Birds I saw on my ‘Journey to the West’: First stop the World Heritage area , Tia Falls, near Walcha. Lots of crimson rosellas, the fatter cousins of the eastern rosellas and rainbow lorikeets I see regularly at home on the mid-north coast of NSW. Then the bird that looks like a magpie but isn’t; the pied currawong, followed by more magpie lookalikes, a flock of choughs grazing by the road and the odd magpie lark.
We arrived at the caravan park to be greeted by a willy wagtail, a flock of busy yellow robins (Aren’t they always busy?) and a pair of king parrots, obviously these two were caravan park pets, feeding from dishes put out by residents.
Unfortunately most of the marsupials I saw were road kill; a quoll (as if they haven’t got enough to contend with being decimated by feral cats), they are also run over along with rock wallabies, echidnas and possums. The sheep and cattle were thriving in the paddocks and the rabbits appeared quite well off too.
I am looking forward to the dawn chorus here at Barraba Caravan Park, but I think it may well be en equine solo, as we are camped beside a ‘naaaaybour.’
Spot a bird on the wire. Is it the beautiful turqoise parrot? I race to get my binoculars but am not quick enough as I’m bailed up by a park visitor, a woman looking a little off centre with her companion of dubious parentage. I can’t take my eyes off him. He reminds me of a child’s earnest drawing of a dog, come to life. You know the sort with its tail too long, its legs too short and its head too big. I secretly name him Binky. By the time we’ve got to taking on Rupery Murdoch, drug dealers and the courts, I’m ready to run. Roman starts the car and I jump in, leaving Binky, the conspiracy theorist and possibly a turquoise parrot behind.
We head out to the nearest travelling stock route (TSR) that has been designated a bird route. Aside from nearly being carried away by grasshoppers we saw some of the usual suspects, kookaburras and galahs, a large flock of white ibis grazing in a paddock, a noisy friar bird, flocks of parrots that I’ve got no idea what they were because they flew so fast! Our walk along the Manilla trickle (at times a raging river, but not today) and we saw lots of barred finches in the thorn bushes.
Night and I am awoken not by partying swamphens, as I often am at home, but a farm dog. Its complaint oscillates between barking and howling. This happens when dogs spend their lives being tied up! My thoughts on the absent dawn chorus, unfortunately are true.
Over to Narrabri and there’s a pair of red rumped parrots outside the library. At the motel a magpie lark leisurely feasts on all the locusts that the grill of the car has managed to catch on our drive west. We head home via Boggabri school and see the fattest white throated minor, obviously a school lunch gourmand!
We only had a short time to observe the birdlife, but any time bird watching is time well spent. Home again and back amongst the rainforest birds. I think I am spoilt for choice!
Red-rumped parrots outside the library