Here's a trip report for our outing last Sunday to
the Hunter River and Ash Is.
We met at 9am at Queen's Wharf to get the boat up
the river. While waiting we could see many Common Terns on the buoys near the
wharf and Little Black, Pied and Great Cormorants out on the river. A Darter was
on the rocks nearby.
The boat arrived and we cruised slowly towards
the dykes on the western side, upriver from Stockton Bridge, where many waders
roost at high tide. On the way a small flock of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers went
past and we flushed a number of Grey-tailed Tattlers from a wreck on the
shore. Along the dykes, the number of birds was well down on previous trips
mainly due, I think, to the improvements made to the wader roost at the Stockton
Sandspit, where many more waders are now roosting.
Still, there were plenty to see, including
Black-winged Stilts and lots of Golden Plovers, Common Greenshanks and Curlew
Sandpipers. A lone Caspian Tern was seen. There were Royal Spoonbills, Little
Egrets and Eastern Curlew. Further along we saw White-bellied Sea-Eagle and
Whistling Kites, White Ibis, Great Egret as we cruised up Mosquito Creek. A
Common Sandpiper was spotted on the bank which gave good views. The Whimbrels
usually seen roosting in the mangroves were absent except for a small group
which flew over on the return leg.
Back at the wharf after a very pleasant trip saw
us pick up some who didn't do the boat trip and head for Stockton Bridge to
check out the waders there, and have lunch too. As I've mentioned, since
the removal of some mangrove from the sandspit, many more waders are using
this as a high tide roost. On arrival we could see several hundred Curlew and
about 15 Pied Oystercatchers but most of the birds were out of view behind a low
After lunch we slowly made our way towards this
area being careful not to flush the birds. Small groups of Sharp-tailed and
Curlew Sandpipers were feeding amongst the nearer mangroves. Bar-tailed Godwits
were out on the exposed mud and after some looking a few Black-tailed Godwits
were found. Red-capped Plovers were running across the mud and as we crept
closer, hundreds of Red-necked Avocets came into views, a wonderful sight.
Amongst the Godwits and Avocets we found a number of Red Knot with a couple of
Great Knot there as well. A Gull-billed Tern was also seen. A Mangrove
Gerygone was heard and then seen by some and there were also Superb Fairywrens
and Yellow Thornbills at the Spit.
We then went around to Ash Is. where a Yellow
Wagtail had once again been seen. We found many Marsh and Sharp-tailed
Sandpipers with some Greenshanks and more Egrets, a Swamp Harrier and
White-fronted Chats. The Chats were being keenly observed since we don't see
them very often on the Central Coast, and while looking at a couple of
females on the road, a Yellow Wagtail popped into view, causing enormous
excitment. The yellow was very obvious on this bird and everyone hurried to
get a look. It ducked back into the grass at the edge of the road but
reappeared soon after. Then a second Wagtail joined it on the road, this
bird only having yellow on its throat. Undoubtedly this was a special moment and
the highlight of the day.
We finished with the view of the Wagtails and went
our separate ways home. Another excellent day with about 50 species being
Central Coast, NSW,