Swift parrots in coastal NSW

Subject: Swift parrots in coastal NSW
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2003 11:45:49 +1000

I have just returned from a field trip to the north coast of NSW looking for Swift Parrots after some of my invaluable volunteers contacted me about swifties in their local areas.

It was a very successful trip using a combination of local volunteer knowledge (thanks Dave Whitfield and Darin Rounsevell) and a bit of detective work with potential habitats and flight paths.  At Lake Cathie (south of Port Macquarie on the mid north coast of NSW) we recorded 50 Swift Parrots feeding on lerp in Swamp Mahogany, nectar in Forest Red Gum and nectar in Blackbutt.  The Swamp Mahogany and Forest Red Gum occurred only as tiny remnant patches amongst the residential area of Lake Cathie and the Blackbutt was in Queens Lake SF which has been substantially logged recently.  The birds were doing their spectacular build up to mass roosting and then in the mornings the large group foraged together for an hour or so before they would head off in groups of 2-3 birds for the rest of the day which made it more difficult to detect them.  Interestingly, most of the birds were adults with some truly brilliant males amongst t hem.

Swifties were also found at a site where they were recorded in large numbers last year at Lemon Tree Passage near Port Stephens on the mid north coast of NSW.  Last year they were recorded foraging in Swamp Mahogany in Koala Reserve on the foreshore at Lemon Tree Passage and a few were there again but searches of the surrounding area revealed 20 Swift Parrots predominantly feeding in flowering Blackbutt on the adjacent hill amongst currently undeveloped housing blocks.  There was some Swamp Mahogany in late stages of flowering however when the swiftites attempted to use these trees they were readily chased away by Noisy Friarbirds and Noisy Miners.  Three Koalas were also easily located which was great to see.

In addition, I also just received the following email from Chris Slade about Swift Parrots on the far south coast of NSW (thanks Chris for sending me this info - very much appreciated and I look forward to hearing if they are still around and if the numbers build up as the birds start to head south again):

A Sunday (24/8/2003) afternoon stroll through the sand dunes to the beach
resulted in 2 and possibly another 2 birds being recorded in the grassy area
opposite Merimbula Airport. I saw one bird and heard 2 or 3 more birds. It
was a bit hard to hear over the howling wind and impossible to see roosting
birds due to violent foliage movements (I can't believe they were managing
to hold on). They were situated in tall Blackbutts. Other birds around were
Red Wattlebirds, Brush Wattlebird, Bell Miners. The only flowering easily
visible was Banksia integrifolia.
I plan on having a look over the next couple of days to see if they are
still around.

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