Monday, 10 April 2017

Bairnsdale Birding

Bairnsdale Birding

Bairnsdale is the largest town in East Gippsland, and is located on the Princes Hwy, 280 Km east of Melbourne.

There are a number of excellent birding spots in the Bairnsdale area, some of which have already been covered, such as Macleod Morass and The Cut. Below I will list some of the good birding locations around Bairnsdale.

Picnic Point Reserve: 

Picnic Point Reserve is located on Bredt Street. Bredt Street can be accessed from Calvert Street, which starts at the Hwy, opposite the VicRoads Centre.

Google Maps- Route to Picnic Point from Princess Hwy
There are a number of walks at Picnic Point Reserve, as well a road that goes through the reserve. The walking tracks are gravel and well maintained.

Some of the birds that can be seen in the Picnic Point Reserve are: Cormorants,  Reed Warbler and Darter in the Mitchel River, Australasian Pipit, Red-Browed Finch, Little Grassbird, Eastern Yellow Robin, Silvereye and Golden Whistler.

Golden Headed Cisticola

Australasian Pipit
The eBird hotspot for Picnic Point Reserve.

Bairnsdale Aquatic Recreational Centre 

The wetlands located behind Bairnsdale Aquatic & Recreation Centre (BARC) has quite a good population of birds. During the summer, Latham Snipe can be found in the wetlands. Other birds that may be seen are: Olive Backed Oriole, Australasian Swamphen, Yellow Thornbill, Spotted Pardalote and Australian White Ibis. BARC can be accessed from Wallace Street, which runs onto Bredt Street.

Google Maps-BARC

Red Wattlebird

An Australian White Ibis foraging in the reeds

Olive Backed Oriole

Howitt Park 

Howitt Park is a park located at the eastern end of Bairnsdale, just east of the bridge over the Mitchell River. There are toilets and picnic tables, as well as a playground. Some birds that can be seen in Howitt Park are: Dusky Moorehen, Mistletoe Bird, Striated Pardalote, Little Corella, Feral Pigeon, Golden and Rufous Whistler and Brown Thornbill.

Jones Bay Wildlife Reserve

Jones Bay Wildlife Reserve is a northern area of Jones Bay. This reserve is sometimes dry, but when it holds water, Red Necked Avocets, Black Winged Stilts, Musk Duck, Grey and Chestnut Teal and a large number of Golden Headed Cisticola can be seen there.

Jones Bay is accessed from Philips Lane. Turn right onto Philips Ln, off the Princes Hwy, 1.18Km from the Lucknow roundabout. Philips Ln takes you directly to Jones Bay.

Google Maps-route to Jones Bay

Red Necked Avocets

More Red Necked Avocets

Bairnsdale is actually quite a good area to go bird watching, even if you only have half an hour, a sizable checklist can be made from any of the above locations.  Always keep in mind ethical birding when birding in areas used by other people for their own recreation.

Sunday, 2 April 2017



Deptford is an abandoned gold mining town in the hills north-east of Bairnsdale. During the late 1800's Deptford had a population of around 300, with a hotel post office and other such buildings. However, the town declined and by the early 1900's, Deptford had been pretty much deserted.

Google Maps- Deptford
There are two ways of accessing Deptford. One is by Deptford Rd. Turn left onto Deptford Rd 13 Km from Bairnsdale. You then drive 26 Km to Deptford. Part of Deptford Rd is Gravel, and most of it has reasonably tight corners. The other way to get to Deptford is by Engineers Rd. Turn onto Engineers Rd from the Alpine Hwy 2.9 Km north of Bruthen. Continue on Engineers Rd until you come to Deptford Rd. Engineers Rd is also gravel, with lots of corners, so pay attention to the road. Engineers Rd is definitely the longer route to Deptford.

There is no bridge crossing the Nicholson River at Deptford, so one has to cross the river at the river crossing. Care should be taken after rain.
The Nicholson River at Deptford

Deptford has a a few walks that are worth going on. One is the Tubal Cain Walk. This walk takes you to an old mine where you can still see some old gold extracting machinery. Some of the walks are quite steep and rough, so it pays to be careful, especially when wet.

