Green Cape

Tue 20 October 2020 02:00pm

Peter Fullagar and Sue Lashko

For some time now, COG has visited Green Cape every second year to stay in the former lighthouse keepers’ cottages and enjoy the wonderful wildlife watching (birds and whales, in particular) in Ben Boyd National Park and in the surrounding seas.  With the likely privatisation of the cottages from 2021, we have booked the cottages in October 2020 for a final visit. There are only 14 places available for this trip.  The commitment is for a 4-night stay – no concession for shorter stays. Accommodation costs are $326. There is also an $8 fee per car per day to enter Ben Boyd National Park. This can be paid at a self-registration booth on arrival.  An alternative is a single park pass which costs $22 and is available online.

To register, email This trip is now full but there are likely to be cancellations between now and October so if you would like your name added to the waiting list, please contact me. More detailed information will be sent to participants closer to the date.

Post event report

This was the tenth COG visit to Green Cape. For the first, in October 1977, we camped at nearby Bittangabee Creek, but since 2004 we have used the decommissioned light-station cottages. After the lighthouse was converted to automatic operation the historic buildings were transferred to the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the peninsula incorporated in the Ben Boyd National Park. The three very comfortable and well-equipped cottages have fabulous views from their east facing verandas – much appreciated in wet and windy conditions when observations of passing whales and seabirds can be continued in reasonable comfort! COG has scheduled trips to Green Cape mostly at two year intervals but with the prospect of not being able to continue these into the future (because the cottages are being ‘repurposed’) the trip this year was likely to be our last.


Fourteen COG members made up our party with preference given to those who had not been before. On arrival and for the next two days the wind was southerly and light with mostly clear sky and warm conditions. Our daily routine followed the now customary pattern with a seabird watch at the point to start the day. We do this ‘seawatch’ for about an hour or so from the platform, starting as soon as light is good enough. This year seabird variety was a bit disappointing with very few albatross (only one species seen a few times) although movements south of Short-tailed Shearwater occurred most days and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were seen reasonably often and in good numbers. As usual, identification of these two shearwaters proved challenging at first but the group soon got to their distinguishing characteristics of flight and became comfortable with separating them with reasonable confidence. Both species occasionally gathered in feeding rafts but these were well out from the point. A few Fluttering/Hutton’s Shearwaters were seen on Friday afternoon. Australasian Gannets were present most of the time, with a good proportion of immature birds (occasionally up to a third of those visible) and four species of cormorant, including Black-faced Cormorant were seen but no Little Pied Cormorant. Crested Terns often passed the point in reasonable numbers with rather fewer Silver Gulls, and a couple of Caspian Tern were seen most days near the point but we saw no Pacific Gulls. However, we did see a few Arctic Jaegers moving south purposefully.


Following breakfast on the verandas we spent time visiting various areas for specialist coastal heathland species such as Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Southern Emu-wren and Striated Fieldwren. We made several visits to the Pulpit Rock track and once to City Rock track and, on the Wednesday morning,  walked in perfect weather from Bittangabee Creek back to the cottages. On Thursday evening we had ‘nibbles and wine’ at a spot along the Pulpit Rock track that looked good for Ground Parrots. We were duly rewarded with at least four birds calling nearby once the sun set and the troublesome Tawny-crowned Honeyeaters had stopped calling!


Over the years we have recorded 150 species on these COG trips. This year we added Spotted Dove, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Barking Owl and Little Corella. We completed 23 eBird lists and saw in total 75 species – the third highest list behind an 81 in October 2015 and an 80 in October 2007. A few regulars were not seen. In addition to those already mentioned, we did not see any Horsfield’s Bronze-Cuckoo, Little Pied Cormorant or Australian Pipit. Humpback Whales were constantly passing south in good numbers and most were cows with a dependant young close by. A group of about 25 seals, presumed to be Australian Fur Seal, were invariably loafing close to the point but were never seen ashore, thus preventing any chance of a positive identification to species. Few other mammals were noted, except at least 6 adult Wombats, including two females, each with an attendant large young alongside. A Long-nosed Bandicoot was spotted after dark, just one Eastern Grey Kangaroo seen at Bittangabee and no Rabbits were noted. We added Caper White and Imperial Jazebel to our meagre Green Cape butterfly list.


Weather conditions deteriorated from Friday late afternoon with a switch to northerly stronger winds and rain overnight, although we did manage a final dawn seawatch on the Saturday but it was disappointing with few birds.


Another most successful and enjoyable time at Green Cape. Thanks to Sue for planning and generally organising the trip and to Lia, Sandra and Steve for their eBird listing efforts shared with the group.

Peter Fullagar

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