Fresh Watagan Wonders Trip Report
GOOD BIRDING IN THE WATAGAN MOUNTAINS NSW
Follow That Bird Tours organised a two day birding trip of the Watagan Mountains, located to the west of Lake Macquarie, on the Central/Hunter Coast of NSW for the period 12-13 January 2004. All participants stayed over-night at the Four Horizons B&B located within the ranges and adjacent to Watagan NP, near Heatons Lookout. Good weather was experienced over the two days but the trip was held during a fairly dry period so that there was probably less leaches and less birds than one would expect. There were definitely more cicadas than usual, this being a very good cicada year in our Region so smaller bush birds were hard to hear and to find whereas cicada-eating birds were more dominant than usual viz Olive-backed Orioles, Kookaburras, Pied Currawongs, Channel-billed Cuckoos, Noisy Friarbirds & Cuckoo-shrikes. Despite these limitations all the participants had a great time and had plenty of good birding experiences..
Within the State Forests and National Park, visits were made to Muirs Lookout, the Pines Picnic Area, Heatons Lookout, Macleans Lookout, Boarding House Dam and Gap Creek, and to complete the experiences we returned to Sydney via Ellalong Lagoon & Quorrobolong to check out the waterbirds. Good birding was had around the Four Horizons property including a spotlight walk. The bird of the trip had to be the Gang Gang Cockatoo which were seen virtually at all mountain locations in small numbers, probably 30+ altogether and good views were had of males with their scarlet coloured heads and crests. King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas were the other common parrots in the Mountains. Wonga Pigeons and Brown-Cuckoo Doves were seen and heard throughout the Mountains with everyone getting good views of Red-browed Treecreepers and Bassian Thrushes which are a specialty of the site. Many migrants were present like Scarlet Honeyeaters, Black-faced Monarchs, Leaden Flycatchers and Rufous Fantails. Golden Whistlers, Rufous Whistlers, Lyrebirds & Satin Bowerbirds were regularly heard and seen..
The spot-lighting walk around Four Horizons initially only revealed a Brush-tailed Possum and a number of Brush-tailed Rock Wallabies, with close up views of the latter but Boobook Owls could be heard calling. One of the Boobooks was lured to the cabins after playing a tape and then great views were had of the bird with the spotlight. At Ellalong Lagoon there were plenty of waterbirds to see including Whistling Kite, a pair of Shovelers, a lone Great Egret and Black-winged Stilts, while Yellow-rumped Thornbills and Striped Honeyeaters were present in the fringing Casuarinas. All up a great two days of fine food, interesting birds and good company was had with 89 species being seen.