Crowdy Head &
Comboyne Plateau Trip Report
This trip, the third to Crowdy Bay, the Comboyne and Dingo Tops, and the first in summer, ( the two previous trips were held in autumn and winter respectively), once again proved to be a great birding experience for the participants. The weather could not have been better, remaining fine for the whole of the trip with lovely slightly cool sunny mornings and long humid evenings, enabling those who wished, to enjoy a swim at the end of the day before dinner. The Trip commenced in Canberra ACT, and those who travelled from Canberra enjoyed the experience of seeing Lake George once again holding water and seeing Yellow-billed Spoonbills near Collector in some shallow temporary water, the only ones seen for the trip. Lunch was taken at the Hunter Botanical Gardens where the highlight was a Brown Goshawk swooping through the trees chased by numerous Noisy Miners! A stop was made near the Karuah turnoff to check out a Brown Falcon, which also enabled us to see a flock of about 60 White-throated Needletails wheeling low overhead! Our first major birding stop was at Mudbishops Point, Old Bar, where the first bird seen as we alighted from the coach was a pair of Beach Stone-curlews! A third bird, judging by the whistle calls coming from the birds appeared to be nearby but we could not see it! Other birds of interest in Farquhar Inlet were a 100+ Common Terns, 10+ Little Terns, Caspian and Crested Terns, Whimbrels, Eastern Curlews, Pied Oystercatchers and Bar-tailed Godwits, a Brown Honeyeater, large numbers of Scaly-breasted Lorikeets and a few Musk Lorikeets. We also had good views of an Osprey, Sea-eagle and Whistling Kite, while Bar-shouldered Doves were seen along the tracks. Soon we were off again, heading north to Harrington and then Crowdy Head. At Harrington there was a Sacred Kingfisher and in our first evening walk about Crowdy Head, Pied Butcherbirds and two Gannets at sea were the highlights.
Next morning, we checked out the areas round the light-house, the little harbour and the gardens of Crowdy Head where we found Striped & White-cheeked Honeyeaters, Brown Quail, plenty of Spangled Drongos, a Pheasant Coucal, nesting Masked Lapwings, House Sparrows, Rufous Whistler & Rufous Fantails, Yellow Robins, and at sea both Short-tailed & Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, were seen and a Striated Heron was seen on the rocks! A visit to Harrington rainforest, turned up a Spectacled Monarch, Crested Shrike-tits feeding a dependant young, Regent Bowerbird, Golden Whistlers, Drongos and Figbirds, while a Varied Triller was heard calling. On the nearby lagoon was a party of Red-capped Plover with some Godwits, and then we walked the Harrington Breakwall almost across to Manning Point. We found Mangrove Gerygones and Yellow Thornbills in the mangroves, and a group of 43 Pacific Golden Plovers, along with a Sooty Oystercatcher, Pied oystercatchers, Godwits and Eastern Curlews, Great and Little Egrets on the sandflats. More Little Terns and 4 species of Cormorant were seen in the inlet as the tide came in! We relocated to Harrington Waters Estate to a point along the Manning River and found another Great Egret and close views of a Striated Heron. Pipits, Brown Honeyeater, Black-shouldered Kite and another Common Tern were found here. During the afternoon we checked out the tall heaths and wallum areas of Crowdy Head National Park especially around Abbey Flat and Crowdy Gap and added Black-faced Monarch, Variegated Fairy-wren, Grey Shrike-thrush, White-throated Gerygone & Large-billed Scrub-wrens to our list.
