Follow That Bird
- Sydney's Birding Company

Day Trip Reports

Birding for Beginners Trip Report

Saturday 10 July 2021
Guide: Edwin Vella

Birding Beginner Jill
The fine weather and a good mix of birds created the ideal atmosphere for our first day beginners course at Bicentennial Park in Homebush.

The main focus for the first day was getting to know how to use binoculars correctly, using field guides and how to go about identifying birds.

After working out how to use binoculars correctly, one of the first birds the beginners had to identify was a couple of Crested Pigeons somewhat staying cooperatively for us in a small dead tree, and they still remained that way even when a Brown Goshawk flew past not too far away from them while other birds had been scared off by this raptor.

We then made for a short stroll to nearby Mason Park where an obliging Royal Spoonbill allowed our beginners to get acquainted with this peculiar species as well as the flock of Grey and Chestnut Teals, a White-faced Heron, a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, some Silvereyes and Red-browed Finches.

After lunch, we went for our next stroll by the mangroves fringing Haslams Creek and eventually to the Water Bird refuge at the northern end of Bicentennial Park. Here we saw even more waterbirds included a flock of at least 200 Black-winged Stilt and about 18 Black-fronted Dotterels, a Great Egret, Brown Honeyeater and an Australian Pelican.

Later in the afternoon, we also made a visit to the Birds Australia office in Newington, were we were delighted to see a live footage of an adult White-bellied Sea-eagle on its nest as well as seeing a flock of Red-rumped Parrots feeding on the grass just outside the office.

During the day, our beginners showed quite a good deal of enthusiasm in sketching and taking notes on a number of unfamiliar birds as well as being able to go through the field guides to ID them.

We all had an enjoyable day and are now ready for the challenge in a weekÕs time to tackle on more of the bush birds.

By Edwin Vella Ornitholigist for FTB

Minnamurra Lyrebirds Trip Report

Saturday 12 June 2021
Guide: Bob Ashford

Superb Lyrebird by Christina Port
Looking for birds in a rain forest can be a challenge for even the most experienced birder and when there is a bunch of keen types with you eager to see elusive species it can be downright daunting! There is an expectation, from the complete novices at least, that a guide can just whistle birds up or just instantly point them out which, as all birders come to realise, is rarely the case.

Fortunately this ‘bunch’ was a happy-go-lucky lot happy to be out and about and see whatever they might see. Minnamurra is probably one of the best spots on the South Coast for Lyrebirds and we certainly enjoyed some cracking views, some of the best I’ve ever seen in fact, which just goes to show why birding can be both surprising and thoroughly delightful.

At one spot a glorious male Lyrebird casually strolled to the edge of the trail and proceeded to scratch around barely three metres from us. Cameras clicked furiously! As we watched the Lyrebird a small brown bird with a bright lemon-yellow bib and dark eye-mask joined it. It was a Yellow-throated Scrubwren, not only smart-looking but smart enough to let the Lyrebird do the digging while it picked up the bugs! Not a bad strategy as we saw the size of some of the rocks the Lyrebird turned over!

Our strategy was to listen. Ears are probably as useful as eyes in rainforest and it was the calls of various species that alerted us and eventually directed us to the bird itself.

The strikingly-coloured Golden Whistler, for example, called us in as did the Grey Shrike-thrush and White-browed Scrubwrens. More challenging was locating the White-throated Treecreepers but it didn’t take too long to enjoy some excellent views. It didn’t take long either for the group members to catch on. “What’s that one, Bob?” “Lewin’s Honeyeater” “Silvereyes” “Yellow Robin” “Eastern Whipbird” “Grey Wagtail” “Yellow-faced Honeyeater” – and more. We may not see them all but there’s plenty of action in the Minnamurra Rainforest!

As we left the rainforest Janene slowly eased the bus along the access road while we checked out the forest edges and the paddocks. King Parrots, Kookaburras and Grey Butcherbirds were stealing the show until a pair of Olive-backed Orioles flew into a nearby Coral Tree. This was an unexpected species that brought a smile to everyone’s face.

In the paddocks and among the cows were flocks of Cattle Egrets. Interestingly their nearest breeding colony is near Newcastle, some several hundred kilometres north. Why they head south for winter is a mystery!

In all an excellent day with a great bunch of happy birders and there were Minties all round courtesy of Alan. Thanks to all of you, you made my day.

by Bob Ashford Ornithologist for FTB

Curra Moors on May Day Trip Report

Saturday 1 May 2021
Guide: Edwin Vella

New Holland Honeyeater by Christina Port
Our first highlight of the day while on our way to the Royal NP was a small group of Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos at Ramsgate. They were beside the road and around the group of pine trees next to Botany Bay. We were able to watch these magnificent birds at quite close range and with one even feeding on the ground on fallen pine nut.

When we arrived at Wattle Flat at Audley, we were instantly greeted by a good mix of birds though the poor light from the overcast sky challenged us in seeing some of the birds high in the canopy including the Yellow-faced Honeyeaters. However some birds much lower to the ground however put on a good show for us including a smart looking Azure Kingfisher perched still and a times dropping into the water to snatch a fish, a few Rose Robins (including a stunning male), a few Scarlet Honeyeaters, Brown Thornbills and White-browed Scrubwrens as well as Little Lorikeets flying overhead.

Along the Curra Moor track New Holland Honeyeaters dominated (just about 95 % of the birds seen was this species but we did pick out a Collared Sparrowhawk, Scaly-breasted Lorikeets, Southern Emu-wren, a Beautiful Firetail whistling a few times and a few other honeyeaters such as both Red and Little Wattlebirds, Noisy Friarbird, Eastern Spinebills and a White-eared Honeyeater.

At our lunch spot at Curracorong along the coast we saw a lone Australasian Gannet in what appeared to be an empty sea and we were accompanied by a Cunninghams Skink. A Whistling Kite was also spotted flying over. It was a also pleasure watching quite a number of Welcome Swallows constantly skim the water surface and basking on the rocks.

The return journey to the car park produced a monotony of New Holland Honeyeaters until about a km before returning to the car park we accidentally flushed a rarely seen Brush Bronzewing beside the track.

About 50 species seen on this beautiful Autumn day.

by Edwin Vella Ornithologist for FTB

Forest of Tranquillity Trip Report

Saturday 17 April 2021
Guide: Alan Morris

Tawny Frogmouth by Christina Port
On a beautiful sunny autumn morning, 20 excited birders, some out on their first ever organised bird watching activity, met at the Ourimbah Creek RTA Reserve for a walk through the regenerating rainforest. All around us the Bell Miners were calling as we slowly walked through the Reserve, checking out the “little brown birds” like Brown Gerygones, Brown Thornbills, White-browed & Large-billed Scrubwrens. Several adult male Golden Whistlers and many Yellow Thornbills were found in the foliage, while Red-browed Finches, Yellow Robins & Bar-shouldered Doves fed along the track. Several small groups of Topknot Pigeons were the best birds seen while the calls of the Grey-shrike Thrush & Fan-tailed Cuckoo added to the birdsong.

We moved from here to the Forest of Tranquility, located further down Ourimbah creek Road. Great views were had of Red-necked Wallabies and Eastern Wallaroos, feeding in paddocks near the road, where Masked Lapwings, Wood Ducks, Cattle Egrets & White-faced Herons were also to be found. While enjoying our morning tea, we watched Superb Fairy-wrens, Satin Bowerbirds and Grey Fantails feeding in the wattles. A walk through the rainforest yielded plenty of Lewin’s Honeyeaters, an occasional Brown Cuckoo-dove, King Parrots, Yellow-throated Scrub-wrens & Silvereyes, while Superb Lyrebirds and White-throated Treecreepers called but failed to show!

After lunch we took the back roads to North Chittaway where we found on the Tuggerah Bay foreshore, a mixed roosting flock of Bar-tailed Godwits, 14 Caspian Terns, Crested Terns, Striated Heron, single Great & Little Egrets, Black-winged Stilts & Masked Lapwings, plus two separate Buff-banded Rails, a good mix of waterbirds for the beginners! Next stop was Chittaway Point, where amongst a large group of roosting Pelicans and Cormorants, there were Darters, Stilts and a Great Cormorant. A adult Sea-eagle gave great views as it flew low over the Point, while bush birds like Red & Little Wattlebirds, Common Mynas and a Spangled Drongo were found in the flowering Grevillias. Our final stop was Sunshine Reserve, Chittaway where hiding in the Swamp Oaks, a pair of Tawny Frogmouths were found, White-breasted Woodswallows flew over and Grey Butcherbirds and Figbirds were added to our list. Our total bird count was 79 species and everyone had enjoyable birding experiences!

by Alan Morris bird guide for FTB.

Hunter Valley TSRs Trip Report

Saturday 13 February 2021
Guide: Alan Morris

Black Swans by Neil Fifer
21 intrepid birders left Sydney on a somewhat damp overcast morning, that had followed a night of rain, and headed for Cessnock, in the the Hunter Valley to check out the Travelling Stock Reserves around Pokolbin, particularly the Elfin Hill – Jacksons Hill TSR and the DeBreyers Rd TSR west of Tulloch Winery, Pokolbin. Our first stop was at Heaton Gap but here because of the mist still around and the wet conditions overnight, nothing was calling and the birds were hard to see. Fortunately our enthusiasm was saved by the sudden arrival of a calling Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo that circled over us, a small flock of Red-browed Finches, a pair of Black-shouldered Kites on a radio tower and an obliging White-throated Treecreeper. Then we were off through the very green countryside, and soon were checking off Pied Butcherbirds & Dollarbirds on the wires, Wood Ducks and Swamphens in the roadside dams, and Galahs and Eastern Rosellas flying across the road ahead. We were soon at Elfin Hill, where we then walked along the TSR south to Jacksons Hill, where Janene met us with the coach. Along this pleasant walk there were plenty of Musk Lorikeets feeding on blossoms in Grey Box, Striated Pardalotes were calling strongly, a Common Bronzewing was flushed, and a flock of Choughs treated us very suspiciously! We were able to find Superb & Variegated Fairy-wrens in the under growth, and listen to the calling of both Grey and Pied Butcherbirds. A Wedge-tailed Eagle flew over mobbed by Torresian Crows, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes checked us out, and White-faced Herons were seen around farm dams and some Pipits were in the paddocks.

At Jacksons Hill, more Fairy-wrens and a small party of Double-barred Finches and Silvereyes roosting in a Prickly Melaleuca, while on the Mt View Rd nearby, there was a pair of Grey Teal with 5 tiny ducklings, a group of about 8 Grey-crowned Babblers, and Wood Ducks with 8 ducklings. We gradually wound away to the picnic area at the junction of Oakey Hill Rd & DeBreyers Rd, near the Tulloch Winery where on the top of the hill we took lunch and enjoyed the scenery on what had become a pleasant sunny day..Then it was time to walk the DeBreyers Rd west track, through a mixture of Spotted & Forest Red Gums, Ironbarks, Grey Box and wattle trees. Highlights here included good numbers of Scarlet Honeyeaters feeding mostly in Box Mistletoe which was heavily in flower. The similarity between the red flowers of the mistletoe and the red heads of the Scarlet Honeyeaters made the latter very hard to find! Also present were Yellow-faced, White-eared & White-naped Honeyeaters, Rufous & Golden Whjstlers, Spotted & Striated Pardalotes, Leaden Flycatcher and Yellow Robins. Everyone had good views of Weebills, a Collared Sparrowhawk circled over, a pair of Brown Cuckoo-Doves roosted in some vines, and there were plenty of other small bushbirds to be found.

We checked out Pokolbin Lake, which is very full and due to so much rain elsewhere, the waterbirds appear to have deserted the place, but there was a pair of nesting Black-winged Stilts, Darters, Little Black, Little Pied and Great Cormorants were located, 2 Black-fronted Dotterels spotted, White-faced Herons roosting on the powerlines and the guide tried to turn a Little Grebe into a Great Crested Grebe without success! Being in the wine country meant that instead of stopping for an ice-cream at a shop, we spent 10 minutes shopping in McWilliams Mt Pleasant winery instead! Our last birding spot for the day was at road juunction just outside of Cessnock where a party of 5 Grey-crowned Babblers were having a territory dispute with some Noisy Miners, with 3 Pied Butcherbirds checking out the action. By the end of the day we had managed to see 81 species, including a number of typical woodland birds and we all enjoyed a pleasant day in the country.

By Alan Morris, Bird Guide for Follow That Bird

Botany Bay & Kurnell Waders Trip Report

Saturday 13 February 2021
Guide: Edwin Vella

Bar-tailed Godwit by Nevil Lazarus
We were very fortunate that the recent heavy rains in Sydney did not spoil our days birding in the Botany Bay area with the rain holding off for just about the whole time we were there.

We started off first at Taren Point with a walk along the western shores of Woolooware Bay. A small number of White-throated Needletails were amongst the first birds seen at the start of the walk and as we walked beside the shore line, we spotted a Striated Heron, a good flock of 30 Pied Oystercatchers and Yellow Thornbills in the mangroves.

Nest, a brief visit to the Quibray Bay shorebird viewing area produced a few visiting shorebird migrants such as a number of Eastern Curlew as well as a few Bar-tailed Godwits and a few Whimbrel. Other birds seen here included 2 Little Egret, Royal Spoonbill and both Pied and Great Cormorants.

As we were having our morning tea at the Commemoration Flat Picnic area, a Immature Brown Goshawk caused a lot of the havoc to the local avian population stirring the Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and both Eastern and Crimson Rosellas into a frenzy.

After morning tea, we did a short walk along the Yena trail were we saw a few Little Wattlebirds, New Holland Honeyeaters and White-browed Scrubwrens.

We later then had lunch and looked out for sea birds at Cape Solander. Here we saw several of both Wedge-tailed and Short-tailed Shearwaters, an Eastern Reef Egret, 3 species of Jaeger (a few Pomarine, a couple of Arctic’s and even one Long-tailed Jaeger) as well as one adult Kelp Gull.

The rest of the afternoon was then spent around Boat Harbour (on the opposite side of the bay) were we saw some more migratory shorebirds including a few Pacific Golden Plovers, a couple of Ruddy Turnstones and a number of Red-necked Stints as well as 3 Black-fronted Dotterels, 5 Sooty Oystercatchers, 2 more Eastern Reef Egrets, both Caspian and Little Terns as well as another adult Kelp Gull. A Kestrel, a few Richards Pipits and Golden-headed Cisticolas were also in the nearby dunes.

As we were departing Boat Harbour we also spotted a Collared Sparrowhawk and a small flock of Topknot Pigeons making their way south.

by Edwin Vella guiding for FTB

Zig Zag Railway Birding Trip Report

Saturday 14 November 2020
Guide: Tiffany Mason

Black-shouldered Kite by
Christina Port unable to be present
A beautiful day (not too hot and not too cool, Virga clouds scattered across the sky, like aerial jelly fish) started well for the group, who picked up some majestic birds (Royal Spoonbill, Black Swan) at McGrath’s Hill Sewage Treatment Works, without the help of their guide (patiently waiting at Richmond Station, ticking off Rainbow Lorikeet and Eastern Koel). With the guide finally aboard, we stopped again for raptor identification: Brown Falcon was the verdict (broad wings, fanned tail, ‘checked’ flight feathers) and we were quickly back on the bus to avoid picking up a fine for blocking the driveway of the North Richmond Retirement Village! At Kurmond, we saw a Black-shouldered Kite being mobbed by Magpies; on the way back down the hill, later that afternoon, we would see the same bird (perhaps) being mobbed by Magpie Larks…it’s tough being a raptor. Bellbird Hill lived up to its name, filling the air with the chiming calls of the Bell Miner, and prompting a brief lecture on the link between this species and eucalyptus die-back (Bell Miners enjoy eating the sugary coat – lerp – of the Psyllid, a sap-sucking insect, whilst not harming the insect itself, and deter other insectivorous birds from their habitat, thus leaving the Psyllids free to weaken the leaves). The dams around Bilpin yielded Pacific Black Duck (“Seen it!” cried the bus, which all comes of the guide missing out on the McGrath’s Hill stop) and a glimpse of a Lewin’s Honeyeater in the tall, closed forest.

We stopped for morning tea and immediately heard the calls of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters flitting around in the tree canopies and feeding on the blossoms. Two Common Bronzewings, who had been taking advantage of what the picnickers leave behind, were disturbed by our arrival, and flew up and out of sight. Everybody then got both a cuppa and an excellent view of a single Eastern Yellow Robin, unusually high up in a eucalypt, but its yellow breast catching the sun brilliantly. Brown Thornbills were warbling nearby and seen hopping about in a sapling, a mature male Satin Bowerbird, in deep indigo plumage, was briefly glimpsed flitting through the trees and we tracked down White-naped Honeyeaters by their “chi-chi” call – although they proved very difficult to see. Here we also discovered a beautiful purple flower, Dampiera purpurea, distinguished by its rough, rounded leaves.

When everyone had downed their tea, we began walking back along the road: Musk Lorikeets flew overhead, Silvereyes called from the hedge on our left, a Scarlet Honeyeater from our right, and a Purple Swamphen posed unorthodoxly, perched quite high in a tree on the edge of a dam. The sharp eyes of Henry picked up an Eastern Yellow Robin’s nest, a gorgeous construction of stringybark decorated in lichen. Then it was back on the bus and off to Clarence.

The day was warming up and at Clarence we sought out the shade, admiring the white-flowering Eriostemon myoporoides (Wax Flower) and observing King Parrots and an Australian Raven before following the walking track to Bottom Points. The tall forest was quiet, but we did track down the Spotted Pardalotes that had been calling persistently and got very good views of three birds hopping around the hollow in the fork of a tree. All around us, Hakea dactyloides was in flower, the only plant in the mid-storey, and Drumsticks, Isopogon anemonifolius, and Flannel Flowers, Actinotus helianthi, were profuse along the sides of the track.

We heard Rufous Whistler, Striated Pardalote and Grey Shrike Thrush but the birds were playing hard to see until Henry (once again!) discovered an active Varied Sittella’s nest, on a vertical branch 10 metres over our heads. The views of this species were excellent, and they obligingly hopped, beak first, down tree trunks, showing their characteristic tree-creeping behaviour. Buff-rumped Thornbills also made a brief appearance here, and we reluctantly left the spot when we heard the sound of our train’s whistle.

A pair of White-winged Choughs was spotted not far from the track, perched close to the ground on fallen timber. Many more wildflowers, including the delicately purple Fairy Aprons, Utricularia dichotoma, and a Bearded Orchid, Calochilus spp., were seen here as well. Then, all of a sudden, we were out in the heath.

Now we realised how warm the day had got – and so had the birds; but they were the wise ones and had hunkered down in a cool, shady spot somewhere, whilst we tramped across the heath with the Sun beating down on us and barely a speck of fauna to be seen but for 2 very small, unidentified blue butterflies.

As we reached the rapid descent to the train platform, a bird called from the right-hand side of the track: a Chestnut-rumped Heathwren! Tiffany and Henry left the track in order to flush it out, an exercise which resulted in the bird firstly shutting up and secondly making a bolt for it, never to be seen or heard again.

The slope became more steep, but thankfully cooler, and in the gully opposite Bottom Points we heard a White-eared Honeyeater. The bird was seen by most of the group (John was particularly happy to finally get his binoculars on it) before we settled down to lunch on the station platform. The trip back up to Clarence was disappointingly bird-free (except for distant calls of Noisy Friarbirds at Top Points Station) but much more pleasant in the train than the prospect of climbing back up the hill in the early afternoon heat. After alighting from the train and taking a brief refreshment break, we were back on the road and heading to the final stop of the trip. The wild flowers were out en masse at Mount Banks, in response to last Summer’s fires: Flannel Flowers, Mountain Devils (Lambertia formosa), Drumsticks, Rice Flowers (Pimelia linifolia) and Matchheads (Comesperma ericinum), a carpet of colour. Dismounting from the bus, we walked towards the picnic area and it seemed as if there was an Eastern Spinebill at every Mountain Devil flower! We also saw, quite close-up, the White-eared Honeyeater here, and were able to admire its beautiful olive-yellow plumage. There were five minutes left to explore one last track and the guide headed off in time to get a microsecond’s glimpse of a Painted Button-quail before (a) the bird flew off into dense cover and (b) anybody else got a chance to spot it. The consolation prize was a Mountain Heath Dragon, which was much more amenable to admiring onlookers, and sat cooperatively on a rock by the path for some minutes, having its photo taken.

It was finally time to head home. On the way back down the Great Dividing Range, we picked up the Black-shouldered Kite again and a flock of Rock Doves (or Feral Racing Pigeons), bringing our total species detected (most of them heard rather than seen) to a quite respectable 85.

By Tiffany Mason guiding for FTB

Wheeny Creek & Wilberforce Waders Trip Report

Saturday 24 October 2020
Guide: Keith Brandwood

Golden Whistler by Christina Port
Thankfully the Follow that Bird group was on time at my pickup point Mc Garth’s Hill as I had spent considerable effort laying on a Swamp Harrier for their arrival, which duly performed for them without them, having to get off the bus. Streetons Lookout at Freemans Reach which looks out over the agricultural land between Windsor and Richmond was our next stop. Here we had a beaut male Golden Whistler, Yellow Thornbills and Suberb Fairy Wrens join us for morning tea. We had great views of a Grey Goshawk with a well grown chick on the nest, the day’s highlight, at our next stop Matherson Park Kurrajong.

Wheeny Creek, our main destination, is a reliable location to see Gang Gang Cockatoos at this time of the year as they breed in the large Sydney Blue Gums at this location. They did not let us down with a number of pairs seen prospecting for nest hollows. This is a delightful location and sitting in the shade of these majestic trees serenaded by a variety of birds whilst eating our lunch is as near to birding bliss as one can get. Other species of interest was a Brush Cuckoo that obliged by reacting to my imitation of his call and perching above us giving everyone decent views.

Due to the absence of exposed mud, a prerequisite for waders, we gave Bushels Lagoon at Wilberforce a miss and headed straight for Little Wheeny Lagoon at Cattai where I knew there was exposed mud. This is the property of Heather and Brian Johnson who we thank for their hospitality in giving us access to the lagoon. I knew there were Spotted, Spotless and Baillon’s Crakes here as well as Buff-banded Rail. However seeing them requires a good deal of patience and a constant patrol with the bins or scope around the base of the reed beds surrounding the lagoon to find them. Our success was limited to a number of us seeing the rail but only myself saw a Baillon’s Crake. Other species here was Black-winged Stilt and Masked Lapwing both with chicks Red-kneed and Black-fronted Dotterel’s and an adult White-bellied Sea Eagle with an Immature bird. Heading back home after a fabulous day we stopped for the obligatory ice cream and called the bird list for the day recording a grand total of 98 species. I left the bus at this point giving Alan strict instructions to find two other species on the way home to round of the total at 100 species, hope you succeeded Alan?

PS We obliged with 3-4 Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos but couldn’t come up with the hundredth; still 99 and a gorgeous spring day’s birding cannot be beaten.

By Keith Brandwood guiding for FTB, and Janene.

Cottage Point Ferry & Ku-ring-gai NP Trip Report

Saturday 10 October 2020
Guide: Tiffany Mason

The Lads Birding in the City
A damp morning began with four early birders spotting an Australian White Ibis feeding its (short-billed and therefore much cuter) chick in a palm tree next to Macquarie Street. Soon afterwards, we piled into the bus and headed across the Harbour Bridge for the densest patch of grey cloud on the horizon. Picking up the remaining birders at Killara, we added King Parrot to the list before setting course for the Chiltern Track on the edge of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. We stopped on Chiltern Road to look at a very small bird (not the Magpie Larks) on the telegraph line: it had a very strange shaped head and almost no tail. Once in the binoculars, it was clearly a Spotted Pardalote and the reason for its strangely shaped head was that it had raised its crest, trying to lure a potential mate.

Nine of us walked the Chiltern Track in sporadic rain, seeing more Spotted Pardalotes (more raised crests in an effort to impress the females), Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters, Grey Shrike-thrush, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes, Eastern Spinebills and Varied Sittellas. A Rufous Whistler and an Eastern Whipbird were heard but not seenÉthis was almost made up for by the fabulous array of heath plants in flower: Isopogon anethifolius (Needle-leaved Drumsticks), Kunzea capitata (Heath Kunzea), the virulently hot pink Boronia serrulata (Native Rose), Grevillea buxifolia (Grey Spider Flower), Lambertia formosa (Mountain Devil) and Hakea gibbosa (Rock Hakea). There was one more Eastern Spinebill and an Australian Raven at the end of the track to entertain us while we waited for the bus. Our next stop was for morning tea by the water, greeted by the calls of Galahs and a Sacred Kingfisher. Wandering upstream, we came across a Little Pied Cormorant perched on the water’s edge, giving us great views through the scope. Back by the picnic tables, Noisy Miners were squawking in Casuarinas (contrary to the literature! They are supposed to avoid all vegetation with needle-like leaves).

Onto Duckholes Picnic Area, famous for its flycatchers (in drier weather). Some of us were lucky enough to see an Eastern Yellow Robin here, hopping secretively through the low shrubs. Over the pond, a Grey Fantail was hawking for insects, while White-cheeked Honeyeaters squabbled over nectar in the Eucalypts above. A female Golden Whistler appeared over our heads, and Striated Thornbills and a White-browed Scrubwren busily worked the vegetation in search of insects.

Royal Spoonbill by Christina Port
From the Duckholes, we headed for lunch at Coal & Candle Creek. A Fan-tailed Cuckoo was calling, but eluded the binoculars, so we settled for a good views of a Grey Butcherbird, Kookaburra (and possible nest site in old termites’ nest high up on a Eucalypt), Magpies, Little Wattlebird (feeding on the nectar of a Mountain Devil) and more Noisy Miners. All around the picnic area, Astrotricha floccosa (Flannel Leaf) was flowering profusely. After lunch, we headed for our rendezvous with the ferry at Cottage Point. With time in hand, we walked down Cowan Road, admiring the architecture as there was very little birdlife braving the drizzle. At the far end of the road (only reached by Janene, Audrey, Andrew & Tiff) we got the scope on an old White-bellied Sea-eagle’s nest, a huge ball of twigs wedged in a Eucalypt on the bank opposite. It had a Whistling Kite, sitting beside two fledgeling White-bellied Sea-eagles that could be seen flapping about on the top of the nest. It had been swooped by the Sea-eagle giving it’s location away- all very unusual behaviour.

On the return walk to the wharf, we got a brief glimpse of Superb Fairy Wrens, heard a White-eared Honeyeater and discovered another beautiful heath plant in flower, Epacris longiflora (Fuschia Heath). An Australian Brush-turkey helpfully showed us the way to the ferry.

Once we had comandeered the top deck of the ferry, all eyes were peeled for Little Penguins, which was somewhat uncomfortable in the driving rain and bitter wind. Two pairs of White-bellied Sea-eagles were spotted perched in eucalypts overlooking the water, Whistling Kites hovered overhead, and Little Black and Pied Cormorants were fishing in the Hawkesbury. On the approach to Patonga, a White-faced Heron came into land on a rock platform to our port side and five Pelicans loafed on the lampposts at the wharf. Silver Gulls and a lone Crested Tern accompanied the crossing to Palm Beach.

We rejoined the bus at Palm Beach as a small flock of Little Corellas flew overhead. There were three very feral-looking ducks here as well (which nearly defied scientific description: Anas horribilus, perhaps!). Rainbow Lorikeets screeched from the Norfolk Pines as we headed to our final stop at Warriewood Wetlands.

The rain really set in as we alighted the bus and almost immediately discovered two Rufous Fantails flitting through the Casuarinas, their tails spread, so that everybody could appreciate how aptly they had been named . From the boardwalk, we saw Purple Swamphens (adults and one juvenile), Dusky Moorhens (with an abundance of hungrily ÒpeepingÓ chicks), three pairs of Chestnut Teal and Pacific Black Duck. There was also a close encounter with a dejected-looking Royal Spoonbill before heading back to the bus, soaked to the skin, but happy (hope I’m not only speaking for myself!), with a total day’s count of 64 birds.

By Tiffany Mason Guiding for FTB, with update on Sea-eagle by Janene.

Katandra Reserve & Long Reef Trip Report

Saturday 19 September 2020
Guide: Edwin Vella

Nankeen Kestrel by Christina Port
It turned out to be another wonderful day in the Sydney Northern Beaches area with great spring weather and a good range of birds.

Soon after our arrival at Katandra Bushland Sanctuary, we spotted 3 raptors in fairly quick succession including surprisingly a Little Eagle (not that common for the area) and both Grey and Brown Goshawks (the later was calling in the reserve throughout the morning). We were also were delighted to see a pair of Spotted Pardalotes with their nest borrow only within half a metre from the edge of and almost the level of the road.

After our morning tea, we headed down the gully with small pockets of warm temperate rainforest and more birds, though often a challenge to find in the thick part of the forest. On this walk, we were very delighted to find a pair of Brown Cuckoo-doves (with the male displaying to the female next to each other), both Rufous and Golden Whistlers, Lewin’s and Scarlet Honeyeaters, a pair of Eastern Yellow Robins with their fledged young, Eastern Spinebills darting about, Grey Fantails, Brown Thornbills, smartly plumaged Variegated Wrens, Brown Gerygones and a Peregrine flying overhead. A nice sized Lace Monitor, Eastern Water Dragons and Eastern Water Skinks were some of the other wildlife found on this walk.

