Today, myself, David Mitford as
well as Peter and Jenny Madvig were all very fortunate and thrilled to observe
for an hour an immature ORANGE-BELLIED PARROT in the heath land adjacent to the
rifle range at Maroubra (south of Maroubra beach which is only approx 10 km
south-east of the Sydney CBD). From what I believe there has been no sightings
of this bird since Bas Hensen discovered its presence on 12/8/03 and I thank Ben for sharing his
special observation with us.
We saw the Orange-bellied Parrot
about the junction of the main track to Magic Pt (after walking approx 1km from
the Maroubra Life Savers Club were there is a wide grassy area adjacent to the
heath) and another track that veers to the right (southwards) and towards the
eastern end of the rifle range (near the barrier). Following 2 fishermen walking
in front of us, we were amazed to see this bright green parrot fly a short
distance from the grassy area and disappearing into the heath (David did say we
better keep up with the fishermen in front and just as well as we did otherwise
we may have missed out on the parrot).
We waited below the heath for
about 5 minutes just in case the parrot would reappear and perch on one of the
heath shrubs, but as this did not happen, we decided to head very slowly up the
track (the one heading right as
mentioned) and saw the parrot on the ground just on the top of the rise. It then
perched for an hour on some stem of one of the shrubs growing on the side of the
track and gave us brilliant views both back and front on views to see all its
colours (including its orange belly). It also spent a fair bit of time preening
as it became comfortable with us (but still remained on alert) and showed its
two leg bands (viewing the parrot from behind, it was a blue band on the right
leg and a another one, charcoal as David would describe it, on the left leg).
Having seen 7 Orange-bellied Parrots previously at Werribee WTP in Victoria
about this time 2 years ago, I
was100% confident (and same as the other observers) that we were looking at an
Orange-bellied Parrot (I did take notes and David took a number of photographs).
It was a historic moment for us and one we will treasure! A number of Southern
Emu-wrens, a Brown Quail and a Horsfields Bronze-cuckoo were heard around this
On the dull side, a brief sea
watch from Magic Pt was very quite for this time of year (the whole winter
season in fact appears to have been much the same way). During that hour, we saw
no Albatrosses or any Petrels or Shearwaters. The only thing of note here was
2-3 Antarctic Skuas, a Fairy Penguin calling below (as with most of our sea
watches), an Australian Gannet and heaps of Silver Gulls. A small pod of at
least 3 Bottle-nosed Dolphins (heading north) were very close to shore. Two
Australian Kestrels (a female and what looked like an immature male) perched
very nicely in front of us on the cliffs as we arrived and left Magic Pt.
After lunch, myself and David
though we should check out Towra Pt near Kurnell (south side of Botany Bay and approx. 16km south of Sydney CBD) just
in case the Blue-winged Parrots have decided to turn up here again (there has
been 2 records of these parrots over the years at this location) but we had no
luck (it is certainly always worth checking out this spot for them in winter).
The mysterious Striated Fieldwrens did not even show! (Have there been any
confirmed recent sightings?). We were however entertained by a nice pair of
Swamp Harriers (the male harrier being harassed by the Ravens and then vice
versa) and the female was doing a breath-taking display high in the air by
rising high fairly steeply, rolling side to side (at times rolling upside down)
and then roller-coasting down to repeat this performance a number of times. I
have seen a pair (the same?) display over the
Francis) a few hundred metres west of
this area. This is what I would consider one of the most remarkable displays, if
not the most, of all the Australian Raptors. This other highlight today, would
come second to seeing the Orange-bellied Parrot. Other interesting sightings at
Towra Pt included an Imm. White-bellied Sea-eagle, some Southern Emu-wrens, 5
White-fronted Chats and numerous Brown Honeyeaters. A Sacred Kingfisher,
Fan-tailed Cuckoo and Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos were also heard.
At brief stop at
Francis produced 2 Pied
Oystercatchers (one may be sitting on eggs on one of the islands in the lake), a
Darter and a Great Egret.
Another good days birding.