Where have the honeyeaters gone?

Subject: Where have the honeyeaters gone?
From: Penelope Drake-Brockman <>
Date: Tue, 18 Jun 2002 20:21:47 -0700 (PDT)
Dear all

Re: the comments on the low numbers of nectar eaters
except on the eastern seaboard, having just spent a
week travelling between Sydney, the Central Coast,
Barrington Tops and Murrurundi (Upper Hunter Valley,
NSW), and spending 7 weeks in Gluepot with travel
there via Hay and Hattah and Renmark, and back via
Mungo, Kinchega, Ivanhoe, Hillston and Lake
Cargelligo, and a weekend at Cowra for the Cowra
Woodland birds project, yes, they are decidedly absent
or very quiet in all of these areas except the first
two mentioned above.

At Gluepot, which was until I left on 3rd May very
dry, the common honeyeaters were Yellow-plumed and
White-fronted with a few flocks of up to 40 or so
Black-fronted Miners in the mallee. I never saw these
come into the dam to drink, usually feeding almost
exclusively on lerp and other insects far from any
water source. HEs at the dams included Red
Wattlebirds\ and Spiney-cheeked, with a few Singing.
The very few Eastern Spinebills and Striped HEs also
didn't come into the dams. I did several dusk and dawn
watches at the Home and Quinn's dams. I only saw one
Purple-crowned Lorikeet the whole time I was there.
Some mallee was in flower but didn't appear to attract
the birds, which were taking insects from these trees.

On the way to Gluepot, very few HEs were evident
except for White-rumped Miners. I t was extremely dry
with almost no blossom in the gums. Coming back I
camped 2 nights at Mungo and 1 at Kinchega (extremely
dry), and again, great lack of HEs.  Mungo was good
for insect eaters and I watched a Striped HE carefully
clearing a small Ruby saltbush of caterpillars - it
took 12 whilst I watched.  

On leaving Menindee, on the dirt road to Ivanhoe, I
saw only a couple of ravens and an emu until about 50
km short of Ivanhoe. The paddocks were grazed out with
a few stock standing disconsolately around water
troughs and feed.  Except for the national parks, the
grazing properties looked really awful, some worse
than others - particularly those where they are now
allowed to graze goats, provided you put in a fence
which was no more than the usual sheep fence with an
extra wire on top. However the roads are being
improved and some now have a central raised gravel
section for road trains, and a lower hard rolled earth
track off to one side for cars and utes - means you
can avoid the dust and stones of the monster trucks.

Last week I birded in the Hunter area up to Gloucester
and, whilst staying with Lorraine Jonstone in
Gloucester, visited Woko Nat.Park and around town.
Very few HEs - and those found were very quiet. A few
Yellow-tufted, Yellow-faced and Lewins at Woko but
nothing in flower (Lewins were eating White Cedre
fruits here and at other rainforesty sites), no
lorikeets except for a pair of Rainbows in Gloucester.

Hunter Botanic Gdns had Noisy Miners, White-naped and
Yellow-faced HEs and Noisy Friarbirds in small
numbers. White-naped and Yellow-faced seemed to be
taking lerps in the canopy. A great lack of Fuscous
and White-plumed HEs, and lorikeets of all kinds (this
was the same in Murrurundi at my favourite spot -
Paradise Park - and a few ironbarks in lush flower on
the roadside near Murra had only Red Wattlebirds,
Noisy miners and 2 Spinebills), so they must ALL be on
the Central Coast with Alan Morris.

Stopped at Ash Island on the way home - it was high
tide and there were 100s of Black-winged Stilt.
Nothing very exciting - 1 Gt Egret, 1 Intermediate
Egret, 14+ Black-fronted and 6+ Black-kneed dotterels,
lots of White-faced Herons but only 1 Pacific, 80+
Chestnut Teal, including males fronting up to each
other in courtship mode, 30+ Grey teal, 18+ Shovelers,
and 2 Gull-billed Terns. At Shortlands Peter Ekert
reported a Jabiru had been there that morning but it
was gone when I went to look - only a Drongo laughing
at my attempts to find it. It rained most of the time
too so not a good day to find birds.

All the best of birding to all

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