Back at the top of the reserve, we had our lunch spotting a few Red-browed Firetails feeding in the nearby casuarinas, a White-throated Gerygone merrily trilling away and some White-cheeked Honeyeaters calling.

Martin at Katandra Reserve
Katandra certainly did put on a good display of birds that morning and some nice colourful wildflowers for the keen botanists within the group.

After having our lunch at Katandra, we then headed down the coast to a much more different environment at Long Reef.

On the edge of the golf course just above the reef, we watched a Nankeen Kestrel at eye level then drop down to catch its prey as well as staying at times almost motionless in the breeze as they regularly do and amongst the hand gliders. Some of us would have loved to be on one of those hand gliders often being so close to the Kestrel. As we looked down on the reef from where we were standing, we were able to spot 5 Sooty and a single Pied Oystercatcher, Crested Terns as well as Little Pied, Little Black and Great Cormorants.

When we eventually moved down on to the reef, we realised there were more birds previously not visible from were we had been standing. We soon got our eyes on a group of shorebirds comprising a Red Knot, about 10 Ruddy Turnstones, at least 20 Red-necked Stints, 2 Pacific Golden Plovers and even more birds over the sea including a large juvenile Southern Giant Petrel (known as the vulture of the sea) giving us a wonderful view as it came within a few hundred metres from the reef (and just as well it did for us to distinguish it from the extremely similar Northern Giant Petrel). Also out at sea was an adult Black-browed Albatross, a few Australasian Gannets and huge numbers of Shearwaters including about 2,000 Wedge-tailed and at leats 300 Fluttering Shearwaters. A few of the lucky ones in our group also spotted a least one Humpback Whale and a few Dolphins as a bonus.

At the end of the trip, everyone in the group had certainly enjoyed the excellent range of birds seen during the day.

By Edwin Vella guiding for FTB

Hawkesbury Raptor Count Trip Report

Saturday 5 September 2020
Guide: Edwin Vella

Masked Lapwing by Christina Port
It turned out to be a very pleasant spring day for us to go on our hunt for raptors in Sydney’s Hawkesbury region.

Initially a few on board the bus was able to pick out our first raptor for the day being a Nankeen Kestrel beside the road.

Our first stop on the way was at Marsden Park (in the outskirts of suburbia) where we were soon on to our second raptor, a Brown Falcon which did very well in blending into the tree it was perched in. We also had here our first group of waterbirds which included an Australasian Grebe, Black-winged Stilts, several Hardheads and a Little Black Cormorant.

A brief stop at McGraths Hill added a few more interesting waterbirds such as a pair of Australasian Shoveler and an Australian Pelican.

We then moved through Pitt Town Bottoms with lovely views of a number of Black-shouldered Kites (we got very close to an adult and a younger bird perched on the powerlines) and also enjoyed views of our first group of Dusky Woodswallows and a very showy Yellow Thornbill (gleaming yellow against the perfect blue sky).

We then later enjoyed our morning tea and lunch, but I think more so the arrival of several colourful Rainbow Bee-eaters, our fourth raptor species being a Brown Goshawk circling low above the trees, nesting Masked Lapwings and just as remarkable as the Bee-eaters a nice male Mistletoebird.

Black-shouldered Kite Immature by Christina Port
After lunch, we made our way into the Windsor-Richmond Turf Farms were we picked up several more raptors including a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles soaring high in a thermal, a female Swamp Harrier (both our 5th and 6th raptor species for the day), a few Nankeen Kestrels and Black-shouldered Kites and better view of a Brown Falcon. We also enjoyed wonderful views of a small number of Red-rumped Parrots and Yellow-rumped Thornbills investigating the road side palm trees.

We then moved on through Kurmond, where we spotted our seventh raptor, a Whistling Kite, but only just managed to be seen by a few of us. Here we had a nice view of the Hawkesbury valley from the Kurmond lookout where we spotted 2 Swamp Harriers below.

Our final stop for the day was at Freemans Reach, were we had another good look at a Brown Goshawk, a large flock of at least 30 Zebra Finches on some ones front lawn and a few more Dusky Woodswallows (one may consider it cute when we saw 3 of them huddled together on the powerlines).

Overall we were successful in seeing 7 species of raptor of a several number, a diverse range of birds and the great weather.

by Edwin Vella guding for FTB

Minnamurra Falls with Lyrebirds Trip Report

Saturday 30 May 2021
Guide: Bob Ashford

Grey Goshawk by Christina Port
The first bird we heard as we disembarked from the bus at Minnamurra was a Lyrebird, and it was in fine form. It was barely three metres from the road unconcerned and happily singing away. This charismatic chorister only paused now and then for a good scratch and when convinced we had all seen and heard him at his best glided to the forest floor in search of worms and bugs. Not that everything goes as easily as that for birders in a rainforest!

But hearing that Lyrebird reminded us all that using our ears is as important as using our eyes when seeking birds in a damp dark forest. So we set off to the staccato sounds of unseen Lewin’s Honeyeaters and the scalding ‘chuk, chuk’ of scrubwrens and the distinctive calls of Golden Whistlers. And before we knew it we heard and saw another Lyrebird. This striking male was on the ground, not in full display, but obviously warming up to the idea. And very shortly after we arrived so did a female Lyrebird. She feigned disinterest by scratching at the ground and eventually wandered off followed by the determined male. This was definitely going to be a Lyrebird day!

As we wended our way to the falls Yellow-throated and White-browed Scrubwrens were spotted along with Brown Gerygones and Brown Thornbills and then a pair of Large-billed Scrubwrens grabbed the limelight.

Further on we came out of rainforest into an area of wet eucalypt. A few Yellow-faced Honeyeaters flew over, stragglers behind the flocks that migrated north weeks ago. Eastern Yellow Robins scalded us and a few Crimson Rosellas decided to move on. Silvereyes entertained us and one lucky person got a glimpse of a Green Catbird. We also heard that notoriously difficult to see Pilotbird.

The falls looked good with all the recent rain though surprisingly devoid of birdlife. But on the way down we spotted several more Lyrebirds (Tip: go birding for Lyrebirds in the rain, it certainly seems to bring them out!) including excellent views of another male singing his heart out.

As we returned to the Centre shelters for well-earned coffee out of the rain Grey Shrike-thrush, White-throated Treecreeper, another beautiful male Golden Whistler, a Brown Cuckoo-Dove and the distant monotonous call of a Wonga Pigeon entertained us. And strolling casually around our tables were two female.

On the way back to the highway the rain and sun painted a stunning rainbow. We didn’t find any gold but we did screech to a halt to see a Grey Goshawk scanning the surrounds from the top of a lamppost. It then circled lazily round us giving us all some truly spectacular views before sliding off over the trees only to be replaced by a female Brown Goshawk. Goshawks, rainbows and Lyrebirds. An excellent day.

Megalong Robins & Honeyeaters Trip Report

Saturday 11 April 2021
Guide: Carol Probets

Geoff demonstrates how easy birdwatching is by Christina Port
It was a cool and grey Easter Saturday with occasional drizzle as 13 lucky birders, including several first-timers, headed up the mountains on the Follow That Bird bus with Christina at the wheel.

First stop was Wilson Park at the top of Darwin’s walk close to the centre of Wentworth Falls village. At this time of year, flocks of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, travelling north to their winter feeding areas, fly up from the Jamison Valley at Wentworth Falls and follow the creekline, along Darwin’s Walk to where they cross the highway at this point. Today the overcast weather was keeping the migration to the barest trickle, however whenever the sun tried to break through, the ‘dep dep…’ contact calls would start up and small groups of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters appeared seemingly out of nowhere, flying north. A Satin Bowerbird (immature or female), Brown Thornbill and New Holland Honeyeater were other birds seen here.

At Evans Lookout it wasn’t long before the hoped-for Rockwarbler appeared, feeding on fallen Allocasuarina seeds at the lookout’s edge. Eastern Spinebill and Grey Fantail gave us decent views before a bright flash of red, glimpsed in the Allocasuarina, suggested a Beautiful Firetail but alas disappeared into the forest before the identification could be confirmed. In the valley below we could see the flowering crowns of the Mountain Blue Gum, Eucalyptus deanei, standing out from the surrounding trees.

Back on the road, a Grey Currawong was seen by Janene and Christina and then we were heading down into the Megalong Valley. The abrupt change in vegetation was noted as we entered the warm-temperate rainforest in the glen. Coachwood and Sassafras trees create a closed canopy, with lush tree ferns decorating the gloom below. We stopped at a small clearing near the boundary between the rainforest and the wet eucalypt forest to take advantage of the “edge effect” (many birds are found on the edges of habitat) and were rewarded with abundant bird activity.

Crimson Rosella, White-throated Treecreeper, Variegated Fairy-wrens, Eastern Spinebill, White-browed Scrubwren, Brown Thornbill and a bright male Golden Whistler were some of the birds giving good views here. The Red-browed Treecreeper was only heard, as was the Eastern Whipbird.

Down in the open paddocks we scanned for robins which come down into the valley for winter but instead found a Nankeen Kestrel providing excellent scope views, while Buff-rumped Thornbills moved through the roadside shrubs and several Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos flew over. We continued down the valley to our lunch site, the Old Ford Reserve, where new birds included White-naped Honeyeater and Red-browed Finch.

Our afternoon walk was a section of the Six Foot Track, a popular 45km track between Katoomba and Jenolan Caves. We walked a short section beside Megalong Creek and out into more open pasture where we found Dusky Woodswallows flying overhead with Welcome Swallows, a White-faced Heron in flight, Jacky Winter with its distinctive white-edged tail and finally, a brief look at a pair of Scarlet Robins on a distant powerline. Unfortunately the popularity of the track on this Easter weekend meant that birds were a bit more scarce than usual and the robins didn’t reappear for us, but on the way back to the bus we watched a flock of 10 Brown-headed Honeyeaters and another White-throated Treecreeper. More Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos flying over were a majestic sight with the sandstone cliffs as a backdrop.

Despite the threat of rain we didn’t get wet, and even saw a little blue sky and the scenery, discussions and of course the birds were enjoyed by all.

By Carol Probets guiding for FTB

Marj Kibby’s Photos of our Day Trip

Mt Annan Botanic Gardens Trip Report

Saturday 4 April 2021
Guide: Richard Johnstone

Dusky Woodswallow by Christina Port
Mount Annan Botanic Garden was the venue for the day’s birding and 16 people were in the group. The morning started out grey and cool and birds were fairly quiet most of the day, but a good range of species were observed in the various habitats of the Garden.

The first stop of the day was the Satin Bowerbird’s bower, conveniently located in the courtyard of the women’s loo in the Visitors’ Car Park. The ladies were able to check it out closely. The most obvious birds during the day (other than the ubiquitous Noisy Miners) were Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets, heard and seen throughout the Garden, and giving everyone a good opportunity to distinguish the species by their calls. The lakes near the Connections Garden were relatively low in bird numbers, probably due to the widespread rain, with the reliable Hardhead being the only duck on Lakes Sedgwick and Fitzpatrick. Other waterbirds present included Australasian Little Grebe, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants, as well as Coots, Moorhens and Swamphens. We all watched a very hungry/aggressive Little Pied Cormorant chase another one continually, until it left the lake. In the Connections Garden itself a flash of orange indicated a Rufous Fantail, not a resident species in the Garden, and usually seen on passage.

Going to the northern end of the site we checked Lake Gilinganadum for Latham’s Snipe, reliable during the summer months, but they appeared to have left for the northern summer. A pair of Grey Teal was the only new duck to the list.

Yellow-billed Spoonbill by Christina Port
A walk before lunch at Lake Nadingamba produced Yellow-rumped Thornbills and a real highlight, Azure Kingfisher, apparently nesting in the banks of the inflow creek into the lake.

Following lunch at the Woodland Picnic Area we walked through the Conservation Area, past the Stolen Generations Memorial. The Conservation Area is the largest area of remnant woodland in the Garden, and is a good example of the mixed Eucalyptus tereticornis, E. moluccana and E. crebra woodland of the Cumberland Plain. The walk produced a few more woodland species, particularly White-plumed Honeyeater, which has only been present in the Garden since the urban area to the west was constructed, and a female Rose Robin, as well as lovely views of Weebills.

Heading to the southern loop we saw a small group of Brown Quail, giving most people on the bus excellent views on the edge of the road. A small group of Dusky Woodswallows also gave great views, sitting on the directional signs with no apparent realisation that a busload of people was looking at them. Perhaps due to the cool grey weather the number of raptors was very disappointing, however from Sundial Hill a pair of Little Eagles were seen in apparent display flight, returning to the same dead tree near the summit after each short flight.

Our final stop was in the Banksia Garden, adding Eastern Whipbird to the list, and finishing off a really full round trip of the Garden. The bird list totalled 72 species for the day, despite the gloomy weather, thanks to the all the keen-eyed spotters in the group.

By Richard Johnstone guiding for FTB

Hunter Hideouts Trip Report

Saturday 21 March 2021
Guide: Alan Morris

Whistling Kite by Christina Port
The autumn Hunter Hide-a-ways trip on Saturday 21 March 2021 for Follow-that-Bird took place on a lovely sunny day which brought with it a promise of good birding. Even heading up the F3 had its high points with good views of a number of species including White and Straw-necked Ibis and a Sea-Eagle. We had a short stop at Freemans Waterhole before pushing onto Sandy Creek Rd Quorrobolong where the birding began in earnest! There were plenty of Wood Ducks and Masked Lapwings on the dams, Red-rumped Parrots and Eastern Rosellas flying up off the road, and once we had turned into Heaton Gap Rd, then there were our first Grey-crowned Babbler, a great tick for one of our group who hails from Norway! Other birds here included Nankeen Kestrel, Darter, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes & Pied Butcherbirds. Then off over the paddocks to our private property to check out the woodland birds. While crossing the paddocks we saw Pipits, a Wedge-tailed Eagle and another Kestrel and on our return, excellent views of a Brown Falcon, and possibly a Black Falcon that stayed up so high we could not confirm our ID!

White-breasted Cuckoo-shrike by Christina Port
We arrived to a chorus of Golden Whistlers which soon were joined by Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters, Yellow Robins and Red-browed Finches. A number of Dusky Woodswallows were found, as well as pair of White-bellied Cuckoo-shrikes, Brown Treecreepers and a Shrike-tit. We extended out a bit and flushed a female Painted Button-quail (seen by all but the guide!), finally found some Fuscous Honeyeaters, and saw Crimson Rosellas, and several pairs of Little Lorikeets. Good views were had of a pair of Leaden Flycatchers and a flock of Tree Martins. Grey Fantails, Yellow Robins, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and White-throated Treecreepers completed the list of the more interesting birds.

Australian Tiger Dragonfly
Ictinogomphus australis by Christina Port
We took lunch at Kitchener by the pond, where Janene rustled up an Azure Kingfisher for the group, and good views were had of Brown-headed Honeyeaters, Brown Thornbills, White-browed Scrub-wrens and Eastern Spinebills. Another Wedge-tailed was found overhead, some Noisy Friarbirds and Red Wattlebirds were present and more Golden Whistlers, Grey Fantails and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters were seen. Our final stop for the day was Ellalong Lagoon. The highlights here included a group of 34 Black-fronted Dotterels and a Red-kneed Dotterel on a drying wetland, a Sea-Eagle and Whistling Kite patrolling the Lagoon, many Black-winged Stilts and Grey Teal, a few Shovelers, a nice flock of 42 Royal Spoonbills with one Yellow-billed Spoonbill, and Striped Honeyeaters and Grey Shrike-thrushes in the fringing Casuarinas. We returned via Freemans Gap where we all purchased ice-creams and while eating them added three more birds for the day viz Lewin’s Honeyeater, Striated Thornbills and Brown Gerygones! All up we saw 89 species and had a great days birding in the Hunter Hide-a-way spots!

By Alan Morris, guiding for Follow That Bird

Bargo River Southern Highlands Trip Report

Saturday 14 March 2021
Guide: Bob Ashford

Bargo Ladies by Christina Port
A Dodo? Not a bird you would expect to see on the Bargo River trail or indeed anywhere these days but an email ‘News Flash’ from Janene clearly promoted the possibility. As I joined the group at Picton I was relieved to see a small carved wooden Dodo replica attached to the bus’s dashboard – it wasn’t a reference to my ageing abilities then! The Dodo, plus two packets of Minties, donated by Alan for those special birding moments, set the tone for good fun and good birding and none of us were disappointed.

We had barely started toward Picton when a shout of “Stilts” encouraged Janene to execute the first of several nifty U-turns during the day to pull up close to a small farm dam. It was a shallow gently sloping dam with plenty of exposed muddy edge and it was busy with birds.

Rockwarbler by Christina Port
A dozen Black-winged Stilts paddled in the water, six or so Black-fronted Dotterels scuttled along the edges while fifteen Masked Lapwings loafed in the grass. In the deeper water Grey Teal dabbled and a pair of shy Australian Shovellers cautiously moved to the far side. Australasian Grebes were too busy to be concerned and a Little Pied Cormorant affected total disinterest in the whole affair. Not a bad start when you add in the Swallows, Ravens and the local Chooks and so the first round of Minties were distributed and off we headed to the Picton Public Toilets. Few birds were seen there but once again we did manage to unnerve a few needy motorists.

It was a beautiful morning and as we approached the river Swallows and Tree Martins were working the tops of the flowering Bloodwood trees and there was plenty of activity in the riverside shrubs. As we started our stroll Silvereyes, Red-browed Finches and Superb Wrens kept us entertained while higher in the canopy Little Wattlebirds, New Holland and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters gave our neck muscles a workout.

Gand-gang Cockatoo by Christina Port
Further along White-naped Honeyeaters gave us some splendid views as did many White-throated Treecreepers, though there was some speculation that one or two may have been Red-browed Treecreepers. Yellow Robins accompanied us most of the way joined occasionally but a sparkling Spotted Pardalote. A pair of Peaceful Doves were being thoroughly scrutinised when a cry of “Chestnut-rumped Heathwren” by Laurie had all of us scampering back up the track. It was a fleeting glimpse but unanimously voted a Mintie Moment.

Both Rufous and Golden Whistlers called and flaunted themselves, a Lewins Honeyeater called, an Eastern Whipbird skulked and a lone Rufous Fantail joined the many Grey Fantails and high in the sky a Little Eagle worked the thermals. As we left the trail Andrew spotted a very co-operative Rock Warbler which he insisted was proof of his assertion that a small cairn of rocks seen earlier was indeed a Rock Warbler’s nest. The Dodo had certainly set the tone for outrageous speculation and awful jokes.

Eastern Yellow Robin by Christina Port
At Nepean Dam the weather had become distinctly muggy and big storms were brewing. Noisy Friarbirds lived up to their name offset by the tinkling of Scarlet Honeyeaters and the creaking of a small group of feeding Gang Gang Cockatoos. On the way back to the we highway we spotted a Brown Falcon and couldn’t resist another peek at the farm dam, now named the Picton Pond, and were rewarded with excellent views of some delightful Red-rumped Parrots.

In all a very satisfying 77 species, not including the Dodo, plenty of good humour and the best part of two packets of Minties.

By Bob Ashford guiding for FTB

Laughtondale Gulley & Dharug NP Trip Report

Saturday 28 February 2021
Guide: Keith Brandwood

Lineup by Rita Johnston-Lord
The usually great bunch of birdwatchers that are a feature of F.T.B.T. met at the start of Laughtondale Gully. Birds proved hard to find but persistence rewarded us with great views of an Australian Hobby attended by a pair of Pied Butcher birds. Pied Butcherbirds are a rare bird within the County of Cumberland and it’s an achievement to have them on your County list, if you keep one. These birds I suspect are young birds which have been pushed out of the St Albans area where there as been Pied Butcherbirds for some years, once they cross the river they are in the County and tickable.

There were plenty of White-cheeked and New Holland Honeyeaters, just two of the fourteen species of Honeyeaters recorded for the day.

At Dharug as we sat down for lunch, where a feeding party consisting of Brown-headed, Scarlet, and White-naped Honeyeaters Eastern Spinebills and Silvereyes distracted some of the more dedicated from their lunch. It was here where we got a new leader, a Lace Monitor, which proceeded to lead the group some way along the road. We passed it by, but it joined us further along the road where we were gathered observing a Grey Shrike Thrush. Looking up into the large tree which we were stood under there with its snout peeking out of a hollow was another monitor. Could this be the reason for the monitor leading and following us?

Whilst standing on a wooden bridge over the creek listening to a Superb Lyrebird going through is repertoire some of the party discovers they had acquired some intimate friends, leeches, don’t know what all the fuss was about though?

After a steamy day we decided to call the list of birds for the day in the shade and comfort of the Wisemans Ferry Pub. Supplemented with cold beers and ice cream we listed a total of 63 species, a credible total considering the habitat covered and the time of day. The perfect end to days birding and I look forward to our next Day Trip.

by Keith Brandwood guiding for FTB

Robertson Birding Trip Report

Saturday 14 February 2021
Guide: Bob Ashford

Grey Fantail by Christina Port
I think it was Dolly Parton who said ÒIf you want to enjoy the rainbow you gotta put up with some rainÓ. And considering the previous weekend hit record temperatures in the 40’s, without exception all us birders and, one might reasonably presume, the birds themselves were actually more than happy to put up with some rain. In fact it turned out to be a very sociable and birdy day, if a little damp now and then.

So, as we wended our way south of Pheasant’s Nest we grabbed a break in the showers and pulled off the road near Alpine to eyeball some Eastern and Crimson Rosellas, two of our most beautiful birds. A Rufous Whistler called from the trees but remained well hidden and was quickly drowned out by the raucous shrieks of a flock of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. A pair of Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes gave us good views before we scampered back to the bus to beat the next squall.

As we headed toward Wingecarribee Dam the heavens opened and yet a small farm dam proved remarkably attractive to a new suite of birds. Thirty or so Welcome Swallows skimmed the surface chasing invisible insects and were soon joined by a lone Fairy Martin. In the water Black Duck, Australasian Grebes and a lone male Hardhead seemed equally unconcerned. At the muddy edge an adult Swamphen led two bundles on feathery fluff on legs toward some tall reeds and in the paddock White Ibis and Starlings contentedly followed the cows and snapped up any startled insects. From the warm dry interior of the bus we thought this was all rather splendid.

As we reached Wingecarribee Dam the showers ceased and we enthusiastically piled out to scope for Great Crested Grebes, another very striking bird, of which half a dozen were well within easy binocular range. A nonchalant Pelican drifted across the water disturbing a pair of Grey Teal from the rocks. Activity in the nearby trees was also in full swing. Brown and Striated Thornbills, Grey Fantails and several White-throated Treecreepers happily foraged within a few metres delighting us all. And a short stroll toward the water’s edge produced a White-faced Heron, Masked Lapwings and a silent swooping fly-past from a Swamp Harrier. Barely a minute later the heavens opened yet again and we all crowded under the small shelter of the public toilets – a not unusual venue for adaptable birders but one that can cause some consternation with other locals using the facilities!

Robertson Birding Group
Lunch was taken in Robertson where Galahs, King Parrots, Red Wattlebirds and a pair of duetting Magpies entertained us. At Belmore Falls the drizzle was giving all indications that it was setting in which may have accounted for the lack of birds, though Eastern Spinebills positively revelled in the conditions. Golden Whistlers and Grey Shrike-thrushes called continually and White-browed Scrubwrens kept us alert but the lone Superb Lyrebird refused to show.

At Fitzroy dam, our last stop for the day, we spotted a way to get to the waters edge. It was raining but by this time most of us were deliciously damp anyway. As we made our way to the water a Latham’s Snipe croaked and leapt from a small muddy reed patch to fly across the water to the safety of a far less accessible bunch of reeds. Most of us managed a good view and after that things only got better. Superb Wrens, Scrubwrens, Red-browed Finches, Yellow Robins, Fantails flitted in the trees while an obliging pair of Sacred Kingfishers kept a watchful eye on us. Black Swans, Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants worked the flattened water.
As we arrived back at Pheasant’s Nest a Wedge-tailed Eagle glided across the tree tops. In all we had lots of fun and saw sixty species – no rainbow, but still well worth putting up with the rain.

By Bob “the birder” Ashford guiding for FTB

Xmas Party Trip Report –
Showing the Rellies Our Birds

Saturday 20 December 2020
Guide: Alan Morris

Pied Cormorant by Christina Port
A fine sunny day greeted the 12 members of the Follow That Bird Christmas Special as they travelled to the Central Coast in a coach appropriately decked for the occasion and to take part in a final day of birding for 2008. First stop was the RTA Reserve at Ourimbah where the bush birds were calling well. Our walk along the track into the centre of the Reserve was very slow because of all the bird activity, Yellow-throated & White-browed Scrub-wrens, Brown Gerygones & Brown Thornbills were very busy, juvenile Golden Whistlers and Grey Fantails were active catching insects, while Black-faced Monarchs & Leaden Flycatchers were seen. A Brown Cuckoo-Dove was observed feeding low down, a pair of Fantailed Cuckoos gave great views, while Scarlet Honeyeaters and Cicadabirds were busy calling but were hard to see. We retired from there to the Ourimbah Rest Area for a Christmas Cake morning tea, serenaded by another Cicadabird and Bellminers, before leaving for South Tacoma. We checked out the nesting Darters along Wyong Creek over which White-breasted Woodswallows were hawking and watched some Channel-billed Cuckoos passing over; while in the adjacent bush were Dollarbirds, Rufous Whistlers, Yellow & Striated Thornbills, and then onto South Tacoma Point for views over Tuggerah Bay and The Entrance. In the Casuarina groves were plenty of Superb Fairy-wrens and Scrub-wrens, while on the Lakes were 4 species of Cormorants and many Black Swans. Back at the Coach, Janene spied a group of Sitellas feeding young!

White-breasted Woodswallow by Christina Port
We took out lunch at Woodbury Inn Park, on Wyong Creek, where a Sea-Eagle flew over, while Eastern Rosellas and Grey Butcherbirds were added to our list. Enroute we had passed by McPherson Rd Swamp where a Little Egret, Chestnut Teal, Wood Ducks, Cisticolas and Royal Spoonbills were seen. While heading for The Entrance, we stopped off at Tuggerah STW where 19 Royal Spoonbills in full breeding plumage were a great sight, and Shovelers, Grey Teal, Hardheads, Black-fronted Dotterel and a Whistling Kite were the highlights. At North Entrance opposite Terilbah Island, while enjoying a Christmas Treat, we found on the sandbars Bar-tailed Godwit, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Greenshanks, Caspian & Crested Terns. There were the usual White-faced Herons, but also a Striated Heron, as well as nesting Magpielarks, Willie wagtails and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes. Our last stop of the day was at Picnic Point, on the other side of The Entrance which was reached by passing by the Norfolk Pines at the boatshed. In the Pines were 48 active nests of Pied Cormorants, which make a bit of a mess on the street below while Figbirds were found in nearby trees along with Little and Long-billed Corellas. At Picnic Point we added Striped Honeyeater & Red-browed Finch to our list, making 89 species for the day. Happy Christmas for 2008 and Good Birding in 2009.

By Alan Morris guiding for FTB

Fitzroy Falls Trip Report

Saturday 15 November 2020
Bob Ashford

Magic Lookout Views at Fitzroy by Christina Port
This is, of course, one of the most rewarding aspects of birdwatching – the unexpected. We stopped to check a small nondescript farm dam on the Illawarra Highway because, well, you never know. And because we were unlikely to see waterbirds again during the day as we focussed on the bush birds around Fitzroy Falls. So we stopped and found the bird of the day.

We had started well with excellent views of a lone, unusually, White-winged Chough, a first for several beginners on the trip. Then, as it flew off, two others joined it raising the inevitable question, “Where did they come from?”

Then we stopped at Wingecarribie Dam to seek the resident Great Crested Grebes. They were there but on the other side about a kilometre away! So the queue for Janene’s telescope was busy. Still the woods around our viewing spot were very busy. Rufous and Golden Whistler were whistling well though a little harder to see. Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, White-throated Treecreepers gave us good views but the Spotted Pardalotes and Brown and Striated Thornbills kept to the canopy giving us all ‘birders neck’!

Then the distinctive repetitive sharp notes of a Sacred Kingfisher were heard and off we set in pursuit not only to find the Kingfisher but four very accommodating Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos. These are magnificent birds to look at and we got the impression they were very appreciative of our admiration.

Pink-eared Duck by Christina Port
By the time we headed off toward Fitzroy Falls we had clocked up a healthy range of species with some wonderful views. So the impulsive stop at the farm dam wasn’t expected to be as productive. So as I carefully pointed out Black Duck (Hey! You gotta start somewhere!) and the Little Pied Cormorant drying out its wings Janene decided to start at the other side of the dam. Almost immediately she called out “Pink-eared Duck”. From being the centre of attention the Black Duck was instantly ignored while every pair of binoculars swung to the left, and there it was, a lone Pink-eared Duck. Not a common bird east of the ranges at any time and to find one on a very small dam in the Southern Highlands was a big buzz.

Fitzroy Falls was fogged in when we arrived but we clocked up excellent views of Yellow Robins, more Treecreepers and another pair of Sacred Kingfishers sitting outside their nesting hole in the ‘elbow’ of a broken branch. Red-browed Finches, White-browed Scrubwrens, King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas put some colour into the misty mood of the forest. We scoured for the Rock Warblers and an elusive whistling Black-faced Monarch without luck but the fog eventually lifted giving us stunning views if the cliffs and valley. And on the way back to the freeway a Swamp Harrier lazily flapped its way over the bus.

