To: <>
From: "Vella" <>
Date: Sun, 4 Nov 2001 14:17:55 -0800

From mid-afternoon to before dusk yesterday (3rd November 2001), myself and Graham Turner walked around the whole of Pitt Town Lagoon (approx. 50 km north-west of Sydney CBD) and was impressed with the number of shorebirds there at the moment. It has been a number of years that we have seen Pitt Town with this number of shorebirds (though not quite to Werribee standards!).

Here we observed 6 Red-necked Stints, 60 plus Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, 3 Curlew Sandpipers, 1 Marsh Sandpiper, 1 Greenshank, 1 Wood Sandpiper and 1 Latham’s Snipe. There were no less than 25 Red-kneed Dotterels (has anybody seen this many at the same time and location before?) and a few Black-fronted Dotterels as well as several Pied Stilts. Other waterbirds seen here included, a Little Egret (plus the other 3 species of white Egret), several Royal and atleast one Yellow-billed Spoonbill, 4 Hardheads, a Swamp Harrier, a sub-adult White-bellied Sea-eagle, 3 Australian Crakes, 2 Baillon’s Crakes and 8 Whiskered Terns (atleast 2 still in complete full breeding plumage). Around the lagoon, we observed a fairly confiding Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo (feeding only a few metres in front of our feet), both Brown and Stubble Quails were heard calling, and a flock of around 100 Chestnut-breasted Mannikins with 2 Nutmeg Mannikins and several Red-browed Firetails feeding amongst the weeds. There was also one poor (orphaned?) Black Duck (?) duckling swimming on its own well away from the other ducks.

We then headed just before dusk to Mitchell Park (a fem km north-east of Pitt Town lagoon) for some spotlighting. As the light faded, we heard the calls of a few Brush, Fan-tailed and Pallid Cuckoos and a Koel, a few Rufous Night Herons squawking and saw the distinctive silhouette of a Dollarbird out catching its evening meal. Just after dusk, the weird laughter of a White-throated Nightjar was heard as it circled around us. The Nightjar together with one of the resident Black Bitterns (the later making its "Whoo-oo-oo" call) both called for atleast half an hour following dusk.

There was non-stop nocturnal activity here at Mitchell Park, and I would say is one of the best places in the Sydney area to spotlight nocturnal animals. Our first nocturnal animal seen on our walk was a Yellow-bellied Glider (which landed in a tree closed to us). As we walked the full Mitchell Park circuit, more Yellow-bellied Gliders were about and we saw 3 of many heard Sugar Gliders. We also observed several Common Ring-tailed (including one adult with young clinging on its back) and only 2 Brush-tailed Possums along this walk. Many Owlet Nightjars were also heard along this walk. A Southern Leaf-tailed Gecko was also seen on a ceiling of a small sandstone cave and a Peron’s Tree Frog was heard.

Edwin Vella

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