Culburra and the Illawarra area - 20th July 2003

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Subject: Culburra and the Illawarra area - 20th July 2003
From: "Edwin Vella" <>
Date: Sun, 20 Jul 2003 20:58:27 +1000

Today, myself and David Mitford enjoyed a pleasant day in the Shoalhaven area (approx 180-200 km south of Sydney CBD). Our main aim and hope was to find a couple of lifers for David, a Square-tailed Kite at Culburra and a Beach Stone-curlew at Orient Pt just east of Nowra. Both have occurred regularly at these places over recent years but we failed to see any of these two. However, we did see a whole host of interesting birds around the Culburra area as well as driving through the Illawarra region between there and Sydney.


One of our most interesting sightings on our way down the coast from Sydney, was seeing a pair of Grey Goshawks display beside the freeway at Blue Gum Forest (near Helensburgh) and both Goshawks were seen later perched on one of the electricity towers beside this road. The stretch of freeway between Waterfall and Bulli is often good for Grey Goshawks and I have seen a number of times, a few pairs here and there along the freeway. Further on the road to Nowra, we saw a small flock of Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos and Pacific Heron feeding beside the road.


Upon arrival at Culburra, we hoped that the Square-tailed Kites (one or possibly a pair often frequent this area) but despite a search around none were about. Probably they breed here and disperse elsewhere for the winter?


We also checked Orient Pt for a Beach stone-curlew but also failed to find this bird. However, we did see a Fairy Penguin (swimming near the mouth of the Shoalhaven River), a White-fronted Tern amongst the Crested Terns, 3 Caspian Terns, a Mangrove Heron, a Darter, a Reef Egret, a Little Egret, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Ruddy Turnstone, 7 Sooty and 2 Pied Oystercatchers and a few White-bellied Sea Eagles. Along one of the streets, a White-headed Pigeon perched prominent on the power lines like a Feral Pigeon (probably 40-50 or so km away from any Rainforest and I could not see any fruiting tree in sight and only dry coastal scrub nearby.


Very few seabirds were seen passing Crookhaven Heads including a few Black-browed Albatrosses, a fairly tight flock of at least 25 Fluttering Shearwaters and an Australasian Gannet. It?s been quite poor for seabirds this winter??


At Lake Wollumboola at Culburra, the water level looked quite deep and there was very few water birds compared to the previous summer (only a handful of Black Swans remained out of the 10-15,000 last January) but there were at least 17 Hoary-headed Grebes (many acquiring/moulting away from (?) breeding plumage, Great Egrets, Royal Spoonbills, a Brown Goshawk over the surrounding forest, 2 Whistling Kites, 2 White-bellied Sea-eagles, a Swamp Harrier, 2 Red-capped Plovers, 2 Caspian and 3 Gull-billed Terns (all of these Terns were in non-breeding plumage). Lots of Honeyeaters were about attracted to the flowering Spotted Gums and Banksias but consisted mainly of Little and Red Wattlebirds, Noisy Friarbirds, New Holland Honeyeaters and heard Scarlet Honeyeater. Musk Lorikeets were heard amongst the Rainbow Lorikeets.


We briefly drove on the north side of Jervis Bay and were thinking of checking out the heathland (near Currarong) but ran out of time (as we often do - too many good places to visit in too little time!). Has anybody seen Eastern Bristlebirds on this side of the bay or are they only confined to the south side?


The drive back home produced a Little Eagle soaring low over the partly rainforest covered hillside just outside Kiama, an Australian Hobby and another Brown Goshawk flying near Wollongong, 5 Black-shouldered Kites in 5 widely separate areas beside the freeway (I said to David we should have a 90 % chance to get one of these on the days raptor list heading back home and having not seen one until heading back through the Wollongong area) and a Collared Sparrowhawk near Heathcoate (our tenth raptor for the day).


Our raptor list for the day was as follows:


Grey Goshawk (2 ? a pair)

Brown Goshawk (2)

Collared Sparrowhawk (1)

Swamp Harrier (3)

Whistling Kite (2)

Little Eagle (1)

White-bellied Sea-eagle (7)

Black-shouldered Kite (5)

Australian Kestrel (2)

Australian Hobby (1)


Edwin Vella

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