Little Bittern and more at Royal National Park Today - 11th Novemeber 20

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Subject: Little Bittern and more at Royal National Park Today - 11th Novemeber 2001
From: "Vella" <>
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2001 19:26:22 -0800
Myself and Simon Blanchflower both enjoyed excellent and lengthy views of a beautifully coloured male LITTLE BITTERN today at Audley (in the Royal National Park - approx. 30 km south of Sydney CBD). It was feeding about the edge of the typha reeds near the Weir and about the same area Dion Hobcroft had seen it a few days ago. It was mainly seen stalking for and catching prey on a number of occasions and paused to give full clear views (unfortunately don't have a good camera). I saw the male Bittern within only a few minutes of arrival, and first picked it in its criptic pose front on when one can easily overlook it as part of the surrounding reeds, but when it moved about side on, it was much easier to see. Like 2 other (obliging!) male Little Bitterns I have seen previously in Centennial Park (in Sydney a few years ago), this one proved not to be much nocturnal in behaviour and have also heard them calling at McGrath's Hill STW (western Sydney) in the middle of the day also in recent years.
Other good finds at Audley was an Azure Kingfisher often circling and landing in the trees near the weir; Sacred Kingfishers; Dollarbirds; A Brown Goshawk; a Bassian Thrush (atleast one or two of these Thrushes seem to be always present at Wattle Forest where this one ws seen); 3 species of Scubwren all feeding together - White-browed, Large-billed and Yellow-throated Scrubwrens; Brush, Fan-tailed and Shining Bronze-Cuckoos (all heard); Black-faced Monarch; Leaden Flycatchers (heard); Rufous Fantail; Crested Shrike-tits and 2 Superb Lyrebirds (male and female appeared not bothered by me while feeding). I also saw a large Eastern Tiger Snake beside the Hacking River at Wattle Forest and saw some Cabbage Tree Palms in fruit but saw none of the usual fruit pigeons/doves.
After lunch, headed towards Botany Bay (about 20km south of Sydney CBD) and while driving on the main road running south of the Bay, saw a Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo drinking from a road side puddle and appeared not worried by the passing busy traffic. Others of its kind were about in the nearby Casuarinas.
A quick look at Lake Francis (Cronulla Swamps, behind Woolware Bay) produced nothing much apart from an unusual Harrier with a dark hood completely white-underparts and dark tips to the wings - Papuan Pied Harrier !(?). Well I doubt it, probably an old Swamp Harrier like most other suspected Pied Harriers seen in north QLD and elsewhere in northern Aust?
I moved on to look at the waders at Shell Pt feeding and moving closer with the upcoming tide. I saw at the point 10 Red Knots (6 came pretty close to where I was standing as they were busily feeding), 20 Grey-tailed Tattlers, 2 Terek Sandpipers, 6 Ruddy Turnstones, about 40 Bar-tailed Godwits, an Eastern Curlew and a few Pied Oystercathers all feeding on the mud about the oyster farm. Also seen here were 2 smartly plumaged Little Terns in full breeding plumage, one resting on one of the posts, and the other on the nearby sandspit.  
Arrived home mid-afternoon with a huge storm heading through Sydney, that is expected to bring more life to Sydney's birds.
Edwin Vella 
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