Yesterday afternoon (4th June 2000), myself and Lorne Johnson set out on a
mission - to see 10 species of Raptors in Sydney in one day.
I met Lorne at Cornwallis Rd, Windsor at about 2 pm after a short drive
around Picton where I picked up a Brown Falcon. There was a beautiful
winter atmosphere about with a light wash of cloud cover, everything appeared
still, apart from us and the birds and the temperature was in the low teens.
There were lots of raptors about and over the last month I have notice a fair
build up of raptors in the area, probably due to a possible mouse eruption.
There were atleast 2 families of Black-shouldered Kites with hungry
young, and the adults were hunting for mice in the long grass paddocks. Several
Australian Kestrels and a few other Black-shouldered Kites were also seen
flying about. Nearby one family of Black-shouldered Kites, were a pair of
Brown Goshawks (one was seen being mobbed by a Black-shouldered Kites -
refer to a few of my earlier reports of the later mobbing the other) and one or
two Collared Sparrowhawks also hunting in this same area. The highlight
here were excellent views of an adult Spotted Harrier constantly sailing
over the long grass near Cornwallis Rd and beside Bakers Lagoon. It was seen a
few times briefly plunging down into the long grass in the attempt to catch prey
and one time perched brilliantly on a hay stack. It was also seen briefly
mobbing a Collared Sparrowhawk (there was a fair size comparison between the two
What also grabbed our attention, was the behaviour given by a pair of
Black-shouldered Kites and was something we had never witnessed before. One of
the adults was perched fairly low beside tall long grass and wagging its tail up
and down not unlike a Pipit . Another perched about a hundred metres away in a
fairly tall dead tree (with a juvenile bird perched beside it) was also wagging
its tail up and down and giving some soft call notes.
We were impressed to see 6 species of raptor in 20 minutes at the turf farms
and then preceded along Pitt Town Bottoms Rd (a few kilometres from the Turf
Farms), on the search for atleast 4 more raptor species. Soon driving along Pitt
town Bottoms Rd, we spotted a Swamp Harrier hunting in a fair long
grassed paddock with more Black-shouldered Kites and Kestrels nearby. We drove
on until we reached Pitt Town Lagoon, where we watched over the lagoon, uphill,
from the grounds of an old church. Perched in the middle of the lagoon, we saw
on one island, an adult White-bellied Sea-eagle and a juvenile Sea-eagle
on another island. We then soon saw our ninth raptor for the day, being a
Whistling Kite. Being 3:30, and with blood rushing in us both, we were
hoping to find our 10th raptor, In a short space of time, we went
through Scheyville, Glenorie, past Long-neck Lagoon, Cattai and back to Pitt
Town - hoping to see atleast a Wedge-tailed Eagle, Square-tailed Kite, Peregrine
or Hobby, but to no avail.
That night, I met Lorne and his flat mate, to see Mission Impossible 2.
During the movie (on the look out for our 10th raptor - only
kidding!!!), we were quite surprised to see a lot of Australian content in this
film, atleast 90 per cent of the movie appeared to be filmed in the land of Oz.
Parts of the movie was taken at fairly well known spots to Sydney siders -
Chifley Tower in the CBD, La Perouse, North Head, and wait for it … MAGIC PT,
MAROUBRA (Where was Rod Gardner when there was all the action on those rocks).
Going back to the afternoons birding, it was a pleasant and beautiful
afternoon and a very good reason to go outdoors. We saw a good number of raptors
for the afternoon and was interesting to watch there behaviour. We will try
again to work on this mission.