that the unthinkable was going to happen — amother miss for Barb. A little over four hours of searching we had a pair of wanderers.

14 June 2014: General roundup of sightings for the last week. Today, a spotted pardalote feeding in a black box tree in our garden. Yesterday, seven white-backed swallows digging new nesting holes at their nesting site at the Wang sandhill plot. At the Monimail, a party of grey-crowned babblers feeding fledged young (feeding young in June is crazy!) and striped honeyeaters calling. Earlier in the week, Robert had a Horsfield's bronze-cuckoo calling near his hourse, the first for the year — this species has been scarce for the last couple of years; and John had a blue-winged parrot down his laneway, the first since David's Boorooban sighting in early April.

8 June 2014: Robert found a narrow-nosed planigale under a sheet of corrugated iron near his house; the first planigale he's seen since a kid. The narrow-nosed planigale is one of Australia's smallest mammals.

3 June 2014: Major Mitchell's cockatoos calling in the fog at the Monimail revegetation plot.

26 May 2014: The latest news on the revegetation plots at Wang sandhill, Monimail and Gulpa

26 May 2014: Americans, Stephan and Claudia, and Maria, a Spanish birder, and I ventured out at 4 pm for a plains-wanderer excursion. At the Monimail we had about thirty superb parrots, some feeding on saltbush and boree and two pairs of bluebonnets. We got a pair of plains-wanderers preparing to breed, a few stubble quail, pippits, a singing bushlark, a banded lapwing and six juvenile inland dotterels. Six to eight fat-tailed dunnarts were seen, most of those with pouched young.

25 May 2014: Having not turned up an inland dotterel on last night's reconnaissance, John went out to show me how it's done, getting an inland dotterel with a chick.

24 May 2014: I had not been out plains-wandering for two months so my cousin Peter and I headed out to do some reconnaissance for a plains-wanderer excursion this Monday night. Calling in to the Monimail revegetation plot we saw about fifteen superb parrots flying over, spiny-cheeked and singing honeyeaters, white-winged fairywrens and a male Australian ringneck/eastern rosella hybrid paired up with an eastern rosella. At the Wanganella revegetation plot we had the usual species including white-backed swallows around the sandpits I made for them. On the way into the PW property we saw about half a dozen white-fronted chats. Spotlighting we had about fifteen stubble quail and a pair of plains-wanderer and another immature female plains-wanderer in a paddock where we had them last summer. About six fat-tailed dunnarts were spotlighted.

23 May 2014: A collection of woodland birds was recorded while we were on a quick-paced walk through the Murray Valley Regional Park (Deniliquin State Forest) this morning. Up to a dozen flame robins; buff-rumped, yellow-rumped and striated thornbills, weebills, grey fantail, white-throated treecreepers and white-winged choughs were seen. Heard were peaceful doves, grey shrike-thrush, rufous whistler, spotted and striated pardalotes and varied sittella. Local birders, Geoff and Sandra, had seen scarlet and red-cap robins, golden and rufous whistlers and sittellas. We arrived home to see a black kite descending on to something in a tree in the front garden and ascend, eating its prey on the wing — a large insect I think.

21 May 2014: An adult male Gilbert's whistler was recorded in Gulpa Island when I was pishing up thornbills. Two diamonds firetails and a pair of hooded robins were also seen.

11 April 2014: Deniliquin has had about 45 mm of rain over the last couple of days; Wanganella had 22 mm and the Monimail 30 mm. Madly planting trees in the revegetation plots while the going's good! The pied butcherbird mimicking grey shrike-thrush a couple of days ago did a rendition of banded lapwing today. Two big tiger snakes were seen in the Wanganella plot.

1 — 10 April 2014: I was away for the early part of this period but general observations over that time include: a couple of ground cuckoo-shrikes ten kilometres or so out the Hay Road; a group of Major Mitchell cockatoos out near the Monimail revegetation plot; Robert recorded inland dotterels nesting and saw a black falcon take an inland dotterel; David had a group of blue-winged parrots at Boorooban, I saw diamond firetails and diamond doves at Boorooban; and at the Wanganella sandhill revegetation plot there were fourteen white-backed swallows at the nesting site I made for them; as well as a pied butcherbird observed mimicking a grey shrike-thrush. For three days there was a white-fronted honeyeater in our garden and we've had spiny-cheeked honeyeaters there for a couple of months.

23 March 2014: Plains-wanderers again proved elusive; the dry season has them on the move, it seems. We did see a couple of inland dotterel and some superb parrots at the Monimail.

18 March 2014: Adrian from Tasmania joined Jon and Alison from Perth for an evening's plains-wanderer excursion. Better birds before nightfall included a dozen or so superb parrots, as well as bluebonnets, a brown quail at the Monimail revegetation area, spiny-cheeked honeyeaters and wedgetailed eagle. After dark, we soon enough had an adult female plains-wanderer, a pair of inland dotterels, half a dozen banded lapwings, a stubble quail and some fat-tailed dunnarts.

