Deniliquin area Easter campout

Fri 30 March 2018 12:00am

Sandra Henderson

The camp this year will be on a private property at Wanganella near Deniliquin. The property has some old shearers’ quarters which will provide for a few people to have bunks in the quarters, and all of us to have use of very basic kitchen facilities if needed and a lounge room with an open fire if it’s chilly. More details will be available once I’ve had a chance to visit and check it out. There are plenty of places to visit – a couple of places around the Wanganella area, the island sanctuary and forest in Deniliquin, the Mathoura reed beds and the Gulpa Forest/Gulpa Creek. The property owner is a keen birder so may have other suggestions.

Bookings are essential. Detailed information will be provided closer to the date to those coming to the camp.

Post event report

Twenty-five COG members and their families joined the Easter Camp this year based at the old shearers’ quarters on a private property via Wanganella, about 60km north of Deniliquin.  We were joined by the property owner John Nevinson, a keen birder himself, as we visited various semi-arid habitats around the property, as well as various woodland, scrublands, dry forests and wetlands afield in the Wanganella area, around Deniliquin, and at the Mathoura Reedbeds and Gulpa Creek forest in the Murray Valley National Park.  The weather was lovely – hot days to 32-33 deg, mild nights and generally calm conditions.

In all, 115 bird species were seen by the group over the long weekend – a very good tally considering that the recent rains were very patchy across the area, with John’s property itself receiving only 11mm.  The highlight target bird was a male Plains Wanderer found while spotlighting on foot by John in a record time of about 15 minutes.  Old hands were prepared for the usual couple of hours pacing and torch-sweeping around the grassland paddocks and were most surprised to be back at camp so early.

John’s house and dam area gave us good views of a pair of resident Barn Owls, a Southern Boobook, White-backed Swallows and, for a lucky few, two Black Falcons.  The surrounding paddocks had dozens of Banded Lapwing and many Red Kangaroos.   Woodland and grassland areas gave us other target inland species such as Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, a pair of Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos, Bluebonnets, Brown Treecreepers, Purple-backed and White-winged Fairywrens, Southern Whiteface, Singing, Spiny-cheeked and Striped Honeyeaters, Yellow-throated Miners, White-fronted Chats, Black-faced Woodswallows and Pied Butcherbirds.   Phil Maher’s re-vegetated woodland patches around Wanganella were impressive in the flora planted, and productive for birds, butterflies and reptiles.

A bit of concern about rumours of house mice moving south proved to be unfounded.  A few were seen spotlighting in the grassland, but only one caused a little trouble at camp.  Two lucky folks sighted a Letter-winged Kite early on the drive home, a great addition to the wide variety of raptors seen in numbers, particularly Wedge-tailed Eagles, Nankeen Kestrels, Black and Whistling Kites, and Brown Falcons.

From a social perspective, we again enjoyed communal nibbles and drinks each evening before dinner.  In addition, John was given a second bite at an 80th birthday celebration with a communal bring-a-plate meal – confirming the culinary skills of all.  Many thanks for the conviviality of all participants, the generosity of those sharing their knowledge on flora and fauna, our younger members for keen eyes and enthusiasm, to John for hosting us again, to Sandra Henderson for organising the camp.  My personal thanks to whoever organised the beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and to the Pied Butcherbird which serenaded me awake every morning.

Julie McGuiness

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