Today, myself Graham Turner and David Mitford although missed out seeing a
Lesser Yellowlegs on Ash Island near Newcastle, we were very fortunate to have a
detail study of another American rarity, an American Golden Plover (AGP).
The bird was seen on the main pond on Kooragang Island beside, Cormorant Rd and
opposite the Wind Generator.
The AGP seen was an adult bird moulting out of breeding plumage and was the
only Pluvialis Plover seen on this pond. The only other waders were the smaller
Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Red-necked Stints and Red-capped
Plovers but the AGP was seen on its own. Detailed Field notes were taken
during the 2-hour observation. We noted it to be a more solid bird compared to
any Pacific Golden Plovers we have ever seen. The AGP displayed a very distinct
white supercilium, wider behind eye than in front of eye, giving it a more
capped appearance. The bird appeared greyer than a Pacific Golden Plover,
especially on the upper parts with much less speckling, tertials were shorter in
relation to tail tip (about half way) and well exposed the long black primaries
which extended beyond the tail. The underwings were greyish and not white or
pale. The AGP still had black on the belly and vent to the tail (which was a
solid black and not blotchy). In flight the legs did not project beyond tail tip
as it would on a Pacific Golden Plover. There were atleast 300 Red-necked
Avocets on the main high tide roost at Kooragang Island amongst thousands of
other waders to far away to get a descent look. Another 100 or so Avocets were
also in the swamp below Stockton Bridge with 100 or so Eastern Curlew.
Here we also observed about 15 Gull-billed Terns catching the mud crabs
on the edge of the lagoon.
On nearby Ash Island, we also had some more good finds, including an adult
Ruff (in non-breeding plumage) with red legs and an Australasian
Bittern (taking flight from a small reed fringed pond) near the railway
line. There were also a few Greenshanks, several Marsh (some
having bright yellow legs but not the other features to make it a Yellowlegs)
and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Pacific Golden Plovers and 3
Red-kneed Dotterels. Several White-breasted Woodswallows flew
overhead as well as a magnificent pair of White-bellied Sea eagles.
Another interesting find leaving Ash Island was a Tiger Snake crossing the
On our way up to Newcastle from Sydney, we were pleased to start of this
wonderful day with a pair of Pacific Bazas doing their tumbling acrobatic
display over the forest beside Cedar Hill Drive and the main F3 Freeway.