Armidale Spring Camp overview: 14 Oct to 20 Oct 2018

Armidale , like most western plains towns has suffered from drought conditions for a long time and the weather forecast was looking good for them but not for us. By late Sunday 12 members had arrived with two more arriving on Monday and we had our first meeting in the games room to discuss the week’s activities. The weather promised wet and cold and we decided that a 9 AM start to Uralla would suffice. However although it was windy and cold the rain held off and we had a great morning at Dangar’s Lagoon, ticking off a long list of birds and later we had lunch and birded at Alma Park.

We left at 8 AM for Tuesday’s outing at Blue Hole and Gara Gorge which proved to be two beautiful locations with lots of birds along two tracks which followed a fast flowing creek. We had morning tea at Gara gorge picnic area which had great facilities. On the way back we stopped at Imbota Reserve for a short walk and then continued on to the southern half of the reserve via Fosters Drive. We had hoped to see some Raptors which had eluded us so far but we were out of luck however Imbota Reserve was not a disappointment and we had lunch in the car park.

On Wednesday it was bright and sunny by the time we reached Dumaresq Dam and the promised close sighting of the resident Musk Duck was looking grim. We walked across the bottom of the dam wall to the opposite side and all was revealed. The Musk Duck was preening himself close to shore and we had a great close up view. The 3 klms walk around the dam lake was very rewarding with lots of birds recorded including well over a dozen Reed Warblers. After morning tea the weather was closing in so we headed back to town to visit Newling Dam, a small lagoon at the back of the local volunteer nursery but heavy rain started to fall so we called it a day.

Wednesday started overcast and threatening rain but it held off and our visit to Dangar’s Gorge and Falls was very rewarding with spectacular sweeping views over the deep gorge to the falls. This was another beautiful location with lots of birds but it took so long to reach the main event, McDirtys Track that only a few members set off to make a short exploratory trek

Friday was planned as a full day and we had been advised by our local birding contact to make sure that we pressed on to the Gwydir Park TSR for a first stop so we left at 7:30 AM and arrived at the old Quarry at about 8 AM. Lots of first sightings were the reward for our early start including some high flying Wedge-tailed Eagles. We continued along the stock Route stopping continuously and finally arrived at a clearing beside the Gwydir River for Morning tea. This is a beautiful place and one of the best morning tea stops that I can remember. We ticked of several birds and moved back along the TSR to Mt Yarrowyk for lunch which was taken after most of the members had walked the 3 Klm trek to the Aboriginal Art and back. This was a great birding site which really demanded more time than we could afford to spend here. On the return trip to Armidale our last stop was Booralong Creek, a tributary of the Gwydir River and we walked along the creek for about a Klm and again the birds were quite numerous. It had been a long day and everyone was glad to be back at camp for nibbles at 5 PM.

The last day, Saturday, was by far the hottest and as it turned out one of the best birding days. We started by walking along the creek just before the gate to the Sunnyside TSR and ticked off a lot of birds including several first sightings. After Morning tea we entered the TSR and drove along a rough track for about 2klms and then followed the same creek further downstream which was a birding bonanza. We returned back to the gate for lunch and then headed back to town to prepare for our dinner out that evening. Liz organized a drive along Metz Road in the late afternoon for those diehards who just couldn’t get enough birding and 10 of us headed off along this noted birding drive. We didn’t see many birds but it was a great afternoon before heading back to spruce up for dinner which was a great night out

It had been a fabulous week, very well organized and a great credit to our Activities Officer and we thank her for a job very well done.  Total Bird Species for the week 133