East Maitland and Hexham area NSW - 9th August 2003

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Subject: East Maitland and Hexham area NSW - 9th August 2003
From: "Edwin Vella" <>
Date: Sat, 9 Aug 2003 22:36:40 +1000

Today (Sat 9th August 2003), myself and David Koffel enjoyed a good day?s birding in the Maitland ? Hexham area in the lower Hunter area (approx. 170 km north of Sydney CBD). Again it was another good raptor day with 10 species recorded (8 species alone within the first half hour at the East Maitland Tip).


At the East Maitland Tip, the Black Falcon was seen straight away as we entered the gates. We were lucky to enjoy incredible views of this bird for 3/4 hour as it slowly circled (with very broad and pointed wings held slightly drooped and long tail fanned, notched at corners and also showing uniform dark brown under-parts) within metres of our heads (clearing seeing all the soft parts of this bird and it powerful silhouette). At times it would climb and circle to a great height and then fly lower down towards us and then circling over our heads and then with both the Black and Whistling Kites (though I did not notice any aggression with these Kites) also flying quite low and close to where we were standing. It made a few fast dives low over the rubbish pile probably attempting to snatch one of the Starlings (these falcons are also noted to take carrion like the Kites). The Black Falcon also briefly perched about 20 or so metres in front of us at about our eye level on the top of a eucalypt, but was soon mobbed away by a group of Ravens.


A great bird the Black Falcon is, and one I will not get sick of looking at. The East Maitland tip is home to a pair of these fantastic birds and according to the guy who runs the tip and owns the adjoining land, these Black Falcons have been in the area for around 8 years as he said to us today. He saw last week a pair of Black Falcons (probably the same pair I saw a few weeks ago) displaying next door to the tip. This may indicate that they may again be breeding this coming season. The Whistling Kite was seen giving a hard time to one of the Black Kites. It was again good to compare both of these 2 fairly related birds. A pair of Brown Goshawks was also spending quite sometime flying over the tip and were seen with wings slightly raised up as they gained height. One or two Wedge-tailed Eagles, a Black Shouldered Kite, a Brown Falcon and 2 Australian Kestrels were also seen around the tip.


At the Morpeth STW there were still thousands of ducks especially Hardheads and Grey teal and about 200 Pink-eared Ducks as well as 5 Hoary-headed Grebes, 2 dark Brown Falcons chasing off an adult White-bellied Sea-eagle and 2 Whistling Kites.


After lunch on Ash Island, there were 5 Hoary-headed Grebes, about 80 Australasian Shoveler, 18 Red-kneed Dotterels, 10 Red-capped Plovers, 10-15 Marsh Sandpiper (more and more expected to arrive over the weeks!!!), 80 plus Red-necked Avocets amongst 200 or so Pied Stilts, 2 Royal Spoonbills, a pair of adult Swamp Harriers (seen exchanging their catch in mid air and the male was later heard giving its fairly soft calls) amongst 3 other Swamp Harriers, 2 or more Whistling Kites, another dark Brown Falcon, a Black-shouldered Kite, a juv. male (?) Brown Goshawk and some White-fronted Chats.  


A list of raptors for today and conservative numbers are as follows:


Brown Goshawk (3)

Swamp Harrier (5)

Black Kite (3)

Whistling Kite (6)

White-bellied Sea-eagle (1)

Wedge-tailed Eagle (1-2)

Black-shouldered Kite (3)

Black Falcon (1)

Brown Falcon (5-6)

Australian Kestrel (4)


Another good day birding.


Edwin Vella

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