Koala by Participant Joan Rosenthal
Next morning, our early morning walk around Crowdy Head, found Sooty Oystercatchers on the rocks, and more Brown Quail. Then we were off through the National Park to Coralville, where we picked up more Sacred Kingfishes and a Hobby making a swipe at some Common Mynas roosting on some cows! At nearby Moorland a Buff-banded Rail ran across the road in front of the coach, and near Lorne in the forest, we stopped for some Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos (good spotting by Elizabeth) and managed to find Red-browed Tree-creepers and Scarlet Honeyeaters as well! Again good spotting by Elizabeth resulted in us seeing a juvenile Pacific Baza, perched on a low branch in a tree near the road, and nearby a paddock containing 3 White-necked Herons! Enroute to Comboyne, a stop in Keewong SF found 7 Topknot Pigeons and 2 Brown Cuckoo-doves as well as more Scarlet Honeyeaters & Rufous Fantails, Brown and Striated Thornbills. Our last stop for the morning was near Comboyne Retreat, up on the plateau. In this area of rainforest we managed to get both Spectacled & Black-faced Monarchs, Regent & Satin Bowerbirds, Brown Cuckoo-doves were seen while a Rose-crowned fruit-Dove was clearly heard calling but no one could get a good look at the bird! A pair of Grey-shrike Thrushes were feeding a dependent young, while good views were had of Yellow-throated & Large-billed Scrub-wrens. Again white-throated Needletails were hawking overhead. We lunched at the "Udder Resturant" in Comboyne where from the windows, White-headed Pigeons could be seen flying past, and then after lunch we checked out several areas of rainforest on the plateau before heading down to Wingham Golf Course Motel and its swimming pool. Other birds seen in the rainforests included Crimson Rosellas, more White-headed Pigeons, Brown Gerygones, Grey Fantails, and all the scrub-wrens. On the Plateau there were plenty of Torresian Crows, Nankeen Kestrels, a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes!
Click on map for more detail
In the first hour of our walk around the Wingham Golf Course next morning 31 species were seen including nesting White-headed Pigeons, Wood Ducks with little ducklings, Rufous Whistlers & Sacred Kingfishers, Yellow-rumped & Brown Thornbills, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Striated Pardalotes, Musk Lorikeets, King Parrots and Little Corellas. Later we travelled via Wherroul Flat up into Dingo Tops NP birding all the way. Here we saw more Topknot Pigeons, heard but did not see Superb Lyrebirds & Green Catbirds, and did find Spotted Pardalotes and Eastern Spinebills, Rufous Fantails and Black-faced Monarchs. In the picnic area at Dingo Tops, a group of 4 Bassian Thrushes continued to feed in the shaded mown grass, White-naped & Yellow-faced Honeyeaters fed in the trees as some Stringybarks were in flower, all three Scrub-wrens were seen along the rainforest walks, and Topknot & White-headed Pigeons were seen in the picnic area. During the afternoon, we birded again back down the road through Knorrit SF to Mount George, finding Rose Robin and more Scarlet Honeyeaters, Wonga Pigeon and King Parrots and another flock of Needletails! We also checked out all the full farm dams for waterbirds but found only the usual suspects, but a brief visited to Bootawah Dam yielded Hardhead, Crested Grebe, Jacky Winters, Tree Martins, Cormorants and Chestnut Teal. Once again the swimming pool at the Motel was much appreciated!
Janene Fishing? by Participant Joan Rosenthal
Our final day started with an hours walk around the golf course, this time we managed great views of the Bar-shouldered Dove, a new bird for some participants and White-throated Gerygone and Olive-backed Oriole. At Wingham Brush, while dodging roosting Grey-headed Flying Foxes, we saw at least 2 Russet-tailed Thrushes, all the Scrub-wrens, a pair of Regent Bowerbirds, and some of us were able to have a quick view of a lone Emerald Dove. Our trip back to Sydney and Canberra though the green countryside, yielded more Wonga Pigeons being seen in Kiwarrack SF, and Wedge-tailed Eagles and Reedwarbler at Buladelah Riverside Park. A Grey Goshawk was seen flying over the road while at our last birding spot at Karuah, we managed a pair of Ospreys, a Whistling Kite and a family of Blue-face Honeyeaters, which were new for the trip. Many thanks to Elizabeth and Bill, Glenda, Joan, Bernice, Barbara and Brian for providing good company and enthusiastic birding experiences for all, and to Janene for her competent handling of the coach, providing us with a safe and enjoyable five days birding in the very green and lush mid North Coast where we managed to see 162 species ! Alan Morris guiding for Follow That Bird