birding around Newcastle 300901

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Subject: birding around Newcastle 300901
From: "Vella" <>
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001 18:01:24 -0700

I made another trip to Newcastle again last Sunday to check again what shorebirds were around and to visit other interesting areas, which I intended but ran out of time to visit the previous weekend. No rarities observed but a good variety of birds amongst 110 species seen/heard on the day. Some of the noteworthy places visited included:

Stockton Bridge – it may be as yet too early in the season (?) to see the peak number of migratory birds (about 10-11 thousand plus), or birds are simply not going back to feed in their former favourite areas. Noteworthy here, was a flock of 200 plus Red Knots (many moulting out of breeding plumage) amongst hundreds of Bar-tailed and lesser number of Black-tailed Godwits, Whimbrel and 200 plus Eastern Curlew. Also observed 23 Grey-tailed Tattlers roosting on the oyster racks before the tides went down. Even more impressive was a large flock of 3000-4000 Red-necked Avocets (it has been some years since I have seen them in those numbers feeding near Stockton Bridge). Gull-billed Terns (15 plus) where flying overhead and perched on the sand spits amongst the waders. Heard the usual Mangrove Gerygones singing away and nearby some Channel-billed Cuckoos.

Kooragang/Ash Island – a few Red-necked Stints, several Marsh Sandpipers and a few Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and Greenshanks, Red-kneed Dotterel, a few Mangrove Herons, 2 White-bellied Sea-eagles and many Tawny Grassbirds in full song. No signs of the American Golden Plover at Kooragang Island seen the previous weekend.

Grahamston Dam (near Raymond Terrace) – 3 Great Crested Grebes, several Musk ducks and 2 Whiskered Terns (one in full breeding plumage).

Newcastle Wetlands Reserve, Sandgate – 20 plus Hardheads and Magpie Geese nesting. Lots of White-breasted Woodswallows ready to nest build. Both Reed Warblers and Brown Honeyeaters were in full song.

Minmi Wetlands (Hexham Swamp) – Loads of Pacific (White-necked) and White-faced Herons, feeding in the large expanses of swamp. Also seen here were about 400 Pied Stilts and 2 more Whiskered Terns. A few Cattle Egrets were seen assuming their breeding plumage (supposably ready to go back to their rookeries around Newcastle). In a small privately owned swamp close to Hexham Swamp (located east of the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway) there were hundreds of waterfowl including 600 plus Grey and Chestnut Teals, 20-30 Hardheads, a male Australasian Shoveler, 6 Pink-eared Ducks amongst other waterbirds. Both a Dollarbird and Pheasant Coucal were heard calling behind this swamp and there was a beautiful duet heard by a pair of Pied Butcherbirds just before dusk. It was also good to hear again the calls of many Dwarf Green Tree Frogs (Litoria fallax), Peron’s Tree Frog (L. peronii) and Bleating Tree Frogs (L. dentata) on the edges of these swamps.

A beautiful warm day and I arrived home just in time for the game – Newcastle won on two fronts!

Edwin Vella

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