St Thornbill's

To: Birding-Aus aus <>
Subject: St Thornbill's
From: Ricki Coughlan <>
Date: Tue, 26 Dec 2006 08:28:03 +1100
I spent Christmas morning at my favourite cathedral - St Thornbill's, sometimes referred to as Lady Carrington Drive in the Royal National Park.

What a gem this place is with its gorgeous, diverse botanical splendour and magnificent array of birdlife. Needing to be at my parents at midday for Chrissie dinner and wishing to get out there before the cicadas struck up, I set off at sunrise. The birding was incredible from the start with fantastic abundance. I adore the calls of Noisy Friarbirds which filled the treetops adjacent to the beginning of the trail, so it was hard to even get started walking, as I'd have been happy to linger all morning and bask in the wonderful cacophony.

A great feature of the morning was the total absence of mountain bikes (didn't see any until 11:00am) and hoards of runners which normally yell to each other as they go. One result was an abundance of birds at the sides of the trail which I have not witnessed at this location since the early 1990's, another was the behaviour of the birds - much more confiding than usual and yet another was a much greater presence of wallabies (witnessed a fabulous boxing match between two Black Wallabies).

Accipiters did not disappoint, with repeated sightings of a Grey Goshawk (at least 6 occasions), excellent stoush between a Collared Sparrowhawk and a family of Kookaburras and a Brown Goshawk attempting to take a Sacred Kingfisher. In 2003 I witnessed a wonderful aerial dogfight between two Grey Goshawks at Lady Carrington Drive, so I may have been observing two birds today, for all I know.

One of the most successful Satin Bowerbirds on the drive this year is an interesting chap. He has set up his bower on a rock ledge well above the track but adjacent to a couple of large, abundant fig trees (picnic ground at Jersey Springs). He had several females nesting near his bower earlier this season and quite an abundance currently visiting his bower and nearby fig trees. His bower is the simplest Satin Bowerbird bowers that I have ever seen and it has not one blue item decorating it, only a few cicada shells and some yellow-ish leaves. I could only conclude that it's the fabulous food resource which his territory contains which has made him so successful. Perhaps defending a good territory is more important than display, when the chips are down.

My list for the morning is below. I noted that Brown Cuckoo-Doves and Topknot Pigeons are even harder to locate this year than they were last year. I have not heard any Brown Cuckoo-Dove calls in the forest at all for the past two summers, which is unheard of. I'd be interested in other people's impressions of numbers and calls at this location and elsewhere. Also now absent are the Scarlet Honeyeaters which were quite common for some months.

Leaden Flycatchers appear to be much more abundant this year than for previous years and the same could be said for Rufous Whistlers.

Regulars which I dipped on today included: Great Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, Australasian Grebe, Crimson Rosella, Yellow-throated Scrubwren, Large-billed Scrubwren, Grey Shrike-thrush and Red-browed Finch. Some of these species are not as common on the northern end of the trail, which I visited today. Butterfly numbers were down, with only a few Brown Ringlets making a showing.

By 10:30am the cicadas were singing very loudly - both damaging the ears and making location of birds by call impossible so I returned to my car and Christmas day with the family - one very happy birder.

Happy birding
Ricki Coughlan
Belrose, Sydney

Pacific Black Duck
Australian Wood Duck
Grey Goshawk
Brown Goshawk
Collared Sparrowhawk
Purple Swamphen
Dusky Moorehen
Brown Cuckoo-Dove
Topknot Pigeon
Wonga Pigeon
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Rainbow Lorikeet
King Parrot
Eastern Rosella
Fan-tailed Cuckoo
Horsefield's Bronze Cuckoo
Australian Owlet-nightjar
Azure Kingfisher
Laughing Kookaburra
Sacred Kingfisher
Superb Lyrebird
White-throated Treecreeper
Spotted Pardalote
Superb Fairy-wren
Variegated Fairy-wren
White-browed Scrubwren
Brown Gerigone
Brown Thornbill
Striated Thornbill
Red Wattlebird
Little Wattlebird
Noisy Friarbird
Noisy Miner
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Lewin's Honeyeater
Eastern Spinebill
Eastern Yellow Robin
Eastern Whipbird
Varied Sitella
Crested Shrike-tit
Golden Whistler
Rufous Whistler
Black-faced Monarch
Leaden Flycatcher
Willie Wagtail
Rufous Fantail
Grey Fantail
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Olive-backed Oriole
Grey Butcherbird
Australian Magpie
Pied Currawong
Australian Raven
Green Catbird
Satin Bowerbird


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