December 2008 Holiday in New South Wales Trip report #4
On our way to Sydney for Christmas we stoppedÃ‚Â briefly in the Riverina town of Narrandera, New South Wales. We filled up with fuel and then found a nice park in which to relax for half an hour while we had a cuppa and morning tea.
I didn’t record many birds in this park despite the good conditions, though there were a few people around at the time. One pleasing sighting was a good view of a male Mistletoebird inÃ‚Â a tree nearby. Of course my camera was still in the car! The photo below was taken several years ago at home in Murray Bridge.
Next to where we were having our cuppa was a beautiful oval. What drew our attention to the oval were the large sprinklers pumping out huge volumes of water on to the oval in the middle of the day. Narrandera is on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, one of the tributaries of our Murray River. Water that should be flowing down the river system is being wasted in this flagrant way, with no thought to residents of South Australia who haven’t been able to use sprinklers for a long time, and whose ovals are mostly dry grass in the main. I find this offensive, immoral and downright selfish.
December 2008 New South Wales Trip Report #3
On the second morning of our trip to Sydney we delayed leaving the western New South Wales town of Hay for a short while. We spent about ten minutes near the bank of the Murrumbidgee River (see photo above) so we could take a few photos.
As we left the town I observed a Black Kite gliding over the road and a White-faced Heron flying towards an irrigation channel. The Hay area is a part of the Riverina area of the state. Huge amounts of water are drawn from the Murrumbidgee River for irrigating various crops and pastures, as well as some vegetables and other crops.
While these are essential crops for keeping the food supply flowing in Australia, I seriously question the broad acre irrigation of crops such as wheat; no wonder we have so little water in our river system in South Australia. Adding to this insult were the numerous sprinklers seen watering footpaths in Hay. Here in South Australia we haven’t been able to use sprinklers for some time. Why do we need to suffer severe restrictions when others upstream pour huge amounts on to lawns so their gardens can look pretty?
On the road to Narrandera the birding was far superior to the previous day. The cooler change had passed through during the night and the day was much more pleasant. Along the way we had good views of several Emus while small families of White-winged Choughs were often seen on the side of the road, walking along in a stately fashion as if they owned the road side verge. Also present were numerous ravens, probably Australian Ravens. At last I was able to add Crested Pigeons to the trip list, along with Nankeen Kestrels soaring over the road or hovering in one spot. One was seen diving to the ground to catch something in the grass.
Closer to Narrandera we saw two magnificent Wedge-tailed Eagles soaring low over the road.Ã‚Â A wonderful sight as we drove along.
December 2008 New South Wales Trip Report #2
After the disappointing lack of birds as we drove over to Hay from home in Murray Bridge I was less than keen to do any birding around the outback town of Hay. After tea we left our caravan park cabin and went for a walk along the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. This walk was partly to get exercise and partly to get out of the very hot cabin.
I didn’t take my binoculars or my camera.
Rule #1: Always take your camera – just in case.
In the cool of the evening the birds emerged in numbers. We saw dozens of Galahs feeding on the ground. Several babies sat in the gum trees overhead giving their very annoying and persistent begging calls. A small flock of about six Red Rumped Parrots flew overhead. Crested Pigeons strutted along the track in front of us and a Laughing Kookaburra watched us from his perch on a dead branch.
One of the highlights was seeing and hearing several Blue-faced Honeyeaters, always a good bird to see. Another highlight was the sighting of one Noisy Friarbird, another species of honeyeater and one I have rarely seen over the years. It had been over eight years since my last views of this species. I could have taken several good photos of the Black-backed Magpies also feeding on the ground. Two White Ibis flew overhead and two Yellow Rosellas flew from a nearby tree and across the river. Overhead several dozen Dusky Woodswallows drifted northwards on the breeze.
As we were returning to the cabin we passed a flock of about forty Australian Wood Ducks feeding on the front lawn of a local resident who obviously throws them pieces of bread at regular intervals. Earlier we had seen two adults leading three ducklings across the river.
New South Wales 2008 Trip report #1
We are off on another road trip – this time straight to Sydney for Christmas with family. On the way we travelled from home in Murray Bridge through Lameroo and Pinnaroo before crossing over the border into Victoria for several hours. We crossed the River Murray at Tooleybuc and the travelled on to Balranald and then across the Hay Plains (see photo above) and stopped at Hay overnight.
On this occasion we are travelling with our adult daughter in her car. Having three drivers share the driving was a pleasant change from recent years of holidaying.
All through the first day we were running just ahead of a cool change. The air conditioned car was very pleasant. Stopping for lunch at Underbool we needed to find a shady spot – the hot north wind making it not very pleasant.
The hot conditions made birding as we drove along very frustrating. We hardly saw anything. I guess the birds were also taking to the shade during the trying conditions. Sure, we saw several flocks of White-winged Choughs on the side of the road. We also saw the occasional Australian Magpie and a few very hot ravens sitting on fence posts with their wings outstretched – they were probably either Australian Ravens or Little Ravens.
Between Tooleybuc and Balranald I anticipated seeing Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos but I was disappointed. In fact, I was very disappointed with the few sightings of birds on this first day.
I hope the birding improves.
Whenever we travel through Kerang in north west Victoria we try to make time to stop at the Ibis Rookery. This is part of a series of lakes fed by the River Murray. It is an important wetland area and supports large numbers of water birds.
The rookery itself is a few kilometres north of the town on the way to Swan Hill. It is about a kilometre off the main road with easy access to the picnic ground. A short two minute walk from the car park gets one to the bird hide, complete with a telescope for birders – and the general public – to use.