Lorne Johnson and I
have just enjoyed some good birding over the weekend (20-21st November 2004) in the NSW
northern Hunter region (approx. 300km north of Sydney CBD). It was raining on
and off these past 2 days but we still managed to see a good variety of the
birds which inhabit this fruitful region.
We spent most of our birding time in Harrington and the adjoining Crowdy
Bay National Park
where we saw a number of interesting species. The best bird we saw was a male
White-eared Monarch at the Fig Tree car park, south of Diamond Head.
I saw one in this same location with David Mitford
last December and this has proved a reliable site to see this species in Australia
even though it is at the southern extent of its range. The White-eared Monarch
is certainly a lively and spectacular bird and appears quite excited when
calling with it head feathers ruffled out. Also seen in this area were at least
2 Spectacled Monarchs and Rufous Fantails.
In the heathland/swampy vegetation areas in Crowdy Bay National Park
(close to Harrington) were Bar-shouldered Doves, several Pheasant Coucals,
Southern Emu-wrens, Red-backed Wrens, Tawny Grassbirds, Tawny-crowned and White-cheeked
Honeyeaters but none of the local Eastern Grass Owls were seen (the weather was
not kind to us, to go for a good search for the Owls). I’ll try again
probably within the next month or so for the Owls. There were also lots of
frogs heard at night – Wallum Froglets (Crinia signifera) and Eastern
Pobblebonks (Limnodynastes dumerillii) in particular.
In the littoral rainforest next to the lagoon in Harrington, there was
plenty of figs in fruit attracting amongst the numerous Figbirds and Lewins Honeyeaters,
at least 4 Rose-crowned Fruit-doves (one was a juv, bird), Brown Cuckoo-dove, a
number of Varied Trillers, Cicadabird, Olive-backed Orioles and several Regent
Other birds seen at Harrington included Osprey, Brahminy Kite,
Whistling Kites, Swamp Harrier, only a few waders (Eastern Curlew, Bar-tailed
Godwit, Red Knot and Pied Oystercatchers), Brush Cuckoo and Shining
Bronze-cuckoos heard, Sacred Kingfishers, Dollarbirds, Rainbow Bee-eaters,
Leaden Flycatchers, Torressian Crows, Forest Ravens and a Lewin’s Rail
was heard calling a few times beside the lagoon but did not reveal itself.
At Coopernook SF it did not take long for Lorne to spot the new
Square-tailed Kite nest and no long after, its owner arriving. We watched a
nice adult Square-tailed Kite for half an hour or so and also watched it
deliver food to its chicks on the nest. We did not actually see the chicks but
they could be heard calling when the adult bird flew in. When the Kites were
nesting about this time last year and on another nest, they had almost 2 fledged
young. We also heard Channel-billed Cuckoos and there were also King Parrots,
Satin Bowerbirds and Scaley-breasted Lorikeets around the State
Forest. Seeing the nesting Kites
was a nice way to end our birding trip in this part of the Hunter.
However on our way back home this afternoon, we had one more good find,
that being a Grey Goshawk perching very prominently on power lines at Raymond
Terrace (near Newcastle) beside the Pacific HWY.