To: "" <>
From: "Vella, Edwin" <>
Date: Mon, 11 May 98 08:05:00 PDT

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.

Edwin Vella

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 ?

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