REGENT HONEYEATERS AND SWIFT PARROTS IN WESTERN SYDNEY 10-11th MAY 1998
Last weekend, I participated for the first time in the Regent Honeyeater
and Swift Parrot surveys and hit the jack pot in the Castlereagh area
(approximately 50 km west of Sydney and north of Penrith). As most
birdo's who participated in the survey probably headed off to Capertee
Valley or Howes Valley for this weekend, I suggested to Dean Portelli who
accompanied me, we should try a less traditional spot closer to home.
As I was driving up the Northern Rd with my windows down yesterday
morning, In anticipation of hearing our object birds, I noticed on the
right side of the road many Yellow-faced, Fuscous and White-naped
Honeyeaters calling. This was just a km south of the Castlereagh Nature
Reserve main entrance off the Northern Rd. We instantly pulled to the
side of the road. We got out and saw that this large activity was
attracted the large stands of flowering Mugga Ironbark on both sides of
the road . Here there were masses of these Honeyeaters moving and feeding
about vigorously. I said to Dean, there has got to be some Swift Parrots
about here and just after I spoke a flock of 30 plus flew from one tree
to another and then another 30 plus giving a number of 60 plus Swift
Parrots (this being an under-estimate as we did not want to double
count). Also zitting overhead were 2 Little Lorikeets flying over to the
Fire Brigade training area. Other Honeyeaters feeding here were
White-plumed, White-cheeked and White-eared Honeyeaters aswell as many
Noisy Friarbirds and a few Red Wattlebirds and Eastern Spinebills. We
stayed observing the Swift Parrots for over an hour with excellent views
of them, as they indulged themselves amongst the blossoms. This was a
megga lifer for Dean.
After this period of observation, I then suggested to Dean that we go
into the Nature Reserve and see what else is about as we saw a group of
Swift Parrots coming out of that area. We went in and walked to an area
of Ironbarks which we visited a couple of weeks ago on a Cumberland Bird
Observers Club Outing and saw a few Ironbarks in flower at the time. We
got ourselves onto a few Little Lorikeets here aswell as a few Swift
Parrots and other Honeyeaters. As I got Dean a great view of these Little
Lorikeets feeding, I quietly said to him, You know what, I think I heard
a Regent Honeyeater. He thought I was kidding initially but as I walked
toward the muffled call, I shouted " Look a Regent Honeyeater" and as it
was a new bird for Dean, we were quickly onto it. This bird on its own,
was fairly quite and hardly called, but was aggressive to the many
White-naped Honeyeaters that landed and started to feed in the same
Eucalypt. This Regent stayed in the same tree for quite a while, as if to
defend it from other Honeyeaters. I observed that it had two red bands,
one on each leg.
After watching this beauty for some time, I then said to Dean, " Hey I
think theirs more", so we then went heading toward them and we then
encountered another 5 birds (6 Regent Honeyeaters were seen in this area
but we presumed one was the bird we observed before). These birds were
really calling vigorously with much bill clapping and showing
aggressiveness towards the other Honeyeaters (mainly Yellow-faced,
White-naped, Fuscous and probably towards the Brown-headed Honeyeaters).
Some of the calls made were like that of Friarbirds and what Dean thought
he also heard, like that of White-naped Honeyeaters aswell. One Regent
even Initiated its aggressiveness towards a large Noisy Friarbird and
with its calling and bill clapping scared it away, even though the Noisy
Friarbird was trying to get it back. There were atleast 2 pairs of
Regent Honeyeaters seen together. One presumed male appeared to give some
courtship display to a presumed female with its wing drooped, a semi
cocked and fanned tail with much bill clapping and calling.
This was an unexpected morning thinking initially that we would only get
just the usual wintering flocks of Yellow-faced, White-naped and
Fuscous Honeyeaters and Friarbirds.
I must also note to the Sydney birders, that there was an immature Flame
and 2 Red-capped Robins 2 weekends ago in the Nature Reserve. Although
both are fairly common in NSW, there 2 Robins are generally both scarce
in the Sydney region. Black-chinned Honeyeaters were also at Castlereagh
NR last year and I would not be surprised if they turn up again here. I
had my good ears wide open for them too.
I also surveyed other areas such as Shanes Park, Prospect Reservoir and
Greystanes during this weekend where I have seen Swift Parrots in the
past, aswell as the park opposite my place in Seven Hills were a small
group were present last year and some present nearby a few years ago.
I will continue my search for more Swift Parrots and Regent Honeyeaters
in the near future. Bye for now.
P.S. On the 11th April this year, I observed a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
with a red tag on its right leg at the large pond at Kooragang Island,
Newcastle. Can any one shed some light on this, as I am very interested
as to its origin.
How did others go during the Survey Weekend ?