BirdLife Northern NSW has just two field trips a year – spring and autumn – and this autumn they flocked to Tenterfield for a weekend of birdwatching over March 18-19.
While the group contains many birdwatching enthusiasts, coordinator Richard Jordan said much of the focus these days is on conservation. The weekends are called ‘camping out’ but the term's used loosely, with the 60 participants finding shelter from the unfriendly weather at Tenterfield Lodge and Caravan Park.
Mr Jordan said Tenterfield offered some great birdwatching opportunities, with groups venturing out to local national parks and travelling stock reserves (TSRs) during breaks in the rain.
“The TSRs have a lot of interesting birds,” Mr Jordan said.
Three private properties were also on the tour: David and Sarah Caldwell’s Mole Station as well as Geoff and Claire Robertson's Currawong at Boonoo Boonoo, and Roseneath out to the west.
The tour had the advantage of local guides from the Tenterfield Naturalists, of which Mr Jordan was very appreciative.
Of the148 different species spotted over the weekend (far exceeding expectations), there were two rare standouts: a ground cuckoo-shrike at Sundown National Park, and a painted button-quail at Mole Station.
“We were surprised to see them,” Mr Jordan said.
The bird spotters considered Tenterfield a prime location for the pastime given the range of habitats within close range of the town, particularly the grassy woodlands which dissipate farther south. There are nearly 230 bird species spottable within 10 kilometres of the post office.
Away from the coast, this is the best anywhere in NSW for diversity.
“There is a whole list of birds here due to the varying habitats,” Mr Jordan said.
“Away from the coast, this is the best anywhere in NSW for diversity.”
While the weekend visit provided a cash injection for the town, BirdLife Australia has 85,000 supporters so there could be a lot more following in their footsteps.
For the amateur bird spotters already living here, chief guide Neil Fordyce said his favoured reference is the Atlas of Living Australia (ala.org.au) which draws in records from multiple sources to present a comprehensive database going right back to 1788.
If frogs are more your thing, expert Greg Clancy was also on the field trip and said Tenterfield is a prime location for 23 different frog species, given that it’s in an area where frog regions overlap. Mr Clancy is no stranger to Tenterfield having undertaken a fauna survey commissioned by the Tenterfield Naturalists several years ago. Mr Fordyce has invited Mr Clancy back to share more of his expertise.
Below are photos of the two surprise species spotted over the weekend. Have you seen them locally?