At the commencement of each new year I like to highlight the good work that particular Local Councils are doing to restore natural habitat for wildlife, and in particular birds. This week I salute the Greater Taree City Council for the wonderful effort, in coordination with other conservation and wetlands groups, to restore the wetlands to land once used as a cattle property. The Cattai Wetlands Project is a success story, and our recent tour of the Birding Route confirms that much planning and expense has gone to make this a place where families and schools can come to learn about and enjoy their local natural heritage. You can read more about its origins in the above link. The Council have erected a new covered eating area with many tables and seating benches on the Loop Track walk. It is wise to use insect repellent as the mosquitoes can be quite ravenous.
With recent heavy rainfalls the wetlands are amazing in volume and size, with thousands of water-lily plants covering the lake area. The walk around the lake takes around an hour for a birder of just 2.2 km. The passerines in the surrounding trees are also numerous, so tree birds can be observed here as well as water birds. Sadly, we did not see a great variety of waterbirds on the day we were there, only Black Swans and Pacific Black Duck. The lovely coloured Cattai Wetlands Birding Route brochure available at this link was prepared by a member of the Hunter Bird Observers Club, and is very well presented.
In our travels throughout Australia we are finding the Black Swan. It no longer is confined to Western Australia, but is doing well and breeding throughout Australia where there are lakes and wetlands. Above we saw several families of Black Swan and their signets.
The most interesting passerine we saw were this small flock of Varied Sittella, of the Orange Wing variety. This is not a bird that we see often, so we were thrilled to see it. It is a small bird that climbs around trees, usually high up in the canopy ( for this reason people seldom see them) but here these young ones were climbing and moving about from tree to tree like treecreepers in a small flock.
Other wildlife here includes Goanna, and yes my friend who drove us to this place found one climbing a tree, as we walked around the lake. Snakes, lizards and skinks also frequent this place. We were very pleased the Council had freshly mowed the walking track for the New Year long weekend visitors.
It was lovely to see this young Grey Shrike-Thrush with its prey in beak. It is classified young because of the dark striations on its chest, which will diminish as it matures. These birds have a beautiful song when you hear them in the bush.
This must be a good place for birds because we saw many immature and young, both in tree and water birds. Here is a small young Eastern Yellow Robin.
The water-lilies have been introduced here, and are the Cape Waterlily of South America. Our stay was most enjoyable despite the lack of birds. Make sure you vacate the car park by 3pm when they close the gates. There were other tree birds which we were not able to photograph as we were late in arriving. We did see Red-browed Finch nests also, we mainly came to see the waterbirds, and will come again and make a day of it when we are visiting the Mid-North Coast near Taree, NSW again visiting my daughter and her family as well as some of our dear friends.
My Bird of the Week: The Little Corella
This year, each week my Bird of the Week will feature at the end of my birding blog. My Bird of the Week blog and website page no longer exist. All birds featured here each week will continue to be archived into my Photo Archive pages 1,2 &3 of my website.
The Little Corella is a cockatoo frequenting our area at this time of year in small flocks. It is similar in appearance to the large Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, but smaller. It lacks the sulphur crest, having a white crest, and also has pink lores (the space between the beak and the eye) with the eye surrounded by a blue-grey patch or ring. In flight they may look similar, except for their call, which is characteristically different to the loud raucous screech of the Sulphur-crested. My video clip gives an example of their call. The Little Corella is a short billed cockatoo found throughout most of mainland Australia except for the desert regions of Western Australia. It is not found in Tasmania. Like other cockatoos the diet is seeds from cones and pods on pine trees, native Casuarina, Banksia and other seed baring plants not excluding the seeds of many grasses. For this reason you may see these birds appear in small flocks seasonally, around the same time each year when particular trees are seeding. These birds also cleverly use one claw to hold their food while they eat it, a feature which many birds cannot do. They breed between July to November, and like other Cockatoos and Lorikeets make their nests in the hollows of trees, usually near water courses. They sometimes use white-ant nests.
Taken from some distance this picture of a parent Little Corella feeding its youngster.
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