Black-necked Stalker's Twitchathon report

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Black-necked Stalker's Twitchathon report
From: "Greg & Val Clancy" <>
Date: Tue, 1 Nov 2011 16:38:49 +1100
Well the annual NSW Twitchathon is over and those annual twitchers can now get 
a reasonable night's sleep.  The Black-necked Stalkers trialled a new route 
this year starting in Glen Innes and finishing at Tullymorgan, near Lawrence.  
We didn't expect to win as the bar has been raise so high in recent years that 
only teams starting well west and finishing on the coast have a chance of 
getting in excess of 230 species.  Our team, comprising Russell Jago, Maree 
Davis and me, with Annette Harrison as non-participating scribe, was hoping to 
beat the 200 mark.  Last year with a number of western breeding birds, such as 
the Straw-necked Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Black-winged Stilt, Eurasian Coot etc., 
completely absent from the NSW North Coast, we only obtained a disappointing 
total of 186. 

We arrived at Glen Innes with a couple of hours to spare and managed to locate 
most of the needed species.  These were ones that we wouldn't get on the 
Clarence lowlands on the Sunday.  Unfortunately a number of them are introduced 
species but they do also count.  At 1600 hrs we were off ticking a number of 
common species but a large adult female Brown Goshawk was a bonus.  Although 
not a rare species it can be difficult to find when you want it, particularly 
on the Twitchathon weekend.  The Common Blackbird was next and the Red 
Wattlebird and White-winged Triller were species not expected on he Sunday.  
The local wetland produced a beautiful male Blue-billed Duck, Australasian 
Shoveler and Hoary-headed Grebe but the female Musk Duck seen by one team 
member never resurfaced!!  On to a site along the Gwydir Highway where were 
were very surprised to encounter a family of Forest Ravens, corvid species 
number 3 for the day.  I checked HANZAB last night and it wasn't a range exten
 sion as I had first thought.  We also had Glossy Black-Cockatoo at this site.  
We arrived quite late at Gibraltar Range National Park but managed to get the 
Rufous Scrub-bird, Scarlet Robin, New Holland Honeyeater, Southern Emu-wren and 
Superb Lyrebird.  A bonus was a flock of White-throated Needletails.  On to the 
Washpool as the light was really fading but we managed to get Noisy Pitta, 
Bassian Thrush, Rufous Fantail and Large-billed Scrubwren.  We had dinner while 
listening for birds and then recorded Sooty Owl and Australian Owlet-nightjar.  
On the trip down the range towards Grafton we added Eastern Barn Owl and by the 
time we went to bed at 0135 hrs we had notched up 103 species.  We were happy.

At sunrise the next morning we were on the heath near Sandon where we recorded 
Eastern Ground Parrot, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater and Red-backed Fairy-wren.  A 
pair of Beach Stone-curlews, one with colour bands that I had placed on it two 
years ago, greeted us at Sandon.  The Mangrove Gerygone, which has eluded us on 
the two previous twitches, was calling enthusiastically from the mangroves.  We 
recorded it at two locations at Sandon and at another location later in the 
day. By 0730 hrs with Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo and White-breasted Woodswallow 
listed we had 140 species.  Coastal Emu, Grey-crowned Babbler and Forest 
Kingfisher were added between Brooms Head and Maclean and a nestling Peregrine 
Falcon was still sitting on its nest ledge near Maclean.  The Iluka Nature 
Reserve was a little disappointing as we missed Regent Bowerbird and Little 
Shrike-thrush but we did get White-eared Monarch and  Spectacled Monarch.  The 
rock platforms in the Woody Head area produced for us as 
 we listed Greater Sand Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Red-necked Stint, Sooty 
Oystercatcher, Ruddy Turnstone and Little Tern.

The Tyndale area was very productive as usual with Black-necked Stork, Varied 
Sittella, Little Bronze-Cuckoo and Little Corella being ticked. The Coldstream 
wetlands provided a wonderful surprise with a flock of Magpie Geese.  This 
species had been absent from the Clarence Valley for some time.  The Pink-eared 
Ducks were back at Lawrence and in that area we added Brolga, Whiskered Tern 
and at Tullymorgan Nankeen Night Heron and Wandering Whistling-Duck.  An 
unidentified shorebird in that area has been identified as a Ruff, after much 
deliberation.  The final total was 204.  We were ecstatic.

The 23 threatened bird species recorded were: Coastal Emu, Magpie Goose, 
Blue-billed Duck, Black-necked Stork, Brolga, Eastern Osprey, Beach 
Stone-curlew, Australian Pied Oystercatcher, Sooty Oystercatcher, Comb-crested 
Jacana, Greater Sand Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Little Tern, Glossy 
Black-Cockatoo, Eastern Ground Parrot, Sooty Owl, Rufous Scrub-bird, Brown 
Treecreeper, Speckled Warbler, Grey-crowned Babbler, Mangrove Honeyeater, 
White-eared Monarch and Varied Sittella.  Three threatened mammals, the Parma 
Wallaby, Rufous Bettong and Humpback Whale were also observed. 

Dr Greg. P. Clancy
Head Stalker
Black-necked Stalkers Twitchathon Team

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