birding-aus Watagan Mountains (Hunter Region) NSW

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Subject: birding-aus Watagan Mountains (Hunter Region) NSW
From: "EDWIN VELLA" <>
Date: Sun, 14 Feb 1999 19:15:15 +1100
Today I spent the whole morning exploring Watagan State Forest,west of Lake Macquarie and only 1 1/2 hours drive from Sydney. I have only been to this SF one one occassion but this lovely SF attracts a number of sort after species such a Pacific Baza, Grey Goshawk, Painted Button-quail, Glossy Black-cockatoos, Spotted Quail-thrush, Sooty, Powerful and Masked Owls, White-throated Nightjars, Wompoo Fruit-doves, Topknot Pigeons, Nosiy Pittas, Logrunners, Rock Warblers and Regent Bowerbirds. Some I have seen on the past visit and this morning.
I visited 2 main areas in the SF - Boarding House Dam aswell as Gap Greek Reserve at the end of Bangalow Rd. To get to these places from the Newcastle-Sydney Freeway, as you head towards Newcastle, take the left turn to Morisset and Cooranbong and follow the signs to Cooranbong which eventually get you onto Freemans Drive. Follow Freemans Drive for about 5-10 km until you see a sign marked to the Watagans on your left. Follow this road (Mount Faulk Rd) for about 14-16 km (which becomes a dirt road as you get into the SF) and you will then see a sign marked Bngalow Rd on your left. Follow Bangalow road to the end which will end at Gap Creek Reserve. There is a trail that goes through some disturbed rainforest and leads you to Gap Creek Falls, a a small waterfall running down a creek fringed with Bangalow Palms. If you continue on further on the Mount Faulk Road for a further 4 km past the Bangalow road turnoff, you will eventualy find a sign marked on your right to Boarding House Dam which is a wonderful area of Rainforest fringed by Tall Eucalypt forest that covers a greater portion of the SF. On the Mount faulk Rd, there are also several signs to various look outs which are also worth going to as many of the views of the hunter area are quite spectacular including one where you can see Lake Macquarie in the distance.
Some of the intersting birds found at Boarding House Dam included:
1) Collared Sparrowhawk (juv.) - one was seen calling frequently and moving about the tall Eucalypts about Boarding House Dam. It was seen perched and preening itself for quite sometime, beside the creek and didn't mind a close approach. It was harassing a small group of Gang-gang Cocaktoos in flight, which had also perched nearby.
2) Logrunners - several were seen and heard in the rainforest along the creek running at the back of the dam. Great views were obatined of pairs calling, moving about logs and scratching in the leaf litter for food as they usually do. Their tail spines were easily seen.
3) Other birds seen such as Green Catbirds, Rufous Fantails, Black-faced Monarchs, Yellow-thraoted and Large-billed Scrubwrens. In addition several Superb Lyrebirds, Rose Robins and Little Lorikeets were heard.
Some of the interesting birds found at Gap Creek and along the Bangalow Rd included:
1) a very small Brush Turkey (only a third of the size of an adult with plumage much like that of an adult but with a less distinct wattle). It was all on its own with no others about and was seen at the start of the Gap Creek Falls trail.
2) Grey Goshawk (female)  - after following the call of what seemed a disturbed Satin Bowerbird, a large female Grey Goshawk (grey phase) was seen flying up into a tall Euclaypt. It remained there for quite some time offering excellent views. It appeared twice the size of the bowerbird.
3) Red-browed Treecreepers - Excellent views were obatained of 4 Red-browed Treecreepers foraging in the tall Eucalypt Forest. One male responded quite frequently to my squeaking and flew down a metre or two in front of me on dead stumps and small trees below and at eye level. I could clearly see its red-eye mark and the streakings on the breast without any signs of chestnut in the upper breast to be a female. There were 4 birds feeding on the same tree at one time and 2 were young birds lacking the red eye mark but had the heavily streak marks on the upper breast and were calling persistantly with the adults. At one time I saw one of Red-browed Treecereepers feeding with a White-throated Treecreeper. One of the Red-browed Treecreepers was also seen perched motionless, against the side of a Eucalypt without any movement or calling for atleast 5 minutes.
4) Other birds such as several Spine-tailed Swifts, Rock Warbler (heard) and more Logrunners and Superb Lyrebirds also heard.
None of the rainforest trees appeared to have any fruit and as a result I didn't see much fruit-eating species.
Unfortunately though, I dipped out on the Paradise Parrots that Lorne Johnson reported a week early.
Edwin Vella
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