The Chiltern track at Ingleside runs from Chiltern Road down through Kuringai Chase to McCarr’s Creek Road. It’s not very long – about 1.7 kms – but is a “hot spot” for birds in the honeyeater family, which includes wattlebirds and spinebills.
I was there last weekend at the suggestion of Liz Powell, Habitat Restoration Officer at Willoughby Council, on a “Discovering Honeyeaters” walk led by Judy Christie. There were about 20 others in the group of assorted ages and experience. I’m not usually a fan of group birdwatching, but this one seemed to work well. In particular, some of the younger members had very sharp eyes, enabling them to point out birds the rest of us might have missed.
At the beginning of the track there were several Little Wattlebirds (Anthochaera chrysoptera) making their usual level of noise. At first I ignored them, as I already had good photos of this bird. However one in particular seemed to want to be photographed, and so I eventually obliged:
A large raptor then soared overhead – a Square-Tailed Kite (Lophoictinia isura). I’m told it’s unusual to see them in this area or indeed anywhere around Sydney.
The first honeyeaters I saw were several Brown-headed Honeyeaters (Melithreptus brevirostrus). One in particular was giving something on its branch a good working over, but I couldn’t quite see what it was.
I also saw a number of Yellow-faced Honeyeaters (Caligavis chrysops) along the walk, all readily identified by the distinctive flash of yellow below their eye:
My next sighting was what I thought was a New Holland Honeyeater—until I saw the white patches on its cheeks and realised it was a White-cheeked Honeyeater (Phylidonyris niger). It quickly flew off as soon as I raised the camera:
Shortly afterwards it started calling from a tree a little further away.
Another flash of yellow, and this time it was a Yellow-tufted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus melanops).
I then noticed a group of White-Naped Honeyeaters (Melithreptus lunatus) socialising in a shady tree. Graham Pizzey’s description of the species as “small neat members of their group” struck me as appropriate, with their clean white underparts and distinctive red "eyebrows".
From time to time, small flocks of Silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis) flitted past us through the shrubbery. Such small mobile birds are not always easy to photograph, and these weren’t particularly cooperative until two perched on a distant cactus silhouetted against the northern sun. They were the Tasmanian lateralis subspecies, readily distinguished from other silvereyes by the patch of buff on their sides, below their wings. They overwinter in NSW during the colder weather.
When we stopped for a tea break on a rocky outcrop near the McCarr’s Creek end, we saw another kite, this time a Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus), but it was too high for a good photo.
On the way back we passed a Spotted Pardalote burrow. The parent birds returned a couple of times with nesting material, but they moved quickly and I always seemed to have the camera pointing in the wrong direction. However my compensation came a little later, when I saw this immature male Scarlet Honeyeater (Myzomela sanguinolenta). This was a very mouthy little bird – he seldom shut up while I was watching.
Eventually he did close his beak long enough for this photo, perhaps my favourite of the day.
Although this was primarily a bird walk, there were also several wildflowers on display and I took a number of photos. Here are just 3 of them – red five-corners (Styphelia tubiflora), purple flag (Patersonia – unsure of exact species) and one whose identity I’m not sure of.
North Sydney – my home suburb – holds Sydney’s second largest CBD. However its parks and bushland areas, and those of neighbouring councils such as Willoughby, host a surprising variety of native flora and fauna. These bush areas are maintained by dedicated council staff, often working with local resident volunteers.