"Western Birding"

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: "Western Birding"
From: "Lynn" <>
Date: Sat, 8 Nov 2003 21:12:52 +1100
Hi all
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 it.
Highlights were many species that I do not see around home and included :
Speckled Warbler
Restless Flycatcher
White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike
Dusky Woodswallow 
Rufous Songlark
Brown Songlark
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 common.
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.
Dick Jenkin
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