In all, almost 60 species, including a totally unexpected bonus, and another great day birding with a great bunch of folk. It’s what birding is all about.

By Bob Ashford guiding for FTB

Participant Marj Kibby’s Photos of our Day Trip

Mossy Trunk by Ian Hamilton

Mt Wilson & Mt Banks on the
Kurrajong Road Trip Report

Saturday 1 November 2020
Guide: Jill Dark

It was a cool drizzly morning for our trip to Mt Wilson on 1st November, but, by the time we reached our morning tea stop at “Tutti Fruiti” it had stopped raining and we could enjoy watching the Superb Fairy-wrens while we drank our cuppa. Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Brown Thornbills and Silvereyes were also seen.

Look up by Ian Hamilton
Our next stop was Mt Banks and here we were back in the clouds. The wildflower display was magnificent; Waratahs, Drumsticks, Vanilla Lilies and many more were admired and photographed. The Flannel Flowers seem to be particularly good this year. Birds were fairly quiet but White-eared Honeyeater, Grey Shrike-thrush, New Holland Honeyeater and Grey Currawong were seen. A hopeful Pied Currawong lurked in the picnic area.

As we neared Mt Wilson it started to rain again so we took shelter to eat our lunch, rushing out to watch a Satin Bowerbird or a Red Wattlebird. It stopped raining after lunch so a chance for a walk in the rainforest. We all decided that rainforests look their best in the rain! The birds were starting to become more active and we had good views of Black-faced Monarch, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Rufous and Grey Fantails. There seemed to be Golden Whistlers everywhere. You can’t help admiring a male Golden Whistler no matter how many times you have seen one. Brown Gerygones gave their little “what is it” call and were finally located but, as usual, the Eastern Whipbird was just a voice in the undergrowth. We admired the Coachwoods and Sassafras in the Cathedral of Ferns and were disappointed to find that the “Big Tree”, a huge old Brown Barrel, had been struck by lightning and killed.

Telopea by Ian Hamilton
It was now time to head back down the mountain. A small group of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos flew in front of the bus before our ice cream stop at Tutti Fruiti. The fairy-wrens were still here and we found White-throated Treecreeper and Brown Thornbill in the bush across the road. The ice cream was very good, too.

It was a lovely cool day to be out in the bush and were saw a total of 61 birds.

By Jill Dark guiding for FTB.

Twitchathon in the Royal Trip Report

Saturday 25 October 2020
Bob Ashford

Eastern Spinebill by Nevil Lazarus
Not a cloud in the sky, temperature in the mid-twenties and a gentle breeze. Add to that a bunch of birders keen to contribute to Twitchathon funds and all boded well. And then as we stepped out of the bus at Mt Bass firetrail, lo and behold, a lone Wedge-tailed Eagle soared in to view. After just a few steps we heard the ‘bottle-emptying’ call of a Pheasant Coucal, not a common bird south of the Sydney CBD.

The trail also produced a Black-shouldered Kite, Red and Little Wattlebirds, a Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo and excellent views of Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters. Try as we did we couldn’t get the Emu-wrens but all was forgiven when a pair of Chestnut-rumped Heathwrens was spotted. One hung around enough for all of us to get excellent views and for many it was a ‘lifer’

As we arrived at Simpson’s Bay at Bundeena it got a bit frantic. Cormorants, Koels and Kingfishers and Miners, Magpies and Moorhens soon built a healthy tally. A pair of Sacred Kingfishers displayed well and the novice birders, one on his very first bird outing, were delighted. Several Royal Spoonbills in splendid breeding plumage pretended to ignore us and a pair of Australasian Grebes certainly did as they copulated energetically in one of the ponds. A beautiful male Nankeen Night Heron decided enough was enough and shifted his roost to a quieter spot.

As we enjoyed our morning cuppa Olive-backed Orioles called, Dollarbirds displayed and Red-whiskered Bulbuls bounced along the top of the bushes and as we left Superb Wrens and House Sparrows cleaned up the biscuit crumbs.

At Wattamolla Beach we picked up White-bellied Sea Eagle, Yellow Robin White-browed Scrubwren and, of course, New Holland Honeyeater. But it was getting hot, the crowds were arriving to hit the beach so we made a tactical decision to head to Wattle Flat to check out the river and rainforest and have our lunch.

When you are birding it is rare indeed to complete your lunch without somebody shouting out through a full mouthful “L#$@%&”. In this case it was Long-billed Corella. We also found a pair of Little CorellaÕs nesting. Wood Duck and Black Duck families waddled round the picnic grounds as did a remarkably tame Wonga Pigeon. Shining-bronze Cuckoos, Rufous Whistlers and Black-faced Monarchs filled the air with their calls and by common consent lunch was abandoned in favour of a stroll in the rainforest.

Satin Bowerbirds ‘whizzed and chirred’ and we spotted a splendidly decorated bower. One can’t help wondering what Satin Bowerbirds would do without blue milk bottle tops, blue straws and blue pegs! Golden Whistlers called, a few Red-browed Finches scattered and a couple of elusive Eastern Whipbirds kept us busy. Some saw a male Superb Lyrebird laconically scratching among the leaves and several Rufous Fantails called but refused to show themselves.

To round off the day we crossed the river to the drier Lady Carrington Drive. Curious Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Crimson Rosellas accompanied us. In the trees flitted White-throated Treecreepers, several comic-looking Sittellas and sharp eyes soon spotted a pair of Leaden Flycatchers and their nest. Honeyeaters included the Yellow-faced and the stunning Yellow-tufted and, of course, the ever present, ever busy, Eastern Spinebill.

In total 85 species and $239.00 raised, a very credible effort and another enjoyable day of birding in great company.

by Bob Ashford

Hawkesbury Wetlands Trip Report

Saturday 11 October 2020
Guide: Keith Brandwood

Sea Eagle by Christina Port
A great day, a great group, and some great birds are my memories of this day out. Starting at Pitt Town Lagoon we saw such gems as Ballions and Australian Spotted Crakes, Lathams Snipe, Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo, White-bellied Sea Eagle and Glossy Ibis.

Morning tea at Mitchell Park surrounded by the songs of Scarlet Honeyeaters, White-throated Gerygone, Dollarbirds and a very photographic Brush Cuckoo was more than perfect. Bushell’s Lagoon at Freeman’s Reach was our next stop where we were greeted by a trio of Whistling Kites a pair of snoozing Creat Crested Grebe and lots of darters and cormorants.

Lunch was taken at Streetons Lookout one of the points of interest on the Artists Trail. The lookout gives great views over the Hawkesbury River and Richmond river flats, our next destination where we were expecting to see song larks.

White-Throated Gerygone by Christina Port
Arriving at the flats we were greeted by the songs of White-winged Triller and Rufous Songlark. After some patience the bird I was hoping to see took of from the ground and flew towards us alighting on the fence next to his mate. The flight and song of the Brown Songlark is an experience every birder should always remembers. With its loud creaky song and wings held above in a sharp V formation and long legs dangling itÕs a sight to behold. We recorded 109 species for the about nine of them heard only. My only disappointment as leader was missing the Banded Plovers which I had planned to be our last bird of the day. It wasnÕt to be, but the two Brown Falcons compensated in some small way. Thanks to you all for your deelightful company.

By Keith Brandwood guiding for FTB

Shipley Plateau & the Rhodo Gardens Trip Report

Saturday 6 September 2020
Guide: Carol Probets

Wet Kookaburra by Christina Port
The Blue Mountains put on its best “atmospheric” weather for the Follow That Bird group on Saturday 6th September. The drizzle, mist and fresh cool air never let us forget that we were in the mountains, and when the sun and blue sky finally broke through during the afternoon we felt extra privileged.

At Evans Lookout the mist swirled in giant arcs, momentarily revealing golden cliffs and four ephemeral waterfalls which plunged from the very tops of the cliffs into the canopy 200 metres below. A male Golden Whistler provided a dash of colour while Brown and Striated Thornbills foraged amongst the regrowth from the 2006 bushfire.

Next we headed to Shipley Plateau where a male Flame Robin caught our eye at the orchard. As everyone peered through the apple trees, it was easy to tell who could see this dazzling bird at any given time as they were the ones making rapturous “oooh” and “aaah” sounds. The Flame Robin is an altitudinal migrant and this was the first one of the season back at its regular breeding site.

The banksias were late flowering this year so at our heathland stop, B. marginata and ericifolia were still in full bloom and attracting plenty of very active New Holland Honeyeaters, Red Wattlebirds and Eastern Spinebills. The lovely green of the White-eared Honeyeater buoyed our spirits against the cold wind in this exposed site overlooking the Megalong Valley.

The Rhodo Garden was beckoning. Here we ate lunch in a comfortable – and dry – gazebo while watching Laughing Kookaburras and Satin Bowerbirds. The bower was nearby, decorated with the usual blue items and a fine array of fresh yellow daffodil flowers (yellow being the Satin Bowerbird’s second-favourite colour). We watched in awe as the male bird arrived, adding twigs to the walls and rearranging his decorations.

Intrepid Birders by Christina Port
A walk around the gardens gave us good views of Eastern Yellow Robins, Eastern Whipbirds (with two males calling repeatedly), Lewin’s Honeyeater, a male and female Golden Whistler and Superb Fairy-wrens. A Red-browed Treecreeper was heard calling but it was the White-throated Treecreeper that had the honour of becoming Kristy’s 500th bird!

Back in the bus, we travelled down to the lower mountains and our last birding stop of the day at Springwood Cemetery. Here we were hoping to see Glossy Black-Cockatoos, and the fresh chewings under some of the Allocasuarinas were a promising sign, but the birds weren’t to be found today. We did however see Grey Fantail, Australian King-Parrot, Welcome Swallows and a single Common Bronzewing which was only seen by the people who hadn’t climbed through the fence and crept through the bush to look for it! Spotted Sun-Orchids were found, its flowers closed but nevertheless beautiful. Last but not least, a White-headed Pigeon flew in and landed in the tree above the bus just before we left.

What better way to spend a rainy day than on a bus full of cheerful birders in the beautiful Blue Mountains!

by Carol Probets guiding for FTB

Swift Parrot Searching Trip Report

Saturday 9 August 2020
Guide: Alan Morris

Eastern Yellow Robin on Nest by Christina Port
This day was set aside for Swift Parrot searching at Aberdare SF near Kitchener in the Hunter Valley as part of the National Surveys for Swift Parrots and Regent Honeyeaters. Alas, in the lead up to the weekend, despite searching by the guide and his friends in the local birding network, the Swift Parrots had gone elsewhere, perhaps retreating to the south-west Slopes of NSW where White Box, Grey Box and Yellow Box are flowering, and Swift Parrots are being reported. However, undaunted we changed tactics and went searching for Regent Honeyeaters instead! It was a sunny, cold winters day but great for birdwatching as the wind did not get up until the late afternoon and hopes were high for the 22 participants as a result of the good bird watching conditions. Our first stop was at Freemans Waterholes in the Watagan Mountains and while we enjoyed a very welcomed cuppa, we were able to check out the local Eastern Spinebills, Superb Fairy-wrens, Yellow Robins and White-browed Scrub-wrens. A number of people on this trip were new to birding, and some were from overseas so it was important to check all the birds for everyone’s benefit.

Our Searchers by Christina Port
We travelled along the Cessnock Rd to Sandy Creek Road, Quorrobolong and then took Heaton Rd and once in the farm land, we stopped to check out the wetlands along Heaton Rd and were able to find the usual waterbirds, ie Hardheads, White-necked & White-faced Herons, nesting Swans, Australian Little Grebe, Masked Lapwing etc. On the way to some private properties at Quorrobolong, we crossed some large open paddocks and saw plenty of Eastern Rosellas, Pied & Grey Butcherbirds, Kookaburras and a pair of Hobbies sitting high in a tree, and a pair of Brown Falcons, one of which was balancing on the telegraph wires. Arriving in the woodlands, we soon heard the warbling calls of the Regent Honeyeaters, amongst the other busy honeyeater calls, like Yellow-tufted, Yellow-faced, White-naped & Fuscous Honeyeaters! But it took some time to ensure that everyone had seen the Regents which were feeding high in a flowering Spotted Gum and the birds were difficult to locate, let along show some one else! However once everyone had seen the birds, the Regents decided to start drinking at a nearby puddle and gleaning in some low wattles so that soon everyone had great views of these golden birds and then they could concentrate on identifying the other honeyeaters present. Ofcourse, they were not the only birds of interest, a pair of Yellow Robins were found nesting, one on the nest and its mate regularly feeding it. A pair of Rose Robins delighted everyone, Brown Treecreepers were busy checking out the fallen timber and bull ant mounds, Little Lorikeets defied identification by the majority, as they zig-zagged quickly through the flowering Stringybarks and Spotted Gum, and Grey Shrike-thrushes and Golden Whistlers provided additional interest while a Wedge-tailed Eagle flew overhead. It was with reluctance that we departed and headed for the lunch stop in the Heritage Park at Kitchener.

Brown Falcon by Christina Port
The Poppet-head (part of a former coal mine) is a feature of the Heritage Park in Kitchener which is a great lunch spot, being alongside the former mine’s dam and bushland that becomes Aberdare SF (now Werakata National Park). Eastern Spinebills, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Red-browed & Double-barred Finches, Coots, Moorhens and Cormorants were our lunch time companions! A walk into the bush yielded yet another male Rose Robin, Striated & Brown Thornbills, Grey Fantail, Golden Whistlers, Whipbirds and Grey Shrike-thrush. From here we moved off to Ellalong and Ellalong Lagoon, where the water levels of the Lagoon were fairly high although, due to all the other wetlands in the Region, there were not many waterbirds to find. However we soon found a White-bellied Sea Eagle & a Wedge-tailed Eagle circling over the Lagoon, while a Swamp Harrier was hunting along the margins! The Swamp Harrier obligingly put up number of waterbirds so we soon saw plenty of Grey Teal & Black Duck. A flock of Pelicans were feeding in a concentrated group out in the middle of the Lagoon, Royal Spoonbills and White Ibis were feeding in the shallows, and a lone Musk Duck, a pair of Shovelers, about a dozen Swans, and plenty of Little Pied, Little Black and Great Cormorants were also located, while Great Egrets and Straw-necked Ibis were also present. Later in the afternoon the wind came up, the clouds started to gather so we called it day but not after we had seen 82 species of birds and just about everyone on the coach saw something new that day, and the four keen photographers had a ball!

by Alan Morris

Marj Kibby’s Photos of our Day Trip

Solstice Night Spotting in the Royal Trip Report

Saturday 7 June 2021
Guide: Dion Hobcroft

Tawny Frogmouths by Daphne Gonzalvez
We arrived at Wattle Flat at 15:30 just enough time to catch the last of the afternoon sun and a flurry of bird activity. First highlight was a superb pair of Azure Kingfishers that gave repeat great views plunging into the Hacking River to catch fish. Many bush birds followed in the picnic area including Lewin’s and Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Eastern Yellow Robin, Crimson Rosella, a fleeting Wonga Pigeon, Grey Fantail and Silvereye including the distinctive chestnut-flanked Tasmanian birds that winter in central NSW.

Birding further field we enjoyed Satin Bowerbird, Eastern Whipbird, Yellow-throated Scrubwren and Brown Gerygone. A Swamp Wallaby gave repeat close-up views quite unconcerned by our presence. A chorus of Eastern Froglets celebrated the recent heavy downpour of the past several days we avoided by good luck.

After a cup of hot caffeinated liquids and a cream biscuit we were ready to go for a spotlight. We refreshed ourselves further by listening to some nocturnal bird and mammal calls. We had super views of a Tawny Frogmouth on a couple of occasions walking right underneath one cooperative bird. A Feather-tailed Glider flashed through the spotlight looking like a rapidly descending Kleenex tissue. A Sugar Glider was heard calling in the distance, a Grey-headed Flying-fox was disturbed eating some ripe Port Jackson figs and we marvelled at a sleeping White-throated Treecreeper in a predator proof site under a spectacular sandstone overhang.

One of the highlights of the evening was a dashing driving manoeuvre on the Cahill Expressway. Great job to all.

See you next time



Australian Wood Duck
Pacific Black Duck

Australasian Grebe

Collared Sparrowhawk

Dusky Moorhen
Purple Swamphen

Brown Cuckoo-Dove Wonga Pigeon

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Crimson Rosella
Rainbow Lorikeet (heard only)

Tawny Frogmouth

Azure Kingfisher

Laughing Kookaburra

Superb Lyrebird (heard only)

White-throated Treecreeper

Superb Fairy-wren (heard only)

Spotted Pardalote (heard only)
Yellow-throated Scrubwren
White-browed Scrubwren (heard only)
Brown Gerygone
Brown Thornbill (heard only)

Lewin’s Honeyeater
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Eastern Spinebill

Eastern Yellow Robin

Eastern Whipbird

Golden Whistler (heard only)

Grey Fantail

Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike (heard only)

Grey Butcherbird
Australian Magpie
Pied Currawong

Satin Bowerbird

Red-browed Finch



Feather-tailed Glider

Sugar Glider (heard only distantly)

Swamp Wallaby

Grey-headed Flying-fox

by Dion Hobcroft guiding for FTB

Megalong Valley & the Honeyeater Migration Trip Report

Saturday 3 May 2021
Jill Dark

Evans Lookout by Diana Gould
Saturday was a perfect autumn day for our Blue Mountains trip. The first stop was Evans Lookout at Blackheath for morning tea. Autumn is honeyeater migration time and little flocks of Yellow-faced with a few White-naped Honeyeaters flew past in an almost endless stream. They fly at treetop level so gave good views as they headed north. Spotted Pardalotes were also flying north, while the sedentary Eastern Spinebills were foraging in the Mountain Devil flowers. Brown and Striated Thornbills and White-browed Scrubwrens were also seen. The ringing calls of the Grey Shrike-thrush were with us all day.

We then followed the winding road down into Megalong Valley. A pair of Superb Lyrebirds was seen feeding alongside the road. We stopped at Coachwood Glen to check out the rainforest. While the forest was lush and beautiful after all the rain, birds were hard to find. A Yellow-throated Scrubwren gave brief glimpses and a LewinÕs Honeyeater was heard. Out in the open farmland we stopped by a roadside group of Scribbly Gums. A Kestrel was perched in a dead tree and we could hear and later see a large flock of Yellow-rumped Thornbills. ÒBirds of the dayÓ would have to be the Flame and Scarlet Robins perched on the fence. They obligingly stayed long enough for everyone to admire them and compare the differences. Red-browed Finches and Superb Fairy-wrens hopped around in the paddock nearby and a solitary Australasian Pipit perched on a post.

Yellow-faced & White-naped Honeyeaters by Christina Port
Lunch was taken alongside Megalong Creek and while enjoying the sunshine, we watched Grey Fantail, White-eared Honeyeaters and White-throated Treecreepers. A short walk on part of the 6-foot track produced a small flock of Crimson Rosellas and a Grey Butcherbird.

It was time to head back now but with time for a short walk and an ice-cream at the Megalong Tea Rooms. Unfortunately the resident White-winged Choughs seemed to be on holiday but we did see a White-faced Heron and a Little Pied Cormorant on a small dam. Pied Currawongs, Red Wattlebirds and the ubiquitous Sulphur-crested Cockatoos were much in evidence.

Back on the bus and we had a very quick stop to watch a Jacky Winter in a paddock. On the way back we also managed to see Australian King-parrots and Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos. Everyone enjoyed the day.

By Jill Dark guiding for FTB

Western Sydney- Castlereagh and Cattai NP’s Trip Report

Saturday 19 April 2021
Keith Brandwood

Keith & Birders by Chrisina Port
Overcast skies greeted our first stop at Maraylya Park. Here we observed a pair of Musk Lorikeets and Red-rumped Parrots hollow prospecting. Our next location was Cattai where we visited the home of a Qwlet Nightjar who had decided we weren’t worth staying home for, so we gave him the flip and headed off for morning tea.

On a walk through the park after refreshments the highlights were a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles, Brown Goshawk and a White-bellied Sea-Eagle.

After a leisurely lunch we headed for our last destination Castleregh Nature Reserve. Passing through Pitt Town we saw our bird of the trip, a Square-tailed Kite which duly obliged by flying low over our heads giving us crippling views of this uncommon raptor. I felt sure we would see a Painted Button Quail in Castlereagh, as since October a pair of them had been very obliging by responding to their call. However it wasn’t to be, they must have been at the same meeting as the Owlet Nightjar. In fact, I can only assume there must have been an Owlet Nightjar convention on today as the one I had see on the last two occasions I was here was not home either. After walking through the reserve looking for some other target species which we did not see we, decided it was time to go home. Just as we approached the exit we came upon a mixed feeding party of birds, as you do at this time of the year. The party consisted of ten species, the highlight’s being Rose Robin, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Golden Whistler and Varied Sittella. It was a nice end to a thoroughly enjoyable day with a terrific group of people.

By Keith Brandwood guiding for FTB, thank you.

East Meets West on the Putty Road Trip Report

Saturday 5 April 2021
Edwin Vella

Putty Road Participants by Christina Port
On Saturday 15th April, 2 bus loads of about 30 people turned up to this outing ‘East meets West birds’ along the Putty Rd just north-west of Sydney.

Our first stop was a good half hour at McGrath’s Hill were a good start was had with a flock of Australasian Grebes, both Grey and Chestnut Teals, Pied Stilt, 3 Black-shouldered Kites, a flock of about 130 Little Corellas and a obliging Restless Flycatcher to name a few.

Morning Tea was then soon spent at Colo beside the Colo River were we were entertained by a few Satin Bowerbirds, flocks of Yellow-faced and a few not so obliging Scarlet Honeyeaters and 3 species of Thornbills seen all together (Striated, Yellow and Brown).

We then headed further up the Putty Rd to take a walk along the Bob Turner Trail in the Wollemi National Park. Here we saw more Yellow-faced as well as White-eared and Scarlet Honeyeaters, Eastern Spinebills (pausing nicely for those who had cameras for a good photo), a few Golden Whistlers and a very late Cicadabird (the later species usually migrates north by end of March).

We then headed to our lunch spot at Howes Swamp and on our way we paused to watch a flock of White-winged Choughs beside the road.

Square-tailed Kite by Christina Port
Whilst having lunch and a short walk around Howes Swamp we saw a Brown Goshawk, a few White-throated Tree-creepers, Grey Fantails, Grey Shrike-thrushes, Buff-rumped Thornbill and White-throated Gerygone. Both Little Lorikeets and Dusky Woodswallows were heard overhead.

After lunch, we then headed back down the Putty Rd towards Windsor, were at Wilberfoce our 2 buses made a sudden stop for our star bird of the day, a magnificent Square-tailed Kite soaring low over the area. We admired this spectacular and rare raptor for Sydney for several minutes where we also noticed some Red-rumped Parrots.

Our final destination was Bushell’s Lagoon at Freemans Reach. Though our stay at this spot was brief it was nethertheless rewarding with a further boost to the days list. Here we saw an Immature White-bellied Sea-eagle, 2 Whistling Kites putting on a very good show, a Musk Duck, 4 Great Crested Grebes, good numbers of Darters (25 in fact), Royal Spoonbills, a Black-fronted Dotterel and a Yellow-rumped Thornbill rounded it off nicely.

We all enjoyed a warm Autumn day and a great smorgasbord of about 85 hundred species of birds seen and heard.

by Edwin Vella guiding for FTB

Pioneer Dairy Swamp Trip Report

Saturday 29 March 2021
Alan Morris

Yellow-throated Scrubwren by Chris Charles
Saturday was a great birding day, cool in the morning, sunny all day, following a day or two of light showers that had refreshed the vegetation. 16 eager birds therefore alighted from the coach at the RTA Ourimbah Creek Reserve with great expectations and their hopes were realised! Small birds were everywhere in this piece of regenerating rainforest and wet forest reserve, and it was hard to keep up with all the calls about each species being watched! Yellow Robins, White-browed, Large-billed & Yellow-throated Scrub-wrens were soon found feeding along the track and in the low vegetation, Whipbirds were constantly rattling through the undergrowth, Golden Whistlers, Lewin’s Honeyeaters and Grey Shrike-thrushes were calling & feeding at eye level and there was much to see. A Rose Robin was constantly calling some where but was not found but a late Rufous Fantail was found! Bar-shouldered Doves waddled along the track ahead of us and Satin Bowerbirds were seen. Overhead 2 Wedge-tailed Eagles gave great views while 60+ Topknot Pigeons were milling around, roosting in tall Blue Gums and then going down to feed in nearby Cabbage Tree Palms and Lilli Pillis. Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos flew low over our heads, and Silvereyes, Brown Thornbills and Fairy-wrens were busy. It was with reluctance we moved off to the morning tea spot at the Ourimbah RTA Rest Area where another Wedge-tailed Eagle was seen.

Pied Butcherbird by Participant
Christina Port
At the Dairy Swamp, in the Tuggerah Reserve, all the wetlands were full and Black Swans were very noticeable, either on nests or with cygnets. An immature Swamp Harrier was watched trying to take the ducklings of a Black Duck, but she managed to keep her brood of 4 together and the Harrier gave up in the end. Whistling Kites and another Wedge-tailed Eagle were overhead, as well as Darters and Pelicans. Feeding amongst the cattle were Cattle Egrets and White& Straw-necked Ibis, making a very pleasant rural scene. Amongst the smaller birds, Cisticolas & Yellow-rumped Thornbills were the standouts, while Royal Spoonbills, Little Grebes & an Intermediate Egret were present in the wetlands along with c.30 Masked Lapwings.

Grey Fantail by Participant Christina Port
We moved onto the Wyong Council Reserve known as Glenola Reserve, Bunning Creek, in the upper Yarramalong Valley where we were able to lunch in the shelter provided there. Everything was lush and green, with plenty of small wetlands, open pasture, timbered ridges, and areas of riparian rainforest along the Creek. Jacky Winters, Pied Butcherbirds and Willie wagtails were found along the fences, Wood Ducks and an Azure Kingfisher in one of the smaller wetlands, nesting Little Grebe, Masked Lapwings, Black Duck & Chestnut Teal in another. In the riparian vegetation were White-headed & Topknot Pigeons, a Brown Cuckoo-Dove, plenty of Golden Whistlers & Lewin’s Honeyeaters, Grey fantails and Brown Gerygones, a Cicadabird and a Fantailed Cuckoo were calling but not found! We walked all over the Reserve and enjoyed the time in the sun, trying to avoid the muddy patches and carefully admiring a Red-bellied Black Snake seen just off the track. Again we reluctantly left for our last stop, Potters Gully in Ourimbah State Forest, where we were able to get up close and personal to some Bellbirds, admire at Yellow-throated Scrub-wren’s nest hanging over the creek, checking out some Scarlet and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and watching Eastern Spinebills chasing each other. A great days birding and great company, 83 species identified for the day.

By Alan Morris guiding for FTB.

Wild Watagan Birding Trip Report

Saturday 1 March 2021
Alan Morris

Lush Watagans 2008 by Participant
Christina Port
The first day of autumn was fine and sunny, a beautiful day to go bird watching in the Watagan Mountains and so there was high expectations as our coach wound its way up the very rough Mount Faulks Rd from Cooranbong up into the Mountains! Our first stop was the Gap Creek road where we birdwatched amongst the towering Eucalypts and rainforest trees. We were soon out of the coach and checking out the small brown birds, initially being hard to find in the dark rainforest. Lyrebirds and Brown Cuckoo-Doves were soon heard calling and Yellow-thoated and White-browed Scrub-wrens, Brown Thornbills & Brown Gerygones were soon found feeding and chattering in the undergrowth. A highlight of this stop was the 30 or so Topknot Pigeons roosting for a while in a tall Blue Gum before dropping back down into the Bangalow Palms below and feeding on the bright red fruit. Soon other birds like Golden Whistler, Grey Fantail & Crimson Rosella were found while higher up were White-naped and Brown-headed Honeyeaters feeding in the eucalypts. We moved on from here to the Gap Creek picnic area itself and while enjoying our morning tea we were able to watch the Satin Bowerbirds, Lewin’s Honeyaters & White-throated Treecreepers in the trees nearby.

More Watagan Birders by Participant
Christina Port
Onwards and upwards we went through the lush rainforest exchanging stories of near misses with leeches and looking out for Grey Shrike-thrushes and Lyrebirds crossing the road ahead. We eventually reach The Pines picnic area where amongst the tall Radiata Pines and the Tree Fern shaded gullies we went looking for birds before we had our lunch. Crimson Rosellas, Grey Shrike-thrush, Eastern Yellow Robin and Brown Gerygones were found here as well as a small party of Large-billed Scrub-wrens. There were Whipbirds in the undergrowth and Grey Fantails & Brown Thornbills feeding along the creek. After recent trips to these mountains when conditions were very dry, it was so pleasant to see the area lush and wet once more.

