Moree and Pilliga – extended camping trip

Fri 13 October 2017 12:00am

Sue Lashko

We will spend 3 full days in the Pilliga and then stay on a property near Moree, close to Gwydir Wetlands from the afternoon of Tues 17 to Sat 21.  Participants can camp or stay in the shearers’ huts at Moree.  If you are interested please contact me by email

Post event report

COG’s extended campout this year to the Pilliga Scrub and the Gywdir Wetlands north-west of Moree attracted 11 participants. Our first camp was at the Sculptures in the Scrub picnic area and campground which proved to be a very birdy and peaceful spot, as evidenced by the dawn chorus which started well before 5.30 each morning. A highlight on the first morning was a short walk around the Sculptures in the Scrub in Timmallallie National Park – award-winning sculptures that celebrate Aboriginal culture and history and are well worth a visit on their own. The remaining days were spent exploring some of the suggested routes and places in the brochure Bird Routes of Barradine and the Pilliga.

Bird highlights over the 3 full days were many and included Emu, Little Eagle, Australian Hobby, Painted Buttonquail (6), Little and Musk Lorikeets, six species of Cuckoo including Black-eared, White-throated Needletail, Sacred Kingfisher, Rainbow Bee-eater, Brown Treecreeper, Speckled Warbler, Striped, Blue-faced, Yellow-tufted, Brown and Black (2) Honeyeaters, Hooded Robin, Grey-crowned and White-browed Babblers, Spotted Quail-thrush, Varied Sittella, Crested Shrike-tit, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Cicadabird, Diamond Firetail, Rufous and Brown Songlarks, and huge flocks of White-browed and Masked Woodswallows.

One evening over drinks we staked out Bark Hut Dam, hoping to see Glossy Black-Cockatoos.  Just when we thought we were out of luck, 35 arrived, in various sized groups.  They amassed squawking in the trees for about ½ hour, before they all flew down as a group to drink at the water’s edge at dusk.  A great sight.

A total of 106 species was recorded for the Pilliga Scrub part of the tour, along with various mammals and reptiles.

On ‘moving day’ COG members made their way independently north to Moree.  Narrabri Lake, a haven for local and migrating birds, proved a popular and worthwhile spot to break the journey. More than 60 species were recorded while travelling between the two camps, including Magpie Goose, Pink-eared Duck, Glossy Ibis, Royal and Yellow-billed Spoonbills, Black-winged Stilt, Blue Bonnet, White-winged Fairywren, White-breasted Woodswallow and Australian Reed-warbler.

Our next camp was on a privately-owned farming and conservation property called Boyanga South, situated 75 kilometres NW of Moree.  The property is 14 kilometres from the Bunnor Waterbird Lagoon State Conservation Area, which boasts a new bird hide. The Boyanga Waterhole on Terry and Philip’s property was one of the first publicly declared RAMSAR sites on private property in Australia.  Participants either camped or stayed in comfortable shearers’ huts with excellent facilities.  On arrival we were all soon scurrying for our binoculars, as the ‘Georgie’ call of the Painted Honeyeater could be clearly heard. This turned out to be almost a ‘trash’ bird, as the prolific flowering of mistletoe produced scores of both these and Mistletoebirds over the next 3 days.

Our host Terry proved a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide who took us out each day, either to a special spot on her own property or to one of the adjoining wetlands. Terry also facilitated a visit by Jane Humphries from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, who gave us special access to some of the waterholes not normally open to members of the public.

A morning walk on the property, a mix of wetlands and woodlands, would yield more than 60 species in 2 or 3 hours.  Some of the birding highlights during our stay included Brown Quail, Little Bittern (heard only), White-bellied Sea-eagle (on nest), Swamp Harrier, Brolga, Baillon’s Crake, Bar-shouldered Dove, Red-winged Parrot, Cockatiel, Pale-headed Rosella, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Dollarbird, Singing Honeyeater, Red-capped Robin, White-winged Triller, Spotted Bowerbird (one with a fabulous bower near Terry and Philip’s house), Double-barred Finch, Little Grassbird and Golden-headed Cisticola. More than 120 species were recorded during this leg of the trip.

On our last day, after a successful morning’s birding, we returned to the shearers’ quarters for a communal fry-up of bacon and farm fresh eggs, generously provided by Terry. We would warmly recommend a visit to the property to any birders venturing to the Moree area.  See

A big thank you to Kathy Walter, John Goldie and Sue Lashko for planning and leading this most enjoyable and productive trip.

Kathy Cook

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