& the Coast Tour Report
I rendezvous'd with Christine, Brian and Janene for dinner at the Lookout Motor Inn up on the plateau, to find their trip from Sydney had yielded a good raptor and wader count.
(On our drive up the coast we heard or saw 85 species with the highlights being a White-throated Gerygone and Horsefield's Bronze-Cuckoo at Newcastle Botanic Gardens, Red-capped Plover, Eastern Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwits at Old Bar and a flock of Royal Spoonbills at South West Rocks.)
Day 2 began with a drizzle so we static birded from undercover at 'the Glade' (Dorrigo NP), comparing White-browed with Yellow-throated Scrub-wrens. After breakfast, we returned and triangulated onto a Noisy Pitta, our patience rewarded with a low flyover, before it proclaimed the area, and banished the imposter (me). From the Skywalk, we had close views of sodden Topknots, and a photo-op of Red-necked Pademelon. The Antarctic Beech forest at Dangar Falls was resplendent in mist, lichen and moss, with Leaden Flycatcher, Varied Triller, and testing glimpses of Black-faced Monarch. Back to Dorrigo NP at the Never Never, Logrunners efficiently dug themselves deep.
Regent Bowerbird by John Gale
Day 3 down the mountain at Thora Bridge we had Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoos, brilliant Regent and Satin Bowerbirds, Noisy Friarbird, Dollarbird, Spangled Drongo and heard Olive-backed Oriole. Bellingen Island gave us a Grey-headed Flying Fox colony, white phase Grey Goshawk lurking, Figbirds milling, and a Wompoo Fruit-dove full of loquat, and also Red-whiskered Bulbul calling. Out at Valery Christine found and 'encouraged' a Koala, and a Regent Bowerbird pair browsed on lantana.
Raleigh paddocks created thermals for Osprey, White-bellied Sea-eagle and Hobby, and we saw a proud dad watching over a nestling Black-necked Stork, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, Red-backed, Superb and Variegated Wrens, all in vivid colour courtesy of overcast, drizzly skies, and Tawny Grassbird. A lucky detour gave us Buff-banded Rail on our way to the boardwalk at Urunga for Rainbow Bee-eater, Mangrove Gerygone calling, Whimbrel, Golden Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Osprey, and both Oystercatchers.
Dorrigo Rainforest by participant Chris Melrose
Fine misty rain and slightly cooler morning of Day 4, we static birded the Glade again, this time Rose Robin m&f active, and we checked wet Yellow Robins for white lores and leg colour , no Pale unfortunately. Little Arm Rd at Thora gave us Swamp Wallaby (bicolor), more glimpses of Black-faced Monarch, Little Pied Cormorant, Sacred Kingfisher, and beautiful misty scenery. Later Janene spotted m&f Brolga at Raleigh marshes, and we also saw White-necked and White-faced Heron, Great Egret, and Scaly-breasted Lorikeet overhead, and Brian alerted us to Rufous Songlark and Fairy Martins. Also seen was a leucistic Magpie, - a dirty off-white all over but with dark/brown eyes and dark legs, hence not albino. In a small leafed fig at Sawtell, we found another satisfied Wompoo Fruit-dove, and had White-cheeked Honeyeater, Mistletoebird, Little Corella, Bar-shouldered Dove, and later Catbird, Brahminy Kite and hundreds of Little Tern, fidgety on the shore. Bonville Creek gave Christine a confident 'Spectacled Monarch!!', congratulations, before we headed back up the mountain for more Logrunners, Yellow-throated Scrub-wren and swamp wallaby with joey, and I said farewell.
(Our return drive yielded more than expected with spring in full swing. The forest road at Scott's Head had a whispering Crested Shrike-tit we chased down and finally the swamp at Minmi was teeming with Grey Teal, Black-winged Stilts and two Swamp Harriers soared.)
Koala by participant Chris Melrose
157 species all up, great meals, good company, and weather conditions which initially weren't well received, but rainforest in the rain is spectacular, drip-tips dripping, wonderful light giving great depth, and vivid colour differentiation; thank you fellow birders, Regent Bowerbirds and Red-backed Wrens.
by John (pitta) Gale ornithologist for FTB