Mid North Coast Birding
My wife (Faye) and I have just spent the last three days in the Manning and
Hastings Valley, visiting certain Parks, Nature Reserves and State Forests and
doing some incidental birding.
Day 1, Tuesday 17th July.
We visited Limeburners Creek Nature Reserve. We crossed the
ferry at Settlement Point, Port Macquarie and walked in to the NR on the western
side approximately 4 km north along the western edge. This area is in prolific
flowering for banksias and we were inundated with Noisy Friarbirds, New Holland
Honeyeaters, White Cheeked Honeyeaters and Eastern Spinebills. However the
highlight must surely be a stunning view of an Osprey already in the middle of
carrying large twigs to wherever its nesting platform happened to be.
After lunch we returned to our home via Lake Innes Nature
Reserve and again did a walk in coastal heath. This had a similar bird
list but there were excellent views of Whistling Kites and White breasted Sea
Eagles here as well as a glorious male Southern Emu-Wren. We explored the Plots
Fire Trail this trip. It is quite disconcerting just how much traffic noise is
audible along what is the alternate coastal road. Can we not escape
Last stop was Dooragan National Park, North Brother Mountain,
where we did a short rainforest walk at the look out at the top. There is an
excellent walk from Laurieton but this time we did not have the time to do it.
The very top loop is a small walk but we were very pleased to see three
Australian Ground Thrush clearly visible around the cars. For those who have not
been to the top this has been developed as a wonderful picnic area by the NPWS
and the views over Queens Lake and North Haven are simply superb. From the Don
Johnstone Viewing Platform the views over Crowdy Bay National Park are equally
wonderful. (Don died in 1997, having retired to Harrington after an active life
as Director of the NPWS)
Day 2, Wednesday 18th July.
We took a drive through Lansdowne State Forest to Yarrat State Forest and the
newly created Goonook Nature Reserve. Yarrat State Forest is
overcut but its northern third has been created into a Nature Reserve.
Unfortunately the volcanic plug, Mount Goonook, is just to the north on private
land. It would be a strategic purchase.
Lunch was had down at Saltwater picnic area next to Khappinghat Nature
Reserve. This area is so much better than in previous years and the
Taree City Council and Dunecare are to be commended. The littoral rainforest is
protected, the picnic areas are better defined and the whole area is pleasant.
Brown Quail wandered along the side of the road, Green Catbird flitted quietly
in the bushes and a Shining Bronze Cuckoo sat prominently on the top of a
Day 3, Thursday 19th July
An exploration of Lorne State Forest, Coorabakh National Park,
Lansdowne State Forest and the Harrington end of Crowdy Bay National Park filled
in the day more than adequately. It was a quiet, cool morning and we were rather
disappointed by the birding in Coorabakh National Park but this is a spectacular
area for scenic views and that more than made up for it. Even the Beech Trail
provided wonderful cliffline views over Waitui.
However the birding highlight for the whole three days was to follow in that
small littoral rainforest by the caravan park at Harrington. Within 100m we
found Rose Robin, Scarlet Myzomela, Noisy Pitta and Forest Kingfisher.
Meanwhile, down on a lamp post at Crowdy Head, we enjoyed the sights of an
Osprey dining out on whatever was left of its catch.
All up over the three days we found 110 species of bird. The countryside
around was almost as productive as the national parks and nature reserves and
there are several birding points of note:
- The stunning Pergrine Falcon in the Stewarts Valley!
- A huge number of Hardheads on the dams a round the Stewarts Valley
- An equally large number of Straw Necked Ibis and Cattle Egret, now well
dispersed over the landscape
- The return of Jacky Winters after a lengthy absence in this part of the
- The increase in Pied Butcherbirds, alongside of Grey Butcherbirds that
were once the dominant type here.