Our final stop for the day was down at the Wood Point section of Lake Macquarie State Conservation Area adjacent to Morisset Hospital on the shores of Lake Macquarie. Everytime we go there we get something different and special. Today we found an adult male Pheasant Coucal in the undergrowth; we were able to watch a small flock of 14 Rainbow Bee-eaters make their afternoon forays for insects over the creek, where Chestnut Teal and Whistling Kite were found. Out on the Point, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Variegated & Superb Fairy-wrens were located in the undergrowth, and Silvereyes, Noisy Miner and Eastern Rosellas were seen in the woodland. The best bird here was two in fact, a pair of Ospreys were seen mating in an old dead tree, the location of a nesting pair three years ago so hopefully they may well return to nest at Woods Point this year. The day proved to be a great autumn day for birding, the company was great and 73 species were seen for the day. by Alan Morris guiding for FTB

Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens Trip Report

Saturday 9 January 2021
Carol Probets

Female Gang-gang by Participant
Christina Port
The very wet weather of the previous night didn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of the 16 participants as the bus headed up the Bell’s Line of Road into the mountains. We were off to a good start when a group of at least 8 Gang-gang Cockatoos flew through our morning tea site at Bilpin. Some commented that already their day was made, even if we saw no more birds. But we certainly did see more.

Rain started pelting down as we neared the basaltic slopes of Mt Tomah. On arriving at the magnificent cool climate Botanic Gardens we took the opportunity to admire an exhibition of art made with Echidna spines, Xanthorrhoea resin and thousands of grass seeds. Welcome Swallows appeared to be revelling in the wet weather as they flew around the visitors centre.

The rain soon eased so off we went, focussing on the forested area below the Gondwana Track. This part of the garden was alive with birds, including White-throated Treecreepers, Sittellas, Brown-headed Honeyeaters hanging on strips of bark, Lewin’s Honeyeaters, Eastern Spinebills, Eastern Whipbirds, and a Golden Whistler male feeding a juvenile. A King-Parrot which sat eating small fruit in a bush just above our heads was seen only after most people had walked right under it. Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos were heard a few times before eventually making an appearance. There were LBJs, “little brown jobs”, such as Brown Gerygone, White-browed Scrubwrens, Brown and Striated Thornbills. A mystery call similar to a Sacred Kingfisher turned out to be a juvenile Black-faced Monarch.

Juvenile Black-faced Monarch by
Nevil Larzarus
Everyone marvelled at the tall Brown Barrels (Eucalyptus fastigata). Underneath on the ground were yellow mystery ‘objects’ looking like strange, colourful bush cockroaches with 6 tiny legs – we wondered if they were some sort of insect nymphs. (After returning home I found them in Zborowski & Storey’s insect guide and on the internet… they’re Giant Woolly Mealy Bugs (Monophlebulus pilosior).

Further around towards the Eurasian Woodland, two Eastern Rosellas and a Grey Shrike-thrush were seen well while a beautiful Brown Cuckoo-Dove was a highlight. Not to be outdone, a pair of Rufous Fantails showed off their orange tails, these birds aptly described by one member of the group as looking “like can-can girls”. Walking past the pond we happened upon a very close Little Pied Cormorant which took to the air, circled around a few times and then landed on another rock right next to two colourful “flower-pot men”. What a trio! The cormorant appeared to accept its companions without prejudice. Not only that, but from our angle it looked like it had big blue shoes on!.

On the way back up to the carpark 4 more Gang-gangs put on a great show, feeding in a fruiting tree and allowing our entire group to walk right by as they continued feeding with only a half-interested glance our way. Each held its fruit in the left foot as most cockatoos do.

Diamond Python by David Simpson
During lunch our attention was drawn to a Diamond Python in the herb garden, curled high in a hedge as it undertook the strenuous activity of digesting a meal. We were told by the staff it had been there for two days already. When the sun broke out of the clouds and shone weakly for ten minutes or so, our group and the python both relished it.

A shorter walk after lunch gave us the chance to explore more fully the rock garden where Little Wattlebirds and New Holland Honeyeaters sipped nectar, and further down to see the Satin Bowerbird’s bower with its fine collection of blue and yellowish coloured objects. Nearby we saw a few immature or female birds but not the owner of the bower. Away in the far distance a Wedge-tailed Eagle faded in and out of the clouds.

Mt Tomah is lush after the rain and gets more beautiful with every visit. I think everyone took away at least one special highlight to remember. Driving back down the mountain, a Grey Goshawk at Bilpin was a good sighting by Alan and Laurie. Despite the threatening weather the rain was limited to the morning and we completed a full day’s birding with barely a damp binocular.

By Carol Probets guiding for FTB

Christmas Party Birding Trip Report

Saturday 8 December 2020
Guide: Alan Morris

Feeding Little Pied Cormorant by Participant
Christina Port
While showers were predicted for the last one day outing of the year for FTB’s supporters, they did not eventuate and apart from an overcast morning and an occasional fine drizzle, the afternoon fined up to provide a fitting end for Follow That Bird’s local activities for the year! This year the Christmas Outing went to the Central Coast and the first stop was at Umina High School where a pair of Bush Stone-curlews had successfully managed to raise their two young almost to flying stage. They took some finding because there was a cricket match in the grounds but eventually they were located behind a building and so we moved around to get a better view. This pair is one of 6-8 pairs that occupy territories around Brisbane Water, and on previous FTB trips we have seen them at St Hubert’s Island and Kincumber. Other bird around the high school included Long-billed and Little Corellas, Koel Cuckoos and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes. From here we checked out the birds nesting on Ramsay Island, in Blackalls Bay where about 150 prs of Pelicans and 200 prs of White Ibis, struggled for breeding space on the small sandy island. Baby & crche juveniles Pelicans, adults on eggs and courting birds were very evident! Nearby Long-billed Corellas were feeding dependant young and there were plenty of Mallards on the wharves. We retreated to Brick Wharf Reserve, Woy Woy for morning tea where we had great views of a juvenile Koel & a Striated Heron while Magpie-larks were nesting in the tree over the table.

Christmas Birders 07 by Participant
Christina Port
Our next stop was Cochrane Lagoon where the Lagoon was full and the water very deep so of little value to waders. However a nest of White-faced Herons with 3 chicks, White-breasted Woodswallows & White-bellied Sea-Eagle flying overhead, and a Reef Heron roosting in a small paperbark were good finds! Onto the Sensory Gardens at North Entrance for lunch and while we ate we were busy checking out the waders on the exposed sand flats. Amongst the 300 or so Sharp-tailed Sandpipers & 200 Bar-tailed Godwits, we also managed to separate out 1 Great Knot, 1 Curlew Sandpiper, 7 Greenshanks, Caspian Terns and a few Little Terns that were roosting with the Crested Terns. A Hobby kept flushing the waders, Willie Wagtails and Magpie-larks were nesting close to each other in a nearby Casuarina, and a Little Egret was feeding by running along the sandflats. Later we relocated to nearby Picnic Point, passing the Pied Cormorant nesting colony in the Norfolk Island Pines en route. A juvenile Banded Lapwing which has been there for the past month was still feeding amongst the park crowd and there was much excitment as it was a new bird for some on the trip. Plenty more of the common waders, but 30+ Red-necked Stints & Little Terns, and another Curlew Sandpiper added to our count. A pair of Masked Lapwings and Black-winged Stilts each had nests on a sand bar, Chestnut Teal had 8 ducklings, everyone had glorious views of a Buff-banded Rail sunning itself in the afternoon sun, and Red Wattlebirds, Willie Wagtails & Magpielarks were on nests. Other birds of interest included Yellow-rumped Thornbill, Striped Honeyeater, an Olive-backed Oriole and two Striated Herons.

Juvenile Banded Lapwing by Participant
Christina Port
Our final stop for the day was at Chittaway Point, and on route we checked out the foreshore of Tuggerah Bay where they were a few more Sharpies, a pair of Chestnut Teal with 3 ducklings, Grey Teal and another Little Egret. At Chittaway Point, there were 3 Great Egrets, one in breeding plumage and coloured soft parts, another had changed its bill colour to black while the 3rd was in non-breeding plumage ie yellow bill and legs. Plenty of Darters here as well as 2 prs nesting over Ourimbah Creek, closer to Chittaway, and the usual mixture of Terns and waders. So despite grave fears about the weather the bird watching part of the outings was a great success with 76 water and other birds being found. Rain set in later but the birding segment was a success and provided an enjoyable social end of a great years birding by enthusiastic Follow That Birders!! Driver Chris Willis and Janene’s mum Julie were part of the company and they added to the social success of the day where Christmas wishes were exchanged and we all look forward to even better birding in 2008!

by Alan Morris guiding for FTB.

Killalea Lagoon Trip Report

Saturday 24 November 2020
Guide: Bob Ashford

Black-tailed Native-hen by Participant Christina Port
Saturday 24th November, Election Day. In Follow That Bird’s mobile Tally Room an enthusiastic bunch of birders (or should that be scrutineers?) were ready to check out some of the South Coast’s more challenging seats – I’m sorry, that should be sites. With us were an American couple, experienced with controversial counts, birds and a Bush and as we set off there was a palpable air of anticipation.

Our first stop was at Sublime Point above Wollongong. Fog and rain had affected turnout, predictions were dismal and for some the conclusion was that it was a lost cause. Nonetheless, bedraggled Red Wattlebirds, New Holland Honeyeaters, Crimson Rosellas and a lone Grey Butcherbird put on a brave face.

Still the feeling in the Tally Room was optimistic. Other seats – oops! sites – were far more promising and trends in the weather certainly indicated better results.

At Yallah we pulled up to check out the Tallowa Ash Dams. Here showers were easing and patches of blue sky broke through the clouds – marginal, yet certainly a site to be watched. The turnout was very encouraging. Along the reed beds Reed Warblers belted out their songs joined occasionally by the elusive Little Grassbird. In the bushes Goldfinches, Superb Wrens and Golden-headed Cisticolas competed for attention. On the water rafts of Hardhead and Hoary-headed Grebes dominated. At the waters edge a Royal Spoonbill, White Ibis, Moorhens, Coot, a few Black Duck and regular patrols of Purple Swamphen mixed with Black-winged Stilt and a flighty flock of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers. Their nervousness only accentuated every time a Whistling Kite passed overhead.

The counters were happy and strong trends were emerging that suggested the next site might exceed expectations. In the Tally Room expert opinions were canvassed on Killalea Lagoon. Of course, the demographics were different there and recent heavy rains could affect the outcome. Still, from a slow start the experts were convinced the numbers would continue to build.

Killalea Beach by Participant Sandy Fallance
On arrival at Killalea the rain had gone and blue sky and sunshine found everybody in a mood of high expectation. Immediately the numbers began to rise. On the stroll to the lagoon Variegated Wren, Satin Bowerbird, LewinÕs Honeyeater, a family of Grey Butcherbirds, Red Whiskered Bulbuls, Brown Gerygone, Silvereye and Pallid Cuckoo built an already imposing tally. At lunch White-breasted Sea Eagle, Kestrel, Brush Cuckoo, Yellow Thornbill, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike and more kept the numbers rolling in. Murmuring among the scrutineers suggested the result might be better than expected. And even more excitement lay ahead.

On and around the lagoon the numbers were looking good. Young families of Black Swans were everywhere and more Reed Warblers were busy feeding their broods. Housing was obviously at a premium. Would this influence the final tally?

On the contrary Ð the Musk Ducks were buoyant, Great and Little Black Cormorants were at their posts, and along the water’s edge something extraordinary happened. A Black-tailed Native-hen appeared, normally a nomadic species of the drier west. Tension mounted as the scrutineers double-checked. Yes it was definitely the case and then another appeared. Only a few weeks earlier one had been seen at Lake Illawarra, the first since records began in 1803. We were watching history being made.

Back in the Tally Room the final tally was double checked. 75 species was a better than expected result. Add to this the totally unexpected newcomers – Black-tailed Native-hens. All agreed it was an extraordinary day!

By Bob “the birder” Ashford

Central Coast Waders Trip Report

Saturday 10 November 2020
Guide: John Gale

Central Coast Waders – Bar-tailed Godwits, Curlew and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
by Participant Christina Port
Fairy Martins nesting in bridge superstructure welcomed us to Ourimbah Creek Reserve, a Green Catbird was spotted, then Satin Bowerbird, all the while Golden and Rufous Whistlers and Whipbirds were all calling, Scarlet Honeyeaters from the treetops; not your usual start to a waders day! Dollarbirds, Eastern Yellow Robin, Grey Fantail, and Silvereye were seen with Superb Fairy-wrens abundant, several males competing by fanning their cheek feathers. Lewin’s Honeyeater, Silvereye, Brown Thornbill and Brown Gerygone joined us for morning tea. Fan-tailed Cuckoo called as we returned to the bus, after glimpsing a Yellow-throated Scrub-wren, perfect timing for the rain to begin.

Next stop was along Ourimbah Creek – the rain eased, then stopped and the birds began to call. As well as having good views of the many nesting Darters and their rather large nestlings, Figbird, several species of Cormorant and Chestnut Teal were seen, behind all of which an Olive-backed Oriole called incessantly. Further along the creek WADERS! wonderful close views of Curlew and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Bar-tailed Godwit, as well as Black-winged Stilt, Black Swan, Little, Intermediate and Great Egret, and Masked Lapwing and chicks.

Lunch we enjoyed at Teralba Sensory Park, which had views of immature and adult Caspian Tern, Pelican, more Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and, for size comparison, Red-necked Stint.

Our last location was at Picnic Point where the first bird out of the bus was a Banded Lapwing juvenile. There have been several juveniles reported on the coast of late, probably the result of an easterly dispersal of young birds fleeing drought conditions. Other birds included Little and Crested Tern, White-bellied Sea-eagle, Pied Cormorant, Chestnut Teal and chicks, and Masked Woodswallow. On returning to the bus we finished up with Yellow-rumped Thornbill, a Koel female, nesting Magpie-lark, and a farewell appearance by the Banded Lapwing.

A beautifully timed trip thanks Janene, with a good spread of species Ð 75 all up. Thanks everyone for sharp eyes and an enjoyable day.

By John Gale guiding for FTB

Twitchathon in the Royal National Park
Trip Report

Saturday 27 October 2020
Guide: Bob Ashford

Twitchathon Contestants by Virginia Craney
Raising money to help protect birds is a noble endeavour Ð but have you any idea how hard it can be?

Our group goal on this trip was to support the Birds Australia Twitchathon. Each species seen or heard generated a sponsored amount of dollars. To add a little zest some harder-to-see species earned double the amount. So off we set full of enthusiasm and just a touch of friendly competitiveness. And then we got distracted….!

In the heath of the Mt Bass trail we sought the Southern Emu Wren, a ‘doubler’. We did hear them and the kitty began to build but it was the Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters that whistled us in and captivated us.

During morning tea at Bundeena we were all aware of our need to build the species list but a pair of Kookaburras conspired to distract us. They were feeding young well hidden in an old termites nest about twelve metres up a gum tree. Then, barely five metres away, we spotted a pair of Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes building a nest in the fork of another gum. One was obviously new to it all as it knocked more material off the nest than it put in! A pair of Dollarbirds cackled at us and repelled feisty Magpie-larks and a pair of Rainbow Lorikeets impressed us with their ability to squeeze in and out of a very small hole in a broken branch. Nonetheless sponsor dollars were climbing.

At Wattamolla Beach we were chasing another ‘doubler’, the Beautiful Firetail, but once again were sidetracked by a pair of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos engrossed in demolishing Banksia cones. Then a family of stunningly plumaged Variegated Wrens and a lone Sacred Kingfisher guarding its nest, another old termite nest, conspired to divert us from our mission.

“Still,”we all agreed “at Reid’s Flat we’ll get the numbers up” But we hadn’t factored in a pair of nesting Olive-backed Orioles or a pair of nesting Leaden Flycatchers who were determined that we should see them at their very best! Not much further down the track several Sulphur-crested Cockatoos screeched at us except for one that sat regally at the entrance to its nest hole peering down at us. If nothing else we were discovering that breeding was in full swing.

As we strolled along the track a fabulous male Golden Whistler gave us an entertaining lesson on how to catch and despatch a hairy caterpillar. An elusive Rock Warbler mixed it with a small flock of White-browed Scrubwrens, Brown Thornbills, Brown Warblers and a Black-faced Monarch challenging us to identify it. A dazzling Azure Kingfisher flashed across the river and then a totally unconcerned Brown-headed Honeyeater displayed in a branch barely a metre from us.

So by the time we boarded the bus for home we felt perhaps the species numbers might be lower than hoped for, but agreed that it was hard to chase a big list when we were having such a good time enjoying the birds.

Then we totted up the list – 75 species. We had got so absorbed and been so entertained that we didnÕt realise how well we had done. Tough as it was we had done our bit for the birds.

By Bob Ashford guiding for FTB

Miner’s Despair Loop
in Belanglo SF Trip Report

Saturday 6 October 2020
Guide: Bob Ashford

Yellow-tailed Balck Cockatoo by Daphne Gonzalvez
Journeying south from Sydney the first stop was at Pheasant’s Nest Service Station. There was not a pheasant to be seen though a male Magpie-Lark was busy keeping intruding Wattlebirds and Magpies away from the area. A little patience soon revealed a nest and a sitting female. As she got up and stretched fluffy bundles of moving black and white feathers indicated at least two young. And so, of course, we immediately renamed the stop Ð Magpie-Lark’s Nest!

The day had threatened to be in the mid thirties with a cool change coming through mid-afternoon. In fact it stayed in the comfortable mid-twenties with a rather brisk change right at the end of the day. This made for very pleasant walking and meant the birds were out and about if, on occasions, hanging on tightly with some strong windy gusts.

There is nothing like having seventeen pairs of eyes eagerly searching for birds and we started very well on a largish dam at the entrance to Belanglo State Forest. Hardheads, Grey Teal, Black Duck, a pair of nesting Black Swans, a pair of Wood Duck with a troupe of hyperactive ducklings and four Australian Shovellers, one male of which was still in resplendent plumage. Little Pied Cormorants and a White-faced Heron sat patiently on half-drowned posts. A pair of Australian Grebes appeared and then regulars Brian and Alan soon spotted three more grebes, but these were Hoary-headed, Not a bad start and as we left the dam Steve spotted a male Kestrel flying overhead. Surprisingly this was the only raptor we saw all day.

At the forest campsite, by the dam, we sipped a welcome coffee and it wasn’t long before Denver pointed out the first of several small groups of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos joining us, in all about forty. Matthew alerted us to a calling Grey Shrike-thrush and our first Pied Currawong. All very encouraging but our goal was its more elusive cousin, the Grey Currawong. So off we set to walk Miner’s Despair Loop trail.

My job for the day was to identify and point out the various species during the walk and confidently lead everybody along the correct trail. So far everyone had pointed birds out to me and then I took the wrong turn to follow the wrong trail. It might have been my imagination but above the chattering of Superb Wrens and White-browed Scrubwrens I’m sure I heard someone say “Par for the course!”

Not that it mattered we enjoyed a very pleasant walk. Several members spotted a pair of White-throated Treecreepers and we had excellent views of several more along the trail. Then the wind started to pick up making the identification of smaller birds caught in the gusts rather challenging. But keen eyes among the group sorted out a number of Brown and Buff-rumped Thornbills and then Judy spotted a small flock of Dusky Woodswallows soaring above the tree canopy. Judy also located a frustratingly difficult to see male Rufous Whistler which eventually rewarded us with great views of it singing its heart out. Flitting Grey Fantails drowned the calls of White-eared Honeyeaters and it took the patient Carol to spot one for us.

Rounding off the afternoon Judy pointed out a Common Bronzewing among a flock of Crimson and Eastern Rosellas. Janene and Brian alerted us to an unusual sharp resounding call and soon three Grey Currawongs flew into view.

What a good job I was there to point out all these avian delights for everyone!

By Bob Ashford guiding for FTB

Pittwater’s West Head and
The Basin Trip Report

Saturday 8 September 2020
Guide: John Gale

Masked Lapwing by Nevil Lazarus
We began with a rainy drive to West Head before the showers eased, then Whistling Kites overhead, a Glossy-black Cockatoo call, Common Eastern Froglets aplenty and an inquisitive Brush Turkey. The showers eased and the Basin Track revealed New Holland Honeyeaters, Brown Thornbill, Eastern Spinebill, Silvereye, several Eastern Whipbird juveniles practising their calls, and good views of Variegated Fairy-wren.

Swamp Wallabies met us at the campground and during lunch we had a pair of White-bellied Sea-eagles and several Whistling Kites soaring overhead, a Masked Lapwing call her 4 chicks to weather a short downpour snug in her wingpits, and a Channel-billed Cuckoo attracted some Magpie attention.

From the ferry to Palm Beach we saw, remarkably, a Great Horned Owl (inflatable) acting sentry onboard a boat, looking nonplussed that a Crested Tern had befriended him. At Careel Bay playing fields we saw Little Corella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Grey Butcherbird, Superb Fairy-wren and Crested Pigeon.

Deep Creek was also curiously quiet with no migrants seen, yet birds included Grey Teal, Eastern Yellow Robin, Red-browed Finch, Great Cormorant, Golden Whistler, the whoo whooing of a Brush Bronzewing deep within a thicket, a Peregrine zoom past, and Brown Cuckoo-dove feeding on a fruiting wild tobacco tree.

Well done Janene for organising the rain to fall when we were undercover and Rita for directions (was that a YTB Cockatoo?). Thanks everyone for an enjoyable day regardless of the weather.

by John Gale guidiing for FTB.

Minnamurra Lyrebirds Trip Report

Saturday 11 August 2020
Guide: Edwin Vella

Minnamurra Falls by Edwin Vella
Perhaps one of the main attractions of visiting Minnamurra Rainforest in the Buderoo Naional Park near Jamberoo is to hopefully glimpse one of our most beautiful birds, the Super Lyrebird. There were many of those who attended this Day Trip brand new to birdwatching and eager to do just that and we were all more than well successful.

We did not see just only one, nor two, but at least 8 Superb Lyrebirds with all close encounters included 2 stunning plumaged breeding males with their full tails right beside the path. One of these male birds was very vocal and the others was busily scratching the ground surface oblivious to our close encounter.

Minnamurra Rainforest by Edwin Vella
Other interesting birds that were also present in Minnamurra including a King Parrot, a Bassian Thrush, several Eastern Yellow Robins (2 seen without getting off the bus), Golden Whistlers, approachable Large-billed and even more so, White-browed Scrubwrens, Grey Shrike-thrush, Grey Fantails, Striated and Brown Thornbills, White-throated Tree-creeper and Lewins Honeyeaters.

We also saw some other inetersting birds to and from Minnamurra via the spectacular Illawarra coastline including a Brown Falcon, Australian Hobby, Australian Kestrel, Cattle Egret, Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo and 2 flocks of Topknot Pigeons.

by Edwin Vella guiding for FTB

Honeyeater Migration Trip Report

Saturday 14 April 2021
Guide: Carol Probets

Glossy Black-Cockatoo by Nevil Lazarus
A Black-shouldered Kite hovering over the highway at Wentworth Falls (where I joined the bus) got the day off to a good start on this beautiful autumn morning.

Our first stop was morning tea at Katoomba Falls Reserve, where Red Wattlebirds, Galahs and a Satin Bowerbird were seen. A large, flowering Brittle Gum (Eucalyptus mannifera) was attracting Rainbow Lorikeets, a bird which has moved into the upper mountains only in the past few years. While trying to get a closer look at a Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo, we walked a short distance along a boardwalk into a hanging swamp and discussed the importance of this unique type of ecosystem. The Swamp Grevillea (G. acanthifolia) was sporting its pink toothbrush-shaped flower heads.

Suddenly a flock of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos took to the air in a cacophany of alarm calls, and Brian glimpsed a distant raptor which unfortunately disappeared over the trees before it could be identified.

The main purpose of the day was to watch the migrating honeyeaters, so after a short briefing we headed out onto Narrow Neck, one of the places where the travelling flocks are concentrated into a narrow path as they head north along the peninsula. We stood on a narrow saddle to see flock after flock of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters flying past us just over our heads, or along the clifftop at eye level. Today they seemed particularly reluctant to rest so getting a good look at one perched provided a great challenge, the most common exclamation being “Look, there’s one… no, it’s gone!” The White-naped Honeyeaters were in much smaller numbers but we did get very nice views of one beside the track with it’s striking red eye-patch. I estimated the honeyeaters were moving through at about 1000 birds per hour, a low number compared with some days but fairly impressive nevertheless.

Other species move through too. At one stage a flock of about 20 Noisy Friarbirds appeared on the distant ridge and within moments were whizzing past us like a fleet of fighter jets, almost knocking us over in the process! We also heard the contact calls of pardalotes and Silvereyes travelling through, and a couple of Mistletoebirds were seen flying over, very high. Honeyeater alarm calls alerted us to the presence of a Collared Sparrowhawk which soared high over the plateau. Not surprisingly, all migration activity stopped for a few minutes until it disappeared again.

Other birds seen here, but not migrating, included New Holland Honeyeaters, Grey Shrike-thrush, White-throated Treecreeper and we heard a Pilotbird and a White-eared Honeyeater.

We enjoyed lunch at Gordon Falls in the company of a Grey Shrike-thrush and a flock of Striated and Brown Thornbills.

Next we visited Kings Tableland, a great site for heathland birds and another migration pathway. Dusky Woodswallows seemed to be everywhere, along with Welcome Swallows, Tree Martins – and one Fairy Martin seen. I was the only person who glimpsed a Beautiful Firetail as it disappeared over the heath. But our main target here was the Glossy Black-Cockatoo, and we didn’t have to walk far before a male suddenly flushed from the Shrubby She-oak (Allocasuarina distyla) beside the track. Its tail fanned out displaying the brilliant red panels before it came to rest in another tree, giving everyone great views of what we all agreed was the “bird of the day”.

by Carol Probets guiding for FTB

Walking Wattamolla Coast Track Trip Report

Saturday 17 March 2021
Guide: Bob Ashford

Beautiful Firetail by Nevil Lazarus
The day threatened a south westerly and some big storms but it looked pretty good to us as we arrived at Wattamolla Beach ready for our cliff top walk through the heath. There was the usual guessing game around the calls of the Little and Red Wattlebirds. There is a difference but it takes a short while to ‘tune in’! While we were ‘tuning in’ a delightfully friendly Rock Warbler entertained us all for a few minutes as it hopped and shuffled through the picnic tables and then we set off through the heath full of expectation.

Within a few minutes it was concluded that we were ‘alright for New Holland Honeyeaters’. Indeed we were. They were everywhere, but there wasn’t much else, apart from a pair of Australian Ravens, as we climbed gently, a little disheartened, up to the cliff top track. Birding can be like that at times Ð very frustrating. And on the horizon were the ominous signs of the change coming through.

Every New Hollander was given a thorough look over and try as we could they remained New Hollander’s! Then we spotted a few Welcome Swallows skimming the tops of the heath shortly joined by small groups of Tree Martins. The Martins were a bit of a surprise, but they appeared to be purposefully working their way northward, probably the last few stragglers heading to Queensland for winter.

Then a cry of “Raptor at 11 o’clock” had all of us scanning the cliff edge. Sure enough a Peregrine was intently swooping and swerving over a particular patch of heath before turning and heading south. Not too long afterwards a Feral Pigeon appeared and sped northward! Apart from the cliffs being great roosting and breeding spots for Peregrines they are also landmarks that Racing Pigeons use to guide them home to Sydney. Smart Peregrines know this and chance their luck. However a racing pigeon is no easy catch and this may have been the one that got away.

As the day got increasingly hotter and stickier it was with some relief that we reached the cliff edge and stopped for lunch. The cool updrafts were most welcome and every now and then they would waft a white and grey feather over us. Sufficient, in fact, for several of us to risk life and limb to scour the cliff-face for a feeding Peregrine and a dismembered pigeon Ð without luck!

We were, though, rewarded with some fabulous views of several Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters which entertained us with short insect-snapping flights and their distinctive whistling calls.

Not long after we started to retrace our steps back to the Wattamolla picnic ground we were distracted by a young Little Wattlebird in the heath. As we crowded round, barely a metre from it, it appeared totally unconcerned and carried on scratching, preening and cackling. We formed the impression that it was saying “Seen enough? Then whereÕs my dinner?”. For a ‘brown’ bird the Little Wattlebird is remarkably beautiful when you are privileged enough to get such a long close look.

On the return trail Tom, a visitor from the USA, was tickled pink to spot and identify a Beautiful Firetail. Perhaps more of us would have seen it but we had a wary eye on some very black clouds rapidly heading our way and very obvious rain thrashing the southern end of Royal National Park. The pace picked up and only slowed to enjoy some very close views of a White-throated Needletail, one of the worldÕs largest swifts. It is often seen ahead of storm fronts, feeding on the millions of insects vacuumed into the skies by the winds.

We made the coach just as the heavens opened! We did attempt a bit of birding at Wattle Forest Trail but the birds had wisely gone to find shelter and, somewhat drenched, we decided to do the same! So, not a great range of birds but, as always.

by Bob Ashford guiding for FTB

See Daphne Gonzalvez’s beautiful website report

Bargo River Birding Trip Report

Saturday 3 March 2021
Guide: Bob Ashford

Brown Thornbill by Nevil Lazarus
Now there is something about a bunch of people, all sporting binoculars, crowding round a public toilet in Picton that can be a little disconcerting to a needy motorist! And the volunteered explanation “Birdos” seemed somehow to morph in to “Weirdos” as said motorist climbed back into his car! Blame it on the Striated Thornbills I say. They gave us excellent views and a few more Birdos can confidently identify them from their Brown cousins.

The day was hot, very hot, and so expectations were tempered with the understanding that birds, like human beings don’t mess with the midday sun. But the advantage of a hot day is that when you do find birds then tend to stay still – generally -thereby providing some great views. And so it was.

