18 Freckled Ducks etc in the Hawkesbury Area - 9th June 2002

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Subject: 18 Freckled Ducks etc in the Hawkesbury Area - 9th June 2002
From: "Edwin Vella" <>
Date: Sun, 9 Jun 2002 19:02:46 +1000

Today, I managed to escape from home for a few hours to have a look around the Hawkesbury area (approx 55-60km north-west of Sydney CBD) for ducks and raptors as winter is the best time to go looking for both.


There was definitely no less than eighteen (18) FRECKLED DUCKS present today in the Hawkesbury area (3 short than what Keith reported on 22/5/02).


At Pitt Town Lagoon, I counted 20 Hoary-headed Grebes, 9 Freckled Ducks (including atleast 2 males), 80 plus Hardheads, 100 plus Australasian Shoveler, and 300 plus Pink-eared Ducks. There were also 10 Red-kneed Dotterels and 400 plus Coots. A sub-adult White-bellied Sea-eagles disturbed the ducks a number of times, and for the first time I got to watch the Freckled Ducks take flight (they were obviously darker and larger headed than the other ducks and had relatively shorter and pointier wings and they also revealed their pale under-wings) amongst the hundreds of Pink-eared Ducks.


At nearby Pitt Town Bottoms Rd, I was fortunate to get superb views of one of my favourite raptors, a beautiful and cooperative adult SPOTTED HARRIER. I watched it for some time flying very low over the long grass and twice it twisted and pounced for prey on the ground, and I was even able to get within 25 metres of the Harrier, while it perched still on the ground. The Spotted Harrier is an uncommon but regular winter visitor to the Sydney area (usually May ? Sept).


Around Bakers Lagoon (Richmond), I saw a few more raptors, including a few Whistling Kites (3), a Swamp Harrier, a Kestrel and several Black-shouldered Kites. I didn?t bother go looking for buttonquail or quail while in the turf farms (often King Quail and maybe Little and Red-backed Button-quail may be present in winter).


At Bushes Lagoon (some people call it a different name) at the end of Powells Lane (near Richmond) I again got great views of another 9 Freckled Ducks (all initially resting than all swimming), a few more Pink-eared Ducks, Australasian Shovelers and Hardheads, 30 plus Hoary-headed Grebes, Plumed and Great Egrets, Royal Spoonbills (8) but none of the usual Plumed Whistling Ducks (probably all hiding somewhere as usual).


In the town of Richmond I was fortunate again to be able to walk right up to a very cooperative Immature Australian Hobby perched on power lines.


Edwin Vella




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