Trip Report - Far South Coast (25-28 Mar) (longish)

Subject: Trip Report - Far South Coast (25-28 Mar) (longish)
Date: Tue, 29 Mar 2005 11:23:21 +1000

I spent the Easter long weekend on the far south coast with my girlfriend, Lisa. We saw an amazing diversity of birds (inc 2 'lifers' for me) in 4 days and covered over 1,000 kms by car.
The absolute highlight was watching 2 Pink Robins (a 'lifer') bathing in a rainforest creek in SE Forests National Park. Both birds were either females or immatures. They were a brownish colour, with buff wingbars and with no white in the tail. 1 chased the other away. Shortly thereafter a Rose Robin came down to bathe as well. Overhead I had good views of a Brush Cuckoo. The forest was alive with the calls of Black-Cockatoos, Gang-gangs and King-Parrots. Other birds here included Scarlet Robin, Red-browed Treecreeper, Brown Gerygone, and Superb Lyrebird (in full voice).

We spent a lot of time noting down waterbird numbers at lakes, rivers and estuaries. Here are some of the less common species we saw:

Australian Pelican - 115 at 10 sites
Black Swan - 852 at 10 sites
Royal Spoonbill - 40 at 4 sites
White Ibis - 35 at 7 sites
Pacific Heron - 1 bird at Mystery Bay (unusual record?)
Great Egret - 19 at 8 sites (inc 1 bird which alighted on a fishing boat as we watched in Eden Harbour at 9pm in pitch darkness)
Cattle Egret - 183 at 5 sites (pretty high number I think?)
Eastern Reef Egret - 3 at 2 sites (all dark morphs)
Little Egret - 5 at 5 sites
Purple Swamphen - 61 at 5 sites
Pied Oystercatcher - 40 at 5 sites
Red-capped Plover - 6 at 1 site (inc 3 in breeding plumage)
Double-banded Plover - 5 at 1 site
Bar-tailed Godwit - 196 at 3 sites (inc 29 in breeding plumage). 3 birds amazingly were feeding along Merimbula Beach metres from beachgoers.
Pacific Gull - 8 at 1 site (inc 4 immature birds) (a 'lifer' for me)
Caspian Tern - 6 at 4 sites

Despite looking all along the southern end of Twofold Bay and from vantage points in Eden we couldnt find any Black-faced Cormorants. I remember reading somewherea colony exisits there??
During the course of the trip I recorded 10 species of raptor and of course almost every creek we crossed had its colony of Bell Miners.

We walked up Mt Dromedary (Gulaga NP) and were rewarded with 2 Bassian Thrushes scurrying along the Rainforest Track below the summit. Other birds seen or heard included Lewin's Honeyeater, Brown Gerygone, Eastern Whipbird, Wonga Pigeon, Musk Lorikeet and Fan-tailed Cuckoo.

Other birds of interest were a Little Grassbird heard at 'Panboola' (Pambula Wetlands), Musk Lorikeets feeding in flowering eucalypts in Eden, an Olive-backed Oriole at Bulls Creek in Ben Boyd NP, 6 noisy Gang-gang Cockatoos above our heads at the Matilda's Bakery in the centre of Eden, 10 Varied Sittella at Saltwater Creek, a White-headed Pigeon in Glebe Park in Bega (almost at the species' southern range limit), and the following:

White-throated Needletail - 25 at 3 sites (most at Brogo Dam)
Southern Emu-wren - 7 at 2 sites
Tawny-crowned Honeyeater - 6 at 2 sites (not much in flower)

We also watched Australian Fur Seals frolic off Green Cape, stood and admired a 2 metre Lace Monitor in Ben Boyd NP, and was amazed to find well over 2,000 Grey-headed Fruit Bats in Glebe Park in Bega making a hell of a noise. I wonder why they are there, and for how long they have been there? Maybe they were part of the large group they 'evicted' from Melbourne's Botanic Gardens.

Our 4 day journey took us to Ben Boyd NP, SE Forests NP (Tantawangalo Mtn Rd and Brown Mountain), Bombala Platypus Reserve, Eurobodalla NP, Gulaga NP, Wadbilliga NP (Brogo Dam), Black Lake (which was bone dry!), Tathra Forest Wildlife Reserve, Lake Curalo Walkway, Merimbula Boardwalk, Mill Bay Boardwalk, Bournda NP, Pambula Wetlands (the racecourse area and waterbird sanctuary were completely dry, only the Tip Billabong and neighbouring golf driving range had water), Mogareeka Inlet, Mimosa Rocks NP (Aragunnu Beach), Tilba and Wagonga Inlet. I was sad to see Long Swamp by Bermagui had dried up as well.


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