Saturday, 18 June 2016

Trip to Bingara

On Saturday June 11 Val and I drove to Bingara to attend the Myall Creek Massacre Memorial on the Sunday June 12 with some of our family.  We travelled from Coutts Crossing to Grafton and then along the Gwydir Highway to Glen Innes, where we had a 'cuppa' stop and then on to Inverell.  From Inverell we travelled to Delungra and then turned off towards Bingara.  Before arriving at Bingara we passed the Myall Creek Massacre Memorial site.  West of Grafton we found a road-killed immature  Superb Lyrebird.  The habitat was dry open forest so it is unlikely that the bird was killed at that site.  It was most likely carried by a vehicle from the Gibraltar Range, to the west, and dropped off the vehicle at this point in unsuitable habitat.  A dead Superb Lyrebird was found some years back in the car park of Shopping World, in the middle of Grafton.  It had obviously been transported from somewhere in the ranges.

Road-killed immature Superb Lyrebird

We stayed at the Riverside Caravan Park and after booking in explored the town.  I have been in the area frequently in the past 5 years deploying and retrieving cameras for the National Parks & Wildlife Service's Wildcount project but hadn't spent much time in the town.  It is an interesting town with many old and historic buildings including the Roxy Theatre.

Bingara viewed from the lookout

Along one back street we found a yard full of Wallaroos, obviously a wildlife carer's home.  On the nature strip of another street were 2-3 Spotted Bowerbirds.  They were eating the flatweeds in the lawn.  I didn't check the species of weed but they looked like Catsears Hypocheirus sp.

Spotted Bowerbird feeding on flatweeds Bingara

The Myall Creek Massacre Memorial was a moving and uplifting event as it remembered a shocking massacre but has resulted in a wonderful act of reconciliation.   Check out the website ( if you want to know more about this part of Australia's history that is often swept under the carpet.

Indigenous dancers at the ceremony

On the return trip we travelled via the Copeton Dam and had lunch near the dam wall.  Red Wattlebirds, White-plumed Honeyeaters, Superb Fairy-wrens and a White-browed Scrubwren joined us.   Leaving the Dam area we found a freshly road-killed Grey Shrike-thrush.  The orange-buff eye-brow indicated that it was an immature bird.

All in all a weekend with mixed emotions with the enjoyment of visiting such a nice piece of Australia and seeing some of the local wildlife while remembering the tragic past history of colonization.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Silver lining in clouds

This week's east coast low that battered the coast of eastern Australia with dramatic and damaging effects has also brought some benefits.  The extremely dry conditions experienced for many months across much of eastern Australia had caused the local Clarence Valley wetlands to dry up.  Wetland birds had been concentrating on the small remnants of water sitting in a few wetlands or around farm dams, which themselves were beginning to dry out.

Deadmans Swamp full after the rain

Deadmans Swamp, Coutts Crossing

The low brought with it hundreds of mm of rain in 24 hours causing most local wetlands to fill.  The water flowing into the Orara River flooded out over the paddocks at Coutts Crossing.  The Orara River drains areas behind Coffs Harbour so the rise in the River included local runoff and runoff from the Coffs Harbour hinterland.

On Sunday afternoon an adult female Black-necked Stork was foraging at Deadmans Swamp, Coutts Crossing, along with a number of White-necked and White-faced Herons, two Royal Spoonbills, a flock of Straw-necked Ibis and others.  At Brothersons Swamp I photographed a Yellow-billed Spoonbill that was roosting with a group of Royal Spoonbills.  On our walk on Monday we couldn't reach Brothersons Swamp as the Orara River had broken its banks.

Adult female Black-necked Stork at Deadmans Swamp

Yellow-billed Spoonbill and Royal Spoonbill loafing in dead tree Brothersons Swamp

Yellow-billed Spoonbill preening, Brothersons Swamp, Coutts Crossing

Royal Spoonbill, Brothersons Swamp

                               The cloud formations at the tail end of the low decorated the sky.

Clouds over Coutts Crossing on Sunday

Brothersons Swamp - full to the brim on Sunday

Black Swans enjoy the water at Brothersons Swamp

On Monday the floodwaters had backed up from the Orara River and flooded the small bridge over McIntosh Creek.

Flood waters covering the bridge at McIntosh Creek

By Wednesday the River had receded but the water remained in the wetlands.   The bridge at McIntosh Creek was again passable.

Bridge at McIntosh Creek after the flood

Whether this dump of water will encourage our local Black-necked Storks to breed this season will become apparent in future months.  Prior to the east coast low the chance of them breeding was virtually zero.