Get out and explore ...

Do you want to learn more about your local area?

Spend time outdoors with like minded people and learn from some keen (and very knowledgeable) plant and bird enthusiasts.

Murrumbidgee Field Naturalists Trip to McCann Road & Griffith Area: Saturday 27 July 2019

 McCann Road Grey Mistletoe - Eric WhitingRufous Whistler (Male) - Phil TenisonTen brave souls met at the Tourist Information Centre in Griffith trusting in my ability to get us to McCann Road.

Fortunately their trust was rewarded, as we waited the obligatory 10 minutes after the scheduled time and then made our way to McCann Road.

This is a small patch of vegetation near Lake Wyangan which I had only visited briefly a couple of times before during Twitchathons.

It is a great spot with a good range of birds including the regular Honeyeaters, Thornbills and Wrens while a few specials were the Golden Whistler, Rufous Whistler and White-fronted Honeyeater.

After a good look around we headed for Lake Wyangan picnic area for a combined Morning Tea and Lunch.

Then off to Campbell Swamp, which didn't produce a lot of birds but the views of the Swamp Harrier, Hobby and Kestrel were very nice.

A quick stop over at the Griffith airport where we were able to find the Pink Cockies we were seeking plus some others including Rainbow Lorikeets and Mallee Ringnecks.

Black and White Bird Watching - Murrumbidgee Field Naturalists

Freckled Duck non-breeding Campbel'ls Swamp - Phil TenisonPearl Bluebush Mariana sedifolia - Rowena Whiting

I couldn’t find Campbell Swamp named on Google Maps, so it’s no surprise that I got lost (twice) on our Saturday March 16 Club outing trying to find it – even though I’d been there (twice!) before. Some might say I have a poor sense of direction; I prefer to be thought of as a person who “investigates alternative routes”.

Having eventually arrived I found the area as life-filled as I remembered, from both a plant and animal perspective. In relation to the former, I clung to Eric like a gecko on glass, both along the entrance path and the boardwalk (more on this safety hazard later) as he described many of the species extant, such as the lignum thickets and swamp couch. Striking was the crystal clarity of the shallow water, being perennially filtered by this same aqueous flora. In some places it was the inland equivalent of coastal seaweed-adorned rock pools.

The spacious bird hide, with its information display and adjacent signage, is pretty special, and I was proud that it was a long-ago initiative of the Murrumbidgee Field Naturalists. A  hide is a wonderful place for field ornithology as, not only does it allow one to be close-up and personal with our avian subjects, but one can even chat, eat and stroll about – oh, and spy on birds of course. I leave it to Max to supply the full – impressive – list for this very enjoyable and informative outing.

Glossy Black-Cockatoo Count - Murrumbidgee Field Naturalists 2nd March 2019

Glossy Black-Cockatoo - Barry AllenGlossy Black-Cockatoo - Nella SmithAfter a very extended dry period we had up to 50 ml in the Narrandera, Brobenah and Cocoparra Ranges a fortnight before the census. We thought we would struggle to find dams with water in them at all and that was the case in Binya State Forest and the Cocoparra National Park. The Narrandera Hills and Brobenah had some dams with water. This could actually have been a good thing as it concentrated the birds into one area. In the end we looked at dams that we had looked at in previous years which is a good thing for ongoing data. If anyone heard a begging youngster though I would like to know about it and add it to my records.

The total of birds seen in Narrandera Hills was 14, Brobenah 9, Cocoparra 12 and Rankins Springs 17 (In Narrandera, Cocoparra and Rankins Springs birds were seen at one dam).  The largest range of other birds seen was at Brobenah by our gun birdwatcher, Max Sullivan

Many thanks to all who participated and the landholders for assisting with the count and for allowing us access to their properties.

Nella Smith

World Wetland Evening – Thursday 31st January 2019

Spoonbills at Fivebough Kathy TenisonWorld Wetland Evening Fivebough Kathy TenisonThe World Wetland Evening was part of a global event organised to celebrate the positive input wetlands all over the world have in cleaning up river systems, buffering floods, providing habitat for a large diversity of wildlife and providing a wonderful place for us all to visit and enjoy.

Fivebough Wetlands provided an ideal venue for our World Wetland Evening. We saw a good number of bird species (28x) including Freckled Duck, Red-kneed Dotterel, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Yellow-billed and Royal Spoonbills. Given we are suffering the effects of a prolonged drought it was great to see these birds calling Fivebough home.

Sixty people took part in the workshop that covered such topics as wetlands in our region, birds, frogs, history, management and climate change impacts. We began the evening with a wonderful Welcome to Country by William Ingram.

Erin Lenon spoke about some of the decisions that are made in order to provide water to wetlands. It is certainly not an easy job to know what water is required where with several delivery partners involved. These decisions include maximising environmental outcomes, not intending harm/adversely, using local knowledge and negotiating consent.

ROCK OF AGES with Murrumbidgee Field Naturalists

Lake Cowal - Wedge-tailed Eagle Kathy TenisonLake Cowal Rock - Rowena Whiting Mal Carnegie is a rock: a tall, tough country boy born and bred in this same unforgiving land which hosts the Evolution gold mine, the epicenter of our outing on November 24, 2018. He is also the rock upon which the success of the Lake Cowal Conservation Centre is assured, which has its home adjacent to the gold mine.

It was in their spacious tearoom/conference centre that Mal welcomed us with a mandatory video on mine safety. Apparently, with the stringent obligations of OH&S attached to Australian mines, too much safety is never enough. And this colossal enterprise is, happily, Aussie owned and operated.

Our host then gave us an informative talk on the mine and its history; along with lots of operational facts and figures. This is indeed a major industrial complex just 40 or so kilometres north of sleepy West Wyalong.

Then he escorted us on a tour of the mine; hard hats, hi-vis vests and safety glasses for all. We looked, for all the world, like a party of desperate politicians canvassing for regional votes!