Coffs Harbour & NSW mid-North Coast 13-18 July 2010

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Coffs Harbour & NSW mid-North Coast 13-18 July 2010
From: "Tom and Mandy Wilson" <>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2010 20:22:11 +1000
Hi all
I have recently returned from a short family holiday at Coffs Harbour, which involved opportunities for some birding around the rest of the family activities. Highlights from our 5 night stay were:

- a pair of Black Shouldered Kites and their 2 big, fledged young, seen every day from the balcony of our apartment. The adult kites frequently made a piping/chipping call, both at rest and in flight when around the nest, which is not a call I'd ever heard before or, given its tuneful nature, that I would associate with a raptor. Also lots of Blue Faced Honeyeaters, several Spangled Drongos and (as the apartment looked out over Coffs Harbour, I could whale and gannet watch from the comfort of the balcony with tea on demand!)
14 July
- a morning walk around Coffs Harbour Botanic Gardens produced several Spangled Drongo, a Wonga Pigeon in the rainforest section (not on the Gardens' bird list), a very bold Little Egret on one of the ponds, lots of Scaly Breasted and Musk Lorikeets and a tree where I had Spotted and Striated Pardalotes very close together for a comparison of markings and calls - at lunchtime we were picnicking at Sawtell (at the surf club overlooking the beach) and as well as many whales passing by were many Australasian Gannets fishing, and in amongst them was a single Brown Booby. Also 7 Bar Tailed Godwits flew south along the coast (early returns or over wintering birds I wonder?) - a late afternoon walk in the rainforest at Bruxner Park along the track from Halfway Creek past the Vincent Tree produced a small group of Wompoo Pigeons calling and feeding high in a tree, a Grey Goshawk passed over, a Pale Yellow Robin led us along the track for a bit and there were plenty of Green Catbirds calling
15 July
- visited Dorrigo National Park and walked the tracks near the visitor centre. A pair of Wedge Tailed Eagles was seen from the skywalk and again from The Glade Picnic area. Several pairs of Logrunners were found near the tracks, as were Yellow Throated and Large Billed Scrubwrens and four Superb Lyrebirds, one of which was (annoyingly or cunningly) displaying about 5 metres from the track but behind the debris from a large fallen tree so we could hear but not see him until he finished his show and strolled out into the open). On the road to the car park for the Glade picnic area I flushed a large green bird off the ground. Walking back I located a Rose Crowned Fruit Dove looking down at me - I'm not sure who was more surprised! I couldn't find any thrushes, which in the past have been quite common around the picnic area - In Dorrigo town (looking at Dangar Falls and the potential railway museum) was a flock of 50ish Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos - Came home along the north bank of the Bellinger River, which produced several good groups of White Headed and Brown Pigeons and several White Necked Herons
16 July
- a whale watching cruise in the morning was a mini-pelagic, with several Black Browed and Yellow Nosed Albatross, 2 Fairy Prions, plenty of Fluttering-type shearwaters further offshore and a Great Skua that came and sat on the water every time our boat stopped for a whale - Striped Honeyeaters were heard and then seen at the Urunga golf course as we waited for a train to cross the rail bridge over the Kalang River - I see that the Osprey nest is still on the bridge - a late afternoon walk at Urunga along the boardwalk produced a small covey (5) of Brown Quail in the rough ground at the seaward end of the boardwalk. They were right under the feet of the people walking along the top and seemed to be not really bothered by them so I was able to get really good looks. Quite surprising here, given the lack of any trees of any size, was an Eastern Yellow Robin. Also fishing in the river here as it entered the sea were a pair of Sacred Kingfishers and a Striated Heron (described to me as a "bittern" by a local). In the shallows of Urunga lagoon were 5 or 6 Bar Tailed Godwit were feeding as well as all sorts of herons and egrets. Loafing on the dykes where the Kalang and Bellinger Rivers meet was a large flock of gulls and terns, including 1 Gull Billed Tern.
17 July
- stopped at Smiths Lake just south of Woolgoolga where there were 8 Jacana, 1 Musk Duck in the open water on the far side and at least 3 Wandering Whistling Duck - then moved onto Red Rock, where a walk along the board walk loop produced loads of honeyeaters, including Scarlet, Striped, Lewins, White Cheeked, Blue Faced, Brown, E Spinebill and Little Friarbird. Also found on this walk was a party of Varied Sitella, a Varied Triller, Fan Tailed Cuckoos, a very confiding pair of Mistletoebirds and some Red Backed Wrens (in some doubt until Mr showed up). On the mudflats that can be seen from the walk and the boat launch area, (with a rising tide) I picked out 1 Beach Thick Knee near a small mangrove patch, so the other may have been hiding in there. The mudflats also held Godwits, Curlews, Pied Oystercatchers, a dozen Double Banded Dotterels, a pair of Red Capped Dotterel and several Sacred Kingfishers. - finished off at Woolgoolga Forest Reserve (I think it's now called Sherwood Nature Reserve) where a walk along the track to the waterfall produced single flocks of Topknot Pigeons and Brown Pigeons, several Logrunners, a Little/Rufous Shrike Thrush and a Pale Yellow Robin
18 July
- got a great view of a Square Tailed Kite cruising directly above the Pacific Highway just north of Nambucca Heads - stopped at Sea Acres NR in Port Macquarie on the way home, but it was very quiet apart from a large dust up going on between some Figbirds and Catbirds, (Wompoo and Wonga Pigeons had been reported, but I couldn't find either)

Brahminy Kites, Ospreys and Sea Eagles were seen throughout at the coastal sites. What I haven't done yet is compare the list for this trip to those seen in 2001 and 2006, when I visited for about the same length of time and at the same time of year, although I already know of a couple of differences, like the Wonga Pigeon.
Many thanks to those that responded to my RFI.
Tom Wilson

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