Dan celebrates his 400th HBOC tick in style! (photo courtesy of Jane Williams)
The final day of our recent outback adventure was spent in pursuit of Dan’s 400th species in the Hunter Bird Observers Club area. He’d been creeping closer to the target over the past few months and we had hoped that our recent pelagic might produce the goods, but it was not to be. On his journey out west, to meet up with us for our ‘back O’Bourke’ holiday, Dan ticked up Crimson Chat, number 399. The weather out west has been particularly dry of late – at one place we stopped, the aboriginal drinking pools at Byrock, it hadn’t rained since 26th October 2016. This weather has forced birds, usually only seen in the red centre, to seek water further east – bringing them into the upper Hunter in unprecedented numbers. We’d only just reached the western edge of the HBOC recording area when I saw a Kingfisher on the wires from the car. We pulled over for Dan to check it out – Red-backed Kingfisher. A great bird to see this far east and, more importantly, his 400th – cue champagne celebration!
And the cause of all the fuss, Red-backed Kingfisher. Only seen once in the HBOC recording area prior to the current unprecedented influx – we came across at least five
Other scarce birds in the area, in addition to the Crimson Chat which was still present at Durridgere, included Black Honeyeater – record shot of one of two males seen
We saw more than a dozen Pallid Cuckoo, all female – rarely seen in these numbers in the Hunter.
The scarcer Black-eared Cuckoo
As we headed for home from the Upper Hunter – this delightful Spotted Harrier bade us farewell
A great bird to end a memorable days birding – bringing Dan his 400th and taking my overall Hunter list to 314. Not a bad total for a tourist – accumulated in only six weeks birding in the region. Until the next time…