Once on the Bargo trail the first bird we heard was a White-throated Treecreeper and then it was spotted barely metres away. It lazily pottered around a tree trunk giving us all excellent views. A pair of White-naped Honeyeaters preened each other in the shade of a nearby tree. These are very smart birds and allowed us plenty of time to enjoy their antics.

Spotted Pardalotes seemed to be heat immune and flitted constantly from tree to tree. They are frustrating little fellas to see but every now and then we got a great view and it was generally agreed they are without a doubt flying jewels.

Striated Thornbill by Nevil Lazarus
New Holland Honeyeaters, Red-browed Finches, Eastern Yellow Robins, Rufous Whistlers, Eastern Spinebills all added to our enjoyment. Probably the most interesting sightings along the trail were a Rufous Fantail, a ‘tail-end-Charlie’ migrating northwards, and a Peaceful Dove which is recorded in the region but is by no means common.

As we arrived at the Nepean Dam for lunch the temperature had hit the mid-thirties. Around the picnic area a few Pied Currawongs hopped hopefully but little else appeared to be around. As we explored the nearby bush not a bird call was to be heard. The mid-day siesta was in full swing.

But a sharp-eyed youngster by the name of Denver spotted a nodding Fan-Tailed Cuckoo. It was wary but reluctant to move in such heat and, as a consequence, many of us enjoyed excellent views and an easy lesson on the differences between it and the Brush Cuckoo. During the lesson it was joined by a beautiful Olive-backed Oriole who found a huge caterpillar and convinced the Cuckoo that maybe a bit of activity was worthwhile!

On our final stroll before we departed we disturbed a bat that shot out of a tree and circled back to it very quickly. For an instant we thought it was an Owlet Nightjar – well I did – and my Triple A rating as a guide was immediately downgraded to BBB as it turned out to be a micro-bat swapping positions in daylight – how lucky to see that.

Lastly we did get great views of a Wedge-tailed Eagle as it soared overhead and all-in-all we enjoyed some excellent birding, great company and a very welcome ice-cream!

by Bob Ashford guiding for FTB

Cool Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens Trip Report

Saturday 17 February 2021
Guide: Carol Probets and John Gale

Willie Wagtail by Neil Fifer
Mount Tomah is one of several basalt-capped peaks in the Blue Mountains, standing like an island of lushness in a sea of drier sandstone woodland. Its rich soil and altitude means it’s a perfect location for the botanic gardens which opened here in 1987 as the cool climate annex to the Sydney Botanic Gardens. Apart from the magnificent plant displays, the birdlife is rich and varied as well.

We travelled up the Bell’s Line of Road in two buses, John Gale helping out as a second guide and driver. Amongst the group were several first time birdwatchers from the WEA course so we took the opportunity for a binocular lesson on the bus and during morning tea at Bilpin. Here everyone was able to study the Superb Fairy-wrens closely, including two resplendent blue males, as well as a Little Wattlebird.

Arriving at Mt Tomah we found a number of honeyeaters attracted to the flowering banksias and proteas, both members of the Proteacaea family which is so rich in nectar. Red and Little Wattlebirds, New Holland and Lewin’s Honeyeaters and Eastern Spinebills were some of these. Red-whiskered Bulbuls were admired by some – even though they are an introduced species they are always a popular sight. It’s always a sign that there’s plenty to see when, after half an hour, we still haven’t moved away from the car park!

In the forest sections we had great views of male and female-plumaged Satin Bowerbirds. King-Parrots seemed to be everywhere, as did Silvereyes, White-browed Scrubwrens, Brown Thornbills and more Superb Fairy-wrens. One of the Silvereyes, and we suspect one of the Brown Thornbills too, was perforning a stream of soft mimicry in a small tree above our heads.

An Eastern Whipbird came very close in response to my “squeaking” but remained unseen, though we did get lovely views of an Eastern Yellow Robin. A Wedge-tailed Eagle soared overhead.

Our lunch site was a lush grassed area under the shade of tall Brown Barrel trees (Eucalyptus fastigata) where a green Satin Bowerbird was hoping for a handout. The males don’t attain their glossy blue-black plumage until around 7 years of age, so there’s no way of knowing if this bird was female or a younger male.

Two female Rose Robins, each with a slight reddish wash on the breast, were seen high in one of the trees providing both a challenge and a highlight to accompany our lunch.

Our afternoon walk through another forested section of the garden gave us Brown Gerygones, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, male Golden Whistler and prolonged views of both male and female White-throated Treecreepers attaching a patch of lichen, presumably for the insects beneath.

But for many the highlight of the day was the Grey Currawong, first spotted by Elaine and a first even for many of the regulars in the group. It was a great day in a beautiful place, especially after the recent rain which has freshened everything up.

by Carol Probets guding for FTB

Wild Watagan Mountains Trip Report

Saturday 3 February 2021
Guide: Alan Morris

Easter Yellow Robin by Nevil Lazarus
Follow That Bird Tours held an outing to Lake Macquarie Shire on 3 February 2021 on a warm sunny day, beginning at Cooranbong where we stopped at a small wetland beside the road about 2 km SE of the town. Amongst the birds here were a pair of Black-fronted Dotterels and great daylight views of a pair of Latham’s Snipe, skulking amongst the juncus tussocks at the waters edge. A White-necked Heron was stalking in an adjoining paddock, and 3 Pied Butcherbirds were carolling from a tall dead tree overlooking the wetland! We then made our way up into the Wattagan Mountains, making our first stop at Gap Creek picnic area within Wattagan National Park. The day had warmed up, generally the area was quite dry but the rainforest here was relatively quiet and the cicadas which have been very noisy over summer were somewhat subdued! However Rufous Fantails were readily located and one p[air were found to be feeding 2 young. Wonga Pigeons & Brown Cuckoo-Doves were calling, good views were had of a number of Large-billed Scrub-wrens who were also seen to feed their dependent young and a Lyrebird gave a prolonged call close to us but was not seen. Other birds present included Satin Bowerbirds,Yellow-throated & White-browed Scrub-wrens, Eastern Yellow Robin and Mistletoebird.

We wound our way further up the mountain and lunched at the Pinus Radiata Plantation picnic area within the State Forest. There was very little water in the creek which is most unusual and demonstrates just how dry things are and the birds were quiet. However once again Large-billed Scrub-wrens and Black-faced Monarchs were found each feeding one young, a lone Bassian Thrush was seen flying low through the Pine plantation, Golden & Rufous Whistlers were found in the native vegetation along the creek, and Eastern Spinebill, Brown Gerygone, Grey Fantail & Spinebills were seen, White-throated Treecreepers search the trunks of the Pine Trees and White-browed Scrub-wrens fed on the forest floor amongst the pine needles.

We then retreated from the Mountains and headed to Wood Point, on the western shores of Lake Macquarie. Once again, a small dam close to the road provided much excitement when it was found to have another 2 Latham’s Snipe, proving good views. Other birds here included Clamorous Reedwarblers, Swamphens with 1 juvenile, and White-breasted Woodswallows hawked overhead. In the Forest Red Gums, were Rainbow, Scaly and Musk Lorikeets, the latter appeared to be feeding on lerps. Sacred Kingfisher, Superb & Variegated Fairy-wren, Eastern Rosella, Willie Wagtail, were some of the woodland birds present. Yellow & Brown Thornbills were feeding in the Swamp Oaks fringing the Lake, where 2 Fan-tailed Cuckoos were located, and there were a number of Yellow-faced & Lewin’s Honeyeaters. Along the estuary, lined with mangroves, were Little Pied Cormorant, Chestnut Teal, Masked Lapwings and Pelicans. Other birds present included Yellow Robin, Grey Butcherbird & Golden Whistler. Overall 66 species were seen on the day. Most of the company knew each other so that there was much socialising and celebrations too for driver Chris, who on last Australia Day, became an Australian citizen at a ceremony at Wyong Council.

by Alan Morris leading for Follow That Bird

Long Reef Cool Waders Trip Report

Saturday 20 January 2021
John Gale

Pacific Golden Plover by Nevil Lazarus
Our trip began on a hot, sunny and breezy morning at Deep Creek, where we saw Darter, Little Egret, Grey and Chestnut Teal – the latter with chicks, Red-browed Finches were busy feeding, Red-whiskered Bulbuls, Red and Little Wattlebirds, and a single White-throated Needletail scythed overhead. From the bridge we had good views of a Peregrine attending to its talons on the wing, and resting Great Cormorants.

Onward to Warriewood Wetlands we found Dollarbirds, several Sacred Kingfishers, a Kookaburra nestling peering out of a termitarium, a small group of Varied Sitellas, White-cheeked Honeyeaters, Silvereyes, heard the tinkling call of a White-throated Gerygone, saw Brown Gerygone, Little and Brown Thornbills, Noisy Minors alerted us to a Brown Goshawk, and a small squadron of Australian Pelican thermalled high above the treetops.

We detoured to Jamison Park where a pair of White-bellied Sea-eagles majestically soared the ridge, and located Superb and Variegated Wrens, Eastern Yellow Robin, Australian White Ibis, White-faced Heron, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, and White-browed Scrub-wren.

The Nankeen Kestrel pair at Long Reef were showing well on the bluff while on the rock platform Red-necked Stints scurried about, in attendance with Ruddy Turnstone, Golden Plover, Grey-tailed Tattler, Sooty Oystercatcher, Crested Tern, and the 4 species of cormorant, Little Black, Great, Little Pied and a fly-past by a Pied. Out to sea, we could see a few Short-tailed Shearwaters riding the waves and our scopes lucked onto a Pomerine Jaeger.

Around 65 species – not bad for a hot and windy day, thanks to the group for their sharp eyes and interest.

Good birding, John Galeguiding for FTB.

Christmas Party Birdwatching Trip Report

Saturday 16 December 2020
Guide:Alan Morris

Caspian Tern by Nevil Lazarus
On Saturday 16 December 2006, 22 eager birders left Sydney, where showers and drizzle were the order of the day, and headed for the Central Coast to check out the local hotspots. By the time the coach arrived at Tuggerah the rain had eased, and we were able to bird in mild and overcast conditions for the rest of the day. First stop was Picnic Point, near The Entrance, to check out the waders. As some of the people who made up the group, were new to birding and some were from overseas, there was birding at all levels. There were plenty of waders and other waterbirds to see, with Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and Red-necked Stints being the commonest. However there were a few Common Greenshanks, and a bevy of terns, being Whiskered, Little, Crested and Caspian. Great and Little Egrets provided good comparisons for the beginners, while 4 species of Cormornats rested on the sandbanks. We were also able to see a pair of juvenile Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes being fed, a juvenile White-breasted Woodswallow being fed by a number of birds and Willie Wagtails being fed in the nest. Everywhere it seemed there were Yellow-rumped Thornbills.

Morning tea was taken at North Entrance Sensory gardens, over-looking Terilbah Island. Here we were able to check out the lone Marsh Sandpiper (formerly known as the Little Greenshank) and compare it with 28 Common Greenshanks that it was feeding amongst! Plenty of Bar-tailed Godwits were feeding in the shallows, Rainbow Lorikeets were feeding young in the Casuarinas, and many White-faced Herons and Cormorants were present, along with the same four species of terns. Good views were had of Whiskered Terns in breeding plumage. Heading north towards Toukley we stopped in some coastal baksia scrub in Wyrrabalong NP and walked out to Tuggerah Beach. Yellow Robins, Grey Fantail, Silvereyes, Little Wattlebirds and Brown Thornbills were the common birds here, out at sea we could see Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, while beach cast Short-tails and a Fleshy-footed Shearwater, were strewn along the beach.

We lunched at Rotary Park, Budgewoi, where we could check out Budgewoi Lake, and there were many more waders here, mostly Godwits, Sharpies and Stints, however there were also large numbers of Black Swans (c.1300), Grey Teal (c.200) and Chestnut Teal (c.100). A pair of Chestnut Teal tried to keep their ducklings away from the rest of the ducks without much success. Royal Spoonbills, with their nuptial crests blowing in the wind, were roosting on a little sand island in the Lake, and Figbirds were feeding young in the paperbarks above the picnic tables where Orioles were also present. White-bellied Sea-eagle, Whistling Kite, Black-winged Stilts and more Whiskered Terns were found on Budgewoi Lake. We headed for Soldiers Point Beach where we walked from there to Pelican Point to check the waders out on the reefs and here we added Pacific Golden Plovers and Red-capped Plovers. It was a pleasant walk and enabled close up views of more Cormorants and Shearwaters as well as the plovers.

Our final stop of the day was at The Entrance channel, where as well as checking out the New Zealand Ice-cream Shop, we could also check out the birds on the sandbars in the channel. While there was nothing new for the day, good views were had of more Red-capped Plovers, Bar-tailed Godwits, Little, Crested and Caspian Terns. All up 78 species were seen, the rain held off and Janene’s scrumptious Christmas cake at morning tea, made the outing a fitting end to a great birding year and an enjoyable lead up to the Christmas Break. Merry Christmas everyone and good birding in 2007.

by Alan Morris leading for FTB.

Putty Road turned to Pittown Lagoon Trip Report

Saturday 25 November 2020
Guide:Edwin Vella

Rainbow Bee Eater by Nevil Lazarus

Due to the presence of bush fires, our original plan to spend the days birding along the Putty Rd was overcome by a fantastic day in the Hawkesbury area. Though the day was quite hot, it turned out to be a great success with 111 species recorded during the bus trip, including a number of rare/uncommon sightings for Sydney.

Our first destination was at Pitt Town Lagoon which was definitely a great choice as the place was alive with birds including 3 White-necked (Pacific) Herons, 40 Glossy Ibis, 10 Australian Shelducks, 20 or so Pink-eared Ducks, hundreds of Grey Teal, Red-kneed and Black-fronted Dotterels, good views of BaillonÕs and Australian Spotted Crakes, a Black-tailed Native-hen, a Swamp Harrier, one Red-necked Stint, around 200 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, a Greenshank, a Red-necked Avocet and several Pied Stilts. The excellent variety of water birds was also supplemented with other interesting birds including a few Zebra, Red-browed and Double-barred Finches, Chestnut-breasted and Nutmeg Mannikins, a pair of Crested Shrike-tits with young, Red-rumped Parrots and lots of Fairy Martins overhead.

After a wonderful 2 hours at Pitt Town, we had Morning Tea at Cattai National Park. A walk beside the Hawkesbury River here revealed several beautiful Rainbow Bee-eaters hawking over with numerous Fairy Martins, a Sacred Kingfisher, a female Darter, Scarlet and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Rufous Whistler, Yellow Thornbills and a Golden Bronze-cuckoo.

We had a relaxing lunch at Mitchell Park. Whilst having lunch and during an early afternoon short walk along Cattai Creek, many of the resident, nomadic and summer visiting birds were evident including a few Dollarbirds, Sacred Kingfishers, a pair of Brown Cuckoo-doves, several Scarlet Honeyeaters, Little Wattlebirds, Noisy Friarbird and Satin Bowerbirds.

As we drove out of Mitchell Park, we could have almost drove past without noticing a male and female Common Bronzewing beside our bus and a tiny Peaceful Dove escorted us on our way out.

Our last birding destination for the day was the Windsor-Richmond Turf Farms were 2 pairs of adult Banded Lapwings were found together with 3 tiny Banded Lapwing chicks, more Zebra Finches, several Straw-necked Ibis and another Swamp Harrier.

Before heading back to Sydney, an ice cream stop was welcome by all at the shops in Richmond.

by Edwin Vella guiding for FTB

Fitzroy Falls & The Southern Highlands

Saturday 28 October 2020
Guide:Edwin Vella

Golden Whistler, Female by Neil Fifer

On Saturday 28th October, a full bus load of birders enjoyed a fantastic day trip to the NSW southern highlands with cool southerlies creating an atmosphere typical of this region.

On our way down to the southern highlands, we briefly saw a Brown Goshawk and Little Eagle fly over the freeway amongst several other bird species.

At Cecil Hoskins Nature Reserve around mid morning we had some wonderful birds greet us including a few showy Striated Pardalotes in the eucalypts at the car park. The lagoon also had a magnificent Swamp Harrier, several other water birds including Pacific (White-necked) and White-faced Herons, Little Pied Cormorants, a few Grey Teal, Coots, Australasian Grebe and a nice Sacred Kingfisher over looking it.

Most of our bird watching that day was centred around Fitzroy Falls in Morton National Park were 3 Superb Lyrebirds (a male and 2 females) were obliging as they can ever be and even joined us for lunch! These Lyrebirds offered plenty of wonderful photographic opportunities for those of the group who had a camera and gave us all a lot of admiration for these fantastic birds.

Besides the lyrebirds, there was plenty of good sightings of other birds and favourites included a Nankeen Night Heron standing motionless beside Bundanoon Creek (which actually runs into Fitzroy Falls), a female Gang-gang Cockatoo, a Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo, a number of Tree Martins over the picnic area, obliging Brown and Striated Thornbills (one of the Striated Thornbills was quite low down and stayed motionless for some time while Janine had her scope on to this bird. This rare opportunity gave us the chance to see this bird normally associated with the tree tops, for some great close up views) a beautiful male Golden Whistler singing to its heart content, a family of 3 Crested Shrike-tits (also great views), an Eastern Whipbird in full view (an elusive bird that is usually just heard only) and a few White-throated Tree-creepers.

It was a good day enjoyed by all.

by Edwin Vella guiding for FTB

Patonga and Brisbane Waters

Saturday 7 October 2020
Guide:Alan Morris

White-faced Heron by Neil Fifer

Follow That Bird organised a day trip to the Central Coast on a lovely sunny Saturday on Saturday 7 October and the the day was made perfect by the exceptional views over Brisbane Water, Broken Bay and Bouddi & Brisbane Water National Parks that one has as you travel from Kariong down to Woy Woy and then up over the hills to Pearl Beach and Patonga. While the heathlands seemed to be pretty bare of birds because the Banksias and Lambertias have mostly finished flowering, generally speaking, the remaining wildlflowers were in full array and we saw plenty of Waratahs, Boronias, Eriostemons, Bush Peas and Flannel Flowers, in ideal viewing conditions. Our first stop was Pearl Beach where we explored the Arboretum before having morning tea down on the beach. In the Arbortetum, Turpentines and some eucalypts were in flower and the area was full of very noisy Red and Little Wattebirds, Rainbow and Musk Lorikeets, jostling each other for the best nectar sources. However among these birds we managed to see Olive-backed Oriole, King Parrot, Satin Bowrbird, Grey Butcherbird & Lewin’s Honeyater. Down at the beach, a Whistling Kite was flying over, Crested Terns and Cormorants fished in the Bay.

Off to Warrah Trig, through all the wildlfowers, and then a walk down to Tony Doyle’s Lookout and then back along the firetrail, over the heath to the Coach. Spotted Pardalote, Eastern Spinebill, White-eared Honeyeater and Grey Shrike-thrush were the main species here, with Welcome Swallows overhead. We lunched down at Patonga near to Dark Corner. Out on the bay Little, Pied and Pied Cormorants were fishing and roosting with Crested Terns on the fishing trawlers while a Whistling Kite kept swooping for food and taking it back up into a nest in the Norfolk Island Pine. Nearby was a Satin Bowerbird’s bower, the owner and his friends in attendance, and we were all amazed just how many blue straws and plastic blue milk bottle tops one Bowerbird can amass! A male Brush Turkey was nearby maintaining his mound under some lantana, a Fan-tailed Cuckoo was calling while Brown Thornbill and Noisy Miners kept watch. A walk along the inlet side of the Patonga Spit and then up along the creek was very rewarding. A pair of Striated Herons were feeding on the mud flat along with Great Egret, and some friendly local showed us first, a small roost of Nankeen Night Herons, pointed out where a Bassian Thrush could be found and it then appeared and also a nesting Mallard Duck! A pair of Sea-Eagles were calling over head and attracted the attention of a Peregrine Falcon which made a number of strikes at them. Elsewhere there were calling Mangrove Gerygone and White-browed Scrub-wren, Grey Butcherbird, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Golden Whistler and Yellow-faced Honeyeater were seen.

Our final stop was at Blackalls Bay, Woy Woy where we could look out over Ramsay Island. The Island was a mass of birds with about 200 nesting pairs of White Ibis and about 100 pairs of Pelicans being present. In addition about 30 Pelicans were doing their courtship rituals of waving their bright pink extended bills and chasing each other through the colonies while juvenile Pelicans were learning to fish. Feeding on the exposed sand flats around the island were Whimbrels and Eastern Curlews, Pied Oystercatchers and a lone Bar-tailed Godwit! Caspian Terns, Masked Lapwing & White-faced Heron and a Great Egret were roosting on the Island and a Royal Spoonbill was seen nearby. Silver Gulls, Crested Terns, Cormorants and Darters were also present adding to the mass of birds, while the noise and smell of the colony completed the aura associated with visiting such a place! It was great end to the day with over 70 species being recorded.

By Alan Morris leading for FTB

Royal National Park in Spring

Saturday 23 September 2020
Guide:Steve Anyon-Smith

Nankeen Nightheron

Not our normal Trip Report but Steve is feeling a bit snowed under so have put Daphne Gonzalvez’s photos up that she often sends to me after a wonderful Day Trip and this was.

Tawney-crowned Honeyeater

Perfect weather with so many wild flowers, delighful Southern Emu-wrens popped up, high on a dead tree for our sirst walk of the day, a lifer for many and a thrill for the rest.

Australian Owlet-nightjar

We had 89 possible seen and heard bird species with Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters a highlight as was the Owlet-nightjar spotted by Bernice Wilcock and Dorothy Devery.


Sacred Kingfisher and Azure flashed past for some while Wonga Pigeons were almost stepped on by others.

An ideallic days birding, often repeated on FTB’s Day Trips.

Recognising Bird Calls

Saturday 9 September 2020
Guide:Edwin Vella

Warriewood Boardwalk which usually looks like this in good Weather
The showers on and off had difficulty to dampen our spirits with this outing to Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Although this outing was focused primarily to listening and identifying bird calls, we also enjoyed some good bird sightings on the side.

We arrived in the pouring rain at the Warriewood Wetlands but the beautiful song of a good variety of birds kept on pouring in as well. We heard the loud staccato calls of the Masked Lapwings, the screaming calls of the Purple Swamphen and Dusky Moorhen, the distinctive ‘whip-crack’ (and also some brief sightings) of the elusive Eastern Whipbirds, the squeaky calls of the Grey Fantails, the beautiful calls of the Rufous and Golden Whistlers, the machine-gun call of the LewinÕs Honeyeater, the beautiful falling leaf call of the White-throated Gerygone, the rolling calls of the Olive-backed Oriole and the rich descending trilling calls of the Tawny Grassbird. Also an impressive sighting for us was a male Swamp Harrier flying very low over the board walk.

We had morning tea beside Narrabeen Lake were we saw a nesting pair of Ospreys on top of a Norfolk Island Pine beside the Lake, a Whistling Kite, the beautiful Eastern Rosella and heard the rich and melodious call of the Reed Warbler very close to us.

Later that morning and lunch time was spent at Deep Creek Reserve where we were impressed to see a waterfall in full glory. Here we heard and saw both Little and Red Wattlebirds, both Yellow-rumped and Brown Thornbills, several Silvereyes, the skulking Striated Heron and groups of both Chestnut Teal and Wood Ducks showing off a number of displays.

The early afternoon was spent at Jameson Park on the south side of Narrabeen Lagoon where some of the birds we heard at the previous locations were also present here as well as new ones like the raucous call of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Galahs, King Parrot and the Eastern Yellow Robins which also showed off nicely.

We also made a short visit to Red Hill a little west of Narrabeen were the New Holland Honeyeaters showed off their different calls and a group of Red-browed Finches were feeding within meters of the bus at the car park.

An enjoyable day’s birding proving that the birds are just as active and calling in rain and not just in the shine.

By Edwin Vella guiding for FTB

PS Vision Australia requested this day’s bird call listening to learn to identify birds their patrons are hearing locally, and despite the weather difficulties it was a great day out with much inspiration to repeat the experience for the blind and the sighted. Janene Luff.

Beginner Birdwatching in Spring

Saturday 2 September 2020
Guide:Alan Morris

Brown Goshawk by Nevil Lazarus
Fourteen ‘eager learning’ birders joined Janene and myself to the fantastic and picturesque Wisemans Ferry area in the north-western part of Sydney. It was a fantastic start to spring with fabulous temperatures around the mid-twenties throughout the day.

Our first birding location for the day was Laughtondale Gully where after barely moved off the bus and instantly greeted by an excellent variety of birds. Initially a Brown Goshawk flew low causing a stir for the local avian population but soon after it had moved off, a good variety of the smaller bush birds revealed themselves including stunning Eastern Spinebills, Little Wattlebirds, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Crimson Rosellas and a very confiding Spotted Pardalote.

During our morning tea at the Wisemans Ferry unexpectedly an Emu was spotted below in the paddock and a Blue-faced Honeyeater was also heard.

Around lunchtime, we explored the beautiful Mill Creek area in Dharug National Park where it was difficult to avoid the ‘friendly’ Brush Turkey (we had to make sure if did not follow us onto the bus) but not so confiding was the Superb Lyrebird which only a lucky few managed a few brief views of a male in display but we all had time to enjoy its beautiful song and mimicry around lunch time. We all had great views of a stunning male Satin Bowerbird, a pair of beautiful King Parrots feeding, Eastern Yellow Robins, Golden Whistlers, Olive-backed Oriole, Noisy Friarbirds, Grey Fantails and a Grey Shrike-thrush moving on the ground in the picnic area. Two beautifully marked Lace Monitors in the picnic area also made a good show.

We also made a brief visit to the Hazel Del picnic area in Dharug NP, were we enjoyed good views of 2 Brown Cuckoo-doves and heard the penetrating calls of the Bell Miners and the call of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo.

We also did a short walk along the convict trail, also in Dharug NP, were a number of birds showed well including Grey Fantails, confiding Eastern Yellow Robins, Lewin’s Honeyeaters, Varied Sitellas and we also identified a couple of the smaller ‘little brown jobs’, the Brown Gerygone and Brown Thornbill at very close range.

All who participated enjoyed a very pleasant day’s birding and went home with the good feeling of having learnt a few things about identifying birds, their habits, their habitats and behaviour.

By Edwin Vella guiding for FTB

Swift parrot Searching Trip Report

Saturday 5 August 2020
Guide:Alan Morris

Striated Thornbill by Nevil Lazarus
When the Follow That Bird Programme for 2006 was being prepared in 2005 there was every chance that there would be Swift Parrots and Regent Honeyeaters to be found on the Central Coast on the Winter National Survey Date of 5-6 August 2006 because since 2002 Swift Parrots have been very regular winter visitors to the Central Coast and Regent Honeyeaters are present most winters. But not in 2006, firstly because there was some very dry periods between November and April so resulting in poor flowering of Swamp Mahogany, Spotted Gum and Forest Red Gum in coastal NSW, and secondly there was good flowering in Victoria! So the Swifties hardly left Victoria this winter while Regent Honeyeaters did not move the coast at all and infact, more birds than usual turned up in Victoria, particularly in Chiltern National Park! Our loss was Victoria’s gain! So in respect to the target species the day was a dead loss and couple with a rain depression forming off the coast sending showers and winds onto the NSW Central Coast, there was a very inhospitable start to the day!

Initially the birds were hard to find and at South Tacoma and around the Tuggerah Nature Reserve there was little to see and hear! Bushbirds were hiding but fortunately the waterbirds on Wyong Creek were showing well with big flocks of Little Black Cormorants, Darters drying their wings and Great Egret roosting clost to us and plenty of Chestnut Teal on the River. Finally in the paperbark swamps, the birds responded with Yellow Thornbills, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Spotted & Striated Pardalotes and Grey Shrike-thrush claiming our attention. In the Spotted Gums on the hill, Rainbow Lorikeets, Long-billed Corellas, Eastern Rosellas and Galahs were claiming their nesting homes, and there was much excitement among them when firstly a Sea-Eagle flew over, and then a Brown Goshawk! Much swarking and flying about!

A walk up Wadalba Hill, east of Warnervale soon had us all taking much delight in an adult male Rose Robin that continued to flash its rosy breast at the group. Nearby were Red-browed Finches, Grey Fantail, Golden Whistlers and plenty of Bellminers for new birders to check out! At the base of the hill, there were plenty of Cattle Egrets and Straw-necked Ibis to see and Pied and Grey Butcherbirds to delight us with their calls. Our lunch site was at McKenzie Park, Budgewoi, a known Swift Parrot site but not today. Watching Black Swans, Great Cormorant, Caspian Tern and Crested Pigeon were part of our lunch time activities!

Our final search site was at Colongra Swamp, Budgewoi were we walked through the Scribbly Gum woodland and Swamp Mahogany swamp forest of the Nature Reserve to the freshwater wetland of Colongra, alongside Lake Munmotah. Black Swans were the main waterbirds at the Swamp, but in the forest were White-throated Treecreeper, Yellow, Brown & Striated Thornbills, Yellow Robins and Golden Whistlers were found, as well as Eastern Whipbirds and Red-browed Finches. Terrestial Orchids were seen on the return walk, particularly White Caladenias and Greenhoods. Safely back in the coach for the return trip back to Sydney, and down came the rain! It was so good that it had held off during our long walk. We in fact did have a good days birding for the dead of winter! We saw 70 species during the day and went to locations to which most participants had not previously visited, and with all this rain, should be great birding spots later in spring! See you out Swiftie hunting next year!

