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Birds of New South Wales - #4(b) - Murray River Region (Yarrawonga / Mulwala / Tocumwal) (1 May 2017)

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Birds of New South Wales - #1 - Tweed Coast Region White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Tweed River, Stotts Island, NSW

For many years now, a group of us avid golfers journey from Phillip Island to Mulwala, NSW, for a week’s exercise based at Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort.

Like most golf trips, ours is a hectic program with 5 rounds over 6 days; not to mention the accompanying social activities.

Birds of New South Wales - #4(b) - Murray River Region (Yarrawonga / Mulwala / Tocumwal) White-necked Heron, Tocumwal Golf Course, NSW

Of course, I take my camera with me when out and about in readiness for anything which comes into range.

As has been the case for some time, the number of different species of birdlife presenting on this trip was impressive.

Birds of New South Wales - #9 – Sawtell Region Australasian Gannet, Coffs Harbour, NSW

Whilst actually playing golf at YMGCR I saw – Blue-faced Honeyeater, Noisy Miner, Australian Magpie (race: tibicen), Magpie-lark, Red Wattlebird, Eastern / Crimson (Yellow) Rosella, Apostlebird, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Little Corella, Whistling Kite, Nankeen Kestrel, Australasian Grebe, Welcome Swallow, Pied Currawong, Black Swan, Little Black / Little Pied Cormorant, Crested Pigeon, Spotted Turtle-Dove, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Australian White / Straw-necked Ibis, Laughing Kookaburra, Australian Raven, Superb Fairy-wren, Eurasian Coot, Little / Noisy Friarbird, Australian Wood Duck, Pacific Black Duck, Galah and Willie Wagtail.

Birds of New South Wales - #1 - Tweed Coast Region Little Black Cormorant, Brunswick Heads, NSW

There are huge populations of Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and Little Corella roosting overnight in the forest beyond the southern boundary of YMGCR and elsewhere along the Murray River.

Birds of New South Wales - #2 - Urunga / Forster-Tuncurry Eastern Yellow Robin, Bicentennial Flora Park, Tuncurry, NSW

These populations comprise many hundreds of each species that noisily come and go each day to and from their local feeding grounds. I have never seen greater numbers of these birds anywhere else in Australia. No doubt they present quite a control challenge to crop farmers in the region.

Outside of golf, I regularly head off into the bush in search of as much birdlife as possible.

Birds of New South Wales - #4(b) - Murray River Region (Yarrawonga / Mulwala / Tocumwal) Little Pied Cormorant, Tocumwal Golf Course, NSW

My first field outing this trip was along the road from Mulwala to Corowa. Unfortunately, there was precious little on offer save for three Whistling Kites working the boundaries of a farming property that was in the final stages of being burned off post harvest.

Birds of New South Wales - #4(c) - Murray River Region (Echuca / Moama) Weebill, Horseshoe Lagoon, Moama, NSW

After golf the following day, I attempted to visit the Big Reedy Lagoon, off West Wrights Road, Burramine. I had previously heard the lagoon was closed to duck shooting this season due to the presence of significant numbers of Great Egret. However, my efforts to approach the lagoon were thwarted by a number of trees that had fallen across the bush track leading into the wetland.

Birds of New South Wales - #4(b) - Murray River Region (Yarrawonga / Mulwala / Tocumwal) Crimson (Yellow) Rosella, Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort, NSW

Our 4th round of golf was played at Tocumwal Golf Club where I was lucky enough to photograph a Whistling Kite returning from a ‘fishing trip’ to nearby waters.

The birdlife at TGC is quite extensive with most of the species mentioned above (for YMGCR) being present in various parts of TGC’s two courses.

Birds of New South Wales - #4(b) - Murray River Region (Yarrawonga / Mulwala / Tocumwal) Whistling Kite, Tocumwal Golf Course, NSW

I also came across a White-faced Heron and a White-necked Heron at the edge of the small dam next to the 9th Tee of the Captain’s course.

Our final round for the week was played on the Lakes course at YMGCR. Again, it was played in glorious sunshine. In all the years we have been coming on this trip, in early May, we have had only one day of rainfall and that coincided with a rest day we previously built into our program.

During this final round, I came across a number of Buff-rumped Thornbills fossicking amongst the debris at ground level and amongst the small shrubs along sections of the 14th Fairway. As they were moving in a predictable direction I was able to move ahead of them and prepare for some close-range photography.

It was the first time I had seen this species in the wild and, indeed, an unexpected pleasure. I guess you always remember the first-time sighting of any species with a sense of achievement.

Birds of New South Wales - #2 - Urunga / Forster-Tuncurry Australian King-Parrot, Bicentennial Flora Park, Tuncurry, NSW

On the way back to my unit, I was greeted by a very tame Laughing Kookaburra. It, and several Australian Magpies, were often sighted around our accommodation where they waited patiently for food-scraps to be handed out by resort guests.

The golf and accommodation facilities at YMGCR are all that one could reasonably expect.

However, there appears to have been a degree of cost cutting within the food department resulting in certain preferred evening meals being removed from the menu. This caused some angst among members of our group who were quite disappointed after learning the mornay scallops were no longer on offer.

Having said that, food from the breakfast buffet and the luncheon snacks from the main bar servery, were excellent. In my opinion, these offerings are now better than those of years past.

Birds of New South Wales - #4(b) - Murray River Region (Yarrawonga / Mulwala / Tocumwal) Magpie-lark, Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort, NSW

Other venues we dined at during our stay were the Bakery in Mulwala and the Yarrawonga Hotel. Both are highly recommended and offer quality food at reasonable prices.

Clearly, we thoroughly enjoyed our golfing stay at YMGCR and now look forward to returning in 2018.

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