Garrigal National Park - a gem

To: birdingaus aus <>
Subject: Garrigal National Park - a gem
From: Ricki Coughlan <>
Date: Mon, 8 Jan 2007 10:07:32 +1100
G'day birders

I recently posted a similar item on a more local birder's list (Birding Northern Beaches), but I know that there will be some Birding-Aus people who might find the following of interest. This site is never visited by any birders to the best of my knowledge (I'm there every week and have never even seen a human footprint on the trails until yesterday). Because nobody on the northern beaches list knew about it, I'd hate to leave the area one day and think that nobody knew about it or shared in the birds which are there.

Garigal National Park is in the Sydney northern beaches hinterlands and, apart from providing a very rich and varied series of habitats also acts as healthy catchment for a number of creeks and rivers in the area. The park is a patchwork of several areas, some of which are surrounded by suburbia or light industrial areas. The result is that some sections of the park are full of weeds and I've seen good (bad) numbers of foxes in some too.

One part of the park in particular is excellent. It is the section which flanks Mona Vale Road and The Forest Way. It runs in a continuous sweep down to Narrabeen Lakes and feeds water to Deep Creek and maybe Middle Creek in the lower sections.

My favourite walk here is one where the entrance is just south of the lights on the corner of Mona Vale Rd and the Forest Way. There's a large traffic island adjacent to the entrance (on the Forest Way) and it provides excellent parking between the two lanes and is quite safe and, I'm pretty sure, not illegal.

The forest in this section has a fairly closed canopy at around 10 metres and consists of Sydney Peppermints, Red Bloodwoods, Stringybarks, Sydney Scribbly Gums and Angophora costatas. The understory varies but is mostly fairly dense. Common vegetation are Hakeas, Geebungs, Acacia, Banksias, Christmas Bush, Leptosperms and plenty of other goodies for the discerning botanist. The track is on an escarpment and runs half way into the valley. Some areas of the valley walls have dense stands of Banksia ericafolia, providing a nice ecotone which seems a haven for many honeyeaters. Many (and I mean many) bloodwoods are massively scarred with Sugar Gliding feed cuts - many of these are very fresh. I bumped into the only person whom I've met on this trail in a year of weekly surveys yesterday: a student doing an honours thesis on Antechinids. She said she was stunned by the numbers of Antechinids she was trapping as well as Bush Rats, several Dunnarts, Bandicoots and even a Sugar Glider (elliot trap on the ground). Her "feeding mammal abundance experiments" indicated a high level of activity. We both agreed that the Sugar Glider numbers here were very large indeed, given the amount of foraging activity in evidence.

My bird list for the area is below. It's mostly Sydney staples but the abundance is way above average. Several species which are common here are rare or non-existent or difficult to find in the parks and reserves of the northern beaches, such as the Striated Thornbill, Superb Lyrebird (a once-off on this trail but have heard them calling lower down), Varied Sitella and Crested Shrike-tit (also a once-off). Glossy Black-Cockatoos can turn up anywhere in the locality, but this is the only place I've seen them. This track is only around 2.5 to 3km long so, given my list, it's not too bad at all. As stated above, the abundance is the best on the northern beaches in my view but you need to get there before the cicadas strike up in the warmer months. Right now the Stringybarks and some Sydney Peppermints are in flower so the treetops right across the forest are alive with masses of honeyeaters and many acanthizids are taking advantage of the increased insect numbers too. Try it soon, you'll like it.

Australian Brush-turkey
Australian White Ibis (flying over)
Brown Goshawk
White-bellied Sea-Eagle (flying over)
Little Eagle (flying over)
Peregrine Falcon (flying over)
Masked Lapwing (flying over)
Glossy Black Cockatoo
Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (flying over)
Galah (flying over)
Rainbow Lorikeet
Crimson Rosella
Eastern Rosella
King Parrot (flying over)
Fan-tailed Cuckoo
Horsefield's Bronze Cuckoo
Channel-billed Cuckoo (flying over)
White-throated Needletail (flying over)
Laughing Kookaburra
Sacred Kingfisher
Superb Lyrebird
White-throated Treecreeper
Superb Fairy-wren
Variegated Fairy-wren
Spotted Pardalote
White-browed Scrubwren
Brown Thornbill
Striated Thornbill
Red Wattlebird
Little Wattlebird
Noisy Friarbird
Noisy Miner (flying over)
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
White-eared Honeyeater
White-cheeked Honeyeater
New Holland Honeyeater
Eastern Spinebill
Rose Robin
Eastern Yellow Robin
Eastern Whipbird
Varied Sitella
Crested Shrike-tit
Rufous Whistler
Golden Whistler
Grey Shrike-thrush
Grey Fantail
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Olive-backed Oriole
Grey Butcherbird
Magpie Lark
Pied Currawong
Australian Raven (flying over)
Red-browed Finch
Welcome Swallow (flying over)

Happy Birding

Ricki Coughlan
Belrose, Sydney

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