Birding in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains, NSW - 24th April 2005

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Subject: Birding in Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains, NSW - 24th April 2005
From: "Edwin Vella" <>
Date: Mon, 25 Apr 2005 10:58:38 +1000

Yesterday (24th April 2005) I had a very long day’s birding and some spotlighting that evening in western Sydney and the Blue Mountains area, seeing a good variety of birds and places. I visited Shanes Park and the Hawkesbury that morning with David Koffel and then hitching a ride with Lorne Johnson up the Blue Mountains for the afternoon and evening.


At Shanes Park (approx. 50km north-west of Sydney CBD), Speckled Warblers were again easy to track down with 2 seen and 3 others heard. This is probably the easiest place to see Speckled Warblers in Sydney as I have always seen them in the same small area. Also seen at Shanes Park were 2 Brown Goshawks, Rose Robins,  Rufous and Golden Whistlers, a pair of Crested Shrike-tits, Grey Fantails, Weebills, Yellow and many Buff-rumped Thornbills, both Spotted and Striated Pardalotes, Double-barred Finches, Olive-backed Oriole and a White-winged Chough close to a dead one. Both Brown-headed and a single Scarlet Honeyeater were also heard. There were also 3 Eastern Grey Kangaroos in the woodland here and very close to the buildings.


What was quite disturbing at Shanes Park was seeing 3 dead birds on the ground in very close proximity to each other - a Noisy Miner, Magpie and a White-winged Chough. There appeared to be no bullet holes to show that the birds have been shot and they appeared to have been recently killed.


At Pitt Town Lagoon (55km NW of Sydney CBD) there were 17 FRECKLED DUCKS in amongst many other water birds including a Hoary-headed Grebe, 2 Glossy Ibis,  20 plus Hardhead, 100 plus Australasian Shoveler, 150 plus Pink-eared Duck etc. There were also 15 Red-kneed Dotterel and at least 7 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers (two in beautiful full breeding plumage) and some Pied Stilts. A White-bellied Sea-eagle and 2 Whistling Kites were patrolling overhead. Along the northern edge of the lagoon there was a Sacred Kingfisher and a variety of finches including Red-browed and Zebra Finches, Chestnut-breasted and Nutmeg Mannikins. A Peregrine Falcon was also seen soaring high above Pitt Town.


After lunch, Lorne Johnson and I then headed up along the Bells Line of the Road over Blue Mountains (60 km west of the Sydney CBD).


Very soon after arriving at Pierces Pass in the upper Blue Mountains, we enjoyed fantastic eye level views of 4 Red-browed Tree-creepers and 4 Crested Shrike-tits (the later stripping away the bark of some Eucalypts) and a Rock Warbler was heard. We then walked towards the lookout watching a superb sunset over the Grose Valley. While heading back towards the car and after a discussion that we should get a Beautiful Firetail somewhere along this trail, one Beautiful Firetail then revealed itself allowing good views. What a coincidence!


We then spent a brief time up at Mt Wilson before it got dark adding a few more birds including a Satin Bowerbird, a Lewin’s Honeyeater and a Pilotbird heard down the valley. As we drove down the Mt Wilson Rd on dusk, Lorne asked “Is it too early to see any nocturnal mammals”. I said “No” and just around the corner after saying this, there was an unexpected Wombat right beside the road. 


Later that evening, we then spent an hour or so spotlighting at Megalong Valley. Despite a full moon and some very noisy campers, we still ended up scoring a good variety of nocturnal birds and mammals including one Powerful Owl (seen perched high above us in a tall eucalypt), a few Boobook Owls, 2 Owlet Nightjars, Great Glider (one dark morph), Yellow-bellied Gliders and a few small bats heard. One camper amongst a noisy group, saw my spotlight and shouted “I wish I had a torch like that!”


Overall it was a good long day and evening.


Edwin Vella


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