Newcastle and Maitland areas NSW - 12th July 2003 (Black Falcon vs Pereg

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Subject: Newcastle and Maitland areas NSW - 12th July 2003 (Black Falcon vs Peregrine Falcon)
From: "Edwin Vella" <>
Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2003 18:44:08 +1000

I enjoyed a pleasant morning on Saturday 12th July around the Newcastle and Maitland area (approx. 160 km north of Sydney CBD). A few areas checked out included:




Got here quite early (approx 8 am) where with scope I scanned across over the wide area of this very large swamp. Here I identified 58 Glossy Ibis, well over a thousand  Pied Stilts, a Swamp Harrier, a couple of Whistling Kites, an Imm. White-bellied Sea-eagle, hundreds of Black Swans and other waterfowl (mainly Grey Teal). On a dead tree in the smaller swamp to the south-west of the main swamp an Australian Hobby perched on a dead tree together with a pair of Long-billed Corellas, a pair of Pied Butcherbirds and an Australian Magpie.




I thought I give this place a check and was interested to hear and see at least 2 Torressian Crows hanging about the melaleuca swamp (the one where the Egrets usually nest in summer). On my last visit here, a year or so ago, I also saw these Crows at Shortland and I am now thinking that it is highly likely that there are now a few Crows now resident in the Newcastle area (a few years ago I would have not noticed them until reaching the Great Lakes area about 50 km north where they are fairly common). I have had them a number of times 10 km north at Seaham and recently as far south as Mandalong (just on the edge of the Central Coast region).


 The grevilleas, callistemons (bottlebrush) and a few Eucalypts (including a few Swamp Mohagoneys) were attracting good numbers of Silvereyes, Red and Little Wattlebirds, Eastern Spinebills as well as several Yellow-faced, Brown, White-cheeked and Scarlet Honeyeaters. I used my scope on some of the Scarlet Honeyeaters feeding on the flowering bottlebrushes at eyes level and notice that some if not all (both adult and Imm. male and female) had yellow at the base of the bill (I have only noticed this fairly recently). Water birds were a little down than usual at the wetland centre with about 60 of the usual Magpie Geese, a small number of Australasian Shoveler, Hardheads, a Hoary-headed Grebe, a Swamp Harrier, a Plumed Egret (believe it or not, the only Egret I saw here) and a pair of Masked Lapwings with 2 chicks among others. Several Tawny Grassbirds, a Fan-tailed Cuckoo (a wonderful close up observation through scope) and an over-wintering male Rufous Whistler were also about. One species of duck I have not seen here for quite a while are Wandering Whistling-ducks which I have seen breeding in the area once or twice. Has anybody seen these Whistling-ducks recently around Newcastle?


I noticed that the Wetland Centre still has 17 Freckled Duck in an enclosure and I was fortunate and interested to see them quite active and vocal (making at least  a couple of vocalizations they made, possibly a different one between male and female). They were quite actively feeding and put on a good show.




A short visit here saw 500 plus Pink-eared Ducks, 1000 plus Hardheads, 1000 plus Grey Teal and smaller numbers of Australasian Shoveler, Black Duck and Wood Duck.




I spent about an hour here before heading home after lunch. Upon arrival the place was very calm without a single raptor in sight. I was just about to head home a bit disappointed after the first 20 minutes than a Swamp Harrier passed over, followed by 2 Whistling Kites circling over, then a Black Falcon caught my eye as it was being dive bombed by a Peregrine Falcon than later the Black Falcon had a go at the Peregrine (watching this was probably the main high light of the day. The male Peregrine looked quite small compared to the Black Falcon), then a small group of Australian Ravens were having a go at a Brown Falcon and finally 3 Black Kites were also circling low over and joined the scene. The numbers of the Black Kites at this Tip (as I have mentioned before) are quite variable, and their numbers appear to range between zero and up to 50 Kites. I wonder if there are other good places for them close by. Just before I left, there were 2 Whistling Kites, 3 Black Kites and 2 Black Falcons over the area.


My raptor list of 9 species for this morning was as follows:


Swamp Harrier (4)

Black Kite (3)

Whistling Kite (5)

White-bellied Sea-eagle (2)

Black Falcon (2)

Brown Falcon (1)

Australian Kestrel (2)

Australian Hobby (1)

Peregrine Falcon (1)


Edwin Vella

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