Once Bittern....

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Once Bittern....
From: "Matt Hughes" <>
Date: Tue, 14 Jan 2003 21:04:55 +1100
On the 12th of Jan at 4pm, we went canoeing along Cattai Creek (next to Mitchell Park - Richmond/Windsor area, N.S.W). Cattai Creek is tidal (51/2 hrs behind) & a quiet spot with some rainforest, bushland and farmland. Sadly there are lots of weeds and some thick 'stands' of bamboo. The first birds we saw were a pair of Sacred Kingfishers on power lines. Soon we came across Azure Kingfishers feeding from over hanging trees along the bank. Lots of birds flew quickly from one side to the other and identification was hard while we looked out for sunken logs.
Suddenly, we flushed a Nankeen Night Heron which we followed and then quietly paddled up to for a photo. We ended up seeing more of these great birds along the trip. This reminded us of a previous canoeing trip from Mitchell Park when we were looking for a Black Bittern but missed out. Little Pied Cormorants perched on logs rising out of the river, never staying long enough for a good photo.
Then, out from under the trees came a large dark bird, which flew strongly ahead of us and around the corner. Slowly we continued and to our delight we saw the bird  perched out in the open and it was a male Black Bittern. We tried sneaking up for a photo but the bird kept flying off up the creek. Canoeing makes it easier in some ways to find birds but getting close is sometimes difficult.  
We stopped for a snack at the picnic area where there were some White-winged Choughs and a Dollarbird chasing either a Brown Goshawk or Collared Sparrowhawk, which seemed strange. On the way back we saw the Black Bittern again, once brilliantly out in the open in sunshine (but no film left). We also saw a Eastern Water Dragons on a rock and high up on an overhanging branch. Nearby, we found a bird nest way out on a limb with 3 nestlings which on close inspection looked like White-browed Scrubwrens. We checked Morcombe's guide which confirmed our view. Some other birds included a Black-faced Monarch, inquisitive Superb Fairy Wrens, Brown & White-throated Gerygones, Lewin's & Yellow-faced Honeyeaters & a Wedge-tailed Eagle.
Madison (9) and Matt  
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