Sydney, with Group
Monday, October 12, 2009:
I started the day by walking around Sydney a bit. I was travelling light today, without pack or camera (but I should have taken the pocket camera). My basic plan was for a walk to stretch out my legs, which needed it after all the stairs (1500?) yesterday.
I turned left at Circular Quay, following the shore under the Harbour Bridge. Both Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants were seen. As I continued along the shore/piers, I spotted a couple of Australian Pelicans flying toward the bridge. A few minutes later there were 3 in the wake of a fishing boat that was attended by lots of Silver Gulls.
From one of the piers, I heard a mystery bird singing. I spotted it on top of a building, and moved in for a better look. Since I didn't have the bird book with me. I later found another such bird, or maybe the same one a couple of blocks away. I continued around the shore, then cut in to the observatory grounds. It was another hour before it would open, so I just circled the grounds. There is a great view there of Sydney west of the Harbour Bridge.
Then I headed down several series of stairs through the Rocks to return to Circular Quay and my hotel. I seem to be coming down with a cold, so I stopped to get some klennex and cold medicine at a mega-convenience store caty-corner (sans corner) from the hotel. While I was paying, Jeri showed up, looking for supplies for the group. After that, I headed back to the hotel to look up the mystery bird. It was a Willie-wagtail.
The Tour Begins: St. Stephens Church Cemetary
I meet up with the group at 11:15. We were planning to leave by 12:30, so we trooped over to the closest food court for lunch. The selection wasn't as good as the one a block farther away I used the other day, but was adequate. By 12:30, we were on the road.
Our first stop was the cemetary at St. Stephens Church. Jeri had information about a Tawny Frogmouth nest here. As he was reading the directions, at least two of us spotted the Tawny Frogmouth more-or-less simultaneously. We were a little confused by it as we expected something smaller and thought this might an owl. It was the frogmouth. Some other birds were present there, including nesting Gray Butcherbirds.
|St. Stephens Church Cemetary|
|Tawny Frogmouth and chick||Gray Butcherbird|
We then headed off for our main birding destination, Centennial Park. As we drove into the park, we spotted an Australasian Darter flying by. The first pond we came too had Hardheads, Eurasian Coots, and Dusky Moorhens. We stopped for a closely look. A nearby grassy area had Magpie-lark and Willie-wagtail, while Australian Magpie was on the other side of the road. A cuckoo was seen flying into a tree—Channel-billed Cuckoo. Another lake had Black Swans. While temporarily separated from the group, the driver and I saw some Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos chomping on pine cones.
|Channel-billed Cuckoo||Black Swans|
|Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos||Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos|
Rejoining the group, I added Great Comorant to my Australia list (4 species of cormorant were seen in the park). An Australian Reed-Warbler responded to a tape, and Australasian Grebes were diving out on the lake. Purple Swamphens were among the fowl being fed by some people while Fairy Martins zoomed around above the lake. The local swamphen is a different race (maybe species) from the gray-headed variety seen in Florida.
We found some more Tawny Frogmouths, then did more lake scanning from a different location. Australian Pelican was there and many of the same birds. One of the group also spotted a White-faced Heron on the other side of the lake. However, we were unable to find our major target bird, Musk Duck.
|Tawny Frogmouths||Purple Swamphen|
Some activity nearby included a Black-faced Cuckooshrike. This turned our attention to some nearby trees. One bird got away, but we were left with Superb Fairywren, Yellow Thornbill, and Silvereye.
We checked another pond for ducks, instead turning up a couple of Nankeen Night-Herons and a Sacred Kingfisher. I noticed some Laughing Kookaburras on a fence-rail as we returned to the bus. By then it was time to leave. Indeed, many of the park entrances were already closed, and we had to search for the way out. We had dinner at a restaurant at Circular Quay. Although we didn't finish in time to see the Gray-headed Flying-foxes leaving their roost en masse, we did spot a few stragglers. Tomorrow, we have an early morning.
|Nankeen Night-Heron||Australian Raven|
Trip total—60 species including 53 lifers.
Marriott Sydney Harbour, Sydney