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Sunday, 31 August 2014

Monstrous Day at Kamarooka and Terrick Terrick National Parks Part 2 Terrick Terrick 30/08/2014

Part 2 started by us bidding fairwell to Richard as we headed north to Terrick Terrick National Park, the drive was along farm roads (1 lane road) from Kamarooka. There was a few birds we encountered on the drive we hadn't seen already, but nothing of too much interest. The drive itself took us through a few small country towns and finally reached Terrick Terrick just after 1pm. We mistakenly (well really Owen had no idea but we missed the first entry point into the park, but am pretty sure we ended up where we needed too) took the second entry point into the park, which was along Allen track, as we drove along we got the first birds on the fence perimetre with Jacky Winter seen and heard calling well. As we entered the gate at Allen Track we heard a family of White-winged Chough and as we continued down this track Owen got a glimpse of a male Flame Robin so we stopped (great work by Owen).
As we pulled up we saw a Australian Shelduck fly overhead and heard the calls of a Gilbert's Whistler. On inspection there was a beautiful male and female in a pine tree (regarding the pine trees here, it actually felt surreal driving along Allen track in a white cypress pine forest in the middle of Australia, it was like dejavu for me reminding me of birding in The USA when I was a child!). 
The Gilbert's Whistler was very co-operative and gave us extended views as it skipped between pines  ( so much easy to see here than the mallee of Kamarooka). 
    Gilbert's Whistler

Also in this tree was a Jacky Winter which caused quite confusion with me and a few others as it was very different to Jacky Winter we normally see, and there was a pair of Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoos ( which Owen got very excited over hoping for Black-eared) in a tree in the distance. After some successful photos of the Jacky Winter and Gilbert's Whistler we continued onto the Picnic area/camping ground. 
    Jacky Winter

On exiting the car we were surrounded by calls with Red-rumped Parrot, Eastern Rosella, Restless Flycatcher, Australian Raven and Brown Treecreepers.
    Brown Treecreeper 

A single male Hooded Robin scooted above our heads for a quick glimpse before disappearing.
After the necessary toilet stop we decided to circumnavigate  mount Terrick Terrick as was described in Tim Dolby blog. As we started we got great views of a Restless Flycatcher.
    Restless Flycatcher

The Tree Martins were very active (checked every bird hoping for a White-backed Swallow) and as we continued around we got a family party of White-browed Babblers at the base of the rock feeding through the trees. a distant Wedge-tailed Eagle kept us entertained as we moved along. A single Brown Goshawk (it was a little controversial so will get clarification as it does have a small head) sat perched for us to get off a couple of photos.
As we neared the half way mark around the base Owen spotted a male Peregrine Falcon circling above which was a cracking sight. 
    Peregrine Falcon

We then were tossing up if we should continue around the base or go a little lower down the hill into the treeline and see what we could find, after splitting from Owen and Matt (Matt got photo of a flame robin)
    Flame Robin

Ross, Andrew and Myself headed down. Looking at the habitat I asked Ross what the Southern Whiteface call sounded like and instantly we were surrounded by them. Giving us extremely awesome photo oppurtunities for a good 20 minutes as we waited for Owen and Matt to catch up and show them these wondrous (2nd lifer for me) birds. 
    Southern Whiteface

After Matt got off a few shots we started to discuss our next move, when Ross called out to say he had found a pair of Hooded Robins, so we all followed and were able to get some nice views as they called loudly. 
    Hooded Robin

