Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Awabakal Nature Reserve

White-cheeked Honeyeater
Awabakal Nature Reserve is a 227 hectare reserve located on the southern side of Newcastle between the coastal suburbs of Redhead and Dudley. Access can be gained from both suburbs, however the main car park is located at the end of Ocean St in Dudley. Because of its sandy soils Awabakal’s dominant vegetation is heath and scrublands, though further away from the coast dry sclerophyll dominates. Because my main photographic interest was the honeyeaters that frequent the many flowering plants on the coast I concentrated on exploring the coastal tracks. Initially I followed the main track from the car park which led directly to a beautiful spot on the cliff, with views towards Newcastle. Here the vegetation was dwarfed due to being exposed to elements, however not many birds. 
Tawny-crowned Honeyeater
I headed back and took a track that appeared to be heading towards Redhead. This track was obviously not maintained as it was overgrown with vegetation in many places. After about 500 metres of walking through undulating country I entered an area of low heathland dominated by flowering banksias.  Soon many Honeyeaters could be seen and heard, these included large numbers of White-cheeked Honeyeaters. I found a good spot to setup in my bag hide with a suitable perch on which to attract the birds. During the next couple of hours with the use of calls I managed to attract White-cheeked Honeyeaters, Eastern Spinebills, Little Wattlebirds, Silvereyes, New Holland Honeyeaters and Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters. The Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters were the real bonus, as they had become a bogey bird in the sense that I could never get a close shot. Today I had a particular bird that came into the perch on multiple occasions.
I was thinking to myself that one of the positives of this site was lack of people, when with my back turned to the track I nearly jumped out of my skin on hearing the words, “don’t be scared”.  I turned around to see a elderly female jogger go past. On the way back out I experienced a fly past by two adult sea eagles and then to top it off I flushed a Brush Bronzewing from the track. From my reading this would have to be one of the more reliable spots to find Bronzewings. With all the wonderful birds present it would have been easy to forget the scenery and the spectacular wildflowers. It is definitely a place that I will revisit with the intention of making a bigger effort in regards the setup of a decent perch on which to photograph the birds.

View towards Redhead

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