8/9 March 2014: Eleven birders participated on our special NSW Parks Week plains-wanderer weekend. The morning was spent down at the Murray Valley Regional and National Parks. The better birds of the morning included diamond firetail, red-capped robin, crested shriketit, nankeen nightheron, intermediate egret, spotless crake, azure kingfisher and brown goshawk. To celebrate Parks Week, Trisha made a BBQ lunch at the Edward River Picnic Area. After a rest back in Deniliquin, we headed north at around 4.30 pm, seeing before nightfall, superb parrot, bluebonnet and an inland dotterel on eggs. Trisha provided a picnic dinner in the shearing-quarter's dining room before we headed out spotlighting. John and Robert were on hand and Steve came out from town with another 4WD to also assist. Two female plains-wanderers (an adult and an immature) were located. Also seen after dark were a stubble quail, singing bushlark and brown songlark. A hooded scaly-foot lizard Pygopus schraderi and a growling grassfrog Litoria raniformis were observed, as were red, grey and western grey kangaroos and fat-tailed dunnart. Sunday morning saw Trisha up early to cook breakfast in the camp kitchen of the Riverside Caravan and Cabin Park and the tired but enthusiastic group wandered in at 7 o'clock for breakfast. Birding east of town we had striped and spiny-cheeked honeyeaters and an adult female painted honeyeater, apostlebird, spotted and swamp harriers, golden-headed cisticola, owlet nightjar, southern whiteface and wedgetail eagle. We lunched back at the Riverside's camp kitchen before heading out to the Deniliquin sewage works for an hour or so. There were about a hundred freckled ducks, a couple of thousand plumed whistling-ducks, roughly a score of pink-eared ducks, and hoary-headed and Australasian grebes and a little eagle observed. The Parks Weekend finished around 3.30 pm. We saw 126 bird species and another two heard. It was great to have a group of young birders on board; many thanks to Dan Hoops for conscripting a group of friends from ANU. Thanks also to the rest of the group: Anne-Marie, Jane, Nicole, Paul, Tim and Clive who added enormously to the weekend. NSW Parks & Wildlife generously sponsored this event.

1 March 2014: Given we have the Parks Week plains-wanderer weekend next weekend, I thought I'd better go out an find a plains-wanderer given last night's dip. In no time, I had one young male plains-wanderer and an hour after John and Robert joined me, we got a pair, with the female calling.

28 February 2014: An afternoon/evening excursion with with Mark, Alan and John fromWA proved fruitless as far as plains-wanderers were concerned. We probably would have got one had we been able to give it more time but as Mark, Alan and John were driving to Chiltern after spotlighting, we called it quits a bit too early. Some of the better birds we had during daylight hours were four to six juvenile painted honeyeaters, a striped honeyeater, bluebonnets, a pair of superb parrots, three to four black honeyeaters, a score of banded lapwings, an inland dotterel on a nest, and a pair of Australian pratincoles with two flying young. After dark, we had four or five fat-tailed dunnarts.

24 February 2014: Robert saw a red-chested buttonquail this morning.

19 February 2014: Mike, Liz and Kate went out for a mid afternoon/evening Wanganella excursion with Robert. They got superb parrot, black honeyeater, black-tailed nativehen, red-kneed dotterel, a pair of plains-wanderers, Australian dotterel and banded lapwing, among other species.

31 January 2014: A score of fork-tailed swifts seen by Sam Holden in North Deniliquin.

28 January 2014: Robert came across a female plains-wanderer in daylight in one of the paddocks where we've not seen them since September 2010.

24 January 2014: Half a dozen fork-tailed swifts over our house, heading northeast. Two white-throated needletails seen by Steve Seymour over his house with the forktails.

17 January 2014: With five consecutive days above 40C, perhaps it's not so surprising for Susan and Neil to have a ground cuckoo-shrike in their garden at Union Plain. Not a new farm bird but a new garden bird looking for a little respite from the unrelenting heat

13 January 2014: About ten black honeyeaters still feeding in flowering eremophila and around a hundred superb parrots flying overhead at the Monimail.

7 January 2014: Three to four black honeyeaters at the Monimail revegetion plot; also quite a few variegated fairywrens.

6 January 2014: Four black honeyeaters in the Gulpa revegetation site feeding in fleshy mistletoe that's in full bloom on Eremophila longifolia and sugarwood Myoporum platycarpum.

6 January 2014: Union Plain has had a pair painted honeyeaters for a couple of weeks; they were calling this morning. They are mainly feeding in the grey mistletoe on the boree.

2013: Deniliquin Airport recorded a little over 12 inches of rain (314.6 mm) in 2013 with the best fall in June with 2.8 inches (71.6 mm). The average annual rainfall since 1997 is a little over 14 inches, while historically the longer term average is closer to 16 inches.