To: <>
From: "Vella" <>
Date: Sun, 19 Nov 2000 16:06:58 -0000

Tried my luck on Saturday to try and follow up on Dion Hobcroft’s recent excellent record of a Little Bronze-cuckoo at Mitchell Park, Cattai (about 55 km north-west of Sydney CBD). Despite myself, David Koffel, Brian Everingham, Tony Palliser, Trevor Wollar and other birdo’s about, there was no sign of the Little Bronze-cuckoo as I had expected. On many occasion’s with rare sightings, you need to be there on the day. However, this was compromised with a nice range of other birds - Rufous (Nankeen) Night Herons (2 adults and an Immature), Black Bitterns (one or two seen several times perched in willows or in flight. It was very vocal giving out is "whooo" call just about every ten-fifteen seconds throughout the whole morning, making the Bittern very easy to find, along Cattai Creek between the first bridge and where the creek bends southwards in the Park. It was initially seen flying above our heads and calling in flight and gave us great views on a number of occasions thereafter. I presume the recent wet weather may have initiated its breeding season and it is calling for its mate. Have heard the Black Bittern being vocal at this time of year before at Mitchell Park), Common Bronzewings, Wonga and Brown Pigeons, several Brush and Golden Bronze-cuckoos, Azure and Sacred Kingfishers, Dollarbirds, Cicadabird, Leaden and Restless Flycatchers, Scarlet Honeyeaters, Olive-backed Orioles and Satin Bowerbirds. Had also some good observations of 2 Eastern Water Dragons here aswell.

Myself and David Koffel made a short visit to the nearby section of Cattai National Park beside the Hawkesbury River to check out some large figs still in fruit and was surprised to find 3 Topknot Pigeons feeding on them. One also perched for sometime on a dead tree. This is as far west as I have seen these pigeons from the coast in Sydney and there are many other large figs along the Hawkesbury where they probably regularly feed aswell. I was also interested in a display flight given by a couple of Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes. They had their wings help up in a "V" as they passed each other on a n umber of occasions. Has anybody seen this before? I’m not sure whether this was aggression or courtship behaviour. Also present at Cattai NP were several Rainbow Bee-eaters flying overhead, Golden and Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoos, Sacred Kingfishers, Cicadabird, Crested Shrike-tit, Black-faced Monarch, Rufous Fantail, many Scarlet Honeyeaters and Satin Bowerbirds.

David had to head back home at around noon, but I continued on to Wisemans Ferry (about 70 km north-west of Sydney) to add to my Sydney List the Blue-faced Honeyeaters as reported by Keith Brandwood a week ago. I saw 2 adult birds flying here and there and feeding with Noisy Friarbirds on the flowers of some exotic "mauve" flowering tree (I forgot the name of this tree but it seen in many places around Sydney and Scarlet Honeyeaters also like feeding on it) beside the pub there. Nearby I saw an adult Koel feeding conspicuously on top of a small mulberry tree. Met a couple who is interested and seem to know about the birds in the area and was wondering what I was looking at. They said they live at Lower Portland and just up the river (and still in the Sydney Region) from Wisemans Ferry, and see Blue-faced Honeyeaters occasionally on their property and have also recently seen Grey-crowned Babblers there aswell. Nice to hear that the Babblers are still in the Sydney region!

After lunch , continued on across the mighty Hawkesbury River then onto the central coast to Mandalong (near Wyong and about 110 km north of Sydney CBD). In Mandalong, visited a nice Paperbark swamp beside Mandalong Rd (I think this must be the same swamp Alan Morris mentioned recently, as I had followed his directions on one of his recent emails about a swamp in this area). It was about 3km south-west of the Morisset turn-off from the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway. I met the property owner and asked him if I could have a look around the swamp as it looked attractive for close inspection. He said no problem, but just watch out for the Red-bellied Black Snakes!!.

Around this swamp, fringed with paperbark trees and partly edged with waterlilies and some muddy margins, I flushed an adult Rufous (Nankeen) Night Heron, observed 2 Comb-crested Jacanas (one may have a nest as it seem a bit agitated with my presence and landed within a few meters in front of me a few times, so I thought I’d try to get out of its way in case this was the reason), atleast 6 Latham’s Snipe (a good number for this fairly small swamp), Bar-shouldered Dove, Jacky Winter, several Scarlet Honeyeaters and 3 White-breasted Woodswallows huddled up together (as often the case) in a paperbark. In a few flowering Spotted gums just up the hill from the swamp on the other side of the road, 6 Little Lorikeets feeding in them. There was also a group of Satin Bowerbirds closeby.

The final stop of the day was the swamps beside Cedar Hill Drive at Minmi, near Newcastle. Surprised that there was still some muddy margins there with all this rain we had, and had about 15 Black-fronted Dotterels just about all crowded together at one end. Also saw a Whistling Kite, atleast 6 Latham’s Snipe (some very close given some great views. The Hunter region provides some very important sites for these endangered waders in Australia and all must be done to provide permanent protection for them in this region. Hundreds of Latham’s Snipe have been seen at times at this Cedar hill Swamp and at the Newcastle Wetlands Reserve), Pied Stilts, 3 Yellow-billed and a Royal Spoonbill, lots of Grey and Chestnut Teal and several White-breasted Woodswallows about aswell. On Cedar Hill Rd itself and beside the forest, was unfortunately a road-killed Diamond Python.

Rain held off for the morning, but it rained on and off for the whole afternoon, This however did not prevent me to see/hear more than 100 species for the day at a leisurely pace. There was a good reason to be out and about despite the unpleasant (?) weather.


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