I've just spent three days showing an American visitor around the
Hawkesbury, Blue Mountains and Capertee Valley, birding virtually non-stop
from sunrise until sunset each day. It's a tough job, but someone's gotta
do it! Having a visitor who was straight from the airport on his first trip
to Australia meant, of course, that every bird was new for him. Even the
Laughing Kookaburra which we take so much for granted, suddenly becomes an
exciting bird - and hearing that hearty, crazy chorus of laughter a
But even from a local's perspective the three days were peppered with some
pretty interesting stuff. As Edwin Vella commented in an earlier post, it
does seem to be a good winter for birds in the more coastal regions.
We started on Sunday with a quick look around the Windsor area, where
raptors were out in force. At Pitt Town Lagoon we watched a skirmish
between an immature Swamp Harrier and a pair of Whistling Kites, one of
which was carrying prey it had just taken from the water. At McGraths Hill
we ran into some members of the FOC and together watched a Spotted Harrier
taking flight over the wetlands.
Then it was up to Yarramundi to look for the Swift Parrots around Shaws
Creek. Despite the noise from the Sunday trail bike riders, we soon found
them - one flock after another flying in and foraging in the ironbark
foliage, until it seemed the trees were full of them. We counted at least
50 (survey sheets are on their way to Debbie Saunders). As we were
wandering through the woodland I happened to look down and there, on the
ground at the foot of a large ironbark, was a Swift Parrot in perfect
condition, except that it was dead! What beautiful coloration in the wings
etc. It is now in my freezer. (Chris Tzaros, was it you who requested any
On Monday morning we set out pre-dawn, white fields of frost emerging
through the half-light as we drove past Lithgow towards the Capertee
Valley. The valley itself is still dry and suffering from a lack of
flowering and a scarcity of nectarivorous birds. You have to work much
harder than usual for the birds, but we did manage to find most of the
resident woodland species such as the Diamond Firetails, Hooded Robins,
Speckled Warblers, Southern Whitefaces, etc. as well as a Pallid Cuckoo and
a Horsfield's Bronze calling. However, it was the seed-eaters which were
particularly abundant - lots of Zebra and Double-barred Finches, Red-rumped
Parrots and the various pigeons.
Most interesting was finding a flock of 16 BUDGERIGARS at Coco Creek! These
inland nomads have been progressively moving coastward during the drought.
David Geering reported three in the valley a few weeks ago. Next they'll be
turning up in the Sydney area. Anyway what a thrill to be able to show my
US visitor wild budgies so close to Sydney.
To top off a good day for parrots, we finally got splendid views of a male
Turquoise Parrot. The fact that this bird was to-ing and fro-ing alone near
a known breeding site, made me wonder if his mate was sitting on eggs,
although it certainly seems early for them to be breeding.
Well this has turned into quite a long post, so I'll write about our Blue
Mountains highlights in Part 2, later.
Blue Mountains NSW
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