Birds that can be seen in the Deptford area are: Cicadabird, Yellow-Tufted Honeyeater, White Naped Honeyeater, Sacred and Azure Kingfisher, Flycatchers, and many other forest birds. The environment is somewhat dry, with the Nicholson River providing a good water source for many of the birds.

Australasian Grebe in the Nicholson River, Deptford
Yellow Tufted Honeyeaters

Sacred Kingfisher, with a large lizard

Deptford is a great area to visit.  The bird life is quite abundant, especially during the warmer months.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Gippsland Lakes Discovery Trail

Gippsland Lakes Discovery Trail

The Gippsland Lakes Discovery Trail runs along the path of an old tramway through Colquhoun State Forest.  The trail starts where Seaton Track and the Gippsland Rail Trail intersect. It then runs toward the old quarry, and then on to Lakes Entrance. 

The Gippsland Lakes Discovery Trail has lots of potential for birds. It runs through both wet dense gullies, and dry open forest. Birds such as Yellow-Tufted Honeyeater, Rose Robin, Spotted Quail Thrush and Brown Goshawk can all be readily seen on the Discovery Trail. 

Male Spotted Pardalote

Sign at the beginning of the trail
You can access the Discovery Trail from many points. The first one is where Seaton Track intersects the East Gippsland Rail Trail. Other spots are from Ford Track, Quarry Road, Sloan Track, Frank Track, Oil Bore Road, Uncle Road ( Log Crossing), Armstrong Track, and Scriveners Road.

The Trail
Some parts of the Discovery Trail are somewhat steep, so be cautious, especially when on a bike.

The Quarry
Rose Robin
5 KM from where the trail starts at Seaton Track, there is the Granite Quarry. This quarry was used to mine granite for projects such as the entrance of the Gippsland Lakes. 7 KM from the Granite Quarry, you come to Log Crossing Picnic area. This is a great spot for birds, and there are toilets and picnic tables. You can then either continue the 13 KM to Lakes Entrance, or 2KM to the Forestech campus.

Gang Gang Cockatoo
The Gippsland Lakes Discovery Trail is an excellent birding location, or even just for a walk or bike ride. Here is some more information on it:

 DSE ( DELWP) PDF document

Rail Trails Australia

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Birding on the Gippsland Lakes

Birding on the Gippsland Lakes

Late last month I was invited by John and Pam Hutchison to go along with them and Faye Bedford (DELWP) in a boat on a birding trip on the Gippsland Lakes. We were to check small terns and the Pelican rookery. ( See John Hutchinson's post ) 

Google Map of the area


We departed from Paynesville around 9 AM and headed towards Crescent Island. After inspecting Crescent, Waddy and Barton Island, we stopped off at Ocean Grange. 

The Pelican colony was spectacular, with approximately 300 Pelicans there. 

A number of Hooded Plovers were also seen.

There were also lots of Black-Faced Cormorants on Crescent Island

3 Bar-Tailed Godwits allowed us to come quite close, and posed very nicely for photos.

There were also a good number of Crested Terns, which are always fun to photograph. 
It was a great morning out, with lots of new birds around. 

The Gippsland Lakes are a great spot to go birding, however, please be VERY careful of where you land and walk around. A lot of the islands have breeding birds on them, and walking through their colonies would be detrimental to the well being of our birds. See my previous blog post "Ethical Birding" for more information.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Cabbage Tree Creek Flora Reserve

Cabbage Tree Flora Reserve


Cabbage Tree Flora Reserve is a 1,700 hectare reserve that protects Victoria's only population of Cabbage Palms, (Livistona australis  ). The naturalist, Baron von Muller discovered this isolated pocket of palms here in  1854. It is thought that the local Indigenous people may have planted them from seed obtained from a more northern tribe.

