Central Coast FOC Outing, Sun 2/2/2003

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: Central Coast FOC Outing, Sun 2/2/2003
From: "Robert Quinan" <>
Date: Sun, 9 Feb 2003 09:35:42 +1100
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 bank.
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 seen.
Robert Quinan
Central Coast, NSW, Aust.
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