Pelicans, Bush Stone-Curlews and Cocobacana on the Central Coast of NSW

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Subject: Pelicans, Bush Stone-Curlews and Cocobacana on the Central Coast of NSW
From: "Alan Morris" <>
Date: Sun, 13 Apr 2003 17:37:36 +1000
Hi Birders,
Follow That Bird Tours (ASIT) had a day trip to the Central Coast on Saturday  12th April for the purpose of viewing the Pelican nesting colony on Ramsay Island, located in Blackalls Bay, near Woy Woy; looking for some of the Bush Stone-curlews that frequent the Brisbane Water area; and visiting the Cocobacana area including Cape Three Points and Cochrane Lagoon. Every one had good views of the Pelican nesting colony and saw a total of four Bush Stone-curlews at two sites.
The Pelican nesting colony on Ramsay Island has been operating for at least 14 years, on a low sandy island that was originally constructed from dredge spoil that was made available as a result of dredging the channel to Woy Woy in Brisbane Water about 20 yeasr ago. The island is not shown on any maps! At least 400+ pairs nest there annually and at the time of our visit, things were pretty quiet in that there were no birds on eggs, the breeding season apparently has finished. However there were 30+ one third grown chicks in one creche, 40+ half to nearly full grown chicks in another creche and about 50 large chicks swimming and loafing around the Island.  A few Bar-tailed Godwits  were feeding in the shallows, and there were plenty of Mallards and some Black Ducks loafing and feeding around and near to the Island. A lone Sacred Kingfisher was feeding on small crabs on the mudflats.
Next stop was St Hubert's Island to see the pair of Bush Stone-curlews that inhabit the Boyd Close and adjacent foreshore Reserve. This is just one of the 8-10 pairs of Bush Stone-curlews that have managed to survive in the remaining saltmarsh, mown foreshore reserves and horse/cattle grazing paddocks that are located around Brisbane Water. The day time roosts of five of these pairs are readily seen from a vehicle or are close to a road where the roost site can be viewed. As they are mainly on private land, it is not possible to go searching for them  (and therefore disturb them), so if you cannot see them from the viewing sites, then too bad! All five pairs have been seen recently. We drew a blank at St Hubert's Island, but when standing on the North Empire Bay Wharf, and looking across to the nearby mangrove-lined islet in the middle of the Cockle Channel, a pair were standing roosting in their normal spot and enabled all participants to obtain good views! Feeling elated with my find I confidentally headed for the Bouddi Pony Club grounds, at Kincumber to check out the next pair, and on cue there they were roosting among the horses and some tyres used to line a road. Alas the Henderson Rd Davistown pair could not be seen (no doubt sitting beneath the casuarinas, behind the Scirpus clumps and out of sight)! While the final stake-out amongst the mangroves at Saratoga wetlands drew a blank too! However the trip participants enjoyed great viewing of 4 Bush Stone-curlews, the first ones ever seen for most people.
Copacobana Beach is the sandbar that lies across the mouth of Cockrane Lagoon. There were plenty of Black Ducks & Chestnut Teal on the Lagoon along with large numbers of Swans and Coots, and the usual herons, egrets & cormorants feeding and roosting around the Lagoon but nothing special. Our lunch site was conveniently located near to an active Brush Turkey nest mound but alas the occupant was not home, presumably off some where digging up the gardens of the neighbours to the Lagoon! Never-the-less, a good day was had by all and it was great to show some new birdwatchers, some of the more interesting sites on this section of the Central Coast.
Alan Morris
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