Yesterday afternoon, myself and a few others were on the hunt for the
Oriental Cuckoo found by Keith Brandwood a few days ago at Cattai
National Park (about 50 km west of Sydney in the Hawkesbury area). This cuckoo
is a vagrant or very rare visitor to Sydney but there has been atleast 3
sighting of this bird at Cattai (including one sighted by Keith in nearby
Mitchell park last year) over the last 10 years. There has been also other
records in other parts of Sydney, including 3 cuckoos that stayed at Epping a
few years ago. Despite not seeing this bird we saw a very early Spangled
Drongo which is a fairly regular and not uncommon winter migrant to Sydney,
normally arriving by April. This drongo was seen flying from one fence to
another in a cleared paddock in pursuit of insects.
Later on, we headed to Central Colo, for a couple of a hours of birding and
spotlighting. Before evening we obtained some great viewing of several Wonga
Pigeons and a Peregrine Falcon flying overhead.
We saw or heard 4 species of nocturnal birds that evening, they were:
1) White-throated Nightjars - a pair was seen flying over a paddock
hawking for moths and other insects upon dusk beside Upper Colo Rd. With the aid
of torches, we were able to see the bird in flight through our binoculars.
Without using our binoculars, all that could be seen were red eyes moving about.
Great views were obtained of one which perched a couple of times on a dead tree
stump for atleast 5 minutes and only metres in front of us. Its plumage markings
and white throat could be seen.
2) Owlet Nightjars - many were heard in the forest surrounding the
3) Masked Owl - Dean Portelli brought one in very close through a very
good imitation. It landed in a tree above our heads and called but somehow
avoided our detection. There was no moonlight and therefore, no silhouette could
be seen of the Owl. It called several times that night and gave each time it
called a double rasping calls much louder than a Barn Owl. This is the third
time I have heard/seen this Owl in this area.
4) A Boobook Owl heard in the distance