Feast & Famine in Sydney?

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Feast & Famine in Sydney?
From: "Tom and Mandy Wilson" <>
Date: Sun, 21 Nov 2010 16:24:37 +1100
Hi all
over the weekend, I have visited a couple of site and saw first hand the paucity of waterbirds around Sydney this summer, but also how well the bush birds are doing with the recent rains.

On Saturday (20 Nov), I had to pass by the Sydney Olympic site on my way to purchase a part for my car, so I dropped in briefly to Mason Park and the Bicentennial Park waterbird refuge. Normally reasonably good sites in the summer, the absence of waterfowl and waders was apparent. Mason Park wetland is pretty full (almost no visible mud at all), and there were 3 Pacific Golden Plovers and 2 Black Fronted Dotterel here (and loads of Pied Stilts). As far as I could see, there were no sandpipers of any description (even when they're hunkered down in the samphire one can normally see heads) - whether they are inland or at a Sydney site with better feeding opportunities I am note sure. The waterbird refuge is very dry (the water's edge must be about 70 metres from the hide) and it held very few birds - a few Chestnut Teal and Black Duck, some Pied Stilt and one Black Fronted Dotterel and some cormorants and a single Pelican loafing at the far end. While I saw 39 species, apart from the Pied Stilts at Mason park, nothing was abundant.

(Also, one reason I dropped in, and for those keeping an eye on these things, the Triangle Pond is still very full so it will be a fair while before there's any decent mud for any crakes/rails.)

As a contrast, this morning (Sun 21 Nov) I did an early (6-8:30am) walk along the Chiltern Track in Ingleside. The bush was teeming with birds and at 6am the air was perfectly still, so all the sounds carried well. Multiple birds were calling (2 Pheasant Coucal, many Cicadabirds, 3 or 4 White Throated Gerygone, at least 2 Fan tailed Cuckoos as I walked along; a Superb Lyrebird and a Wonga Pigeon at the far end of the track from Ingleside), plus I saw lots of very active birds. I saw a Chestnut Rumped Heathwren (briefly) pop up onto a dead stump not far from the track entrance as I was on my way out but it wouldn't come out a second time; at the rock platform on the right as the track descends to the stream at the far end, there was a (family?) party of 5 Origma - I've never seem more than a pair together before so that was a bit special. I also saw several Cicadabirds, several groups of Variegated Wren (including one where a full colour male was begging from another - presumably the provider was the alpha male in that group) and 9 honeyeater species (and a possible Scarlet Honeyeater would make it 10), with the White eared and Yellow Tufted Honeyeaters both being very visible and vocal. Koels and Channel Billed Cuckoos were very active and calling, as were both Rufous and Golden Whistlers (more tunefully than the cuckoos). At one point I was surrounded by 12 Grey Fantails in various trees, all swooping and displaying, with both Whistler species in the same trees and Grey Shrike Thrushes there too, while at the same time at ground level I had a mixed group of about 20 White Browed Scrubwren, Brown Thornbill, Eastern Yellow Robin and Eastern Spinebill - I almost didn't know where to look. My 2 1/2 hour walk yielded 60 species and birds in abundance - what a contrast to Saturday. (The Bloodwoods along the track are just finishing flowering - I wonder what it was like for birds when they were in full bloom? I meant to get up there a couple of weeks back but got sidetracked.)

Tom Wilson

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