Chiltern Bird Trail Number 1 Honeyeaters and Small Birds Keen observers in the district will note the very high densities of Fuscous, Yellow- tufted, and (in Red Gum) White Plumed Honeyeaters. These species are aggressive to other species and exclude many smaller birds from their breeding habitats. Because of this some species such as Thornbills, Grey Fantail, smaller Robins and Gerygones can appear to be absent or rare in Chiltern. Above left Regent Honeyeater, centre Fuscous Honeyeater, and right Yellow Tufted Honeyeater. Abve left a Painted Honeyeater, centre Eastern Spinebill, and right a Black Chinned Honeyeater. However, in the higher ridges of the park the honeyeaters don't breed and in this Ridge Forest habitat smaller birds are common. Bird Trail 1 takes in some lower Ironbark forest areas and also some of the higher ridges. It finishes with a wonderful view of the district. From the crossroads in the centre of town, head south, leave town and go under the freeway, then quickly turn left on to the Yackandandah Rd. Go along here for nearly a kilometre, then turn right into Lancashire Gap Rd. The corner of the Park here has lots of mistletoe and in the spring it's worth a stop to look for Painted Honeyeaters. Follow Lancashire Gap Rd for 1.9 km and then turn left on to Cyanide Rd soon after you enter the forest. Go along this road and turn right into the Honeyeater Picnic Ground and the adjacent Cyanide Dam. This is a regular spot for Regent Honeyeaters and usually has a good diversity of typical Ironbark and Box Forest species such as Fuscous Yellow Tufted and Black Chinned Honeyeaters, Painted Button Quail and Brown Treecreeper. For those who'd like a more extensive walk, the White Box Waking Track circuit starts from here. Its full length is 8.5 km but it can be done in shorter loops. The full walk goes through Box Ironbark and Ridge Forest. Equally rewarding is to sit by the dam in summer, or to hunt out flowering Ironbarks in Winter. Don't worry about the cyanide in the name, it was used in gold mining days and has long gone. To get to the Ridge Forest habitat by car or bike head back down Cyanide Rd to Lancashire Gap Rd and turn left. Go 1.5 km along Lancashire Gap Rd and turn sharp right onto Skeleton Hill track. This is a little rocky in parts but should be fine for normal 2WD cars. A few hundred metres up Skeleton Hill Track takes you out of areas dominated by aggressive honeyeaters and into habitat where smaller birds are common. Drive up here (pausing as you see fit) for 1.9 km till you get to a very sharp left hand bend. It is not recommended to continue further without 4WD vehicles. ( Those with 4WD vehicles could continue around in a loop back to Lancashire Gap Road ). Park here and continue by foot roughly westwards along the spine of the ridge on a faint track. NB there is a large and occasionally noisy quarry just out of view to the north of the road bend. The quarry lease pre-dates the establishment of the National Park. Please stay away from the fenced quarry boundary as the quarry has a high and possibly dangerous cliff edge. In all seasons a short walk anywhere along the Skeleton Hill ridge (or the nearby White Box Ridge on White Box Track) will produce a wide range of smaller birds:- Weebill, Yellow, Striated, Brown and Buff rumped Thornbill, Scarlet and Red-capped Robin, Western and White Throated Gerygone ( in the spring) Varied Sittella and White Throated Treecreeper. Above left is the Weebill, the smallest bird in Australia, next is the Red Capped Robin, centre is the White Throated Warbler (Gerygone), and right is the White Throated Treecreeper. About 500 metres from the start of the walk from the carpark spot the walk stops at a paddock fence. There is a fine view across the cleared hillside to Chiltern town and parts of the National Park. Retrace your route back to Chiltern. Bird Trail Number 2 A Bush Paddock and a Brewery Bartley’s Paddock is a cleared area in the National Park just to the north of Chiltern. From the crossroads in the centre of town, head due north along Main St. Follow this road as it leaves town as the road to Howlong. Park 2.9 km from the centre of town along the side of the road. Walk through the narrow screen of trees on the left and jump the old fence into Bartley’sPaddock. Until recently the cleared area was private land. In the 19th century a brewery operated from the site. The remains of the brewery can be seen around the old fruit trees at the north end of the paddock. The cleared areas are now slowly regenerating with eucalypts. A casual walk around the boundary will usually produce a wide diversity of