The Entrance (Central Coast) and Newcastle area, NSW - 3rd January 2004

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Subject: The Entrance (Central Coast) and Newcastle area, NSW - 3rd January 2004 (Waders)
From: "Edwin Vella" <>
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2003 19:26:52 +1100
Myself and Graham Turner yesterday (3/1/04) did our first birding for 2004 with the hope of finding some new birds for the year.
We spent about half an hour at The Entrance in the NSW Central Coast (approx. 100km north of Sydney CBD) where we watched for most of that time, what we presume to be the South Island Pied Oystercatcher/Australian Pied Oystercatcher (SIPO/OZPO) hybrid seen by others. It's legs being a third shorter than the OZPO (the later seen quite close by throughout the observation) was very obvious but not so its white wing stripe along the bottom edge of the folded wing (the photos taken by Tony Palliser of the SIPO that was seen in the northern NSW coast clearly shows this feature and it is also shown in the Morcombe field guide). We later saw the hybrid PO then fly and land within a few metres from the OZPO and clearly saw the leg size differences again, that the white wing bar of the hybrid PO did not meet the trailing edge of the upperwing and that its underwing was much the same of a normal OZPO with white confined only to the underwing coverts and all flight feather being black (as shown in the Hayman, Marchant & Prater; Morcombe field guides and one of Tony Palliser's photos). The hybrid PO's bill was quite thin when viewed front on. So if this is a hybrid (?) do I get half a tick?
Along a nearby Sandspit (close to Karagi Pt), there were about 100 Little Terns and a few Common Terns with them, however as we wanted to press on to the next stop sooner rather than later, we really did not give it a good enough look at these birds (the Terns) than what they deserve. 
We made it at the Stockton high tide wader roost below Stockton Bridge (approx. 195 km north of Sydney CBD) just as the birds were starting to disperse to the adjacent mud flats were we looked carefully at all the waders, in particular, the more smaller ones and after a while, we located 2 Broad-billed Sandpipers feeding close by with Sharp-tailed, Curlew and Terek Sandpipers. Thier double (Snipe like) eye-brow marks were obvious and well as their long straight broad bills (especially when viewed front on) down-curved at the tip, short legs and dark carpal marks and were of course much smaller than the other waders just mentioned (all these features were easy to pick through our scopes). 
At the time we were there we also counted approx. 5 Red-necked Stints; 300 plus Sharp-tailed, 200 plus Curlew and 16 Terek Sandpipers; 4 Grey-tailed Tattlers; 20 Red and 2 Great Knots; 300 plus Bar-tailed and 60 plus Black-tailed Godwits; 1 Whimbrel; 60 Eastern Curlews; 400 plus Red-necked Avocets; a Pied Stilt and 3 Pied Oystercatchers. As we did not arrive there at peak high tide, we missed on the waders that had already dispersed further afield on the mud flats (as seen at a distance), and the numbers of waders I have just mentioned are only a very small fraction of what I have seen here in previous years.
Both Brown Honeyeaters and Mangrove Gerygones were heard behind the roost at Stockton.
A short visit to Ash Island produced little in the way of waders but we did see a pair of several Red-capped Plovers with a chick, White-fronted Chats and good looks of a Mangrove Gerygone.
Before heading home at around mid-afternoon, we stopped at Lenaghan and saw 4 Wandering Whistling-ducks, 7 Plumed Egrets feeding together in a small swamp with some Cattle Egrets, c 80 Hardheads and 2 Australasian Shovelers.
Edwin Vella
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