This morning started as yesterday finished,
overcast and drizzling rain, with the forecast for more of the same. So I
decided to head West instead of down to Newcastle to go birding.
Recent reports of Painted Honeyeater back at
Martindale (about 60kms west of Singleton on the back road from Jerry's Plains
to Denman ) was my inspiration. No rain on the way out and the skies gradually
cleared to a very pleasant day. Some Lucerne fields just before Martindale was
my first stop as I saw a male Brown Songlark doing his display flight. Also
present was a Golden-headed Cisticola, calling madly as were Stubble Quail, and
sitting on a fence post was a Singing Bushlark, a very uncommon bird for the
Hunter Valley area.
Alas there was to be no Painted Honeyeaters for
me today at Martindale but lots of other good birds made up for
Highlights were many species that I do not see
around home and included :
Also many Double-barred Finches, Zebra Finches and
Rainbow Bee-eaters at the Medhurst Bridge at Martindale.
Stubble Quail were calling wherever I stopped near
paddocks with Lucerne growing. White-plumed Honeyeaters were
On the way home , a brightly coloured bird with
white tail tips caught my eye as it flew up from the side of the road about 12.5
kms west of Jerry's Plains. I stopped and reversed back until I could get off
the road. Of course I couldn't find the bird then but there were 2 Brown
Treecreepers in the trees beside the road so I thought I may as well have a bit
of a look whilst there. Next bird I saw was a Diamond Firetail and
then 2 others, Double-barred Finches, Rufous Songlark, Dusky Woodswallows and
Peaceful Doves were calling. I walked back to the car, and back up the hill, was
again the brightly coloured bird feeding on the roadside. I walked up closer to
find that it was a male White-browed Woodswallow, an absolutely stunning bird
and the best views I have ever had of one.When it flew up into a tree it landed
beside a female which it immediately copulated with and moved off to feed a
begging youngster. This will be one of the more recent breeding records for the
Hunter as they are not that often recorded here , let alone breeding. I watched
them for about 20 minutes , as the male went off to collect food as the young
one sat on the same branch and waited for his return. Just when I was drooling
over my best birding moment for the day, movement in front of me caught my eye
and a Chestnut-rumped Heathwren climbed to the top of a small bush and gave me
excellent views. A party of 4 White-browed
Babblers moved through to complete a great roadside stop.
All up 92 species for the day.