Maroubra and Kurnell (Sydney) NSW - with Orange-bellied Parrot seen - 16

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Subject: Maroubra and Kurnell (Sydney) NSW - with Orange-bellied Parrot seen - 16th August 2003
From: "Edwin Vella" <>
Date: Sat, 16 Aug 2003 16:17:25 +1000

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 spot.


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 Cronulla Swamp (Lake 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 Lake 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.


Edwin Vella

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