More Good Birding in the NSW Hunter Region - 29 to 31st December 2003

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Subject: More Good Birding in the NSW Hunter Region - 29 to 31st December 2003
From: "Edwin Vella" <>
Date: Mon, 29 Dec 2003 22:07:00 +1100

During the past few days (29-31st December 2003), myself and David Mitford enjoyed some good birding at a number of top birding locations all within the NSW Hunter Region (approx. 140 - 350km north of the Sydney CBD).


The following locations were visited:


LENEGHAN / PAMBALONG NATURE RESERVE (approx 140 km north of Sydney CBD)


Here we saw 8 Wandering and 5 Plumed Whistling-ducks, approx. 40 Hardheads, several White-breasted Woodswallows, a Swamp Harrier and Whistling Kites.


HARRINGTON / CROWDY BAY NATIONAL PARK (approx. 340-360 km north of Sydney CBD)


Here the most interesting bird was a WHITE-EARED MONARCH near the Fig Tree car park (near Diamond Head) in Crowdy National Park (thanks Nigel for reporting the sighting to Bird Line). It was very cooperative giving at times eye level views for 15-20 minutes as it called continuously. David took a whole roll of film of this bird. This is as far south this bird occurs down the NSW coast to my knowledge (any records for Sydney yet???). Other regular species seen included an Osprey, Little Egret,  3 Varied Trillers, Spectacled Monarch, a pair of Crested Shrike-tits, 4 Regent Bowerbirds, White-throated Needletails flying low over the dunes, Common and Caspian Terns, and there were at least 50 Little Terns in and around the sand spit area (there could be a few nesting here!).


On our way to Gloucester we stopped around Hillville near Taree were we saw a male Cicadabird, White-throated Gerygone and several more White-throated Needletails


GLOUCESTER TOPS (approx 350 km north-west of Sydney CBD)


We saw easily 2 Rufous Scrub-birds and heard 2 others at Gloucestor Tops. We saw one (at probably the most frequently visited territory and were I have seen them on 2 occasions previously) near the end of Kerripit Rd. Here we had excellent views (front on and moving about amongst low branches in full view for a few minutes) of a male singing his heart out mimicking Logrunner, Crescent Honeyeater, Scrub wrens etc as well as making its territorial call. From personal experience with this bird, all you need to see a Scrub-bird is walk slowly to a calling bird and hopefully see it call in a visible area (no need to use a tape). The other Scrub bird was seen for at least 10 minutes moving about a log in the Antarctic Beach walk near the Gloucester Falls giving us again superb views (we clearly saw the barring in the tail and upper parts of both birds).


Other interesting birds seen around Gloucester Tops included a male Olive Whistler, a pair of Satin Flycatchers, Rose Robins, Red-browed Tree-creepers, Crested Shrike-tits and we also heard some Crescent Honeyeaters, Flame Robins and a Forest Raven.


Along Sharpes Creek Rd half way to the tops we saw 2 Wompoo Fruit-doves, several White-headed Pigeons, Rufous Fantails, Black-faced Monarchs, Satin Bowerbirds and heard Logrunners. At night along this road we had very good views of a Sooty Owl, several Greater Gliders (6 dark morphs and 1 light morph in a small area), a Mountain Brush-tail Possum, lots of small bats, a Pink Tongue Lizard (Hemisohaeriodon gerrardii) and we heard several Boobook Owls, Owlet Nightjar, Tawny Frogmouth, Koalas as well as Yellow-bellied and Sugar Gliders.


COPELAND STATE FOREST (approx 280km north-west of Sydney CBD)


A couple of short walks through Copeland State Forest produced the usual but interesting species such as several Wompoo Fruit-doves, Emerald Dove, Wonga Pigeons, Brown Cuckoo-doves, 3-4 Black-faced and 6 Spectacled Monarchs, a pair of Logrunner, several Red-browed Tree-creepers, Green Catbirds and Regent Bowerbirds. Surprisingly not a single Noisy Pitta or Russet-tailed Thrush was seen or heard along any of the trails.


Heading back towards the Pacific HWY along the Buckets Way, we were quite amazed with the number of raptors in the one spot (near the Allworth turnoff), were we had 3 Wedge-tailed and 3 White-bellied Sea-eagles, 6 plus Whistling Kites and  2 Brown Falcons. There were lots of White-throated Needletails amongst them as well.


STOCKTON (approx 160km north of Sydney CBD)


On our way back home we checked the high tide wader roost beside Stockton Bridge. There appeared to be fewer waders than usual (I agree with David Geering?s comments about the decline of many migratory species and have witnessed this over the past 10 years. I hope something can be done to prevent the decline). Here we saw about 250 plus Sharp-tailed and  200 Curlew Sandpipers, 300 plus Bar-tailed and 60 Black-tailed Godwits, 60 Eastern Curlews, 20 Great and 2 Red Knots, 3 Pied Oystercatchers and about 600 Red-necked Avocets. Gull-billed (6), Caspian (2) and Crested Terns were also amongst the waders.


A good weekend to spend the rest of 2003!


Edwin Vella    

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