A fascinating couple of days at the Jerrabomberra wetlands.

Heron, Nankeen Night 2Have been a bit slack lately, so have got a few days’ worth of photos from the wetlands to share. Some rarities, especially the Nankeen Night Heron, and a first ever sighting for me of a Spotted Crake (and I was the one who spotted it).

Let’s start with the Spotted Crake. I just noticed some movement deep in the rushes, so the photos aren’t too flash:

The little Australasian Grebe family seems to be doing well. Both chicks still alive some weeks after appearing. Dad is still in his breeding colours so perhaps there will be more action:

Although I have seen Great Egrets elsewhere this was the first time here. This is a non-breeding adult:

Egret, Great (f)

Egret, Little

As always, plenty of ducks; but it always worth investigating as there are often many different species. The Pink-eared Ducks are featuring prominently at the moment. Note the Long-Necked Turtle looks quite at home on the Preening Log:

Other ducks include this family of Pacific Black Ducks:

Ducks, Pacific black

and both Chestnut and Grey Teals:

Teal, Chestnut, Male brTeal, Chestnut m brTeal, grey (juv)

Regular visitors to these Wetlands are the Australasian (Royal) Spoonbills. They are energetic fishers, swaying their beak back and forward in the water for pot luck:

A bit away from the water, a huge flock of both Australasian and Straw-necked Ibis grazed in the long grasses. Perhaps it is frequent, but I have not seen both varieties together like this before:

Ibis, Straw-necked and Australasian

A highlight was a good look at a Nankeen Night-heron, a very elusive bird, and one of my favourites, It can sit still in tree-forks for hours and hours, which makes it really hard to spot. I was lucky here, in that it flew away just after I spotted it:

Heron, Nankeen NIghtHeron, Nankeen Night 2The Australian Reed-warblers were also about, and again very hard to spot, plus they don’t sit still for long:

Also passing through were some Dollarbirds:

Another highlight was a couple of Latham’s Snipes. One was banded (#74) and the other not. The banding is helping ornithologists learn in particular about the astonighing flying feats of these birds. They fly from Japan to here for our summer in just 3 days, hitting 100km per hour in flight. It is not clear, as I understand it, if they rest, but the belief is that they stay in the air the whole way. Little is known about what they get up to in south eastern Australia.


Snipe, Latham's 4Snipe, Latham's 3Snipe, Latham's 2Snipe, Latham's (banded #74)

Other more common visitors were a pair of introduced European Goldfinches, some White-faced Heron, and a young Dusky Moorhen:

A great place for a wide variety of both waterbirds and bushbirds.



Monaghan Strategic Pty Ltd

February 10,  2019






Wetlands action

Lots of water at the Jerrabomberra Wetlands with a couple of reasonable rainfalls lately.

Spring sees a pair of Australasian Grebes building a nice muddy nest in Location, Location, Location.  The male here is really brightly coloured for the task.


The Preening Log saw some unusual activity, with this Long-Necked Turtle and the basking Pacific Black Duck oblivious to each other till “What the duck!”:


Unfortunately, I missed a photo of the duck kicking the turtle off the preening log – not a place for the non-preening types.


Michael Monaghan

November 2018

Dunne’s Swamp (Ganguddy), Mudgee

IMG_9622The ill-named Swamp is a glorious phenomenon: the rocks reminiscent of the Bungle Bungles, and the Swamp being a small pretty lake formed by the damming of the Cudgegong River in 1920 to provide water for the Kandos cement works (owned by Portland and operating till late 1970s). No doubt it is a special area to the indigenous people who lived here.

The area is populated by large sandstone ranges and weather shaped cone forms.



The entry to the lagoon is through a narrow channel in the sandstone ranges, opening out a la Wilpena Pound into an oasis of magnificent eucalypts and dramatic sandstone forms.  The lake is up to 60 metres deep., so it must have been a seriously dramatic rock valley before it was filled with water.



There were plenty of campers there for the weekend, and it looks a fantastic spot to camp. Ideal for kayaking; there were even a couple of swimmers! Is a must-visit.

Michael Monaghan

November 2018













Mudgee Wetlands


Similar to those in Urunga (see earlier blog), the wetlands in Mudgee have reclaimed industrial wasteland. Clearly lot of great work by volunteers to plant, build hides and picnic tables, and create tracks. Will be a great asset in a few years.

