Friday, 13 June 2014

Fivebough Wetlands and Cocoparra National Park NSW

From Chilton we drove north into New South Wales crossing the Murray River at Corowa and then heading to Leeton via Urana and Narrandera. 
Leeton, a Riverina irrigation town  (think of rice and cotton), is where the  Fivebough RAMSAR wetlands are located and these sites, being now well-known to birders, were on our list of places to visit. The best time to visit the wetlands is from October to March when the international shorebirds (aka waders) are in Australia, so being June we did not see any of these, though there were a few local waders about such as Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterels and Black-winged Stilts. 
Generally there were few water birds present as there had been good rains across the area with lots of ephemeral surface water, so birds had plenty of habitat to choose from. A better time to visit would be during dry periods when the permanent water in the Fivebough wetlands would be a magnet for large numbers of water birds.
A morning walk of several kilometres around the main permanent wetland gave a good overview of this wetland with plenty of bird species seen but not many photo opportunities.
The Golden-headed Cisticola, a common bird in wetland reeds and fringing vegetation.
Mostly they are a little shy and retreat to cover when bird photographers intrude.
Sometimes the Golden-headed Cisticola will come out and boldly perch above
the dense reeds to voice ownership of the area.
An Australian Spotted Crake feeding along the edge of a dense cumbungi reed bed.
From Leeton we headed further north to Cocoparra National Park, which covers the Cocoparra Range, located about 30km NE of Griffith. We camped in the park at Woolshed Flat camping area. The park features eroded sandstone cliffs and native black and white cypress pine forests and woodlands.
Cocoparra National Park - 400 million year old sandstone sedimentary rocks above Jack's Creek.
Other tree species include mugga ironbark, Dwyer’s mallee gum, grey box, spearwood and Blakeley’s gum. 
Over two days we recorded 36 bird species.
A Peaceful Dove foraging in the early morning light at Woolshed Flat camp ground.
Their call is a classic outback sound.
A White-browed Babbler digging for food at our camp site. These social birds are very entertaining. Being ground feeders they can be hard to approach and when
one bird sounds an alarm call they are all off to the nearest cover.
However sometimes they will come to you, especially around camp sites.
This White-browed Babbler is taking one last look at the photographer before joining
its more wary mates.
I know the world does not need yet one more Jacky Winter photo however four of them called our camp site home and their constant near presence finally led me to succumb and take one more
photo of this very photogenic and confiding species, plus this shot shows their
conspicuous white tail feathers.
Speckled Warblers regularly fed around our camp site and came in for some close shots.
It is hard to capture eye shine with this species.
Speckled Warbler with just a hint of eye shine - the dark brown brown brow indicates this is a male.
The Noisy Miner is a species many of us dislike due to their aggressive nature, however at Cocoparra they were only in groups of two or three birds and seemed very quiet.
The Southern White-face, a ground feeding bird about the size of a Thornbill. I could not
get close enough to them for photos when they were feeding out in the open.
This one took to the trees where I managed a fair shot.
There are both Pied and Grey Butcherbirds at Cocoparra. This Grey was feeding around the Jack's Creek picnic area and entertained us while we had lunch after completing the 1.5 hours walk there.
From the perch on the Blakeley's Gum trunk the bird has flown down
to pick up a food item it has spotted on the ground.
It came so close I could not resist a close up portrait.
A male and female pair of Mulga Parrots feeding on seeds and vegetation. Like the similar Red-rumped Parrot this species seems to be strongly paired.
The very colourful male Mulga Parrot.
As with many bird species the female has evolved with more somber plumage.
Red-rumped Parrots - very similar to Mulga Parrots - taken at Lake Cargelligo wastewater treatment lagoons site and included in this post for comparison with the Mulga Parrot.

A male and female pair of Red-rumped Parrots.

From Cocoparra NP we moved North to Lake Cargelligo to bird at the Round Hill Nature reserve - to be featured in next post.

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