By Alan Morris guiding for FTB

Lyrebirds at Minnamurra Trip Report

Saturday 29 July 2020
Guide:Bob Ashford

Superb Lyrebird by Stephen Morgan (participant)
Just as we arrived at Minnamurra a Lyrebird flew across in front of Janene’s bus! It didn’t hang around but was considered an encouraging omen for the day.

The day in fact was bracing and sunny – the first after several weeks of grey and often wet days. So there was a pretty buoyant atmosphere among us all as we disembarked, checked the Visitors Centre and gathered round the biccies and coffee!

The first visitor was a Pied Currawong. So were the next five! And the following three! Then a calling Grey Shrike-thrush announced its presence along with several White-browed and Yellow-throated Scrubwrens. Bold Lewin’s Honeyeaters came to check us out and a beautiful male Golden Whistler taunted us up in the canopy. All boded well. Indeed those very new members of the birding fraternity had already picked up a few “lifers”.

And so we set off along the trail to the waterfalls. All the rain meant that they should provide a wonderful sight, a welcome change after many, many months of drought inflicted trickles.

As a general rule birding should involve listening and this is certainly the case in rainforest. Scratching among leaves is an instant clue to forest birds. Berries, twigs and flowers dropping through the canopy is another good clue. It can sound like rain – but on a sunny cloudless day? In this case it is much more likely to be Satin Bowerbirds, Crimson Rosellas, King Parrots and possibly Topknot Pigeons.

And there are the calls too! We enjoyed listening to several male Lyrebirds belting out their songs. These fabulous mimics present a wonderful repertoire of other bird species songs which had many confused until everyone tuned in to the particular timbre in the Lyrebird’s sound.

Superb Lyrebird by Stephen Morgan (participant)
Gently we climbed toward the Falls. A Brown Thornbill caused a flurry of excitement after a frustrating stretch of no sightings or calls. Another Golden Whistler taunted us. Much flapping and falling “bits” had us all craning our necks to see who was responsible until several pairs of sharp eyes pointed out a glistening male Satin Bowerbird and, possibly, a couple of Green Catbirds. Several people saw Lyrebirds too – but most of us missed out. Still the Falls were beautiful and we headed back to the Visitors Centre happy but a little disappointed about not seeing Lyrebirds.

And then, as Chris and Janene served the coffee, word arrived that there was a Lyrebird just few metres along the track scratching in the leaves. And there was. And it stayed for twenty minutes. Totally unconcerned by twenty plus beaming birders. It scratched, it gobbled big worms and flicked rubbish over a diminutive White-browed Scrubwren following it for missed goodies! We couldn’t have asked for better views.

Among us though there was a great deal of suspicion that this particular Lyrebird was on Janene’s payroll, recompensed to appear at just the right time to round off a what was a very pleasant day indeed.

By Bob Ashford guiding for FTB

The Michigan Mob Trip Report

Thursday 22 & Friday 23 June 2021
Guide:Carol Probets & Steve Anyon-Smith

Beautiful Firetail, heard but not seen by Nevil Lazarus
On Thursday 22nd June I joined the group of students from Detroit Michigan at Glenbrook for our day exploring the Blue Mountains and its wildlife. It’s always fun showing newly arrived visitors around – everything is fresh and exciting and the colourful parrots and cockatoos never fail to impress! Today was no exception.

First it was off to Euroka Clearing in the Blue Mountains National Park, where the first birds we saw were a noisy flock of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. These charismatic birds allowed us to approach them closely and no doubt some great photos and videos were taken. After a short walk we found a small group of Eastern Grey Kangaroos grazing out in the open, then later we discovered more amongst the creekside vegetation. A number of females obviously had joeys in pouch – we hoped one might emerge for us to see but they all stayed snugly inside! We heard a Superb Lyrebird singing on the distant hillside. Other birds we saw here included brilliantly coloured Rainbow Lorikeets speeding across the sky, fearless Noisy Miners, pink-and-grey Galahs, a Grey Butcherbird, Crimson Rosellas, Australian Wood Ducks, Magpie-lark and an Australian Raven who obviously thought spring had come early as we watched it carrying sticks back and forth building a nest.

Morning tea was a “cultural experience” for some, with the opportunity to try some distinctly Aussie “delicacies” such as Milo and Monte Carlo biscuits!

Next we headed up to the higher parts of the mountains. Today the characteristic “mountain mist” was so thick we could barely see any of the views, but luckily it cleared a little during the afternoon.

Our Lovely Galahs by David Simpson
A quick stop at Katoomba Falls Reserve allowed us to have great looks at a glossy blue male Satin Bowerbird and some King-Parrots. Then we visited Leura Cascades where we looked at a bowerbird’s bower, decorated fabulously with much blue plastic.

At Gordon Falls, our lunch site, the banksias were flowering and attracting Red Wattlebirds. A mixed flock of small birds moved through allowing some of the group to see Eastern Spinebill, Silvereye, Brown Thornbill and White-throated Treecreeper. At the lookout, Bell Miners could be heard from deep in the valley below and we glimpsed the famous Three Sisters between swirling mist.

Our last birding stop for the day was Kings Tableland, an area of heathland where we were to search for the rare Glossy Black-Cockatoo. We found chewings where they had been feeding on the Allocasuarina seeds, New Holland Honeyeaters were everywhere, a few White-naped Honeyeaters and the beautiful Crimson Rosellas again. While driving from one lookout to the next a group of 5-6 Gang-gang Cockatoos flew right past the bus. Then as we were walking down to the last rocky lookout a sound in the shrubs caught our attention. Suddenly a black cockatoo with yellow on its neck and a bright red tail flew up, appearing momentarily before it disappeared over the cliff. That was the only view we got of the Glossy Black-Cockatoo but it was a fitting end to our Blue Mountains day.

By Carol Probets guiding for FTB

A Malaysian guide recently said to me that the zoo is the place to see animals and that national parks are there for the animals to see you. If this is so, then the animals in Royal National Park on 23rd June 2006 were not playing according to the rules.

Tawny-crowned Honeyeater by Nevil Lazarus
Perfect winter conditions with little if any wind and mostly clear skies greeted Bryn and his students Jon, Chris, Corey, Danielle, Lindsey, Kitty and Cara from Detroit Michigan in the United States as we left the Cronulla ferry wharf for Bundeena. Bryn’s mission was for his students to learn more about the park’s ecology and indulge in his birding passion. His charges were like most young Americans of my acquaintance – polite, attentive and communicative.

Our first stop at Bonnie Vale produced the reliable Nankeen night-herons, royal spoonbills, and all the regulars with parrots-a-plenty and a glimpse of a brown goshawk.

A quick check of some low heathland off Bundeena Drive produced southern emu-wren, tawny-crowned honeyeater and a few of the more common woodland birds.

But we were destined to see bigger things from the coastal cliffs at Wattamolla. After chasing a collared sparrowhawk and a young sea-eagle out of the picnic area we plonked ourselves at the edge of the Great Eastern Fire Break and immediately had stunning and very close views of a number of humpback whales on their northward migration. A few albatross were seen but alas, although heard, little penguins were hiding from us. It was difficult to drag ourselves away from the grand coastal scenery. But as soon as we started to walk back to the car park we found our path was blocked by rock warblers. These then frightened a pair of swamp wallabies – the first wild macropods ever seen for many of our guests.

Azure Kingfisherby Nevil Lazarus
Lady Carrington Drive was our last stop. We had a great look at a male lyrebird as it climbed a tree and flew across the river towards us. Awesome mimicry from this and other male lyrebirds reminded me of why Royal is so nice to bird during winter. The usual mix of small passerines included a male rose robin.

I made the mistake of suggesting that the area we were birding was good for animals at night. We soon arranged for a bit of impromptu spotlighting and for many this was the day’s highlight. Common brushtail possum was joined two minutes later by prolonged and close views of an Australian owlet-nightjar and a sugar glider sitting in adjacent trees. They were seemingly oblivious to the crowd standing about ten feet away. My promise of tawny frogmouth was delivered with two birds seen. 79 birds and four mammals were seen on the day.

Many thanks to Bryn and his fine young team. They proved great ambassadors for their country.

by Steve Anyon-Smith guiding for FTB

Honeyeater Migration Trip Report

Saturday 8 April 2021
Guide:Carol Probets

Striated Pardalote by David Simpson
The annual autumn migration of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters through the Blue Mountains is a truly spectacular event when conditions are right, and on 8th April we couldn’t have been luckier. The weather was glorious and the honeyeaters were moving through in impressive numbers.

I joined the bus (with seven birders on board plus Chris at the wheel) and we headed to our picturesque morning tea site at Katoomba Falls, where a couple of tame Pacific Black Ducks were obviously hoping for a handout. A Grey Fantail darting about was the first of many throughout the day – evidence of their current influx.

We then headed out onto Narrow Neck, one of the best honeyeater migration hotspots in the mountains. On arriving at a place where the peninsula narrows considerably between the Jamison and Megalong Valleys, we positioned ourselves on a rock platform to watch flock after flock of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters streaming along the clifftops and at times whooshing just over our heads. As each flock perched briefly in a nearby tree they provided challenging binocular practice for the less experienced members of the group. We also saw a few Noisy Friarbirds moving through, Spotted & Striated Pardalotes were calling constantly nearby, a Golden Whistler tantalised us with glimpses and we got great views of the resident New Holland Honeyeaters. No sooner had we got back into the bus when a Rockwarbler appeared on the road right in front of us and hopped around in the open for all to see. A short walk further along and we saw yet more Grey Fantails and a pair of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos flying across the landscape.

At our lunch site we had more Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos and a number of green-plumaged Satin Bowerbirds. Some of the group walked down to the lookout at Gordon Falls where a very co-operative Rockwarbler hopped around the track and an Eastern Spinebill posed for us with its smart tan, black & white coat. Crescent Honeyeaters were also calling from the bush nearby.

Our last stop for the day was at Kings Tableland, an area of extensive heathland and the chance of some very special birds. One of these was the Beautiful Firetail which we managed to spy as it flew across the track, flashing its brilliant scarlet rump. We examined the chewed-up seed cones of the Allocasuarina shrubs where Glossy Black-Cockatoos had been feeding. A Dusky Woodswallow was a nice find while a Chestnut-rumped Heathwren called briefly from the dense heath. But the highlight had to be the pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles rising up from the lookout and soaring together in a wonderful display flight as we watched them rise higher and higher in the thermals until they were as high as the clouds (if there had been clouds in the sky, which there weren’t!). A great end to a day which proved that autumn really is a fabulous time of year in the mountains.

by Carol Probets guiding for FTB

Bundeena Ferry, Wattamolla & Wattle Tree Forest in the Royal NP Trip Report

Saturday 11 March 2021
Guide:Bob Ashford

Pied Cormorant by Participant Dom Gonzalvez
As we waited to board the ferry at Cronulla a Peregrine passed overhead and then circled nearby so we could all enjoy it. As we took our seats at the bow of the ferry a very smart Pied Cormorant idly watched us. On the nearby beach Little Corellas clowned in the fig trees to entertain us. In all an excellent start to what proved to be a day of great birding in excellent company!

On arrival at Bundeena we drove round to the campsite at Bonnie Vale where Janene and Chris set up the tea and biccy’s table. That we didn’t rush to refresh ourselves had nothing to do with ingratitude and far more to do with four Nankeen Night Herons brilliantly hidden (almost!) in the top of a large fig tree. A male Koel, a tumble of Thornbills and a pair of very inquisitive Kookaburras, also distracted us – among other enticing calls and glimpses.

The drive to Wattamolla had us checking anything that flew – and almost without exception they were New Holland Honeyeaters. Almost! – we did enjoy some tantalising glimpses of White-throated Needletail Swifts, but we had far better views of them later.

By the time we arrived at Wattamolla the day was very hot and humid and there was a weeny bit of reluctance to head into the heath. Almost immediately reluctance vanished as two very bold Beautiful Firetails landed barely two metres in front of us to drink by the creek. Striding off, a happy troupe of birders set their sights on the next “tick” – Southern Emu Wren. Sadly, it was not to be though Janene saved the day by spotting two Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters feeding a juvenile. The youngster was almost invisible in the heath except when its parents returned with food. This was all going on about four metres from the track and for twenty minutes everyone enjoyed spectacular views. As we headed back for lunch we stopped at some pools, the remnants of a rapidly drying creek. Among the New Holland Honeyeaters were three more Beautiful Firetails and an elusive Rock Warbler. Above us several Needle-tail Swifts swooped and swerved and several young, rather fluffy Welcome Swallows were enjoying test flights.

After lunch we headed to Wattle Forest and were immediately rewarded with wonderful views of an iridescent Azure Kingfisher splashing about in the Hacking River. As we followed the trail into the rainforest two Lyrebirds flaunted themselves while Rufous Fantails, a Golden Whistler, a male Satin Bowerbird and several White-browed Scrubwrens provided the supporting cast.

The soft plaintive call of Eastern Crested Shrike Tits had us scurrying to locate them. There were four in all with one particularly impressive acrobat swinging wildly on a strip of hanging bark.

On the leafy forest we counted a dozen Eastern Whipbirds and four Green Catbirds – and another Superb Lyrebird. On our return we watched one Lyrebird scratching away at the litter accompanied by a couple of Yellow Throated Scrubwrens. Try as hard as we could we could not find a Pilotbird with any of the Lyrebirds. Where do these elusive birds hide themselves?

Still, no complaints. We had a lot of fun and saw over seventy species of bird – plus a Water Dragon, an ever-hopeful Lace Monitor and a rather lazy Red-bellied Black Snake. Who could ask for anything more?

By Bob Ashford guiding for Follow That Bird

Figbirds and Tawny Frogmouths Trip Report

Saturday 25 February 2021
Guide:John Gale

Rose and John sorting it out
We began on a glorious summer’s day with a full busload of eagle eyes at Duckholes Track, Ku-ring-gai Chase NP. We saw Peaceful Dove and flowering Red Bloodwoods (urn-shaped stalkless fruit) were targeted by several honeyeaters including White-eared, White-cheeked, New Holland, Brown-headed, Yellow-tufted, Little Wattlebird and Eastern Spinebill, and Eastern Yellow Robin came to check up on us. Morning tea at McCarr’s Creek produced White-throated Treecreeper, distant views of a cryptic Striated Heron (well spotted Gordon) and a pair of Sacred Kingfishers feeding on the mangrove flats. Kookaburras and a Tawny Frogmouth offered photo opportunities. Next stop at Warriewood Wetlands, Daphne found our target bird, the most beautiful and confiding female Painted Button-quail. Our stroll beside the Swamp Mahogany forest at DY gave us Red-whiskered Bulbul, Silvereye, Grey Fantail, Yellow Thornbill, White-browed Scrub-wren, and Eastern and Crimson Rosella, before the lagoon showed Great Cormorant, Pelican, Chestnut Teal, Silver Gull, Red Wattlebird, and Superb Blue Wren, of which several males were moulting into eclipse plumage. After lunch a merry chase led to wonderful views of Black-fronted Dotteral and Welcome Swallow – wings and back a beautiful sheen of iridescent blue. Finally, Greendale Creek offered ducks – Pacific Black, Hardhead, Grey and Chestnut Teal, an Australasian Grebe bobbed around, Cormorants – Little Pied and Little Black, White-faced Heron, Dusky Moorhen, Purple Swamphen, Eurasian Coot, Olive-backed Oriole, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, White-plumed Honeyeater, and Red-browed Finch, among others. No raptors today, however the Noisy Minor alarm calls alerted us to a lone (or last of a scything flock) White-throated Needletail, it’s silhouette close enough to a Peregrine’s to be worried. Welcome to the bird bus Daphne and Ellie – thanks for your botanical knowledge, and Deborah and Tricia, welcome to the rewarding world of birding.

Thanks one and all for sharp eyes, questions and jokes (Alan – groan) and a great day, good birding, John Gale.

Wild Watagan Birds Trip Report

Saturday 4 February 2021
Guide: Alan Morris and Dion Hobcroft

Group Wild Watagans
32 keen birders, including many new birdwatchers, headed for the Watagan Mountains, located west of Lake Macquarie, on the NSW Central Coast on an overcast but sunny morning, including two guides and drivers in two coaches to sample the birding in the Lake Macquarie LGA. First stop was the Gap Creek Road, in the Watagan NP section of the Mountains. Unfortunately once we gained some height in the mountains the mists embraced us but plenty of birds were calling and we soon located a number of Topknot Pigeons roosting in some of the high rainforest trees. Bellminers were present all around us and for some people this became the first time that they had seen such birds up close. White-browed & Large-billed Scrub-wrens were seen and Brown Cuckoo-Doves called and flew past us, while Lewin’s Honeyeater, Rufous Fantail, King Parrots and Wonga Pigeons were also located.

Easy Day for Alan Morris
We moved onto the Gap Creek picnic area for morning tea where we had great views of a family of Red-browed Treecreepers which could be viewed along side a pair of White-throated Treecreepers. Other interesting birds here found in the tall Blue Gums and rainforest trees were Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Golden Whistler, Black-faced Monarch, Brown & Striated Thornbill, Grey Fantail, Eastern Spinebill and an obliging family of Crested Shrike-tits that enabled all the relevant features of the different plumages to be noted!

We moved onto the Pine Plantation in the State Forest section of the Ranges and at the Pines Picnic Area, despite the now heavy mist and drizzle we were able to participate in some good birding. Although the Superb Lyrebirds could not be seen, the damp overcast weather had them singing about good things to come and they gave a great audio background for our bird watching and later during our lunch. Many of the species that they included in their repertoire were observed in the vicinity including Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Pied Currawong, Eastern Yellow Robin & Black-faced Monarch. Other birds seen here included Rose Robin, Rufous Fantail, Brown Gerygone.

Wild Watagans with Dion too
Our final point of call was at Wood Point, on the western shores of Lake Macquarie and within the Lake Macquarie State Conservation Area, where we left the mist behind us but the weather had become generally overcast and hot. However there were plenty of birds in the mangroves and casuarinas along the banks of Pourmalong Creek and in the adjacent Forest Red Gum woodland where both the Red Gums and Bloodwoods were in flower. Rainbow and Scaly-breasted Lorikeets were moving and calling between flowering trees, and overhead Welcome Swallows and a few White-throated Needletails were feeding. In the woodland were Fantailed Cuckoo, Eastern Whipbird, Variegated Fairy-wren, White-throated Gerygone, Yellow & Brown Thornbill, Rufous & Golden Whistler and Dollarbird. Along the banks of the creek both Azure and Sacred Kingfishers were located, Darters, Black Duck & Chestnut Teal, and both Little Pied & Little Black Cormorants were roosting and feeding. Satin Bowerbirds must have had a bower nearby as there were much coming and going, and just as were leaving some protesting Noisy Miners and Grey Butcherbirds led us to a pair of roosting Southern Boobooks in a dense grove of casuarinas and gum tree saplings. Altogether a great days birding, many people experienced close up views of species not seen before and it was a good time of fellowship as well. 72 species were seen for the day

by Alan Morris Leading for FTB.

Northern Birdwatching : Hot Spot Trip Report

Saturday 14 January 2021
Guide:Keith Brandwood

Whtie-throated Gerrygone by Nevil Lazarus
Pitt Town Lagoon was the premiere location of this year’s Hot Spots, where we hoped to see the elusive King Quail. The other species on the list of bird to see were Cicada Bird, Wandering Whistle Duck and Powerful Owl. However the Whistle Duck’s location was too boggy from the previous day’s rain to allow access. They say there is a silver lining to every cloud; ours was spending more time in Cattai N/P where we enjoyed a number of good sightings, having morning tea with a family of White-winged Choughs and great views of a White-throated Geryegone.

Pitt Town was in great condition with Little Grassbird, Clamourous Reed Warbler and Chestnut Breasted Manikin showing well. Despite our best efforts we could not flush the bird we had come to see the King Quail and had to be satisfied with hearing them call. The final part of the day we spent in Mitchell Park where our target birds were Powerful Owl and Cicada Bird. The walk under the rainforest looking for the owl was steamy and we were not able to find them, but the silver lining came into play again with Crested Shrike-tit and Black-faced Monarch added to our list.

We started the day with three target species and had not seen one of them as yet; I was getting to the desperate stage and was banking on the Cicada Bird a new bird for most to restore my reputation. So it was with great relief that on leaving the rainforest the call of the Cicada Bird was heard. Calling in the bird, it did the right thing and perched in a tree above our heads giving everyone fantastic views. Eighty two species for the day was the final tally as we headed for the ice cream shop and home.

By Keith Brandwood guding for Follow That Bird

Holiday Hot Spot Trip Report

Saturday 17 December 2020
Guide:Alan Morris

Curlew Sandpiper by Neil Fifer
On Saturday 17 December 2020 I led a party of birders from “Follow That Bird Tours” to the Hunter Region to see what the birding “hotspots” of Stockton and Ash Island had to offer. We had a perfect summers day, sunny, fine and the temp about 28 C. The tide was forecasted to be 1.85 m which is a good height and should ensure that there were plenty of waders at the Spit. We arrived at the Stockton Sandspit just as the tide was turning and although the Godwits and some of the Avocets had remained over at the Dykes on the southern side of the Hunter River, there were were plenty of waterbirds to see. By far the most numerous were 450+ Red-necked Avocets, c.250 Eastern Curlews and 120 Curlew Sandpipers. However also present were Red-capped Plovers, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilts and Red-necked Stints. Four Pied Oystercatchers made several passes over the Spit, Superb Fairy-wrens, Yellow Thornbills and Grey Fantails were active in the wattles, Silvereyes and Mangrove Gerygones were seen in the mangroves, and Little Egrets, Great Egret and White-faced Herons were feeding in the saltmarsh.

We had morning tea in the shade of the bridge and then walked around to Fern Bay where we could only locate 1 Tekek Sandpiper and 2 Grey-tailed Tattlers on the oyster lease posts. We then moved onto the Stockton wreck and other that pelicans and Little Black Cormorants, we drew a blank but managed to find 12 Golden Plovers roosting further along on the rocks. There were Yellow-rumped Thornbills, plenty of Figbirds, a Koel Cuckoo and a Whipbird along the River parklands at this point. We moved across to Stockton Beach for lunch, where from the shade of the pavilion, we were able to watch the Stockton Cricket team play Belmont on the Cricket Oval, the birds on Stockton Beach not being very exciting today although Common & Crested Terns were present. We returned to the Stockton sandspit after lunch, having given the falling tide, time to exposed the sand flats. First we checked out the Fern Bay oyster leases and this time we were not disappointed, finding a group of 19 Terek Sandpipers, 4 Whimbrels and more Tattlers. Back at the Sandspit, Bar-tailed Godwits & Golden Plovers had come to join the other waders feeding on the sandflats, while White-breasted Sea-eagles were seen over the Spit.

Black-winged Stilt by Neil Fifer
The higher than usual tide had meant that the saltmarshes of the Ash Island ponds were well covered in water and there were plenty of Egrets feeding on the fish, Great, Intermediate, Little and Cattle Egrets all being present with most in their breeding plumages so enabling comparisions to be made of the different colour combinations of legs, beak and the skin around the eye. Over 35 Greenshanks were present along with a large flock of Black-winged Stilts which were being harassed by Whistling Kites, Swamp Harriers and a beautiful adult Peregrine Falcon. The Peregrine gave wonderful views when perched on the power poles. Alas no Yellow Wagtails to be seen, but Pipits, Clamorous Reedwarblers and White-fronted Chats showed well. Eastern Curlews, White Ibis, Swan, Chestnut Teal and White-faced Herons were the main other waterbirds, while Welcome Swallows, Fairy Martins and White-breasted Woodswallows were present in large numbers and Kestrel and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike were seen in the nearby paddocks.

Our birding at both sites was enhanced because of the work being currently undertaken by the Hunter Bird Observers Club in carrying out mangrove seedling removal in the saltmarshes of the Ash Islands Ponds in order to enhance the wader feeding habitat there, and at Stockton Sandspit, where under the leadershipo of Tom Clarke, mangrove seedling and Bitou Bush removal removal works continue so as to improve the bird habitats and keep the wader feeding grounds clear. Congrats to the HBOC for work well done.

Overall the participants for the day saw over 67 species at these two top birding spots and had a good time of christmas fun and fellowship. Happy Christmas everyone! We were ofcourse somewhat disappointed that not one searched the coach for baseball bats or tried to confiscate our telescopes deeming them to be weapons that could be used in the beach wars!!

By Alan Morris guding for Follow That Bird

Mount Banks & Wilson –
The Bells Line of Road Trip Report

Saturday 19 November 2020
Guide:Carol Probets

Rufous Fantail by Neil Fifer
On a hot November’s day what better place is there to be than the cool mountain forests and heaths along the higher parts of the Bell’s Line of Road. Named after Archibald Bell who found this alternative route across the Blue Mountains in 1823, it’s a more scenic drive than the highway and the drive itself imparts a real feeling of being in a wild, untamed landscape.

So with Chris at the wheel, we headed up the eastern escarpment at Bellbird Hill – windows open so we could hear the Bell Miners after which this steep winding section of road is named. Our first stop was in the fruit-growing district of Bilpin, where we had morning tea amongst the rose gardens in the company of a little party of Superb Fairy-wrens. Yellow-faced Honeyeaters were across the road in a large flowering eucalypt and a Silvereye was found red-handed, or rather red-beaked, stealing raspberries off the vine!

Mount Banks and Mount Wilson are two of the basalt-capped peaks which dot the northern part of the Blue Mountains, islands of volcanic lushness in a sea of nutrient-poor sandstone. At Mt Banks we opted to explore the beautiful heathland areas on the sandstone flanks of the mountain, low windswept vegetation which is surprisingly diverse botanically. The flannel flowers were in bloom along with a varied mixture of other flowers which kept many of the group spellbound in between bird sightings. The first bird seen was a White-eared Honeyeater, a handsome bird which posed on a dead branch long enough for everyone to admire him through the scope. We also saw Rufous Whistler, Brown Thornbill and New Holland Honeyeaters and heard a Crescent Honeyeater.

Daphne Checking the Wild Flowers
A freshly dead snake-like creature was found on the track; close examination revealed it to be a legless lizard, the Common Scaly-Foot.

The majesty of the cliffs over the Grose Valley and the gentle midday breeze suggested perfect conditions for eagles. As if beckoned by our searching, a Wedge-tailed Eagle appeared in the sky just as we were getting back on the bus.

It was then on to Mount Wilson for lush forest habitat and a completely different suite of birds. A quick stop at a promising site along the way produced great views of a pair of Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos, with another calling nearby, a Dusky Woodswallow, a Little Wattlebird and two more Wedge-tailed Eagles circling overhead.

After lunch at the Cathedral of Ferns picnic area we set off on our rainforest walk, between towering Coachwoods and through forests of tree ferns much taller than us. Two Lewin’s Honeyeaters chased each other back and forth in the canopy, while Brown Gerygones were attending a small hanging nest above the track. Further on we found another pair of Brown Gerygones in the process of building, one bird repeatedly gathering cobweb or other material from the underside of a sloping log. A much larger hanging nest belonged to Yellow-throated Scrubwrens but the owners were not to be found.

Dorothy with Blue Mountains Vista
A Rufous Fantail was admired by everyone and a male Rose Robin was seen nearby. We also saw Eastern Yellow Robins, Golden Whistlers and further along the road in eucalypt forest, an Eastern Spinebill feeding in flowering mistletoe as well as a Black-faced Monarch moving through the treetops. As always, the Crimson Rosellas and King-Parrots added more splashes of colour. A patch of Potato Orchids were an interesting find here, so named because of its tuberous rhizomes (not, as someone suggested, the colour of the flowers). Finally, while driving back through Mt Wilson a pair of Wonga Pigeons flew up from the roadside and retreated to a nearby garden while we watched from the bus.

It was not only the birds and wildflowers which fascinated us; the butterflies also featured on this day with a number of Swordgrass Browns and Caper Whites seen at Mt Banks as well as a Painted Lady and a Wonder Brown picked up on the drive home. All in all, it proved to be a day of splendid scenery, fabulous wildflowers and of course those special mountain birds.

By Carol Probets guiding for Follow That Bird

Killalea Lagoon Trip Report

Saturday 22 October 2020
Guide:Bob Ashford

Golden-headed Cisticola by Nevil Lazarus
Black clouds hovered over the escarpment as we headed down the bush track toward the Lagoon. Any concerns about rain, however, slipped from our minds as we watched an edgy pair of Willie Wagtail’s flit around us until one settled on a beautifully constructed nest. As we left them to it a pair of Eastern Whipbirds bounced across the track playing ‘see me if you can’ and several Red-browed Finches peaked out at us from the lantana. A little further on a Bar-shouldered Dove ‘coo cooed’ us invitingly then decided it had other things to do. A good start to what proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Well, almost. It got hotter and muggier and inevitably, a shower tried to dampen our spirits, not the sort of day to be lugging a large scope and tripod. However, we were glad we did. Golden Headed Cisticolas ‘zitted’ enticingly from the reeds just a bit too far for great views with binoculars but through the scope they proved to be stunningly good-looking performers.