woodland and forest birds. On hotter days a worthwhile wait may be on the two dams in the southern end of the paddock. Fuscous and Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters are common. Jacky Winter live along the forest edge. Parrots are common. Painted Honeyeater, Turquoise Parrot, White-winged Triller and Rufous Songlark are often seen in spring and early summer. Above left is Jacky Winter, centre is a White Winged Triller, and right is a Rufous Songlark. Above left is an Eastern Rosella, centre is a Yellow Rosella, and right is a Gang Gang Cockatoo On most evenings Eastern Grey Kangaroos come out to quietly graze in the paddock. For a longer excursion return to your car or bike, continue north on the Howlong Rd for a couple of hundred metres and turn right into Riley's Rd. Follow this along to Green Hill Road and then Battery Hill Road back towards town. Additional stops can be made at the picnic grounds at both the old Magenta Gold Mine and the reed filled wetland at Frog’s Hollow. Bird Trail Number 3 Wetlands Tour Start at Lake Anderson in the centre of town (next to the caravan park). This is both an excellent Australian birdwatching location and it is in the centre of town. An artificial lake, Lake Anderson usually has a very good range ofAustralian native waterbirds on and over it as well as a few wild Mallards. Its well worth a look, or a more leisurely 1 km walk around it. Above left is the Little Grassbird, and right, the Reed Warbler. Look closely for roosting birds on the island. On the south eastern end, follow the gully that enters the dam. A track goes to a dam being revegetated by the local Lions Club. When birdwatching along this reedy fringe keep an eye out for Little Grassbirds, and the more conspicuous Clamorous Reed Warblers. On the left is a Grey Teal, centre a Blue Winged Shoveler, and right a Mallard. Left is a Chestnut Teal, centre a Pacific Black Duck, right is a Chestnut Breasted Shelduck. Left is the Eurasian Coot, centre is the Wood Duck, and right is the Purple Swamphen. An Interesting Fact. The three wetland areas were all deep mined gold mines in the late 1800's. Lake Anderson was the Alliance Gold Mine, and the other two areas were the Chiltern Valley Number One Gold Mine, and the Chiltern Valley Number Two Gold Mine. Click here to see these and other local Gold Mines. These historic Gold Mines have become the Australian Birdwatching centre of southern Australia. From the main crossroad in town go west on the Rutherglen Rd (Conness St). The road swings to the right then at 0.5 km from the crossroad turn left into High St on the road to Chiltern Valley. Follow this westwards out of town and across Black Dog Creek. Shortly after the creek crossing, billabongs appear on both sides of the road which are filled following heavy winter and spring rains. Stop along the road or continue on slowly to 2.7 km from the crossroads. Here a local landholder has deepened a wetland complex on the right, making it ideal for birdwatching. Feel free to walk along the road and look in but please do not jump the fence and enter the private land. Look here for Japanese Snipe, Baillon’s Crake and Buff-banded Rail on the margins of the wetlands and in wet springs look in the Red Gums for nesting Australian White Ibis and White-necked Heron. Left is the Japanese Snipe, centre is Baillon's Crake, and right is the White Necked Herron. A few metres on turn right into Pit Rd and go 300m along the road till you reach "Number 1 Dam Picnic Area", an outlying part of the Chiltern National Parkand. This is one of the most excellent birdwatching locations in Australia. Look on the dam for waterbirds, look in the Red Gums amongst the numerous White-plumed Honeyeaters for Regent Honeyeater which occasionally use this area. In private land across the paddock to the north is another billabong which often has a different array of waterbirds. Backtrack down Pit Rd to the bitumen, turn right and continue westwards past the other end of Number 1 Dam. Half a kilometre from Pit Rd take the right fork into Chiltern Valley Rd. Look for the family of Pied Butcherbirds which live along the roadside here as well as more common farmland birds such as Redrumped Parrot, Galah and Eastern Rosella. Chiltern Valley often has many raptors overhead including Peregrine Falcon, Little Eagle, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Australian Hobby, Brown Falcon and Whistling Kite so keep an eye to the sky. This makes these locations among the very best birdwatching Australia has to offer. Left is the Pied Butcherbird, centre the Peregrine Falcon, and right is the Whistling