Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

South-East Oz Part 7 – Wombats of Bendeela

Common Wombat grazing
With its stunning scenery and wildlife attractions, it is surprising that the Bendeela Recreation Area in Kangaroo Valley in the NSW Central Highlands is not a major tourist attraction. This free camping and picnic reserve operated by WaterNSW is truly delightful.

Juvenile wombat
Here is Wombat Central. I know of nowhere else where this endearing marsupial can be seen in such numbers and with such ease. The wombats emerge from their burrows up to two hours before sunset to graze on the extensive grass lawns of the reserve.

They are utterly oblivious to the human interlopers, wandering and feeding among the tents and caravans. They will bowl through your camping site without giving you a look. They love getting under vehicles and caravans to scratch their backs. At night you can here them squeal as they chase each other around, or your van rocks slightly as they have a scratch.

Wombat under caravan
From one point at the western end of the reserve, I counted 25 wombats an hour after sunset. Judging by the area available, there would be at least 100 in the vicinity of the reserve and many more on surrounding properties.

Wombat with mange
Some are suffering a kind of mange, the spread of which may be facilitated by the large population.

Burrows amid revegetation efforts

Wombat burrow
The periphery of the reserve is potted with dozens of burrows. Attempts at revegetation are challenging because new burrows are constantly being dug among newly planted shrubs and trees.

Up close and personal
The animals are so trusting that some idiot in 2015 slaughtered 13 wombats at Bendeela by driving around at night and running them over.

Bendeela Recreation Area


Among the birds here were Superb Lyrebird and a Square-tailed Kite flying over.

Square-tailed Kite

Thursday, 12 October 2017

South-East Oz Part 6 - Lakes Entrance to Jervis Bay

Eastern Bristlebird
Following our visit to Terra Bulga (see following post) we headed south-east to Lakes Entrance in East Gippsland, a place I last visited in the mid-1980s to tick a vagrant White Wagtail.

Lakes Entrance
 We had 3 days at this delightful spot, visiting Lake Bunga and Lake Tyers, where a Hooded Plover was present along with a few Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Curlew-Sandpipers and Red-necked Stints. It was annoying that so many people walking their dogs ignored signs making it clear they had to be on leashes..

Hooded Plover
Pacific Gulls were common along the foreshore but nothing else of interest was noted.
We proceeded further east, with the cold blustery weather we have had too much of during this trip resuming after a respite of a few days. 

Pacific Gulls
We called in on Lake Conrad, where a baby Australlian Fur seal on the rocks was nice to see.

Australian Fur Seal

Further east we spent the next night at Mallacoota, where huge numbers of terns were roosting in the estuary at low tide. The great bulk were Crested Terns (2000+) but among them were a sprinkling of about 50 White-fronted Terns.

White-fronted Tern

White-fronted Tern
White-fronted Tern
Small numbers of Bar-tailed Godwits and Red Knots were among the terns.

Red Knots & Bar-tailed Godwits
We crossed the NSW border and travelled north through Eden and Bermagui to the delightful seaside town of Batemans Bay for a 2-day stay. Musk Lorikeets were abundant along the foreshore here. 

Batemans Bay
The waterfowl at the town's Watergarden were most approachable.

Chesnut Teal
Then it was on to the Australian Capital Territory coastal enclave of Jervis Bay, a hotspot for the endangered Eastern Bristlebird. 

Booderee National Park burnt out

We were dismayed to see that a fire last month had devastated much of Booderee National Park; well-known bristlebird sites such as Murrays Beach, Cape St George and the Munyunga Waraga Trail had been burnt out. 

It seemed extraordinary that park authorities had no management regime in place to contain a fire of this magnitude in a site of such importance to the bristlebird and other rare animals such as Eastern Ground Parrot. Once lush wet gullies of sedge and fern were reduced to char.

It seemed extraordinary that park authorities had no management regime in place to contain a fire of this magnitude. Park signs say the habitat is carefully managed with patch control burns, but extensive and destructive fires last month and this time last year paint a different picture. In times of global warming it seems that September is not an appropriate time for control burning.