The day just seemed to get better and better and with limited time now remaining we talked about our next move, we decided to bypass the cemetery and head for another spot Tim Dolby talked about in his blog. So we headed back towards the car, but as you find with birding you always get caught with something to slow you down, this time it was a huge flock of Hooded Robins and Jacky Winters feeding together on the ground. I counted at least 4 male Hooded Robins which was something I had never seen before! 
After some photos of these beauties we endeavoured to get to the car, we could now see it about 300 metres away but again was side tracked by Owen getting his binoculars on a pair of Diamond Firetails, we chased these little buggers around for a good 10 or so minutes without anyone getting a single picture as they flittered between cypress pines and then disappear to then reappear a further 3 trees away.... we continued this game but finally we all gave up with the fact no photos were to be had but a great view all the same.
Getting to the car around 3.30pm we had decided to head to Bendigo Creek which was about 5 kms to the east of Mount Terrick Terrick, we got back onto the road we travelled in on and followed it north for about 20 metres before turning right (east) onto Mologa Echuca Road. This road is just farmland and was nothing to note regarding new species for the day, but as we arrived at the creek we noticed it too be bird friendly. Instantly I heard Pallid Cuckoo, while searching the trees to the right of the creek we saw the Pallid Cuckoo as well as finding a Nankeen Kestrel hawking for food. On the left hand side we had a Willie Wagtail and Restless Flycatcher flying around together, the Restless Flycatcher hawking for insects. 
The area was padlocked it did look like people used to have access to the road along here but as of now it seemed impassable. We walked around the fence near the creek bed and went into the grassland from here which was covered in old river red gums. First bird we flushed was a group of 5 Diamond Firetails followed by a very early returning Rufous Songlark that was calling beautifully. 
    Diamond Firetail
    Rufous Songlark

Matt was about 50 metres from us and quickly called out "babbler". This is the site for Grey-crowned Babbler and Matt had found a group of 5 or 6 in a gum tree, listening to there weird call was interesting and a few photos later they were gone, flying across the creek. 
    Grey-crowned Babbler

We could hear a Peaceful Dove calling and as there were a few people still needing it as a lifer we attempted to mimic its call with whistles (by this stage all our phones were flat) and surprising we were able to call it in and get some views (and I even got a photo). 
    Peaceful Dove

Australasian Pipit was seen by a few and as time was diminishing as was the light we needed to head to our last spot.
    Australasian Pipit

During the week I had a discussion with Tim Bawden regarding White-winged Fairywren and he told me a reliable spot around Terrick Terrick was a lignum swamp called Meadows Grassland T.T.N.P which I should check out. I wasn't sure we would have enough time but as the day had been so rewarding and we were able to find things quicker than expected we had an hour up our sleeves. 
The Meadows was about 12 kms or so east of the creek. As we drove along Mologa Echuca Road we flushed a very obliging Zebra Finch ( my camera was playing up and this finch sat on the fence for at least 4 minutes allowing me to get one photo in that time). 
    Zebra Finch

As we turned onto Mt Terrick Road we came across a few farm dams with some waterbirds present, White-faced and White-necked Heron, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Little Pied Cormorant, Hardhead, Pacific Black Duck and Grey Teal were all seen, and we also flushed our first Brown Falcon of the trip. 
    Yellow-billed Spoonbill

As we followed Mt Terrick Road we turned into Davis Road, which took us to the Meadows. As we got out of the car we got our first group of House Sparrows (awesome). By this stage everyone was getting tired but as there was a good chance of White-winged Fairywren I was keen as mustard. We jumped the fence and entered this grassland, within 30 seconds (literally) Owen found a beautiful male (lifer 3) on top of a boxthorn tree as well as a female.
    White-winged Fairywren

Also there was many White-fronted Chats and I would get excited everytime as they popped up on top of the trees (wishing for a good sighting of the Fairywren). 
   White-fronted Chat

As this lignum was hiding a wetland Owen and Myself decided to circle the swamp and see what we could find, instantly heard Australian Spotted Crake, many Red-kneed Dotterel and a pair of Chestnut Teal. As we walked to the left of the swamp we heard the beautiful call of a Brown Songlark and after watching it for a while we continued on. 
We found a Brown Falcon (speckled) atop a boxthorn which allowed photos
   Brown Falcon

We constantly heard Little Grassbirds and White-winged Fairywrens calling. We flushed a huge flock of Black-tailed Native Hen which was the largest I had ever seen, I reckon we saw only half of what was actually there but at least 40 would have been sighted. There was a lot of commotion as we got half way around, as a huge flock of Grey Teal took to the air and a lone Black Swan also took flight.
    Grey Teal
    Black Swan

At this point we also flushed 2 Grey Kangaroos which hopped away quickly and bounded over the fence about 200 metres from us.
On returning to the car we heard and saw our last bird for the trip, a group of 3 Long-billed Corella. 
A totally mind blowing day with over 100 species seen between both sites and some awesome lifers for me. Would like to thank all who came along as it was a very memorable day I will never forget.....
Here is the link from ebird of the list for the park
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S19611141

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