Barrington Tops area and around Newcastle (15-17th December 2001)

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Barrington Tops area and around Newcastle (15-17th December 2001)
From: "Edwin Vella" <>
Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2001 21:30:09 +1100
Spent last weekend and the following Monday (15-17th Dec 2001), showing a
friend from Tasmania, David Walker, some great wildlife spots in the Hunter
Region of NSW.

Most of the time was spent in the Barrington Tops Region at Gloucester and
Copeland (approx. 300 km north of Sydney CBD or 3 hours drive from the city
centre). The weather was mainly good following heavy rains upon arriving on
Saturday about mid-day. We visited Copeland Tops State Forest (about 10km
west of the town of Gloucester) where we enjoyed great views of a  good
variety of the regular rainforest/forest birds including a pair of Pacific
Bazas (presumably nesting), Grey Goshawks (heard calling), Brush Turkeys,
Wompoo Fruit-doves (atleast 6), Brown Cuckoo-doves (very numerous, including
seeing at one time 34 feeding together), Topknot Pigeons, White-headed
Pigeons, Brush Cuckoos, Noisy Pittas (4), Bassian and Russet-tailed Thrushes
(the later quite common along the road to the Copeland Gold mine), Varied
Triller, Rose Robins, Crested Shrike-tits, Spectacled and Black-faced
Monarchs (one of the later seen on a nest), Leaden Flycatchers (pair),
Logrunner, 3 species of Scrubwrens, Scarlet Honeyeaters, Satin Bowerbirds,
Green Catbirds (quite common) and Superb Lyrebirds. All the above were seen
only within 500 metres from the main car park of the Copeland Goldmine where
a number of rainforest trees were in fruit but none of the large figs).
Outside the rainforest, 3 Lewin's Rails were calling before dusk (and David
managed to get a fleeting glimpse of one of them).

The main highlight for me was the spotlighting, where we saw a good variety
of mammals (more than 12 species) and saw/heard 11 species of frogs and a
number of reptiles. The first evening was overcast and fairly humid making
it very good for finding frogs. Red-eyed Tree Frogs (Litoria chloris) were
numerous along the road to the Copeland Gold mine (on the base of Copeland
Tops). These beautiful frogs were quite deafening and some pairs of these
frogs were in amplexus in one of the puddles on the edge of the rainforest.
Other frogs seen/heard around Copeland included Green Tree Frogs (L.
caerulea), Dwarf Green Tree Frogs (L. fallax), Bleating Tree Frogs (L.
dentate), Peron's Tree Frogs (L. peronii), Laughing Tree Frogs (L. tylerii),
Leseur's Frog (L leseurii), Common Eastern Froglets (Crinea signifera),
Spotted Marsh Frogs (Lymnodynastes tasmaniensis), a Stuttering Frog
(Mixophyes balbus) and Smooth Toadlets (Uperoleia laevigata).

Both nights were great for mammals, and we had good views of a
Spotted-tailed Quoll, Long-nosed Bandicoots, Koalas (mother with young on
back), Common Brushtail Possums, Mountain Brushtail Possums (several and
quite noisy as they crash their way through the forest), Greater Gliders
(2), Long-nosed Potoroos (atleast 2), Parma Wallaby (2), Red-necked Wallaby
(2), Red-necked Pademelons (numerous, including many young seen), a Bush Rat
and many unidentified small bats. Surprisingly, no Common Ringtail Possums
or Sugar Gliders (usually quite common) were seen or heard during the two

The only nocturnal birds seen were a pair of Tawny Frogmouths but heard a
few Owlet Nightjars, Boobook Owls and possibly a Masked Owl.

Reptiles seen including a White-lipped Snake (Drysdalia coronoides) seen in
the early evening along the road  through Copeland and was on the edge of a
paddock with tussock grass.

Also present around Gloucester was another Pacific Baza, a pair of
Wedge-tailed Eagles, Whistling Kites (a pair on nest), a Peregrine Falcon,
Pacific Herons (pair with nest), Brown and Stubble Quails, Dollarbirds,
White-throated Gerygones, Figbirds and Grey-crowned Babblers were heard

On our way back to Sydney, we stopped at some wetlands near Newcastle.
Around Raymond Terrace, Irrawang and Seaham, we saw a Hoary-headed Grebe, a
Darter, Rufous Night Herons (2), hundreds of nesting Cattle Egrets with
young (at Seaham Nature Reserve), a Swamp Harrier, Whistling Kites, Brown
Falcon, Red-kneed Dotterels (several), several Latham's Snipe (some quite
obliging), White-winged Trillers (atleast a pair), Tawny Grassbirds and
White-breasted Woodswallows.

At Minmi (including a visit to Pourmalong NR) we were surprised to encounter
8 Freckled Ducks (in a small swamp on the opposite side of the freeway to
Pourmalong NR), Hoary-headed Grebe, some Australasian Shovelers, Hardheads,
15 Glossy Ibis feeding together, a Little Eagle (calling as it circling
around its territory) and other common waterbirds.

A pretty good weekend.

Edwin Vella

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