DODGY DRONGOS 2008 Twitchathon Report
Nick Livanos, Liz Huxtable and I once again formed the Dodgy Drongos for
another year with the aim of beating last years personal best of 219. We stood
in our woodland starting point (west of the ranges) waiting for the kick off
time observing the constant activity, until at 3:50 a Brown Falcon flew over
and the bush fell silent.....luckily things recovered quickly and at 4:00:01pm
we ticked a magnificent male Olive-backed Oriole. Jacky Winter, Shrike-tit,
Brown-headed Honeyeater, Bronzewing, Hooded Robin and Black-fronted Dotterel
soon followed. A male Turquoise Parrot flew overhead as Brown Treecreeper and
Restless Flycatcher were heard and the awesome sight of a male Red-winged
Parrot certainly lifted spirits, as did the Painted Button-quail. On the drive
out we stopped to tick White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike as it sat on its nest.
At our creek crossing spot we finally found Diamond Firetail, Rainbow Bee-eater
and Brown Quail. Zebras, Double-bars and Apostlebirds were seen along the road
but where were the Bushlarks and Brown Songlark! A time wasting detour failed
to find them but we did get White-winged Fairy-wren.
Cutting our loses we headed west picking up last years bogey bird,
Black-shouldered Kite. Painted Honeyeaters were once again easily ticked but
where were those bloody Singing Honeyeaters! A few kms up the road and there on
the fence was a Bushlark and in the paddock displaying....a male Brown
Songlark! The Drongos were on fire! Little Raven was a nice bonus as was the
Mallee Ringneck. Cockatiel were everywhere and we welcomed White-backed
Swallow, Plum-headed Finch, Southern Whiteface and Chestnut-rumped Thornbill to
We were running very late by now and the sun was setting fast. We entered our
'western' spot and immediately picked up Collared Sparrowhawk at its nest.
Western Gerygone and Leaden Flycatcher called and Buff-rumped Thornbills seen.
White-browed Babblers and Woodswallows were seen further up the track and
finding a roosting Masked Woodswallow was pure genius!
It was now dark so we made our way south heading for the Hunter Valley but not
before ticking White-throated Nightjar and Tawny Frogmouth....our only night
birds! On a plus note we had seen 104 species for the afternoon.....a first for
We rose early with Pitta being our first bird. Bassian and Russet-tailed
Thrush, Rose Robin and Spectacled Monarch called to us as we trudged up the
track. Other great birds were Cuckoo-dove, Yellow-throated Scrubwren, Rufous
Fantail and Lyrebird. On the tops we got another bogey bird in Yellow-tailed
Black-cockatoo and a Wonga flushed off the road.
We made our way towards Maitland stopping at several eastern woodland sites
getting Pallid Cuckoo, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Bar-shouldered Dove, Scarlet
Honeyeater and Brush Cuckoo. Seaham produced Nankeen Night Heron and Regent
Bowerbird and Sittella were great finds at Green Wattle Crk.
Maitland produced its usual ferals in Goldfinch and Blackbird and Walka had
Great-crested and Hoary-headed Grebes, Musk Duck and a first for us,
Next was Yellow-tufted Honeyeater at our one bird stop at Kurri. Minmi was on
the quiet side but we scoped Whiskered Tern, Wandering Whistling-duck and
Next stop was Ash Island which was excellent with many waders. Sharpies,
Marshies, Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper and a single Red Knot were much
appreciated as was the Red-kneed Dotterel, Caspian Tern, Horsfield's Bronze,
Mangrove Gerygone, Chat and Tawny Grassbird.
We picked up some absolute corkers at the Sandspit. A Buff-banded Rail welcomed
us and Striated Heron and Osprey made up for the lack of waders. Several Golden
Plovers on the Stockton Foreshore were a great find.
The Newcastle Baths were busy (well thats what we're blaming for missing Sooty
Oystercatcher) but Common Tern and Ruddy Turnstone braved the crowds.
Unlike last year we had a bit of time on our hands so we headed to Awabakal
Nature Reserve and got our three target honeyeaters, New Holland, White-cheeked
and a fantastic displaying Tawny-crowned Honeyeater which also turned out to be
our record breaking bird....220!
We headed to the Wetlands Centre smiling from ear to ear. Magpie Goose!....221,
Aust. Shoveler!!!!.....222....................Pheasant Coucal !!!!!!!!!
223!.........and that was it, all done.
We had beaten last years total by a whoping 4 species (trust me thats alot). We
did have some huge dips but like Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Red-necked Stint and the
Pink-eared Ducks I had been seeing every day for a week leading up to the race!
Maybe next year.
Huge congrats to all the other teams involved and lets hope its a record year
Blessed to live in the Hunter
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