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
Black-necked Stalkers Twitchathon Team
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