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