Thursday, 10 May 2018

North-west Sydney with Steve

Female Golden Whistler
An early start after a tiring day was a struggle but a little caffeine and we were under way. Steve had a plan to take us across the city to the North-western margins to look for some of the birds that I had yet to connect with. We had loads of success in the North Richmond and Windsor areas. We started not long after dawn at Mitchell Park in the Cattai National Park where new birds came thick and fast. An Eastern Great Egret was new as we approached and straight into the cool woodland where Lewin's Honeyeater piped up only to be replaced by Brown Thornbill, Mistletoebird, Golden Whistler and Crested Shrike-Tit. We could hear Whipbirds all over the shop. Bar-shouldered Dove was joined by Peaceful Dove and Grey Shrike Thrush. I managed to pick out a Spangled Drongo in the trees and we heard Bell's Miner (although I didn't manage to connect with one). Wonga Pigeon was heard long before being seen but Bronze Cuckoo-Dove was easier to catch up with. A female King Parrot was sat up in a tree and we saw a couple of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters.

Grey Shrike-thrush
King Parrot
Lewin's Honeyeater
Wandering along the tracks finally revealed a male Wonga Pigeon piping up and views of Eastern Whipbird,  a charasmatic and elusive species. We found Bronze Cuckoo-Doves foraging not far from the path but the temperature was increasing and we pushed on. A Collared Sparrowhawk was seen moving along the river. Our final new bird for the site was Variegated Fairywren alas not in as smart plumage as it could have been but great to contrast with the Superb Fairywrens we had been seeing.

Nutmeg Mannikin

Peaceful Dove

Red-kneed Dotterel

Scarlet Honeyeater

Spangled Drongo
 Long Neck Lagoon in Scheyville National Park was a dry woodland, contrasting with the wet woodland at Cattai. It was much quieter already as the temperature picked up but Scarlet Honeyeater made up for that and we also added Yellow Thornbill and White-headed Stilt. As with in Jervis Bay it was evident that Noisy Friarbird were moving through in good numbers and this would be a constant throughout the remainder of the trip. We made the trip up to Pitt Town Lagoon where almost immediately a Swamp Harrier moved overhead. Here we had excellent views of Golden-headed Cisticola and a trio of Intermediate Egrets were resting out on perches. The lagoon was stacked with Red-kneed Dotterel, Grey Teal, Australasian Shoveler and a variety of other common waterbirds.
White-headed Stilt

Swamp Harrier

Golden-headed Cisticola

Our final stop of the day was at Bushell's Lagoon. On the way a gaggle of Royal Spoonbill refused to embrace their inner Yellow-faced Spoonbill. We found a dead Budgie by the side of the road, alas one of the feral morphs. As we approached a number of Dusky Woodswallows were collected on posts and these were joined by Zebra Finches. Walking down to the lagoon were loads of raptors with Brown Goshawk, several Whistling Kite which were the first of the trip, Nankeen Kestrel, and a couple of Australian Hobbies which were hawking high above. A couple of young White-bellied Sea Eagles joined the raptor-fest. White-faced Herons were notable as were some Estralid finches working the orchards on the fringes. We had good views of Double-barred Finches and some Nutmeg Mannikins were expected fare. These mixed with the Zebra finches but we couldn't find any Plum-headed Finches. We packed up and stopped to look for White-winged Trillers not far away whilst flagging due to lack of sleep and the heat. A feral goose disgraced itself by taking bread but we were celebrating my last lifer of the day when an Azure Kingfisher gave us a brief flyby. We moved off and Steve dropped me in central Sydney for my train to Canberra. A brief goodbye and one of my best birding weekends was over. Immense and thanks again to Steve. His account with superior photos is here:

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