As we strolled around the northern end of the lagoon, the scope proved its worth again. We heard the thin, piercing, descending whistle of a Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo that obligingly maintained its perch while we set up the scope. The incomplete breast barring was very obvious and it was plain for all to understand why it was called a bronze cuckoo.

As we selected a good spot to view the lagoon as we had lunch, a female Hobby, flying like a sharply pointed boomerang, sliced over the water in front of us. It caused mayhem among the small birds among the reeds, niftily plucking one out of the air and carrying it to a leafless tree right in front its delighted audience. As it devoured its catch, we ‘scoped’ it and everybody enjoyed splendid views of this very smart raptor. It spent the rest of lunch entertaining us and proving its claim to be an aerial acrobat ‘el supremo’.

Horsefield’s Bronze-Cuckoo by Neil Fifer
Buzzed up with the Hobby’s show we set off again down the track to the shoreline. A White-faced Heron took up the lead and led us along the reeds for several hundred metres. Along the way, we scoured the water for Musk Duck, Australasian Grebe and several species of Cormorant. Recent rains had raised the water levels so there was not a lot of ‘edge’ to entice waders or Teal. There was, however, a large number of Black Swans. Many had cygnets that followed their parents in a long line reminiscent of old WW11 film footage of battleships moving in convoy. There were large ones, small ones and some Swans were still building nests and sitting on eggs. The consensus was that Killelea would be all right for Swans this season!

Cisticolas flitted above our heads, Clamorous Reed Warblers rattled away in the reeds offering occasional tantalising glimpses, but the Little Grassbird simply sent out its mournful three-toned whistle and refused to show itself!

A flurry of raptors, Nankeen Kestrel, Black-shouldered Kite and Brown Goshawk, marked our arrival at the beach. As we checked the swell for birds, a sharp chattering ‘kikikikiki’ alerted us to a possible Hobby. Sure enough, there it was, only this time there were two and once again, we watched in awe at the bird¹s flight skills as the pair playfully tumbled and turned their way southward.

As excitedly tallied up our list the wonderfully dedicated Janene served us tea and biscuits. A respectable sixty-one species but for sheer quality of birding the Hobby was voted by all of us as one of the most memorable birding experiences.

By Bob Ashford guiding for FTB

Northern Birdwatching :
West Head and The Basin Trip Report

Saturday 24 September 2020
Guide:Andrew Patrick

New Holland Honeyeater
by Nevil Lazarus
Whilst on the bus and heading towards our first stop, we reviewed how to use and get the most out of our binoculars. Bush birds are notoriously difficult to see as they flit from bush to bush, so being familiar with our binoculars is essential if we are get good views.

Arriving at West Head in Ku-ring-gai National Park we were greeted with the most beautiful coastal scenery in Sydney. We started our bird list with the sound, and eventual sighting, of a Spotted Pardalote gleaning insects from the surface of eucalypt leaves. As we strolled along a path to the picnic area we came across two male Variegated Fairy-wrens chasing each other, a Grey Fantail hawking insects and a small flock of Silvereyes sipping nectar. At Red Hand Cave we saw Aboriginal hand stencils whilst nearby we saw a Rufous Fantail, a Black-faced Monarch and a female Golden Whistler all searching for insects in the foliage. We were accompanied for morning tea by two inquisitive Laughing Kookaburras and a Lace Monitor, no doubt looking for free handouts.

We started a lengthy but gentle walk to the Basin by first visiting some Aboriginal engravings where we had good views of New Holland Honeyeaters, Brown Thornbills and Red-browed Finches. Along the way we observed the plant regrowth following a recent burn-off on one side of the track, were momentarily surrounded by a few hundred honey bees as they swarmed past, and saw another monitor and some Swamp Wallabies.

At the Basin we enjoyed a pleasant picnic lunch on the grass and had excellent views of a pair of Whistling Kites soaring overhead. These birds are regulars at this spot. We also saw 26 Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos noisily fly by and a White-bellied Sea-Eagle floating around above the ridge.

We crossed Pittwater by ferry, saw Pied Cormorants and Pelicans on the way, met the bus at Palm Beach and headed directly to North Narrabeen to look at a special pair of birds. Ospreys are only occasionally seen in Sydney but our pair had recently built a nest atop a Norfolk Island Pine which meant we got quite good views through the telescope of the bird sitting on the nest. Conveniently the nest was near a milk bar so everyone enjoyed an ice-cream before heading back home.

Lovely day, special birds, gorgeous scenery, enjoyable stroll, cruise on Pittwater, good company … today had it all.

By the lovely Andrew Patrick guiding for FTB

Ourimbah, Hidden Valley and Sunshine Reserve
Trip Report

Saturday 10 September 2020
Guide: Alan Morris

Golden Whistler by Neil Fifer
The weather was decidedly warmer than usual as 11 birders (including a two new birders and a visitor from Singapore) headed for the Ourimbah Creek Valley for a days birding where our first stop was Askania Park and its Forest of Tranquillity, a well know sample of Narrabeen Warm Temperate Sub-Tropical Rainforest. Typical birds of this habitat like Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Wonga Pigeon, King Parrot, Satin Bowerbird & Brush Turkey were quickly found and all of these plus Eastern Rosella, 2 species of Corella and Galah were soon coming to the bird feeders. Good views were had of all these species. Then a walk into the rainforest where Large-billed and White-browed Scrub-wrens were common in the understorey, along with a pair of Yellow-throated Scrub-wrens building their nest over a watercourse, and many Golden Whistlers and Brown Gerygones calling loudly. There were plenty of Lewin’s Honeyeaters and a lonely Olive-backed Oriole. However three species that called loudly and persistently close by but were not seen were Superb Lyrebird, Scarlet Honeyeater and a Fan-tailed Cuckoo. A Green Catbird flew across the road near the entrance to the Park and Masked Lapwings were guarding a chick near the morning tea spot.

We then drove up the Valley to the property Hidden Valley and walked into Ourimbah Creek State Forest along the fire trail. Once again we were in a good example of Sub-tropical Rainforest and the track skirts Ourimbah Creek itself. Initially the noise of the Bell Miners was pretty overwhelming but after a while as the canopy darkened, their numbers decline and we could concentrate on Eastern Yellow Robin, Red-browed Finch, all the Scrub-wrens, nesting Brown Gerygone and another Yellow-throated Scrub-wren nest. Grey Fantail were found and Bul Bul, Brown Thornbill, White-throated Treecreeper and Variegated Fairy-wren added to our list. Had we been another month later, we then could have expected to find Black-faced Monarch and Rufous Fantail, common birds at this site. We returned to Askania Park for lunch to use their excellent picnic facilities and check out the bird feeders once again!

Brown Thornbill by Nevil Lazarus
Our first afternoon stop was the RTA Reserve at Ourimbah Exchange were the Ourimbah Creek Landcare Group is doing an excellent job at re-planting and regenerating the Galley Rainforest along this lower section of Ourimbah Creek. The best birds here were great views of Scarlet Honeyeaters and a female plumage Regent Bowerbird. Silverye and Eastern Spinebill were added to our list while Swallows were nesting under the F3 overpast near where we had parked our coach. Lewin’s Honeyeater, Superb Fairy-wren and Red-browed Finch were common at this site.

Our final stop of the day was at Chittaway Point, where Ourimbah Creek opens out from its delta, into Tuggerah Lake. Plenty of Stilts around, including a pair nesting. A lone Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, a Bar-tailed Godwit & 2 Pied Oystercatchers were the only waders! However there were plenty of Cormorants, a number of Darters in various plumage stages and both Great and Little Egrets. Striped Honeyeater & Red Wattlebird were busy in the casuarinas, 9 Caspian Terns were roosting with Crested Terns, and a pair of Chestnut Teal were busy caring for 5 tiny ducklings. Plenty of other common water and bush birds to end the day, with an overall count of 73 species.

By Alan Morris guiding for Follow That Bird

Warriwood Wetlands and
Chance Albatross at Long Reef Trip Report

Saturday 6 August 2020
Guide:John Gale

Azure Kingfisher by Neil Fifer
We began sensationally with a pair of Azure Kingfishers sitting patiently for us at Deep Creek, followed by Whistling Kite, Little Wattlebird, Chestnut Teal, and a close encounter with a female Spotted Pardalote surveying both us and possible nesting tunnel sites. Red-browed Finches were active, as well as Brown Thornbill and Yellow Robin. On the return to the bus we had a small flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo floating along a ridge, and a thermalling pair of White-bellied Sea Eagle.

A quick detour through Irrawong Reserve produced a magnificient Powerful Owl, a King Parrot pair, and after some searching, a Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo. At Warriewood Wetlands we saw Rose Robin, Royal Spoonbill, a glimpse of a Tawny Grassbird, an early White-throated Gerygone (Warbler), Golden Whistler, and several family groups of Superb Fairy-Wren.

Our lunch break at Long Reef gave us Black-shouldered Kite, Australasian Gannet, White-bellied Sea Eagle (in and out for a quick lunch stop) and Australian Pelican, then climbing to the bluff – Hardhead, Eurasian Coot (golf course lakes), Red Wattlebird, Australian Pipit, Nankeen Kestral, New Holland Honeyeater, then the rock platform – fleeting distant views of Black-browed and Yellow-nosed Albatross, Sooty Oystercatcher (including a wonderful small squadron flypast), Double-banded Plover, Grey-tailed Tattler, and Red-necked Stint – sharp eyes by Janene found one which actually had a red neck and back!

Around 65 species seen including several great birds and close encounters, and good weather ; congratulations to an observant group (thanks Alan and Brian) and welcome to the infectious world of birding Margret and Sidney.

Thanks, John Gale.

Magic Point Seabirds and Whales Trip Report

Saturday 25 June 2021
Guide: Keith Brandwood

Yellow-nosed Albatross by David Simpson
A wet morning did not dampen the enthusiasm of those gathered for this seabird watch from the cliffs, but it did delay the start giving us time to brush up on the important methods used to identify Albatross, namely the under wing pattern.

On the walk to the cliff top we had great views of some European Greenfinch, one of the rare species of the Sydney area and some obliging Brown Quail that gave close views. A Fantailed Cuckoo was observed perched in a bare tree. Once we had reached our lookout point we got ourselves comfortable for the next four hours of sea watching.

The prevailing winds are of great importance to the quantity and quality of birds you are likely to see when sea watching from land. The wind needs to be onshore and the stronger the better as this blows the birds landwards.

There had been onshore winds the previous day so my expectations were high. Our first true sea bird we saw was a Black-browed Albatross followed by a Great Skua which was sat on the water. Giant Petrel and Yellow-nosed Albatross followed with hundreds of Fluttering Shearwaters heading south, with the odd Hutton’s S/W intermingled with them. Many Australian Gannets were observed fishing and a lone juvenile Kelp Gull flew directly overhead. There were two or three whales heading north but none that came in close to land, but one did give us a good tail display as it dived. After lunch we headed back to the bus with the intentions of looking for a Lewins Rail which is recorded quiet often from this location. New Holland Honey eaters were in great numbers in the heath on our way back with the odd Silvereye and Superb Blue Wren. Taking up positions on the edge of a small lagoon where we were hoping to see the Lewins Rail, I was watching a Little Grass bird through the telescope when what should come into view but the much sought after and elusive Rail. Every one who was there had great views of this most difficult of species to find and we should consider ourselves privileged to have seen it. There are many regular birdwatchers in Australia who have yet to add this bird to their list. The day was finalized with a cup of tea and the appearance of a juvenile White-breasted Sea Eagle and Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos a great finish to a great days birding.

By Keith Brandwood guiding for FTB

Marelous Midweek Part 1:
Budgewoi, Colongra Swamp Reserve & Bateau Bay
Trip Report

Wednesday 22nd June 2005
Guide:Alan Morris

Pelican Landing
Pelican Landing by Neil Fifer
Wednesday dawned bright and sunny and the 8 birders on this trip were looking forward to some good birding on the Central Coast. Our morning tea spot was at McKenzie Park, Budgewoi where the usual waterbirds were seen including a Darter, and while drinking our tea, we were able to check out the finer points that distinguish Long-billed Corellas from Little Corellas, while they cavorted on the lawn in front of us. Then off to the 3 km walk into Colongra Swamp, where we passed through heathlands with their Variegated Fairy-wrens & Spinebills in the Lambertia formosa and flowering banksias, Scribbly Gum Woodland with its Yellow-faced Honeyeaters & Grey Fantails, the Swamp Forest with its flowering Swamp Mahogany & Broad-leafed Paperbarks where there were plenty of White-cheeked & Lewin’s Honeyeaters, Golden Whistlers & White-throated Treecreepers, Yellow & Brown Thornbills and finally to Colongra Swamp itself. This swamp was mostly dry for the first half of the year but due to recent heavy rains, the swamp is full but a large expanse of sedgeland was evident with the waterlily-covered open water on the far side of the swamp. However there were atleast 700 Hardhead & 300 Coots on the Swamp, Swans with cygnets, and Shoveler & Black Duck. A Sea-Eagle was flying overhead and Rainbow & Musk Lorikeets were busy in the fringing Paperbarks.

On the way back we had good views of Red-browed Finches, Grey Shrike-thrush, Scrub-wrens and Superb Fairy-wrens. Then we were off to Soldiers Point to check out the seabirds and look for Whales. Two pods of Humpback Whales were seen but the seabirds were mainly Australasian Gannets with some Fairy Prions way out because the sea was too flat to provide good birding conditions. However there were a variety of waders present on the rocky reef below including Double-banded Plover, Sooty Oystercatcher, Ruddy Turnstone & Red-necked Stints. A Kestrel flew over the Point.

We took our lunch at Terilbah Picnic Area at North Entrance, which allowed us to check out the waders at North Entrance and theses included Common Greenshanks and Bar-tailed Godwits. All four Cormorants were to be seen as well as more Darters and a large number of Black Swans along with Great and Little Egrets. In the Entrance Channel were over 30 Caspian Terns, while Red-capped Plovers & Pied Oystercatchers were feeding on the sandbars. Our final stop was at Bateau Bay where we explored the Blackbutt Forest at the northern end of the beach. Plenty of Silvereyes, White-browed Scrub-wrens, Grey Fantails, Spotted Pardalote and Golden Whistlers were present along with a few Red Whiskered Bul Buls & Little Wattlebirds. All up a lovely winters day birding with 79 species being seen for the day.

By Alan Morris guiding for FTB

Shearwaters & Albatross Pelagic Trip Report

Sunday 6 June 2021
Guide: Alan McBride

Wandering Albatross by Nevil Lazarus
On Sunday at 7.15am hardy FTB patrons met at Balmoral Wharf to spend a day on HMAS Halicat pelagic birwatching. The weather was gorgeous as we left with Silver Gulls escorting and a Little Pied Cormorant drying its wings on a rock outcrop not far away.

No sooner were we through Sydney’s beautiful “Heads” than we were watching Australian Gannets soaring past and excitement was building. Then a Yellow-nosed Albatross banked in towards the boat giving our birdwatchers the first albatross of the day, and for some the first of a lifetime!

A Minkie Whale leapt close enough for a good look, thrilling even the most hardline “birds only please” birder, with its black and white agility. Four Risso’s Dolphins were next, their scarred whiteness gleaming throught the waves whilst feeding quite lazily.

A trawler sorting its catch provided much delight as 50 plus Yellow-nosed Albatross sat on the waves behind the fishing boat. Such great long looks at these bautiful birds are too be envied. Amongst them a couple of Black-browed Albatross, one Great-winged Petrel sat for most of the time, stretching its wings occationally and a Wandering Albatross cruised in on its massive wingspan. Providence Petrels showed themselves clearly as they winged past besides the boat, a great reward for those of us that had only seen them at Lord Howe early in the season at a great height over Mount Lidgberg. And a Great Southern Skua swept to and fro with chocolate markings that were making me anything but hungry…..

Leaving the trawler we headed to Browns Mountain (under the sea of course, with no coast in sight!) which was unusually quiet, most likely due to the very fine boating weather we were enjoying, which is not the best for sea birds unfortunately. Travelling back to to within sight of the coast a few Crested Terns followed being fed burley by the boat owner, but nothing else coming in for the freebies. A Fluttering Shearwater was seen by some up the top of the boat but most missed them skimming there way narrowly over the waves.

A change of course to the south brought amazing views of Humpback Whales ploughing through the water close to the boat and slapping their tails to the roars of the crowded boats surrounding them. All in all a very good day out with good views of 10 bird species.

By Janene Luff in lieu of reluctant Alan McBride

Honeyeater Migration in the
Blue Mountains Trip Report

Saturday 30 April 2021
Guide:Carol Probets

Gordon Falls Picnic Area with FTB Birdwatchers Picnicing
The day started well with a Wedge-tailed Eagle at Lawson, seen by the group before I joined the bus at Wentworth Falls in the upper Blue Mountains. The autumn honeyeater migration was in progress across the mountains and the fine weather on 30th April boded well for another good migration day.

Our hopes proved right as we drove out onto Narrow Neck with many flocks of small birds flying across the road in front of the bus. This long narrow peninsula divides two large valleys and provides not only some of the best scenery in the mountains but also a good opportunity to watch the migrating flocks as they follow the escarpments northwards along a narrowing front.

At our viewing site we were able to watch waves of Yellow-faced and White-naped Honeyeaters dashing low across the top of the heath. Landing only momentarily in the stunted trees, they proved challenging targets for our binoculars but our main focus was on recognising the different contact calls and picking out the cleaner, whiter underparts of the White-naped. Occasionally groups of Silvereyes and pardalotes would move through as well.

As we walked up the hill, a confiding male Spotted Pardalote continued to forage in low branches beside the track for a full ten minutes, affording everyone spectacular views of this little gem of a bird. Further along, Diann finally got her Striated Pardalote when one became visible in the crown of a low eucalypt.

New Holland Honeyeaters, Eastern Spinebills, Brown Thornbills and White-browed Scrubwrens were all common but the most noteworthy sighting was a single Fuscous Honeyeater which landed momentarily in a tree above us before continuing on its journey.

Lunch at Gordon Falls was accompanied by many Red Wattlebirds attracted to the flowering banksias, and some saw a Grey Butcherbird. Out near the lookout, Crescent Honeyeaters could be heard, and Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos were seen as they took flight up the gully.

In the afternoon we visited two sites at Kings Tableland. After being tantalised by several quick glimpses of Beautiful Firetails, we were eventually rewarded with a good view of two of them feeding from fallen Allocasuarina seed cones on the road. I heard the silvery melody of a Chestnut-rumped Heathwren drifting across the heathland, a bird which is always difficult to see. Finally, a Peregrine Falcon flew over, disappearing into the distance at the breathtaking speed for which it is legendary.

Carol Probets

Belanglo State Forest Trip Report

Saturday 16 April 2021
Guide: Bob Ashford

Spotted Pardolote by David Simpson
It was a grey overcast sky as the group arrived at the Belanglo Rest Area, adjacent to the Hume Highway, but the Skylarks were busting their lungs and on the nearby dam Australasian Grebes were trilling and chasing each other furiously while Hardheads, Grey Teal, Black and Wood Duck feigned disinterest. In the bushes resting Crested Pigeons watched us with interest but a pair of Grey Shrike Thrush and a small flock of Yellow Tailed and Brown Thornbills were far too busy to acknowledge us. In the next paddock a lone Hare watched. Normally we’d find several there. So far the birding looked promising but was it going to be a bad Hare day?

We drove on in to the forest to our morning tea spot (this was a very civilised bunch of birders!) at Daly’s Road picnic area and parked next to the dam. Almost immediately small flocks of Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos started arriving and the decibels started building. We estimated over seventy YTBC’s in the surrounding trees with many coming to the waters edge to drink providing us all with stunning views and, naturally, we were immensely impressed with the welcome.

Other visitors to the picnic ground included a few trail bike riders and a surprising number of mushroom pickers. The most common mushroom we saw was Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria), a poisonous European species that probably arrived as spores in imported plant material. The most common edible species was the Saffron Milk Cap (Lactarius deliciosus) and you could tell where they were by the little groups of pickers, all bums in the air, all happily chatting away.

Pushing on we arrived at the start of our walk, Miners Despair Loop. It wasn’t long before we heard the call of a Scarlet Robin and very shortly afterward a pair of them arrived to welcome us (this happens on FTB trips). They brought with them White Throated Treecreepers, Crimson Rosellas, Grey Fantails, Brown Thornbills and both Striated and Spotted Pardalote, though the latter were hard to find in the foliage.

Further on we heard and saw fleeting glimpses of White Eared and Yellow Faced Honeyeaters, Rufous Whistler and several more Scarlet Robins. Excitement rose when a flock of Varied Sittella’s flew in and entertained us by hanging under branches and walking head down on the trunks to feed (how does Janene organise this?)

Eventually I confessed that I had missed a turning and we ended up retracing our steps. Above the calls of Black Faced Cuckoo Shrikes I’m sure I heard something about Bob’s Despairing Troop! But splendid views of a couple of pairs of Gang Gang Cockatoos, barely a metre above our heads, and a pair of Wedge Tailed Eagles and I was forgiven, give or take the odd comment about ‘Where does Janene find her guides?’

Stopping off at Colishaws Road we searched for a family of Emus that are often found there but the trail bike riders had probably seen them off earlier. Still we had some good views of Common Bronzewing and in all we had a very pleasant walk, some excellent sightings and all with very sociable companions.

Bob Ashford guiding for FTB

Eagles and Robins Trip Report

Saturday 26 February 2021
Guide:Carol Probets

White-browed Scrubwren by Neil Fifer
It was a beautiful warm morning in the mountains as two buses filled with eager participants made their way up the highway. No sooner had we stopped for morning tea at Blackheath when a party of 6 Varied Sittellas appeared in the treetops, busily feeding up and down the branches and providing a great opportunity for the new birdwatchers in the group to practise their binocular skills. Further practise was obtained on a pair of Crimson Rosellas which proved to be much more stationary focussing targets!

The Megalong Valley is always an interesting place to visit because of the varied range of habitats. First up it was a walk in the rainforest amongst magnificent coachwood and sassafras trees and ancient ferns. The small creek was rushing after some good rain earlier in the week, but everyone made it across the stepping stones without falling in! The shady forest provided challenging birding conditions with the highlights here a Yellow-throated Scrubwren glimpsed on the forest floor and a Lewin’s Honeyeater seen well by those at the back of the group.

Next it was down into more open country. A party of Superb Fairy-wrens delighted all, especially the resplendent blue male darting in and out of the shrubs. We ate lunch to the accompaniment of Bell Miners at the Old Ford Reserve while Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and both Rufous and Golden Whistlers provided the visuals.

After lunch a walk along the historic Six Foot Track took us across more open rolling country and down to Megalong Creek. The day was heating up but the River Oaks contained plenty of birds, like the Yellow, Brown and Yellow-rumped Thornbills, a Grey Fantail and the charming Willie Wagtail. Everyone got excellent scope views of European Goldfinches and three Jacky Winters, including a streaked juvenile.

The more energetic members of the group continued on across the paddocks, trying to catch a glimpse of a Stubble Quail which was calling, while the rest relaxed in the shade of the River Oaks. Red-browed Finches were seen, and Silvereyes feeding on the ripe blackberries, but the bird of the day was a Double-barred Finch, seen by one lucky participant.

The cliffs towering around the valley provided a stunning backdrop to the day’s birding and a different perspective to the more usual views in the Blue Mountains.

Carol Probets guiding for FTB

Cool Coast Birdwatching Trip Report

Saturday 5 February 2021
Guide:Alan Morris

White-throated Needletail
by Neil Fifer
Twenty one birders made the trip to the NSW Central Coast on Saturday 5 February 2021 for some “Cool Coast Birding” A fine pleasant summers day eventuated and provided some great settings for plenty of birding opportunites. Our first stop was at the Saratoga Wetlands, a mangrove and saltmarsh area that also had some pleasant picnic facilities. Eager birders were met by Yellow and Brown Thornbills & Silvereyes in the mangroves, and Red & Little Wattlebirds and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes in the stands of Swamp Oaks.

From here we travelled around the foreshores of Brisbane Water to Veterans Hall where the road passes close by a known day time roost of a pair of Bush Stone-curlew. Alas they were not there today, but Eastern Curlew, Darter and Cormorants were seen around the foreshore while Chestnut Teal, Wood Ducks and Kookaburras were there much to the delight of our overseas birders and some new birders. Our destination was Cochrone Lagoon at Copacobana. A favourite stop for Follow That Bird Tours and we were not disappointed. Summer breeding was in full swing as overhead 3 pairs of White-breasted Woodswallows were busy feeding two young each. Moorhens and Masked Lapwings both had large young, Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and Black-winged Stilts fed around the Lagoons margins, and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Rainbow Lorikeets were noisy overhead, Black Swan, Chestnut & Grey Teal were busy feeding on the Lagoon, again much to the interest of the overseas birders.

While travelling between here and Terrigal enroute to our lunch stop we passed some large flocks of White-throated Needletails. Our lunch stop was the Katandra Bushland Reserve at Holgate. In this rainforest reserve Bellminers appear to be the commonest birds so everyone had good views. In the forest Brown Cuckoo-Doves and Wonga Pigeons were seen, good views were had of Black-faced Monarchs and Rufous Fantails, Brown Gerygones and White-browed Scrub-wren, and Golden Whistler and Grey Shrike-thrush. A walk through the rainforest found several recent nests of Yellow-throated Scrub-wrens but no one actually saw the birds!

Our final stop was at Wamberal Cemetery where Satin Bowerbird, Musk Lorikeet, Dollarbird and Crested Pigeon were added to the days tally of 72 species. Overall a pleasant days birding on the Cool Coast.

Alan Morris

New Years Hot Spot Trip Report

Saturday 8 January 2021
Guide:Dion Hobcroft

Male Mistletoebird by Neil Fifer
With cool weather ensuring we were going to have a good day we picked our group up from the city and Killara. We made it quickly to Laughtondale Gully and enjoyed action-packed birding almost immediately with a stunning male Mistletoebird and equally stunning male Variegated Fairy-wren, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos plus a tame White-eared Honeyeater getting us of to a good start. Further down the road we squeaked in a couple of smart looking Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters. We continued to Mill Creek, Dharug National Park, crossing the Hawkesbury River by vehicular ferry. We pretty much had the area to ourselves and enjoyed an excellent morning tea. Birds were active in the picnic ground with a male Golden Whistler singing his head off, Leaden Flycatchers building a nest plus great views of the obscure Large-billed Scrubwren, a species people can have trouble identifying.

Continuing on a walk I managed to whistle in a Brush Cuckoo that we watched in the scope, allowing us to appreciate his rather dun-coloured plumage. Then we had a great encounter with at least three Superb Lyrebirds, the males looking particularly stunning with their recently fresh moulted tail feathers and warming up their powerful vocal chords. To put the icing on the cake by following up a call we managed to scramble up a slope and get up close and personal with a female and young Glossy Black Cockatoo.

Post lunch saw us retracing our steps back home. A further good sighting was of a perched Bar-shouldered Dove at Laughtondale where we also enjoyed a top performing Dollarbird. We also glimpsed a Collared Sparrowhawk and a distant Wedge-tailed Eagle soared across the next ridge. We finished up in Lane Cove National Park that was highlighted by a beautiful nest of a Brown Gerygone freshly built and active right over our heads. We finished up with 75 species and everyone had a great time.

Traffic went smoothly and we made it home with plenty of sightings to tell our friends. Thanks for a great day.

Dion Hobcroft

Holiday Hot Spot Trip Report

Saturday 18 December 2020
Guide:Alan Morris

Follow That Bird Tours organised a “Hot Spots Bird Tour” to the Central Coast on Saturday 18th October on a very pleasant mild summers day and first stop was the Ourimbah Creek RTA Reserve at Ourimbah where the hoped for Regent Bowerbirds failed to show for us but Black-faced Monarch, Golden Whistler, Brown Gerygone, Rufous Fantail and Red-browed Finch were found. We soon moved onto the Tuggerah Reserve to check out the Dairy Swamp & Tuggerah Lagoon, seeing a Great Egret in one of the drains at Tuggerah en route!

At the Dairy Swamp, Channel-billed & Koel Cuckoos were busy annoying their hosts, Pelicans came and went from the Swamp, Black-winged Stilt and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper were busy in the muddy margins, and Black Duck, Hardhead, Grey and Chestnut Teal were loafing amongst the reeds. A flock of 9 Royal Spoonbills were feeding in the shallow water, many Fairy Martins & Swallows were hawking over the Swamp, and a Swamp Harrier kept buzzing a flock of 29 Masked Lapwings. Four Cormorants species and at least 6 Darter were roosting in the paperbarks and Sacred Kingfisher and Cisticola were present. We moved off to Tuggerah Lagoon which has a large areas of reeds and there plenty of Reedwarblers present here! Superb Fairy-wrens and Emu-wrens were found in the sedges at the edge of the lagoon, while White-breasted Woodswallow, Olive-backed Oriole, Dollarbird & Striped Honeyeaters were present in the fringing Swamp Oaks. Overhead a small flock of 20+ White-throated Needletails were counted.

Little Tern by Neil Fifer
We lunched at Sunshine Reserve, Chittaway along Ourimbah Creek, and here nesting Willy Wagtail & Crested Pigeon were seen, 30+ Needletails overhead, plenty of Red & Little Wattlebirds and Dollarbird but the expected Tawny Frogmouths could not be located. A brief stop at Lions Park, Chittaway on the shores of Tuggerah Lake had us checking out the waders, and we managed to find a lone Greenshank and some Red-necked Stints amongst the more common Sharpies, as well as Great & Little Egrets and plenty of Swans.

