Big Day, 124 Species, Blue Mts/Richmond

To: birdingaus <>
Subject: Big Day, 124 Species, Blue Mts/Richmond
From: "Evan Beaver" <>
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2006 17:24:43 +1000
Went out with Graham Turner on Saturday to see how many species we could
pick up in a day, without travelling too far. Turns out that it was possible
to see half the birds on my life list within 24 hours!
Started at 6 on Saturday, with a quick look around the neighbourhood to pick
up some garden birds. The Princess Parrot in a cage across the road almost
went on the list, but we decided against it. Very little of interest was
found early on, probably the best being a Common Bronzewing calling in
Glenbrook. The Glossies that had been feeding nearby recently had moved on,
or not got out of bed yet, partially confirming my theory that Glossies are
not a morning bird. A lone Wonga that I had seen 2 days previously was
sitting in the same spot and probably hasn't moved yet. Dipped on Spotted QT
and Brown Pigeon at the same spot, 2 species that failed to show all day.

Down the hill and into some riparian habitat, where the birding really
heated up. My first Horsfields Bronze Cuckoo was added very early;
exceptional views of an ordinary specimen. This was followed by GH
Cisticola, Scarlet HE and Mistletoebird, some ducks and other water birds.
Surprisingly the total had rolled on to 76 by the time we left Emu Heights,
and it wasn't even 8am yet! Our goal of 100 was looking easy, even with dips
on a few birds that had been regulars. (lyre bird, origma, WB sea-eagle, and
those mentioned previously)

Castlereagh Nature res. was next, and the mercury rose. As expected, Yellow
Thornbill was the first bird here. These were followed by various honey
eaters, Fuscous among them, and a few funny squeaks from well above us. Much
searching eventually found a Wood-Swallow, but still a long way off. Then
another was found, then 10, 20, and probably many more. A mixed flock of
Masked and White-Browed came and went for most of the hour, 2 surprising new
additions to my life list. Chased down a  possible female petroica but there
was a chance I fabricated it. Only Eastern Yellow was seen. Clearly we were
on the plains.

Going off the main roads between Castlereagh and Richmond bought some good
and contraversial results. A dead Chough? Obviously a chough, and clearly
dead. Does it go on the day list? Definitely not a life list, and I wasn't
keen to put it on the official count for the day. Graham noted that under
NPWS wildlife survey rules it would count. On it goes. Some likely habitat
was found for future visits, but no birds at all this time. A u-turn under a
flowering Euco bought an unfamiliar call, for me anyway. My first
White-Throated Gerygone and a few of his friends with excellent views for

On then to Pughs Lagoon, which has been brilliant some days, less so today.
The Nankeen Night Heron and Spotless Crake of previous visits were not
found. No surprises there really. Black Swan, the weird mallard crosses and
some sparrows the only additions for the day.

Out on the grass paddocks in the searing heat things picked up again. All
sorts of larky-thrushy birds were found in the surrounding fields,
eventually revealing Brown Songlark, Rufous Songlark, richards Pipit,
Singing Bushlark and White-Winged Triller. Almost all new birds for me. We
were then allowed the luxury of prolonged views of all species to really
sort their differences, particularly in the calls. Rufous Songlark marking
the century partnership. Pink Ear (Zebra) duck was also found on a nearby
pond. They're good ducks, possibly my favourite.

More good times at McGraths Hill, with my Bird of the Day. Among some Pied
Stilt and Masked Lapwings, a pair of handsome Gull-Billed Terns. Very odd,
as we found them just as we were hoping for some Silver Gulls, which we
didn't see all day.  I know what I'd prefer.  By this stage we were 120ish
and feeling pretty good, so checked in for lunch.

Pitt-Town lagoon was very full, and full of ducks. This answered the
question of where all the Aussie Shovellers had got to. Also heard Little
Grassbird calling in the reeds nearby. The hot wind the following day will
have dried the edges considerably and might be worth visiting again fairly
soon. Eventually scared by the sun and wind we retreated home.

Just before midnight, and encouraged by wine, Alistair joined us to try and
find the local Boobook and a Tawny Frogmouth. A large, probably female
Boobook was found in Lapstone School grounds, a Tawny on the edge of the
oval. Both sat and gave stunning views. So 2 late additions took the day
list to 124. Not bad, and not too much driving either.


Evan Beaver
Lapstone, Blue Mountains, NSW
lat=- 33.77, lon=150.64

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