Central Coast Champions Twitchathon Report, for Central West & Hunter NS

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Subject: Central Coast Champions Twitchathon Report, for Central West & Hunter NSW
From: "Alan Morris" <>
Date: Tue, 2 Nov 2004 12:43:31 +1100
The Central Coast Champions  (ie Robin & Alan) headed off to Baradine early
last Saturday morning ready to commence our marathon. We had an early lunch
at Coonabarabran with our friends Margaret & Andy Humphrey, checked up on a
pair of nesting Square-tailed Kites on the outskirts of Coona to see the
female standing on the nest (this is a very rare bird!), before heading onto
Baradine and catching up with David Johnston, to get the local goss!! We
checked out a few sites around town for Plum-headed Finches ready for when
we returned later in the afternoon once the race was underway.

We started at Terridgerie Lagoon dead on 3 pm, and moments later a Peregrine
Falcon flew through, putting up all the ducks and giving us an unexpected
tick!! We wended our way along Carmel Lane finding western birds like Blue
Bonnets & Quarrians, locating 5 Black-tailed Native-hens on Camel Lagoon,
Hooded Robins & Trillers in Stoneyfield Paddock, Black-eared Cuckoo,
White-browed & Grey-crowned Babblers in Pilliga West SF and Turquoise
Parrots at Trapyard Dam. Back to Baradine where we patrolled the streets for
Spotted Bowerbirds, Plum-headed Finches and Blackbirds but only finding the
latter. David Johnston had a very welcomed cup of coffee waiting for us in
his garden where we picked up Brown Honeyeaters and a White-throated
Needletail! Onto Coonabarabran as darknest fell. We had hoped to pick up the
nesting Square-tailed Kites but no way!! Either the bird was sitting very
low on the nest or was somewhere else, but we could not see a feather!. We
dipped badly here!

While eating great Coonabarabran hamburgers in the dark at the edge of town
we managed to hear a Boobook calling and during the night drive to
Muswellbrook had great views of a Barn Owl. The first Barn Owl in about 15
years of Twitchathons! We arrived at our motel at Muswellbrook 11pm, put the
clocks forward and departed next morning in the dark at 5am (it was great to
have the hot shower and a proper bed for a few hours). In the early morning
light at Doughboy Hollow, Singleton we managed to see and hear some Plumed
Whistling Ducks and then nearby spotted a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles
roosting on a telegraph pole (were they there all night?). We made Ash
Island Ponds just at sunrise, it was looking great and full of Plumed, Great
& Little Egrets hunting fish in the shallows. Sharpies, Greenshanks, Marsh
Sandpipers, Red-capped & Golden Plovers were found in the saltmarsh, and
Swamp Harriers were active! Then onto the Stockton Sandspits. We had
estimated the tides correctly and, the Avocets, Stilts, Gull-billed Terns
were all waiting for us but alas the Godwits & Knots & Sandpipers were all
over on the Kooragang dykes, too far away to be possitively identified! We
hung around and checked out the wreck (10 Grey-tailed Tattlers) and found
the Terek Sandpipers on the old wharves while hoping that in the meantime a
fisherman might flush the Godwits and they then move across to Sandspit but
to no effect!

We wound our way back to the Wetlands Centre, Hexham and Minmi wetlands,
where we got our best bird for the day (a lone Jacana on Leneghan Drive
Swamp). There were plenty of nesting White Ibis, Egrets & many Night Herons
at the Wetland Centre, Wandering Whistling Ducks and Black Ducks with
ducklings, and a nesting Goshawk too. We spent the rest of the morning
checking out the rainforest in Watagan NP around Gap Creek! The Red-browed
Treecreepr, Rose Robin, Lyrebirds and Scrub-wrens were our best finds there.
>From here we returned to the Central Coast, doing a drive through the
Carpenter's garden and ticked the Wonga Pigeon, drove through Hungry Jacks
at Tuggerah and picked up our lunch and a Red Wattlebird, stopped briefly at
Lees Reserve to get the White-throated Gerygone, and to Chittaway Point east
for the Whiskered Tern, Long-billed Corellas & Satin Bowerbird, the latter
bird had elluded us till then.

At Toowoon Bay Reefs, we pushed our way through the beach goers to scope the
Common & Crested Terns on the rocks (but nothing else!) and onto Soldiers
Point where we finally found a few seabirds, Little Terns, Turnstones,
Stints and a Sooty Oystercatcher and a breaching Hump-backed Whale, great
view!. We searched the local streets here for White-breasted Woodswallow,
New Holland Honeyeater & Little Wattlebird, all which we finally found and
with 20  minutes left until the finish time at 4 pm, we headed back to The
Entrance, seeking out Musk Lorikeets without success.

Our finally tally was exactly 200 birds, one short of our previous top
score. The only bird in the Baradine area that we saw before the count began
but not afterwards, was the Square-tailed Kite. However other common birds
to us that we did not see included Sea-Eagle, Shining Bronze & Pallid Cuckoo
and White-naped & Brown-headed Honeyeaters. We were pleased to win the 3rd
prize which puts the Central Coast Champions back amongst the prize-winners
once again!

Many thanks to our sponsors, who have helped us to raise over $500 towards
the Capertee Regent Honeyeater Project. Our sponsor sheets are still open
for any one to add to that total!!

Alan Morris & Robin Benson

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