A Yellowlegs and Eungella

To: <>
Subject: A Yellowlegs and Eungella
From: "Andrew Stafford" <>
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 23:36:59 +1000
Just a quick, belated and partially redundant trip report on the above. Pete
Kyne, Seb Pardo, Will Renema and myself travelled to South-West Rocks on
Friday 2 November, catching up with Ken Shingleton and the Lesser Yellowlegs
at Boyter's Lane after looking unsuccessfully by the roadside at Rainbow
Reach. It took a while to get satisfactory views - especially of the yellow
legs! - but eventually we were all happy twitchers. Of course, this bird has
since moved on, so I will also.

After staying the night at Dorrigo on the very beautiful Waterfall Way,
between Bellingen and Armidale, NSW, we progressed to Ebor where we had fun
picking through the local corvids. Forest Ravens are easy to find here
(although I had to sympathise with one of our number for whom all crows
sound the same - I'm sure he's not the only one to feel that way).

>From Ebor we visited Cathedral Rock NP, about six kilometres out of town,
and spent a couple of hours walking the trail from the Barokee picnic area.
This was perhaps the highlight of our trip, producing not only Red-browed
Treecreepers and Flame and Scarlet Robins but a breeding pair of Satin
Flycatchers, who were busily nest-building high in a eucalypt in the
foothills of the rocky terrain. Leaden Flycatchers were also here and one of
our party was lucky enough to at one point observe males of both species in
the same binocular view! Older books of mine show Satin Flycatchers breed
well into Queensland, but I've never seen them in the south-east and I can
only presume breeding pairs are very uncommon north of Sydney; I'd be most
interested in other observers' experiences with this bird. Travelling north
from Ebor back to Grafton, we were lucky enough to come across a Southern
Angle-headed Dragon on the road, in rainforest close to Coutt's Crossing -
not a bird but a species I had looked for for many years without success.

The following week, last Tuesday I finally took a road trip north to
Eungella, a place I've never managed to visit despite umpteen planned
excursions that until now failed to eventuate. Still, it was a tight
squeeze, with only a day to look for the honeyeater after a day's drive from
Brisbane. Fortunately the birds were easy enough to find at the well-known
site at the end of Chelman's Road (off Dalrymple Road). I had never heard
recordings of the very distinctive song but from others' descriptions it
wasn't hard to recognise and once familiar with it - for those who haven't
heard it, it's a loud and explosive rattle, somewhat similar to a Drongo -
it was apparent the birds were relatively common, though very local even in
their tiny home range. It took me about an hour to get really good views,
and the birds seemed to enjoy small clearings where trees had fallen in the
forest, where they perched in a sun which miraculously shone after a very
wet previous night. A warning: the rain left the end of this road very wet
and slushy; I was highly embarrassed to get myself stuck here while
attempting to turn the car around and was forced to seek local help for a
tow out. (Seems I wasn't the first, though: I was told residents had been
begging the council to put gravel down in that section.)

I also heard Eungella Honeyeaters at Diggings Road, where rainforest pigeons
were extremely abundant; I had good views of Wompoo and Rose-crowned
Fruit-Doves here and a single view of a female Superb Fruit-Dove. Noisy
Pittas were conspicuous (and noisy). And Platypus were extremely easy to
observe at Broken River - hard to imagine anyone coming here and not seeing
these truly amazing animals. Cicadabirds and Azure Kingfishers were
additional highlights.

All in all a great few days' birding after too long in front of this
computer. The Eungella Honeyeater was my third new bird in a month, taking
my Australian total to #688.

Andrew Stafford
Freelance journalist
Author: Pig City
5/222 Sir Fred Schonell Drive
St Lucia QLD 4067
Ph. 0404 812 470


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