At Picnic Point, The Entrance there was a good roost of Terns, including 29 Caspian Terns and a small number of Little Terns. Fortunately, after some searching of the Bar-tailed Godwit flocks, we were able to find 3 Red Knots and a Great Knot roosting with tem. Other waders present included a Curlew Sandpiper and Red-capped Plover, 3 Whimbrel, 3 Greenshank, 1 Eastern Curlew, many Sharpies, and lesser numbers of Red-necked Stint. In the Swamp Oaks & Bottle Brush there were nesting White-breasted Woodswallows, Magpielarks and Willy Wagtails, and plenty of European Starling, House Sparrow and Yellow-rumped Thornbill werte feeding on the grass. Across at North Entrance opposite Terilbah Island, we found more waders including two Ruddy Turnstones, about 800 Swans and a Red Wattlebird feeding young.. There is a good ice-cream shop here so we finished the day in style with a bird list of 84 species for the day!

Alan Morris

TAMS Mystery Hot Spot Trip Report

Saturday 27 November 2020
Guide:Andrew Patrick

Great Cormorants by Neil Fifer
This day trip was promoted as a ‘Hot Spot’ trip and it lived up to its name alright with temperatures in the 30s making it a bit tiring for everyone. But we did see some great birds. Firstly we visited Mason Park at Homebush where we had glorious close views of Sharp-tailed and Curlew Sandpipers and two Pacific Golden Plovers. These birds breed in Siberia and fly 15,000km to Australia for the summer. The park also contained nesting Black-winged Stilts and we saw some of the small fluffy chicks walking about picking up insects. It was interesting to watch a Silver Gull being chased away by an angry parent stilt. Gulls will quite happily eat a stilt chick or two for lunch if given the chance.

Day Old Black-winged Stilt by Neil Fifer
We then went for a walk in neighbouring Bicentennial Park were a grove of flowering grevilleas gave us a chance to compare the larger Red Wattlebird with the smaller Little Wattlebird. A possum stuck its pink nose out of its roosting box to see what all the fuss was. Later we saw a White-faced Heron skulking along the edges of the creek in the shade of the mangroves. The Brown Honeyeater was occasionally calling its sweet song at its regular spot near the saltmarsh but we had a bit of trouble seeing it. Only when the bird moved to a different branch within the shade of the casuarina did we see it. The Waterbird Refuge lacked quantity but made up for it with quality – a flock of 17 Avocets. What a lovely bird and an unusual one for Sydney. We all had great views from the bird hide through the telescope.

After lunch we looked at the Darters and cormorants with their nests on an island in Lake Belvedere. We could clearly see the differences between male and female Darters and the size differences between Pied and Little Pied Cormorants. A Fairy Martin landed on a dead stick right in front of us and small flock of Red-rumped Parrots nibbled seed in the shade nearby.

We headed off to Hen and Chicken Bay near Five Dock where we were hoping to see Bar-tailed Godwits feeding on the mud exposed at low tide. Happily, the birds were there as expected along with some of the Sharp-tailed Sandpipers we had seen earlier in the morning.

Our final stop for the day was Centennial Park at Randwick where the highlights included Channel-billed Cuckoos making raucous cries overhead, Long-billed Corellas feeding a youngster, Black Swans with large cygnets and a female Musk Duck preening her characteristic tail. All of this was followed by a delicious ice cream.

In all we saw 57 species with most species giving us very good views.

By Andrew Patrick guiding for Follow That Bird
-sydney’s birding company

Birding Ellalong Lagoon and
Aberdare State Forest Trip Report

Saturday 20 November 2020
Guide:Alan Morris

Olive-backed Orilole by Neil Fifer
28 eager birders travelled to Quorrobolong, near Cessnock in the lower Hunter Valley to check our the woodlands and wetlands of this special place located about 180 km NW of Sydney. Our first stop was the farm dams alongside Heaton Rd, Quorrobolong, where Australasian Grebes were nesting; Dusky Moorhens, Black Ducks and Swamphens were present, Red-rumped Parrots were feeding in an adjoining paddock; Tree Martins were flying overhead and a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles were perched on a low branch close to the dam! That was a surprise! As we travelled across the private road to where we were to spend our morning, we stopped for a group of Grey-crowned Babblers, some busy feeding two dependent young while others appeared to be taking food to a nearby nest! Brown Falcons were located nearby on the way out!

In the box woodland we were greeted by a noisy group of 16 Gang Gangs, mostly immatures but we never got to see what was upsetting them and the other birds but presumably a raptor was harassing them! White-throated Gerygones and Rufous Whistlers called constantly, Fuscous and Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters were very busy feeding low down, White-throated & Brown Treecreepers called loudly, and everyone had good views of Little Lorikeets and Olive-backed Orioles which were both feeding in the flowering Grey Box. Red-browed Finches were building a nest, Shrike-tits and Dusky Woodswallows were heard and seen, and we were constantly kept busy checking all the other honeyeaters like, Scarlet, White-naped & Brown-headed & Noisy Friarbirds. Choughs were also part of the bird song here! A Painted Button-quail was flushed as we walked along a track. We finally had to reluctantly leave this site and head for Kitchener where lunch was organised.

Willie Wagtails by Neil Fifer
The Kitchener lunch site is beside a former coal mine washery dam, and it was good for ducks and herons, cormorants and a darter, while the ironbark woodlands in the nearby forest held Bar-shouldered Dove, Striped Honeyeater, Yellow Thornbill and more Scarlet Honeyeaters.

Our final stop was Ellalong Lagoon, located between Ellalong and Paxton. At the Ellalong end, we had good views of Kestrel, Australian Pipit, 3 Brown Quail and a Sea-Eagle. At the Paxton end, the Sea-Eagle joined us with its mate, and there were also Swamp Harrier & Sparrowhawk to watch flying over the Lagoon. The Sparrowhawk flew round and round with its prey, which appeared to be a small brown bird with a long tail (fairy-wren?). Around the edge of the Lagoon we were able to count 10 Red-kneed Dotterels & about 60+ Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, while a Swamphen was seen with 2 chicks. There were plenty of Black-winged Stilts, Coot, Grey Teal, Black Duck & White-faced Herons on the Lagoon. Single Little & Great Egrets were seen along with Royal Spoonbills and three species of Cormorants.

All up a good days birding, with over 80 species being seen and we all enjoyed good company and great birding on lovely spring day.

Alan Morris leading for Follow That Bird

Twitching the Hot Spots Trip Report

Saturday 30 October 2020
Guide:John Gale

Olive-backed Oriole
Chiltern Trail was unusually quiet but did produce Yellow tufted, New Holland and White cheeked Honeyeaters, and later we witnessed an adult male Variegated Wren offer his mate a yellow petal (unsure of success).

Down at McCarr’s Creek Brown Quail, Black faced Monarch, Sacred Kingfisher and Leaden Flycatcher were seen, and at morning tea Noisy Friarbird squabbled at us.

At the track to Dee Why Lagoon we were blessed with a family of five Tawny Frogmouths, the juveniles about five weeks old. Also seen were Red browed Finch, Red whiskered Bulbul, Black winged Stilt, Swan with 5 cygnets and Golden headed Cisticola calling. Glendale Creek was buzzing with Olive backed Oriole, Figbird, White faced Heron, Great Heron, Clamorous Reed Warbler, Hardhead, Grey and Chestnut Teal, Coot, Yellow Thornbill, Sharp tailed Sandpiper, Royal Spoonbill, and pair of Red rumped Parrots zoomed past.

Our day ended at Red Hill which was also quiet, but we did have great views of Red browed Finch having a drink, and for a lucky few, Double barred Finch – a beautiful bird. A great day with a combined total of 80 species. Thanks everyone for good spotting.

John Gale leading for FTB

Wadalba and Craigie Reserve Trip Report

Saturday 18 September 2020
Guide:Alan Morris

EasternYellow Robin
25 people arrived at Craigie Reserve, Wyongah all looking forward to a days birding on the Central Coast and they left not disappointed! The first stop included a short walk along the Lake foreshore where Bar-tailed Godwit, Caspian Tern, Black Swan, Whistling Kite, Darter and Cormorants were quickly found but the best find was a pair of Black-winged Stilts with nest and 4 eggs! There was plenty to talk about at morning tea before we headed down the road to the Wadalba Reserve. This patch of Spotted Gum/Ironbark woodland was fairly buzzing with birds and Boris Branwhite was on hand to help identify the terrestrial orchids! The nest of a Grey Fantail was soon found but more difficult was trying to locate the calling White-throated Gerygone which flitted from tree to tree in the same place. King Parrot, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Yellow-faced & Brown-headed Honeyeaters were busy calling, while Rufous Whistler, Golden Whistler, Bellminer, Noisy Miner, Noisy Friarbird were everywhere and a Drongo was watched for some time. A pair of Little Lorikeets flew over and a Square-tailed Kite, a rare bird on the Central Coast gave good views to all birders as it glided over the hill!

We moved off to lunch in the sun on the banks of the connecting creek between Budgewoi Lake and Lake Munmorah at McKenzie Park, Budgewoi. In the casuarinas and paperbarks, Striped Honeyeaters and White-breasted Woodswallows were located, Great Egrets and 4 species of ducks fed around us, and Scaly-breasted & Rainbow Lorikeets fed in the flowering Forest Red Gums. We moved from here to Macumba Reserve, Buff Point where 30+ Swift Parrots were still to be found feeding in the flowering Forest Red Gums. Everyone had good views of these Tasmania winter visitors. Also at this site were Great Egrets, Darter, Crested Tern, Red Wattlebird and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike.

Our final stop for the day was at Picnic Point, The Entrance. Amongst the waterbirds, 7 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers and 24 Caspian Terns were a good find, as well as nesting Yellow-rumped Thornbills & Magpie-larks. A Willie Wagtail was on a nest near the Magpie-lark’s nest, we were swooped at by a nesting Masked Lapwing, and White-breasted Woodswallows and Striped Honeyeaters were found. Altogether 76 species were seen for this fine spring morning and good company & good birds enjoyed by all.

Alan Morris

Marie at Long Reef
Marie at Long Reef

Warriwood Wetlands and Chance Albatross
at Long Reef Trip Report

Saturday 30 July 2020
Guide:John Gale

Deep Creek greeted us with 20 Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos overhead, followed by a White-bellied Sea Eagle gliding in the distance. We then watched Great, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants and Pelicans fishing, with White-faced Herons, Intermediate Egret, Whistling Kite and Raven all keeping an eye on proceedings. Several Coral trees provided abundant nectar for Eastern Spinebill, Little Wattlebird, White-cheeked and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, and we chanced upon on an old but still intact Leaden Flycatcher’s nest beautifully decorated with lichen fragments. Other birds included Silvereye, Noisy Friarbird, Golden Whistler, and a very early or perhaps over-wintering Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, perched in iridescence, before being flushed by a Yellow-faced Honeyeater.

Spangled Drongo
Spangled Drongo by Neil Fifer
Long Reef produced Purple Swamphen, Galah, Masked Lapwing, Red and Little Wattlebirds revelling in the Banksias, Australian Pipit, and wonderful views of a male Nankeen Kestrel soaring and hovering over the headland. The rock platform gave us White-fronted and Crested Tern, Sooty Oystercatcher, Silver Gull, Australasian Gannet, great views of White-bellied Sea Eagle with fish feast, and closer searching/scanning revealed Common Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint, Double Banded Plover, and Ruddy Turnstone.

Warriwood Wetland Walk Way
Warriwood Wetland Walk Way
Our last stop at Warriewood Wetlands began with Superb Fairy-wren, Red-browed Finch, a quite brazen White-browed Scrub-wren, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Purple Swamphen, Dusky Moorhen, Pacific Black Duck, Grey Teal, Clamerous Reed Warbler, and Australian White Ibis, after which we were taunted by an ventriloquial Olive-backed Oriole mimicing Spangled Drongo, – it totally fooled me! Deeper into the prolifically flowering Swamp Mahogany forest we had good views of Scaly-breasted Lorikeet (outnumbering Rainbows) and neck breaking ones of Fuscous Honeyeater. Also seen were Golden Whistler, Kookaburra, Spotted Turtle-Dove, Crested Pigeon, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Grey Fantail, Spotted Pardalote, Red-whiskered Bulbul, and we heard the downward trill of a Fan-tailed Cuckoo in the distance, and several Whipbirds. Lastly, the Drongoes emerged, 2 juveniles with brown eyes gave us great closeups. Our full bus was rewarded with a beautiful day and 64 species, thanks one and all.

John Gale

Peregrine by Neil Fifer

Hawkesbury Raptors Trip Report

Saturday 10 July 2021
Guide:Keith Brandwood

Not so Rapturous Outing

Full coach, smiling faces soft rain falling and a pair of beautiful Black-shouldered Kites in the mist what more could a leader ask for, well a few more Raptors I suppose. Pitt Town produced a Brown Falcon and Wilberforce under cover produced our lunch. Dog Phoo! was the outstanding feature at our next stop at Streetons Lookout with a elusive Swamp Harrier over the turf farms. You must have qualified as a Farrier Janene the way you handled those fetlocks. Final stop was the best with Hobby, two adult Black-shouldered Kites with four juveniles, crippling views of a Swamp Harrier and to complete the day a Kestrel.

Keith Brandwood

PS. A really exciting day despite the rain which we were so pleased to see as the area is desperate for a week’s worth ! 70 species on the day, with juvenile black shoulder kites, four of them, so cute in the misty light and, not a bit on dog poo in the bus !!!

I was rapped as were the rest of the birders,


Birds Australia AGM

Cessnock Box Ironbark Woodlands Trip Report

Monday 31st May 2004
Guide:Alan Morris

Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Yellow-faced Honeyeater by Neil Fifer
In conjunctionwith the Birds Australia Members Day and AGM, a trip to the Cessnock Box Ironbark Woodlands was also organised for Monday 31 May 2004. However in the lead up to this tour the conditions at Cessnock had become particularly dry so that it was decided to vary the tour by starting first at Galgabba Pt South Swansea, in some of the flowering of stands of Swamp Mahogany. The chances of seeing Regent Honeyeaters and Swift Parrots at Galgabba Point are high because they had been seen there 3 times in the past 6 years. Again it was a beautiful sunny autumn morning and remained so for the whole day.

While the two target species were not found, the Swamp Mahoganys were alived with birds, including 11 species of very vocal honeyeaters (Noisy Friarbird, Bell & Noisy Miners, Red & Little Wattlebird, Spinebill, White-cheeked, White-naped, Yellow-faced, Scarlet & Lewin’s Honeyaters), all the local Lorikeets viz Rainbow, Scaly-breasted, Musk & Little, as well as Spotted Pardalotes, Silvereyes, Olive-backed Oriole, Yellow Robin and Brown Cuckoo-Dove. Finally we tore ourselves away and headed for out morning tea spot at Freemans Waterholes. Here Gang gangs called but could not be found, as well as a number of Scarlet & Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Yellow, Striated & Brown Thornbills..

Yellow-tufted Honeyeater
Yellow-tufted Honeyeater by Neil Fifer
We spent the rest of the morning on a private property at Quorrobolong, part of about 400 ha of box-ironbark woodlands. The 11 mm of rain received a few days before our visit had freshened the area up and once again there were plenty of honeyeaters, this time dominated by Yellow-tufted and Fuscous Honeyeaters. Good views were had of Brown-headed Honeyeaters & Bell Miners, as well as Jacky Winter, Chough, Brown Falcon, Golden Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, Striated Pardalote and other woodland birds. We took lunch at the park at Kitchener, where Blue-faced Honeyeaters were found feeding dependent young, and Scarlet & White-cheeked Honeyeaters fed in the planted flowering Mugga Ironbarks, that is, when they were not being chased by Noisy Friarbirds. In the Dam in the park, were darters, Cormorants, Moorhens, Swamphens and Coots. During our walk into the nearby Aberdare SF, again consisting of a box ironbark woodland, we happened onto a mixed feeding flock of Weebills, Buff-rumped & Striated Thornbills, Sitellas, Golden Whistler, Mistletoebird, White-throated Treecreeper, Grey Fantail, Yellow Robin and a male Rose Robin, among other species..

Alan Morris
Alan at Ellalong
Our last stop for the day was at Ellalong Lagoon, looking from the Paxton end, and giving great afternoon light as the sun was shining from behind. There was nothing really unusual here but a White-breasted Sea-eagle was hunting over the wetland, and Black-winged Stilts, Shovelers, Royal Spoonbill and Intermediate & Great Egret were some of the birds seen here. A really great day with over 94 species seen, including 14 species of honeyeaters, during the day..

Alan Morris.

Birds Australia AGM

Gloucester Tops Trip Report

Sunday 30th May 2004
Guide:Alan Morris

In conjunction with the Birds Australia Members Day and AGM, a trip to Gloucester Tops in Barrington Tops National Park was organised for Sunday 30 May 2004. The day started well, it being fine and sunny and remained so for the whole day which is most unusual for a visit to Gloucester Tops which is about 1250 m a.s.l. Seasonal conditions have been good in the Gloucester District this autumn so that there were plenty of birds to see as we approached the lower slopes of the Barrington Range. Just prior to entering the National Park, a Pheasant Coucal was seen flying along parallel to the coach, while Wedge-tailed and White-breasted Sea-eagles, Crimson & Eastern Rosellas, Jacky Winter and Pipits were passed.

Brown Cuckoo-Dove
Brown Cuckoo-Dove by Neil Fifer
Our first stop was at the Sharpes Creek picnic area just inside the Park boundary which turned out to be agreat place for morning tea while we watched Brown Cuckoo-Doves, Satin Bowerbird, a large group of feeding Crested Shrike-tits. Catbirds were heard calling, Shining Bronze-cuckoos seen while Yellow-throated, Large-billed and White-browed Scrub-wrens were busy feeding. A Lyrebird ran ahead of the coach as we started up the hill to our next stop which was the Kerrapit Trail. It was cold here and the bird life was much harder to find. Fleeting views were had of Crescent Honeyeters and Olive Whistler, with a few Yellow Robins, Striated Thornbills and White-throated Treecreeper being seen. In the Antarctic Beach Forest further along the trail we did manage to get better views of a female Olive Whistler, and see more scrub-wrens and thornbills. A Lyrebird and a Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo were also found.

We lunched at Gloucester Falls and managed to catch up with a feeding flock of birds which included Red-browed Treecreepers, Crescent & New Holland Honeyeaters, Eastern Spinebill, Yellow Robin, Mistletoebird etc which made for an enjoyable time. We made a short stop at Sharpes Creek on the return and managed to see 5 Bassian Thrushes feeding in the picnic area and a male and female Lyrebird, allowing us all to have close views of both species. Altogether a very pleasant day with 72 species sighted which was good for the many interstate visitors on board.

Alan Morris

Cumberland State Forest Trip Report

Saturday 22 May 2021
Guide:Andrew Patrick

Black-fronted Dotterel
Black-fronted Dotterel by Neil Fifer
What a bonza day today turned out to be. We started in Cumberland State Forest with a male Satin Bowerbird displaying to a female. It was the wrong time of year but that didn’t stop him flicking his wings, flatenning his tail sideways, singing and prancing around with some blue objects in his bill. It was quite a sight. We continued through the forest searching out the LBJs (Little Brown Jobs) many of which were high up in the canopy on migration. There were Grey Fantails, Brown Thornbills, Silvereyes, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and the resident Brown Gerygones. We also spotted some truly stunning birds – male Golden Whistlers and Rose Robins. They took our breath away. At the top of the forest we saw Bell Miners and had excellent views of three types of lorikeet – Rainbow, Musk and Scaly-breasted. Kookaburras were eyeing our sandwiches at lunch time and a Brown Goshawk circled high above us, looking for lunch of its own.
Syncroinised Birders
None of this sort of Precision
was noted on this Day
We then headed out to Little Bushells lagoon at Wilberforce where we saw plenty of waterbirds in particular a Yellow-billed Spoonbill sifting through the shallow water, a pair of Australasian Shovellers paddling about with their oddly shaped bills and Australasian Grebes diving under water and then popping back up like a cork. Many birds sat on the bank allowing us to compare the different colourations of the Chestnut and Grey Teals as well as the size differences between the various duck species. A Sea Eagle and two Wedge-tailed Eagles cruised on thermals above us, causing some consternation amongst the ravens. We headed out to the turf farms and saw the beautiful Red-rumped Parrot as well as countless Magpie-larks searching the well-watered land for insects. Last stop was at Pughs Lagoon which proved exciting with more than 40 Plumed Whistling-Ducks, an uncommon sight in Sydney. It was a lovely day out with 77 species seen during the day.

Mittagong-BelangloState Forest Trip Report

Saturday 17 April 2021
Guide:Chris Chafer

Eucalyptus Punctata – Italian Chocolate?
Miners Despair Loop
Chris Chafer & Gordon Sturart
-the boys stick together
A pictorial report for a change, as it tends to say it all – wonderful weather on the day, and excellent guiding by Chris.

The birds did not stay still for me to photogragh. But the highlights were : Rockwarblers, Scarlets Robins with juveniles, Emu with juveniles, Spotted Quail-thrush, Australian Shelduck, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Buff-rumped Thornbill and Whilte-eared Honeyeater. Just a wonderful warm day out birding.

Strickland State Forest Trip Report

Saturday 27 March 2021
Guide:Andrew Patrick

Ourimbah Sewage Treatment Works may not sound like a place you would want to visit but it turned out to be a great place for water birds. We saw Pelicans, Royal Spoonbills, lots of teal, Black Ducks, Hardheads and even a male Musk Duck which is a fairly uncommon bird. On the edges of the water we had excellent views through the telescope of Black-winged Stilts and overhead we could identify the differences between a Swamp Harrier and a Whistling Kite as they soared past.

In the nearby undergrowth right beside the bus we encountered a mix feeding flock of small bush birds « Silvereyes, Yellow and Brown Thornbills, Variegated Fair-wrens and a Brown Gerygone. It was a good spot to start the day†s birding.

White-cheeked Rosella
We continued to nearby Chittaway Point where we got very good views of a Little Egret using its feet in the water to stir up its dinner. Nearby a lone Bar-tailed Godwit prepared for its upcoming journey to Siberia and a Noisy Friarbird and Red Wattlebirds lapped up nectar in a flowering tea-tree. At morning tea we saw juvenile Darters with their lovely light rufous chests.

We spent the afternoon in Strickland State Forest which has magnificent rainforest in the gullies so we were preparing to see some special birds. Unfortunately the forest was unusually quiet although we did manage to glimpse delightful birds like Rufous Fantails busily dashing here and there in the shadows. A male Golden Whistler sang for us, two Green Catbirds looked down at us and King Parrots flashed by overhead. We finished this delightful day with 67 species.

Andrew Patrick
Collaroy Beach

West Head and The Basin Birding Trip Report

Saturday 13 March 2021
Guide: Andrew Patrick

The weather reports promised wet conditions but we actually encountered sunshine at our first stop of Long Reef at Dee Why. We started with good views of some waddling Crested Pigeons, a yodelling Little Wattlebird and then a hovering Nankeen Kestrel diving on prey in the long grass.

Long Reef at Low Tide
We descended to the rock platform and were delighted to see dozens of tiny Red-necked Stints plus a few Ruddy Turnstones. All these birds were busily feeding in preparation for their upcoming flight to their breeding grounds in Siberia. In the next month they will have departed Australia and we won’t see them again until October. Crested Terns and Great Cormorants were taking it easy on the rocks and a flock of Sooty Oystercatchers gave us excellent views as they chiselled off limpets with their solid bills.

Long Reef Birders
A spot of rain appeared at morning tea promising to ruin the rest of our day. However at West Head the rain had gone and we had great views of Palm Beach and Lion Island. A young Olive-backed Oriole seemed unconcerned by our presence. A quick walk through the bush found a beautiful Rufous Fantail jumping here and there along with some other small bush birds such as Brown Thornbill and Variegated Fairy-wren. At lunch we were joined by a large Lace Monitor (who clearly had his eyes on our lunch) and a few White-throated Needletails zipped overhead.

Long Reef Pelicans
Most of us then set off on a two hour walk from the road down to the Basin, taking a look at Aboriginal carvings on the way. A male Rufous Whistler gave everyone an excellent view as did a White-cheeked Honeyeater and a Swamp Wallaby. One of the most interesting things we saw was a pair of Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes repeatedly jumping into the foliage at the top of a eucalypt, emerging with a stick insect (phasmid), bashing it on a branch and then gulping it down.

Alan Helping the Sisters
As we took the ferry from the Basin over to Palm Beach we saw Sea Eagles and Whistling Kites soaring overhead. Luckily the weather was kind to us and we had a great day with 49 species of birds.

Andrew Patrick

Trip Report for Birding at Watamolla Lagoon in Royal National Park

Saturday 7 February 2021
Guide: Steve Anyon Smith

Eighteen observers were rewarded with superb views of a wedge-tailed eagle taking an active interest in a recently deceased swamp wallaby before starting our walk along part of the Coast Track in Royal National Park. We were to look for heathland birds north from Wattamolla on a hot and humid.
White-faced Heron
White-faced Heron

As so often happens, the car park produced yet again, with a large flock of yellow-tailed black cockatoos being harassed by both a brown falcon a very young white-bellied sea-eagle. As we were keen not to expire whilst in the sun we marched at a fair pace to be frustrated by some of the most elusive of the park’s birds : the beautiful firetail and southern emu-wren. Eventually we all had superlative views of the latter, whilst the firetails were at their cryptic best for all but a few of the group. All along were the delta-winged white-throated needletails, doing what they do best : showing off.

Our early lunch spot, strategically sited in full sun on a cliff top at the edge of the Great Eastern Fire Break did give distant views of wedge-tailed shearwaters and a young Australasian gannet. The heath produced a number of interesting reptiles including a common scalyfoot, White’s skink, jacky lizard and numerous copper-tailed skinks.

After a restorative tea stop at the picturesque Wattamolla we adjourned to Wattle Forest Flat to harass a few picnic area and rainforest birds. Although it was in the middle of the day, most of the birds had been secretly bribed the day before and had been lurking in the forest to await our arrival. Naturally the superb lyrebirds were a real nuisance underfoot, but we spotted a few nice things as well, these among them : wonga pigeon, topknot pigeon, dollarbird, satin bowerbird, rufous fantail and fantailed cuckoo.

Steve Anyon-Smith

Katandra Reserve Trip Report

Saturday 18 October 2020
Guide: Alan Morris

Alan Morris with Birders
Alan Morris with Birders
Seventeen birders, including two visitors from the United Kingdom visited the Central Coast on 18 October and had a great days birding, seeing over 84 species. The main event commenced with a visit to Burge Road reserve, Blackalls Bay, Woy Woy from where you can look onto Ramsay Island to see our local Pelican rookery. There were about 30 juvenile Pelicans in a loose creche while about another 40 pairs of birds had recently commenced nesting, so that there was much coming and going. Also on this little sandy island there were about 20 nests of White Ibis on the one low She-oak but the main highlight was seeing a juvenile Pied Oystercatcher feeding with its parents because successful breeding of Oystercatchers on the Coast is not a common event. At the waters edge near where we were standing, good views were had of a Striated Heron, Little Egret & Great Egret, a pair of White-breasted Woodswallows were nesting on a mooring pole, while our overseas visitors were able to compare the differences of Long-billed and Little Corellas which were feeding together on the grass.

Our next stop was the Katandra Reserve at Matcham but on route to that rainforest reserve we passed briefly by Kincumber Pony Club grounds where the resident pair of Bush Stone-curlews were quickly located close to the coach which acted as a great hide so that no one needed to alight! Katandra Reserve has missed out on some of the local rains so was somewhat dry and a bit quiet so that birds like the Cicadabird, Rufous Fantail, Rose Robin, Catbird and Brown Cuckoo-Dove were heard calling but showed little activity. However here we did get good views of Rufous & Golden Whistlers and Black-faced Monarchs,a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike was loacted nesting in the car-park during our lunch, and Sacred Kingfishers were seen constructing a nest in a termites mound. Scarlet Honeyeaters, a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, Olive-backed Orioles and Leaden Flycatchers were some of the other birds seen.

Leaden Flycatcher
Leaden Flycatcher by Neil Fifer
Our third main site for the day was the Tuggerah STW which provided great bird watching experiences. First a Brown Goshawk gave good views enabling easy identification, and then a Swamp Harrier made a number of swoops over the wetlands trying to catch some of the coots and lapwings, enabling all to see its under and upper wing and tail patterns. Good views were had of Clamorous Reedwarblers and more Scarlet Honeyeaters, some sneaky Black-fronted Plovers were found hiding in the grass at the edge of the ponds, Fairy Martins and Welcome Swallows were busy overhead, while Cattle Egrets, Royal Spoonbills and the three common cormorant species were roosting side by side and so helped with identification purposes, while the usual ducks were present. Yellow-faced and White-cheeked Honeyaters were feeding in the Coral Trees and Dollarbirds were swopping over the ponds. Altogether a very pleasant day on the Coast with good company and great birds.

Alan Morris

Follow That Bird   Phone: +61 2 9973 1865
3/59 Central Road
Avalon Beach NSW 2107
(Sydney) Australia
- Sydney's Birding Company  
Photos of Splendid Fairy-wren and Diamond Firetail by Nevil Lazarus. Header design by Participant Daphne Gonzalvez.