Avisford Nature Reserve is on the south west corner of Mudgee, with new housing developments moving closer every day. Accessed via Waterworks Road, it covers an area of 2,437 hectares and includes Redbank Creek Dam, which was built in 1899 as a water supply for Mudgee but now does not hold water, apart from a small weir pond at the entrance.
Avisford Nature Reserve protects areas of relatively high ridgelands typified by steep
sloping gullies and hills with open forest and woodlands. These ridgelands provide habitat for diverse fauna and flora populations. The Reserve contains the Capertee stringybark, a tree with a limited geographical range, and seven animal species listed as vulnerable.
A comprehensive fauna survey was completed by the NPWS during July 2002. The area is a particularly diverse refuge for avifauna with the NPWS Atlas of NSW Wildlife listing 161 diurnal bird species as being recorded either in the Reserve or within 10 kilometres of the Reserve. Species from the families Acanthizidae (scrub wrens, thornbills and warblers) and Muscicapidae (flycatchers, robins and allies) are most common and include the Whitebrowed Scrub Wren (Sericornis frontalis), Weebill (Smicrornis brevirostris), Speckled Warbler (Pyrrholaemus sagittatus) and Jacky Winter (Microeca leucophaea). These species tend to frequent moister and more open lower slope or gully forests (white box – apple box alluvial or blue leaved stringybark open forest sites). The honeyeaters (family Meliphagidae) are another particularly diverse group frequently recorded within the Reserve and include the White-eared Honeyeater (Lichenostomus leucotis), Eastern Spinebill (Acanthorhynchus tenuirostris) and White-naped Honeyeater (Melithreptus lunatus). Nocturnal bird species including the Southern Boobook (Ninox boobook) and Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) are also present in the Reserve.
No dogs allowed, so we made a couple of short visits in the cool of the morning and evening when we could leave the dogs in the car. On arrival in the late afternoon a group of Glossy Black Cockatoos flew over screeching. Double-barred finches and Red-browed Finches enjoyed the last of the sun, Superb Fairywren and White-browed Scrub Wrens twittered from the undergrowth. A young Grey Butcherbird practiced its vocalisations. It took us a moment to identify a Common Blackbird, an ‘undocumented immigrant’ that we don’t see often around our way. Noisy Friarbirds, Eastern Spinebills and White-naped Honeyeaters represented the Meliphagidae.
Next morning we were greeted by the call of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo. The tiny birds were out in abundance: Silvereyes, Red-browed and Double-barred Finches, Striated Thornbills and the Fairywrens and Scrubwrens.
Walking along the creek bed, I had a Spotted Pardalote fly out of a burrow almost at my head. It perched glaring at me until I moved away. A number of Red Wattlebirds played a noisy game, and Pied Currawongs swooped and called through the upper branches. Rufous Whistlers added their song to the mix.
A pair of Galahs worked at enlarging a hole.
It will be interesting to see how the reserve develops under National Parks administration. At the moment it is fairly overrun by feral animals: rabbits, goats and foxes are common. In the middle of the year someone cut down over one-hundred trees in the reserve. But it is safe from leashed dogs.