Good birding in the Hunter Region Mid-north coastal NSW Feb 2003

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Subject: Good birding in the Hunter Region Mid-north coastal NSW Feb 2003
From: "Edwin Vella" <>
Date: Sun, 16 Feb 2003 16:40:39 +1100


LENAGHAN (approx 155Km north of Sydney CBD)


As I was driving north on the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway, I looked at Hexham Swamp (which appeared all dried up) to my right and was amazed to see a flock of 100-150 Glossy Ibis flying in a single flock and heading north. They were most likely have departed from Pourmalong Nature Reserve just across the road, which still has water.


ASH ISLAND, Hunter Estuary (approx 160km north of Sydney CBD or 10-15km west of Newcastle)


The place was loaded with waders including 1500 plus Sharp-tailed and 200 plus Marsh Sandpipers, 30 plus Red-necked Stints, 3 Curlew Sandpipers, c 10 Eastern Curlews, atleast 5 Greenshanks (most likely more), 30 plus Red-capped Plovers, 300 plus Pied Stilts and 50-60 Red-necked Avocets. Other birds seen included an adult male Black-necked Stork, 1000 plus Grey and 100 plus Chestnut Teal, 1-2 Swamp Harriers, 2 Whistling Kites, a pair of adult White-bellied Sea-eagles, a Peregrine Falcon, 2 Australian Crakes, 3 Gull-billed Terns, atleast 4 (possibly more) Yellow Wagtails and atleast 10 White-fronted Chats. The Yellow Wagtails are quickly acquiring breeding plumage with 2 in almost full breeding plumage (one race simillima with grey crown and whitish supercilum and the other race taivana with olive crown and yellowish supercilium with both having almost complete yellow under parts) and all 4 were observed at the same time at close range and were all clearly distinguishable. Little Lorikeets were heard calling high overhead.


HARRINGTON/CROWDY BAY NP (approx. 320 km north of Sydney CBD)


The recent rains and good flowering have made the birds recently more active but along the walk through the littoral rainforest adjacent to the lagoon, things were still a bit quieter than usual. Not much of the larger figs were in fruit hence the absence of canopy fruit eating birds in this part of the rainforest, but did see a few lower storey birds such as an Emerald Dove (feeding in the forest floor), a few Rufous Fantails and 4 Spectacled Monarchs. Both a Rough-scaled Snake (Tropidechis carinatus) and Black Wallaby were also seen here.


Beside the main road to Crowdy Head (half way between Crowdy Head and Harrington itself), I stopped beside the road on the false alarm that one of the ever abundant Figbirds may have been something else. Here I saw instead atleast 5 Varied Trillers (3 males and 2 females), Cicadabird, another Spectacled Monarch, an Australian Hobby, many Bar-shouldered Doves, 30 plus Spine-tailed Swifts (traveling south and not circling to feed), 6 Regent Bowerbirds (2 adult males and 4 females) and a nice sized Echidna walking outside the scrub. Also further up the road towards Crowdy Head was a Spangled Drongo and a Pheasant Coucal disappearing under the bushes.


A brief sea watch from Crowdy Head saw hundreds of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, a Pomarine Jaeger as well as a Common Dolphin.


Crowdy Bay National Park had lots of trees and atleast one species of Banskia in flower, attracting an abundance of White-cheeked Honeyeaters and Little Wattlebirds, several Striped Honeyeaters as well as many of both Little and Scaly-breasted Lorikeets. In the evening, I searched unsuccessfully for Eastern Grass Owls (before and on dusk) beside some swampy heath/sedge land, between Crowdy Head and Moorland (was not too sure if I was at Black fellows Bog where the Owls are meant to be).


What was unusual though at night at Harrington was seeing 4 Kookaburra roosting on power lines (3 over the road) which got me by surprise. Has anybody seen them roost like this before?


The waders seen in the estuary at Harrington included 10 Pacific Golden Plovers, a few Red-capped Plovers, 2 Red-necked Stints, 100 plus Bar-tailed Godwits, 10 Eastern Curlews, a Whimbrel, 8 Pied Oystercatchers. There were also 2 Little Egrets, a juv. /Immature Brahminy Kite, 110 plus Little Terns and interestingly a Straw-necked Ibis on the mudflats


At the sewerage works in Harrington, saw a Buff-banded Rail with Swamphens on the trail heading through Crowdy Bay NP.


OLD BAR (near Taree) (approx. 280 km north of Sydney CBD)


Many terns were seen on the sand spits in the Inlet just north of Old Bar including 1200 plus Common, 200 plus Little, 7 Gull-billed, one Caspian and hundreds of Crested Terns. Also with these Terns was a Little Egret, 50 plus Pacific Golden Plovers, atleast 8 Red-capped Plovers, 12 Red-necked Stints, 9 Sanderling, 100 plus Bar-tailed Godwits, 7 Whimbrel, 100 plus Eastern Curlew, 5 Pied Oystercatchers but none of the Sand-Plovers (Greater or Lesser).


A good one and a half days birding on the NSW mid-north coast.


Edwin Vella

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