Under surveillance by the Navy

The rangers told us to look for bristlebirds along the busy Wreck Bay Road which we did, but we were promptly buzzed by a Chinook helicopter from the nearby Australian naval base. They called in security guards who told us the Navy did not like “people with binoculars and cameras”. This seemed somewhat bizarre given we were birdwatching on a public road in a national park, at a time when most of the good tracks were closed due to the above-mentioned fire.

Eastern Bristlebird

Eastern Bristlebird

Two or three bristlebirds were heard and seen briefly along the road and eventually an obliging bird showed well on the main road. The next morning I found a nice pair feeding along a track off Wreck Bay Road. I estimated from calls there were 8-12 birds in this area.

Green Patch Beach, Jervis Bay

Coastal cliffs, Jervis Bay
The beaches (supposedly with the world's whitest sand) and coastal scenery of the national park are nonetheless something to behold.

Humpback Whale calf breaching
An adult and calf Humpback Whale performed nicely off Governor Head, with the calf breaching.

A total of 6 Echidnas were encountered.

Glenn & friend, Green Patch
Swamp Wallabies and Eastern Grey Kangaroos were common about the delightful Green Patch camping ground, our base for 3 nights.

Sooty Oystercatcher
Sooty Oystercatcher and White-bellied Sea-Eagle were among the birds about.

White-bellied Sea-Eagle

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

South-East Oz Part 5 – Torquay to Tarra Bulga

Following our visit to Cape Otway (see following post) we continued our journey to the eastern end of the Great Ocean Road at the tourist town of Torquay, where we stayed for two nights in the Foreshore Caravan Park. From here we visited the centres of Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads, but not much was about other than a few immature Pacific Gulls.

Pacific Gull immature
The Breamlea Reserve was similarly disappointing but a Hooded Plover was nice to find at Pt Impossible - at the northern end of one of Victoria's major nudist beaches.

Hooded Plover

Hooded Plover habitat at Pt Impossible
We moved on to Geelong for 2 nights in the Southside Tourist Park. The extensive parklands along the Barwon River impressed. A Collared Sparrowhawk put in an appearance at one of the parks. 

Collared Sparrowhawk
Our visit coincided with the AFL Grand Final; we were content enough with the lively ambience but the unrelenting foul weather was taking its toll.The Moolap Saltworks on the bay were pretty well devoid of birds, as was Belmont Common. Reedy Lake – the western end of the Lake Connawarre system – had some nice birds including Magpie Goose, Brolga, White-fronted Chat and Swamp Harrier.

Magpie Geese 

Swamp Harrier

White-fronted Chat
We departed Geelong and followed a tip from Melbourne birder Michael Gooch to the red cliffs of K Road in Werribee South. The continously blustery conditions weren't helpful but eventually we tracked down one of the Purple-crowned Lorikeets that Michael had nesting here the week before.

Purple-crowned Lorikeet

Purple-crowned Lorikeet
We travelled eastward across Melbourne via its efficient freeway system; apologies to my Melbourne friends for not visiting but towing a big caravan around the city did not seem like a good idea. We ended up in the Fernholme Tarra Valley Caravan Park, a delightful place and base for our visit to Tarra Bulga National Park in the Strezelecki Ranges.

Tarra Bulga
Here the towering Mountain Ash trees – the world's tallest flowering plant - and abundance of tree ferns in the forest did not disappoint, and at last the wind died down. I walked the main tracks leading off from both the southern picnic area and the park visitors centre. My main target, Pilotbird, was quite common, with the area around the visitors centre carpark particularly good.


Superb Lyrebird and Olive Whistler were common. I was grateful for the opportunity of watching a male lyrebird in full display but the vegetation prevented photographic opportunities.

Superb Lyrebird

Olive Whistler
Rose Robins were common.

Rose Robin
I saw a few Pink Robins, including some gloriously adorned males.

Pink Robin

Pink Robin

A Flame Robin was about the visitors centre. Other birds included Bassian Thrush, Crescent Honeyeater and Gang Gang Cockatoo. About the campground at night, a Common Wombat was looking good.

Common Wombat