Hunter Bird Observers Club members are thrilled at the array of birdlife Spring has brought to our region.

HAIRY CATERPILLAR DIET: The Pallid Cuckoo has been prominent in our region recently.
HAIRY CATERPILLAR DIET: The Pallid Cuckoo has been prominent in our region recently.

This spring many birds have turned up along the east coast of NSW that normally inhabit inland areas of the state.

This event has caused an absolute flurry of activity within the local birding community and in particular, the members of Hunter Bird Observers Club.

After all it is too good an opportunity to miss, seeing a bird locally that you would normally have to travel some distance to observe.

It has been suggested by some experts that the birds are moving closer to the coast because of the hot and dry conditions inland at the moment, and the need to find food.

The high rainfall earlier in the year may also have triggered a large breeding event and these birds now must disperse to survive.

Whatever the reason, those of us who take pleasure from watching birds are all delighted that they are here and in large numbers.

The birds recorded include large flocks of Woodswallows, Pallid and other cuckoos, Red-backed Kingfishers, Oriental plovers, Songlarks, Trillers and my favourite, Red-capped Robins.

Red-capped Robins are found mainly west of the Great Dividing Range in arid and semi-aid areas, although they are occasionally seen on the coast.

They are the smallest Australian red robin and the male bird has a unique “red cap” – it makes them instantly easy to recognise – hence the name.

HEADING EAST: The male Red Capped Robin with its distictive red cap is normally found on the western side of the Great Dividing Range.

HEADING EAST: The male Red Capped Robin with its distictive red cap is normally found on the western side of the Great Dividing Range.

This very pretty male bird was resident at Walka Water Works for several weeks and attracted much attention from birding photographers as he perched in low bushes catching insects.

Another bird seen all over the region of late and locally at Walka and Hexham Swamp, is the Pallid Cuckoo.

This is a large slim bird with a white eye stripe and bold white spotting on wings and tail.

It has a distinguishing yellow eye ring and prefers lightly timbered country with sparse understory.

It is often seen perched on fence posts or overhead wires.

FAMILIAR FRIEND: Rufous Songlarks love the open grasslands and are common around Maitland.

FAMILIAR FRIEND: Rufous Songlarks love the open grasslands and are common around Maitland.

And here’s something you might not know – this bird loves to eat hairy caterpillars.

Songlarks are a common bird found most years in open grasslands and in the farmlands around Lorn and Largs.

This year they are everywhere and can be heard trilling away along the roadside verges.

The Rufous Songlark, named for its rufous rump, occurs in lightly timbered areas with grassy understory and partially cleared agricultural land is a favourite.

It is such a lovely time of the year to be out and about, birding in the Hunter.

Margaret Clarke is a member of Hunter Birds Observers Club. www.hboc.org.au.

Email marg51@tpg.com.au