Kite. Pictured above left is the Little Eagle, centre is the Wedge Tailed Eagle and right is the Brown Falcon. Park or prop your bikes 2.7 km from the turn-off onto Chiltern Valley Rd., at the National Park gate (opposite the memorial to Major Mitchell, the first European through the area in 1836). This is Number 2 Dam, another outlier of the National Park. This is the largest wetland in the district and an excellent site for birdwatching in Australia, and is well worth a thorough look. Highlights are likely to include White-breasted Woodswallow and Dollarbird over the water in warmer months, and numbers of cormorants, egrets, ibis, Australian Darter, Australian Pelican, ducks and dotterels on the water and dam edges. The Red Gum and Yellow Box woodlands on the north-western side are dominated by aggressive White-plumed Honeyeater and Noisy Miner, but species such as Rainbow Bee-eaters, White-Browed Babbler, Diamond Firetail and Crested Shrike-tit are often easily seen here. Left is the Dollarbird, centre is the Rainbow Bee Eater, and right is the Diamond Firetail. BIRDWATCHERS PLEASE NOTE- in the spring a large colony of Australian White Ibis, and sometimes other colonial nesters, nest in the standing and fallen Red Gums on the western boundary of the dam. Undue disturbance of these birds could cause death or distress to nestlings. The whole dam can be safely viewed from points on the shore closest to the gate. Please stay away from the western shoreline if there is any evidence of active communally nesting waterbirds. Below is the Birdwatching Australia Map for Chiltern. Bird Trail Number 4 Mt Pilot and the Barambogie Granite Country The Barambogie Mt Pilot Ranges to the south of Chiltern are of different origin to the Chiltern hills. Instead of the mostly low hills of sedimentary rock at Chiltern the Barambegies are granite, the northern edge of the extensive Beechworth granite country. The different geology produces a distinctly different forest to that of Chiltern. Ironbarks are absent and the granite hills have extensive areas of native Black Cypress Pine. This allows for birdwatching of a different species of Australian Birds than at nearby Chiltern. The hills also offer extensive views and an important Aboriginal site, Yeddonba, which is well worth visiting. The rainfall is higher in the Barambogies and a number of wetter forest birds such as Spotted Quail-thrush, Gang Gang Cockatoo and White Browed Scrub Wren are present or more common there than around Chiltern. Above left is a Spotted Quail-thrush, centre a Gang Gang Cockatoo, right a White Browed Scrub Wren. From the main crossroads at Chiltern head south, go under the Freeway and continue along the Beechworth Rd. At 12.6km from Chiltern is the turn-off to the Yeddonba Aboriginal site. This is well worth a short detour to take the self guided walk through this site of the Duduroa people. Follow the signs along the short drive to the car park. Rock art at the site includes a faded picture of a Thylacine, the now extinct Tasmanian Tiger. White-browed Scrub-wren, rare just to the north at Chiltern, is common here in the thick bracken fern. Return to the Beechworth Rd and continue towards Beechworth. At the crest of the ridge, 17.1 km from Chiltern, turn left on to the Old Coach Rd, towards Mt. Pilot. The road goes through typical granite country forest of Long-leaved Box and Blakely's Red Gum. Keep an eye out for Spotted Quail-thrush on the ground and Koala in the trees. Take the fork to the left at 1.6 km from the Beechworth Rd. Half a kilometre later you come to the Mt. Pilot car park. A short walk leads to the fire-tower on the summit with spectacular views across the Murray Valley plains to the north. Common birds in the woodland here include Scarlet Robin, White- throated Treecreeper, Spotted Pardalote and Buff-rumped Thornbill. Scan across the updrafts along the cliff for Peregrine Falcon and Wedge Tailed Eagle. You can walk along the spine of the ridge to the west through lovely vistas of native pines and granite rock gardens. Left a Scarlet Robin, centre a White -throated Treecreeper, right a Spotted Pardalote. To continue through on a loop back to Chiltern, backtrack to the Old Coach Road and turn left. At the crossroads two kilometres from the Mt. Pilot car park, turn left onto McGuinness Road (which may not be sign-posted). Follow this downhill through open forest for another 2.2 km to the junction with Pine Gap Road, which veers off to the left. Continue north along Pine Gap Road stopping at any likely spots. Birds are diverse along here including Turquoise Parrot, Common Bronzewing and Scarlet Robin.