Trip Report - Coffs Harbour, NSW mid-North Coast 13-20 Jan 2013 (Long)

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Trip Report - Coffs Harbour, NSW mid-North Coast 13-20 Jan 2013 (Long)
From: "Wilsons" <>
Date: Mon, 4 Feb 2013 22:11:56 +1100
Hi all
I am recently (well 2 weeks ago now) back from a week's family holiday staying at Sandy Beach about 20kms north of Coffs harbour. As always, birding was mixed up with other activities. This visit we decided to give a trip up onto the tablelands to Dorrigo a miss so my activities were concentrated on coastal locations. I have been to Coffs before, but always in July, so was sure there would be differences bird-wise. All up I saw or heard about 160 species, with 14 seen only in transit to from Coffs and 46 seen from or very close to our holiday accommodation. Main highlights as follows: - 13 Jan - Stopped at Sea Acres NR in Port Macquarie on the way up and got good views of several Spectacled Monarchs, several groups of Large Billed Scrubwrens and some Green Catbirds, plus a pair of mating goannas (him as keen as mustard - her not interested) 14 Jan - rained most of the day - nothing of interest. Went to Woolgoolga Headland hoping to see something but the SE wind was so strong I could hardly stand up, let alone hold the bins steady. My son (on the windy side of the car) struggled to even get the door open!
- 15 Jan - I saw a Little Friarbird in the costal scrub at Emerald Beach.
Driving south through Coffs saw a very large and spread out flock of swifts (both species). Picked up the first birds at the Big Banana and saw the last ones as we passed the roundabout at the south end of the town just before the dual carriageway. That's about 7kms of swifts and while not densely packed anywhere I would not be game to even attempt the numbers except to say it would be well over 300. Walked at Bandgeree and Bluff Tracks in Bongil Bongil NP (at the Repton end) which produced an Osprey carrying fish up a tidal creek (a nest?), Little Shrike Thrush, Wonga Pigeon, Spectacled Monarchs, all 3 possible Scrubwrens and lots of Rufous and Grey Fantails. - 16 Jan - had an early morning walk on the heathland just outside Red Rock and saw 7 Southern Emu Wrens, several parties of Brown Quail, Tawny Crowned Honeyeaters (2 vs 100s of White Cheeked Honeyeaters), lots of calling Tawny Grassbirds, a large very pale grey cuckoo with no obvious markings on the chest (so probably a Pallid), Red Backed Wrens (2 smashing males), a Pheasant Coucal, Bar Shouldered and Peaceful Doves, . No sign of the Beach Stone Curlew on the Corindi Estuary at Red Rock but many E Curlew and a Whimbrel. - 17 Jan - walked at Bruxner Park behind Coffs and saw an Emerald Dove (flying along the road), several Green Catbirds (including one making a little chipping call between cat miaows) and Spangled Drongos, heard Wompoo Pigeons and saw 2 Russet-tailed Thrushes. We also rescued a smallish goanna that had got itself stuck in a garbage bin. In the evening I went to Newmans Rd Lake in Woolgoolga (Musk Duck, 12 Wandering Whistling Duck) and then Woolgoolga Flora Reserve hoping to connect with some owls. I saw a Tawny Frogmouth and heard several Owlet Nightjars. Whilst there, I met a chap called Dick Cooper who suggested I try up on the ridge top in Wedding Bells State Forest where Masked Owls have been seen/heard in the past, so I headed up there and heard more Owlet Nightjars, a Boobook Owl and saw 2 Squirrel Gliders (at least I think so - they were quite big and had very dark stripes on their faces - so plenty of Owl tucker but no Masked Owls. 18 Jan - a very hot day but even in the middle of the day a walk at Woolgoolga produced Wompoo and Rose Crowned Fruit Doves, all 3 scrubwrens (again), Cicadabird, Little Shrike Thrush, Pale Yellow Robin, Southern Logrunner (I love it when I stop to see what's making the rustling in the leaves and the Logrunner appears from underneath the leaf litter) and more thrushes 19 Jan - visited Smiths Lake in the morning and saw 4 Jacanas, 2 Musk Duck and 2 Wandering Whistling Duck. I then headed further inland on this road, which took me into part of Wedding Bells SF. Very dry in there (probably not so dry now) and birds few and far between, but I found (nearly stepped on) 4 Painted Button Quail, a Wonga Pigeon, lots of Spangled Drongo (probably the most numerous bird bigger than a fairy wren in there), a male Cicadabird and a pair of Olive backed Oriole and a family group of Striated Thornbills. We spent the afternoon at Urunga where we walked the boardwalk - great singing from the Mangrove Honeyeaters (that's a difference from July visits when they are pretty quiet I've found) and on the mud flats seen from the side-boardwalk a lone Black Tailed Godwit. Several Bee-eaters circled over the mangroves too. The wader/tern roost on the island in front of the hotel held 2 Beach Stone Curlew, 2 Caspian Tern, several Gull Billed and Common Terns, plenty of Curlews, Bar Tailed Godwit, a single Whimbrel and lots of Dotterels (Red-capped based on relative size) running around and loads of Fairy Terns - all the terns seen fishing over the river from the boardwalk too. 20 Jan - saw a White Headed Pigeon at Urunga and stopped at SW Rocks on the way home. After looking near the jail for Glossy Black Cockatoos (none at home today) I was permitted a short break at the Boyters Lane hide in Jerseyville where there were 9 Sharp Tailed Sandpipers, a Glossy Ibis, Grey Teal, 6 Royal Spoonbills and lots of Pied Stilts. From there it was home through the drizzle/rain with the highlights being a Buff-banded Rail crossing the road near Kempsey and an Australian Hobby near Karuah.

I had a copy of the excellent Coffs Bird Routes brochure with me, plus my experience from prior trips and some gen from the archives and off the helpful tips from Dick Cooper, who told me where to look for the Stone Curlews at Urunga - thanks Dick.
Tom Wilson


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