There was a surprising variety of birds for such small area, and so far inland.

The stars were the Black-winged Stilts, with legs so long you wonder they don’t snap:


There were also half a dozen Hooded Dotterells (my first ever sighting of these birds):

IMG_9550 (2)

No surprise to see Australian Ibis or the Royal Spoonbill, but Yellow-billed Spoonbill are much rarer sights:


IMG_9578 (2)TIMG_9580 (2)eIMG_9540 (2)


The mandatory Little Pied Cormorant sat close to a Great Cormorant, a lovely specimen with lots of depth in the plumage colours, both drying out in the sun, well in the dust-laden wind:

IMG_9587 (2)IMG_9589 (2)

Michael Monaghan

November 2018

Spectacular Waterfall Way

Waterfall Way runs from Bellingen to Armidale.  Most of the route is in heavy rainforest, with high sandstone ranges, and, you will be surprised to learn, many waterfalls. The engineering is awesome, highlighted by three sections where the road reverts to single lane over the top of the waterfall, and some stunning cuttings through the sandstone.

One of the road crossings is Newell Falls:

Dangar Falls is in the Dorrigo National Park, just north of Dorrigo:

The cliff face beside the Falls occurred when lava dried, shrinking into the shapes seen here in what is known as “entablature”:Dangar falls entablature

Dorrigo Rainforest Centre provides a lot of walks and the “skywalk” at the visitor centre:

Ebor Falls are just north of Armidale:

IMG_9392 (2)IMG_9393 (2)IMG_9394 (2)IMG_9399 (2)IMG_9403 (2)IMG_9404 (2)IMG_9405 (2)IMG_9500 (2)IMG_9501 (2)IMG_9504A great part of the world, with spectacular natural and man-made phenomena.


Michael Monaghan

November 2018


Gulgong is just north west of Mudgee in mid west New South Wales.  Built on the late 19th century goldrush and Henry Lawson, one of Australia’s greatest authors, the town has three sizeable streets which are unusually narrow. Most shops seem occupied, and many buildings well preserved, but many also need a coat (or three) of paint.

The Prince of Wales Opera House (image 5) dates from 1871, and is said to be one of the oldest opera houses in Australia.


Henry Lawson’s childhood home is half way between Gulgong and Mudgee, on the Henry Lawson Drive.

I can’t believe how many expensive signs you see with blatant typing and structural issues. This one would have cost a fair bit and is in prime place.


If you look closely, you can see these red-rumped parrots hanging on for their lives in the extremely strong dust-ladened winds.



Michael Monaghan

November 2018

Birds around my (temporary) digs in Bellinger – aided by some feeding. Updated with the Green Catbird and Rainforest rain.

Lots and lots of birds here in my rainforest paradise, a few kilometres north west of Bellingen. Stayed at “Critters”, a lovely, isolated, quirky, but well thought out, self-contained cottage, less than 10 minutes from Bellingen. Main house is a few metres away, but well screened, and the considerate owners are more than happy to share birdwatching from their verandah.

Some do get fed, but there are also plenty that shun that luxury. I guess in a rainforest it rains, because that is certainly what it has been doing.

First we have Yellow Robins and the ubiquitous and noisy Leeuwin’s Honeyeater:

IMG_9216 (2)IMG_9215 (2)IMG_9219 (2)IMG_9221 (2)IMG_9267 (2)Unusually, I have seen the male Satin Bowerbird twice, but no sign of any females or kiddies:

Regent Bowerbirds abound, the bright ones being the adult males – apparently they like grated cheese:

IMG_9261 (2)

If there is one Rainbow Loriqueet there are always lots. One thing I noticed, which I have not before, is that Loiriqueets are perching birds, and so they hop rather than walk. Parrots are non-perching, so walk.

IMG_9275 (2)IMG_9271 (2)IMG_9249 (2)King Parrots are up there with the most striking birds:

IMG_9229 (2)

Wonga Pigeon:

IMG_9226 (2)Bar-shouldered Dove:

IMG_9236 (2)

White-headed Pigeon (the male is the whiter one):

Also there are quite a few Red-Browed Finch:

Managed to eventually track down the elusive, but incredibly noisy – sounds like a cat being strangled – Green Catbird.

The rainforest lived up to its name with torrential downpours.

Michael Monaghan

18 November 2018