I recently had a excellent day birding in the Hunter Valley, one of
the best I have ever had for western species. The H.B.O.C. camped at
Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve over the Oct. long weekend. The bird count for
the immediate area was 92, not a great tally for this area, but it was only
within walking distance of our camp. The best bird was probably a Powerful
Owl calling each morning and once in the arvo., and also a Spiny-cheeked
Honeyeater, which is a first for the area on our lists.
Three other members and myself decided to head of on the sunday of the
camp and make for Golburn River N.P.. We first stopped at a private property
2km's short of Wollar on the Munghorn Gap Road. A great woodland location,
we saw all the common species as well as some not some often seen. Some of
the birds seen were Spotted Quail-thrush, Brown Quails, Restless and Leadens
Flycatchers and Common Bronzewings. Diamond Firetails were common as was the
ever present White-plumed and Fuscous Honeyeaters. Rufous Songlarks were in
full song and Black-chinned Honeteaters were also extremely vocal. Brown
Treecreepers were bobbing around, Sacred Kingfishers and Hooded Robins also
present, while overhead a flock of Musk Lorikeets flew in. All these birds
were seen wthin 500m's of a central point. While heading back to the car we
heard what sounded like woodswallows, looking up we weren't disappointed to
see a flock of over 80 woodswallows, on closer inspection we saw that they
were White-browed Woodswallows were some Duskys thrown in. Previous records
in the Hunter for White-browed are back in 1996.
We dragged ourselves away from this great location and headed for Big
River Camping Area in Golburn River N.P.. On the way in we saw Turquoise
Parrots, White-browed Babblers, Crested Shrike-tits and Peaceful Doves. The
camping area is a beautifully grased area by the river, shaded by many
trees. Only having arrived we heard a 'see-saw' call coming from the other
side of the river. We had our suspicions of what it could be, so as the
Rodericks often do, we charged of into a run, donning our shoes off to cross
the river and up a long steep enbankment heading to where we heard the call.
The bird called again, but only breifly, we made for a stand of acacias
sporting much mistletoe, and there he was, a male Painted Honeyeater, a tick
for two of the group and only my second sighting. At one stage the
Honeyeater was only 2 metres in front of us! The camera rolled of some
shots, as this is only the second or third sighting in the Hunter (to be
confirmed). We followed the bird for a while not wanting to leave but
eventually he flew off. Just before we left the camping area we heard the
Painted Honeyeater calling again, hanging around the much flowering
mistletoe. Turquoise Parrots were again seen on the way out as well as
Glossy Black Cockatoos.
It was about 4:30p.m. when we reached our first loaction just outside
Wollar. We decided to stop again to see if it could turn up some other good
spys. We weren't disappointed, a sinlge Southern Whiteface was found feeding
with a Yellow-rumped Thornbill. A Black-eared Cuckoo was also tracked down
after much chasing. While all these birds had our attention we woke to the
fact that the woodswallows were overhead again, the majority were
White-browed again, we noticed they we flying down to some dead trees, we
made for this area and found some birds perching, with the birds coming
closer we counted five Masked Woodswallows ( which also perched ). Masked
Woodswallows have not been recorded in the Hunter since 1995.
Darkness finally ended our day, which just wouldn't stop producing
birds, proving the Golburn River/Wollar area is alive and well. 115 species
were seen in just a woodland environment, with the majority western species.
A great day birding in the upper hunter!
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