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Crowdy Head & Comboyne Plateau Trip Report
Beach Stone-curlew by Nevil Lazarus
Following on from a successful autumn trip to Crowdy Head, Harrington and Comboyne in March 2004, Follow That Bird organised a second trip, this time in Winter and although all the summer migrants would be elsewhere it was felt that winter trip would enable us to see those birds that move into coastal areas at this time of the year. We were fortunate that there has been good coastal rains of late and while it rained sometimes during this trip, most of it was at night and did not inconvenient the participants in any way. This trip started in Canberra ACT, with a pick-up in Sydney so the first birding stop was at Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River. Here a Striated Heron and a wintering Sacred Kingfisher were found in the mangroves, a good start for the trip. At the Hunter Botanic Gardens at Raymond Terrace, Lewin’s, White-cheeked & Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, were the common bushland birds and this situation remained for the rest of the trip! We arrived at Crowdy Head at dusk, so that our first view was on the Sunday morning when we picked up 42 species in the period 7-800hrs! Highlights were a pair of Peregrine Falcons, nesting Black-shouldered Kites & Masked Lapwings, a Buff-banded Rail in a ditch, Fan-tailed Cuckoos, many Scaly-breasted & Rainbow Lorikeets, Striped & Brown Honeyeaters, Whistling Kites & Sea-Eagle, Spangled Drongos and an Olive-backed Oriole.

Ron & Carol-US Birders
A walk through the Harrington Rainforest found more Drongos, Regent & Satin Bowerbirds, Brown Cuckoo-Doves, a pair of White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike and Scarlet Honeyeaters, with Red-capped Plovers feeding in the Harrington Lagoon and Variegated & Superb Fairy-wrens in the heath. A walk along the breakwater found a lone Beach Stone-curlew on Manning Point together with some Pied Oystercatchers and Double-banded Plovers, while inside the estuary was a pair of Black-necked Storks, Royal Spoonbills, Darter, White-fronted & Gull-billed Terns, Ospreys and Sea-Eagles, all four species of Cormorants, Littlle & Great Egrets and an immature Brahminy Kite. After lunch we explored some of the firetrails in the Wallum Heathlands of Crowdy Bay National Park, finding more Yellow-faced & White-cheeked Honeyeaters, Eastern Spinebills, Bar-shouldered Doves, Horsfield Bronze-cuckoos & Grey-shrike Thrush, and visits were made to Kylie Beach & Diamond Head within the Park. Plenty of Australasian Gannets at sea, Little & Red Wattlebirds in the flowering banksias, nesting Masked Lapwings in the picnic areas and Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos on the heaths.

The following morning, on our pre-breakfast walk at Crowdy Head, we found a flock of Red-bowed & Double-barred Finches and a Tawny Grassbird was flushed from the long grass. As we passed the Harrington Caravan Park a lone Bush Stone-curlew was seen just inside the fence near the road, so we smartly stopped the coached, backed up and everyone had good views of this uncommon bird! Then onto the Comboyne Plateau. Near Comboyne Retreat, King Parrots, White-headed Pigeons and some Regent Bowerbirds were found, along with Yellow-throated & Large-billed Scrub-wrens. While having morning tea in the park at Comboyne village there were White-headed Pigeons, Bar-shouldered Doves, Satin Bowerbirds & Figbirds to watch while a visit to Boorganna Narture Reserve, gave people varying views of Spine-tailed Long-runners, Bassian Thrush, Southern Yellow Robin, Catbird, Satin & Regent Bowerbirds, Scrub-wrens and Brown Gerygones. Later in the afternoon we visited Ellenborough Falls (plenty of water this time!) and checked out local wetlands & pastoral areas around Wingham. Here we had great views of a Wedge-tailed Eagle with prey (a rabbit?), and Grey Teal and Hardheads on the dams.

Crested Tern by Nevil Lazarusr
On the Tuesday, our pre-breakfast walk took in the Wingham Golf Course where White-headed Pigeon, Golden Whistler, Little Corellas and Royal Spoonbills were the top birds. The rest of the day we spent in the Dingo Tops area, particularly in Tapin Tops National Park and made a visit to Bluetop Lookout! On route up the mountain we had great views of a group of 7 Brown Quail that fed unconcernedly along the edge of the road, Bellminers were checked out & Wonga Pigeons were heard calling. At the Dingo Tops picnic area King Parrots and Satin Bowerbirds were the common birds, scrub-wrens and Fairy-wrens were in the undergrowth along with Golden Whistlers and Lewin’s Honeyeater. Enroute to Blue Top, 4 seperate Superb Lyrebirds crossed the road in front of the coach, while Crimson Rosellas and Grey Shrike-thrush were regulared sighted. On our return, we explored around Mt George, finding more Regent Bowerbirds and Bar-shouldered Doves, Pied Butcherbird and Grey Fantail, while on a large farm dam nearby we added Black-fronted Plover, Red-rumped Parrots and nesting Torresian Crows.

Tapin National Park
Our final day included the Golfcourse Walk and seeing the usual birds (plenty of Wood Ducks this time) and then off to Wingham Brush, to take in the delights of the Flying Fox colony. Here we had good views of a Russet-tailed Thrush, many Brush Turkeys, a pair of Emerald Doves, Rose Robin, Brown Gerygones, Southern Yellow Robins & Brown Cuckoo-Doves. Along the Manning River were Whistling Kite and an immature Sea-Eagle. Our morning tea spot was at Bootawa Dam, where up to 9 Crested Grebes were located as well as 2 Hoary-headed and many Australasian Little Grebes. A Wedge-tailed Eagle was sighted along with more Red-rumped Parrots. Our final birding spot was at Bulladelah Forest Park, where the Blackbutts were flowering and the trees were full of White-naped, Yellow-faced, White-cheeked and Lewin’s Honeyeaters, all feeding on the nectar flow! Altogether we saw 146 species and had a great five days of birding on the sunny Mid North Coast!

By Alan Morris guiding for FTB

Follow That Bird   Phone: 61 2 9973 1865
Fax: 61 2 9973 1875
3/59 Central Road
Avalon NSW 2107
Sydney Australia
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Photos of Variegated Fairy-wren and Little Tern courtesy of Neil Fifer