birding-aus MID-NORTH NSW COAST - 12TH TO 14TH JANUARY 2000

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Subject: birding-aus MID-NORTH NSW COAST - 12TH TO 14TH JANUARY 2000
From: "EDWIN VELLA" <>
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2000 18:28:18 +1100

During the last 2 and half days, myself and Dean Portelli made a quick trip up the mid-north NSW coast. The weather was mainly bad with quite heavy rains at times and restricted much of our birding. Despite this, Dean managed to score atleast 5 new birds.

It was only a mere 4 hours drive from Sydney to our first point of call at Beryl and David Jenkinson’s property at Byabarra, about 20 km west of Wauchope (or about half hour drive west from Port Macquarie). We did take it easy on our way up due to a few showers in the morning and a few stops to take a little break. Recently, there has been significant improvements to the Pacific HWY going up the NSW north-coast, being very beneficial indeed, and we got up there quicker than we would have previously. On the Jenkinson’s property we easily found a Noisy Pitta, Logrunners, Russet-tailed Thrush, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrikes, Ciacadabirds, Channel-billed Cuckoos, an Azure Kingfisher, Spectacled and Black-faced Monarchs, many Rufous Fantails, Brush Cuckoo, Pheasant Coucals and Green Catbirds. We also saw an unusal Wren on the property, being black with bluish cheeks and throat and red shoulders and back, which appeared to be a hybrid between a Red-backed and Variegated Wren. Just a little further up the road were some pure breed Red-backed Wrens.

We did some spotlighting around the Jenkinson’s property but saw no nocturnal birds or mammals apart from a few small bats. We did hear however quite a variety of frogs and saw a Dainty Tree Frog calling from a small tree and a Striped Marsh Frog.

The next day we went to Port Macquarie and stopped at the local sewerage works were a Forest Kingfisher was present aswell as a pair of Ciacadabirds. The sewerage ponds did not have much in terms of waterfowl. On our way to the sewerage works, we saw swarms of Spine-tailed Swifts flying very low and close to the road in front of the car for about a half a km.

At Sea Acres Nature Reserve, along the coast and about 10 km south of the Port Macquarie town centre, we experience the best weather of our trip and was quite sunny and warm that morning. Here in this piece of coastal Littoral Sub-tropical Rainforest, I easily brought into view a Rose-crowned Fruit-dove. From several experiences, these fruit-doves always easily respond to imitation and this one came up to us in an instant. They usually land in a branch just above you and start calling "hoo…hoo…hoo…hoo…hoo…hoo…hoo….hooooooo" . Once they come in, they are hard to get rid off and keep on calling above you for ages until you loose interest. I wish some other shy birds would do that. These Fruit-doves are quite locally common at Sea Acres when there are rainforest fruits about. Other birds we saw here included atleast 5 Pale-yellow Robins (including a adult feeding a young bird), many Spectacled Monarchs, a few Black-faced Monarchs, Brush Turkey, Rufous Fantails, Varied Triller, several Green Catbirds, aswell as Regent and Satin Bowerbirds.

At Kooloonbung Creek Nature Reserve in the middle of the town of Port Macquarie were more Cicadabirds, a Spectacled Monarch in the mangroves and many Brown Honeyeaters and Dollarbirds. We also saw a very cooperative Eastern Water Dragon here perched on the creek bank among Wood Ducks.

We also made a brief visit to Lake Cathie, a few km south of Port Macquarie and found loads of birds feeding in the Eucalypts in the forested areas. This included many White-cheeked and Scarlet Honeyeaters, Little Wattlebirds and Scaly-breasted Lorikeets mainly. In the nearby heath were a few Southern Emuwrens, and a Tawny-crowned Honeyeater.

Our last point of call was at Harrington, a small township at the northern end of the Manning River and about 30 km west of Taree. Here I met up again with Clive Hudson, who last year showed me a breeding pair of White-throated Nightjars roosting on his property. He said that they were still around this property this season but the bad weather did not allow us to find them again. He said that a couple of days ago, a very young Black-necked Stork (Jabiru) visited his garden and it was pleasing to see that they are still breeding on the back of his property near an inaccessible swamp this season. A few Rainbow Bee-eaters and a Striped Honeyeater was seen on his property. Brian showed us an old Striped Honeyeaters nest which was well suspended in a Paperbark.

Nearby in the Littoral Rainforest behind the Harrington Holiday Park, we quickly bumped into a Barred (Yellow-eyed) cuckoo-shrike feeding among Figbirds in the low canopy of the fig trees. At Harrington Lagoon , we saw an Osprey, 4 Gull-billed Terns, 20 Bar-tailed Godwits, an Eastern Curlew, 3 Pacific Golden Plovers, an adult Red-capped Plover carrying 2 chicks under its wings among 5 other birds, a juv. Horsfields Bronze-cuckoo being fed by Variegated Wrens (as I saw at Mitchell Park last Sunday), many Southern Emuwrens, and on the dunes, only 17 Little Terns were seen. This was quite disappointing compared to the previous years, as much of the sand spit has disappeared and also due to Foxes and Bandicoots, very few have nested.

Along the road to Crowdy Head we found a Spangled Drongo, a Pheasant Coucal crossing the road and a Common Tern amongst Crested Terns at the Jetty. We spotlighted here the previous night in hoping to find one of the local Eastern Grass Owls, but had no luck. These Owls turn up at Harrington every now and then and Crowdy Bay National Park has plenty of habitat for them.

The bad weather soon settled in again at 11am this morning and it was time to call it quits.

Edwin Vella

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