Cabbage Tree Palm

Cabbage Tree Flora Reserve is located approximately 25 minutes from Orbost. Take the A1 towards Cann River. After 20km, there is a track to your right called  Palm Track. Continue down this track until you come to the parking area. If you are coming from Cann River, take the Cabbage Tree Conran road before Cabbage Tree. Continue 5 .4 km and turn right onto Marlo Cabbage Tree Road. Drive for 5.7 km and turn right onto Palm Track. Palm Track takes you to the Cabbage Tree walk. There are picnic tables and an information board. 
The sign for Cabbage Tree Creek

The Reserve is one of the best spots for birding in the area. Over 120 bird species have been seen in the area. Black Faced Monarch (summer migrant), Rufous Fantail, Rose Robin, Brown Gerygone, Topknot Pigeon and Scarlet Honeyeater are usually quite common here.

Wonga Pigeon, quite a common bird at the reserve
The area around Cabbage Tree Flora Reserve is also quite well known for owls. Masked and Sooty Owl are often seen while spotlighting. 

Cape Conran Coastal Park  is very close to Cabbage Tree reserve, so it is definitely worth paying a visit while exploring Cape Conran Coastal Park. 

Monday, 6 February 2017

Ethical Birding

Ethical Birding

I haven't been to any birding locations of interest lately, though I do have a few good spots coming up in the next few weeks. Since I didn't have much to write, I have been thinking about ethical birding. After my first outing with Birdlife East Gippsland on Monday, I was impressed how everyone spoke and walked quietly. So, I have done a bit of research on "ethical birding".

Here are some points:

  • When birding, be aware of your surroundings. Don't bump into other people, or cause an accident.
  • Keep quiet, for both the birds and other birders sake.
  • Be very careful if you are going to photograph nests. Ravens and other predators could notice your scent, or disturbance, and wreck havoc on the nest.
  • Always seek permission before entering other peoples properties, even if its just a "back paddock" .
  • Keep your vehicle on established roads and tracks.
  • When walking, pay attention to the ground before you. Doing this will not only reduce the chance of getting bitten by a snake, but also avoid destroying ground and under-story bird's nests.  
  • Always respect the privacy of others. People tend to think that you are spying on them if you have a spotting scope or a big prime lens. Be discreet.
East-Gippsland is an excellent place to go birding. We can make it even more enjoyable and safe by abiding by the code of ethics above.

Be aware of nesting Hooded Plovers and tern in this sort of environment

A Golden Headed Cisticola. Think twice before charging into its habitat.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Fairy Dell

 Fairy Dell

Fairy Dell in one of the most well known birding hotspots in the Bairnsdale area.  Located approximately 30 minutes from Bairnsdale, it is easily accessible by most vehicles. There is a picnic ground with toilet facilities.

To get to Fairy Dell, drive towards Bruthen from Bairnsdale, at Wiseleigh, ( about 3 Km before Bruthen), there will be a sign that will direct you towards Fairy Dell, along the Deep Creek Rd. The route is well sign posted from here.

Rose Robin

Juvenile White-Naped Honeyeater
Spotted Pardalote

There are two walks at Fairy Dell that connect with each other half way along.  The first track takes you along the ridge, which is a much drier environment.   Birds such as White Throated Tree Creeper, Spotted Pardalote, Common Bronzewing and Wonga Pigeon are common along along this track. The second walk runs through lush wet habitat, where Rose Robin, Rufous Fantail, Black Faced Monarch, Brown Gerygone, and Lyrebird can be seen. The best tactic to use is to walk 15 or 20 metres, and then stop and listen for 5 minutes or so. Eastern Whipbirds are often quite inquisitive, and will come up close for a look.

The ebird Hotspot can be seen here.

The walking track in Fairy Dell- Google Maps
Some unusual sightings include Pink Robin, Speckled Warbler, White Bellied Cuckoo Shrike, Beautiful Firetail have been seen at Fairy Dell.  Powerful and Sooty Owl have also been seen here occasionally, so keep an eye out for roosting birds.

Fairy Dell walking track

The bridge over the creek
Fairy Dell is probably one of the best places to go birding in the western part of East Gippsland. The range of birds is very similar to Cabbage Tree Flora Reserve, but the easy access and closeness to Bairnsdale makes Fairy Dell a must visit birding stop.