I spent a good part of yesterday
2004) birding in the Hunter estuary with a focus on the shorebirds,
terns and gulls (I?m ready for a Sabine?s, Franklins or Laughing Gull any
The first point of call was
Island where the water was quite high
as tide was coming up towards the 2 metre mark. Here I saw 3 Lesser Sand and 15
Red-capped Plovers; 12 Red-necked Stints; 80 plus Sharp-tailed and 18 Marsh
Sandpipers; 12 Greenshank; 12 Eastern Curlews; 100 plus Pied Stilts and 8
Red-necked Avocets. A few raptors were also about including 2 White-bellied
Sea-eagles, 4 Whistling Kites, a Black-shouldered Kite (making/fixing its nest?)
and an Australian Kestrel. Also present were Little and Great Egrets,
White-fronted Chats, Tawny Grassbirds, Bar-shouldered Dove and Mangrove
Gerygones briefly mimicking the calls of other birds such as Willy Wagtails.
I then moved on at the high tide
roost below Stockton bridge where I counted (as rounded conservative estimates,
while the birds were roosting at high tide and then starting to feed on the
adjoining mudflats during the first two hours after high tide) 13 Red-capped
Plovers; 20 Red-necked Stints; 2-3 Broad-billed, 50 Sharp-tailed,100 Curlew and
5 Terek Sandpipers (many I believe where still roosting); 8 Red and 4 Great
Knot; 500 Bar-tailed and 140 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Whimbrel, 250 Eastern
Curlew, a Greenshank, 20 Pied Stilts and 500 plus Red-necked Avocets. Numbers of
shorebirds present here are certainly well down from their usual umbers but many
do I believe are feeding elsewhere including Whimbrel, Grey-tailed Tattler,
Terek Sandpipers and hopefully Pacific Golden Plover (I have not seen these
Plovers at Newcastle this season where I used to see about 400 of them!). It
looks too that there are less Sharp-tailed than last time but many could be at
either the nearby Woodberry or Irrawong swamps or at the Morpeth STW with other
waders. The only Terns seen on
these mudflats were a single Gull-billed and a few Crested Terns.
At Stockton mudflats, I bumped
into a few member of the Hunter Bird Observers Club before I left for home ? Ann
Linsey, Alan Stuart et al and I left them to enjoy observing all the above.
Stockton beach during high tide,
there were about 16 White-winged Black Tern and a number of Wedge-tailed
Shearwaters, and inside the Newcastle
Harbour, I counted 85 Common Terns
resting on the buoys.
Newcastle as a big storm was just
about to hit the area.