Shoalhaven Heads

Tue 07 February 2017 11:30am

Sue Lashko

This mid-week trip is designed to give participants the opportunity to visit several birding spots in the Shoalhaven area.  Further details will be developed closer to February, depending on bird migration and weather.


Registration is essential at The trip will be limited to 14 people and accommodation or camping will be at Shoalhaven Heads Tourist Park, located between the Shoalhaven River and Seven Mile Beach – see  Participants will be asked to book their own accommodation, but any wishing to share cabins will be matched up if possible. Booking is recommended after registering, to ensure the best accommodation.


Post event report

The weather forecast for the trip was interesting: two days with maximums in the low 20s accompanied by heavy rain, to be followed by two fine days with maximums in the high 30s/low 40s.

Despite this, the trip got off to a good start with the 11 participants meeting at Lake Wollumboola. The lake is currently open to the sea, with the crossing requiring waist-deep wading.  Those of us below average height weren’t keen, so were relieved when our leader, Sue Lashko, decided we should stay on the one side. We had useful views of three species of terns, Caspian, Little and Crested, showing clearly the variations in size, and the first of the wader species for the trip: Bar-tailed Godwit, Red-necked Stint and one each of Curlew and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. There was a brief sighting of a Square-tailed Kite. After lunch, we moved on to Orient Point where Eastern Curlews and Whimbrels were seen, and then to Crookhaven Heads where a walk to the now defunct lighthouse produced views of an Arctic Jaeger.

The forecast rain held off, more or less, until we were safely in our accommodation at Shoalhaven Heads but it was then so persistent and so heavy that it was agreed that if it was like this in the morning, we should simply roll over and go back to sleep.

On rising, the weather didn’t look good, but there was just enough blue sky to tempt us to undertake the walk along Seven Mile Beach. On the way, we passed through the River Road Reserve which has a series of excellent NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service sign-boards informing visitors about shorebird conservation.

We spent about three hours on the sand enjoying good views of shorebirds including Pacific Golden Plovers, Bar-tailed Godwits and Red-capped Plovers, plus one Red Knot, one Black-tailed Godwit and, excitingly, a single Common Noddy which swooped into view like a raptor and disappeared after only a few seconds. On the way back, the rain clouds which had been moving all around us appeared directly overhead and soaked us fairly thoroughly.

In the afternoon, we walked to another area of the beach, returning via the Dunes Walking Track through sand forest. The highlight for most was a Yellow Thornbill.

The weather changed as forecast, and the next morning dawned with a clear blue sky. Four extra-keen members of the group took an early morning walk to Seven Mile Beach and were rewarded with a view of a Double-banded Plover which had been searched for unsuccessfully the previous day. We had no luck in our search for the Inland Dotterel reported recently, and concluded that the rumour about it being taken by a Peregrine Falcon was probably true.

We spent the rest of the day around the southern part of Jervis Bay, mostly in Booderee National Park. Our first stop was the carpark for the walk to the Cape St George Lighthouse, now also defunct. Sue had told us that the carpark was a hot spot for Eastern Bristlebirds and she was quickly proved right. We got excellent views of a bird that hopped around the edges of the carpark, went under one of our vehicles to drink in a puddle, and then flew to the other side of the carpark where it continued to feed in full view. After morning tea at Green Patch, we walked the Telegraph Creek Nature Trail. It’s a lovely walk but the temperature was rising uncomfortably by this time and the birds were very quiet, so we headed to the Booderee Botanic Gardens for lunch. Here we were briefly entertained by a young echidna waddling across the grass.

We spent most of our time at the Gardens in the cooler rainforest area. This produced some of the highlights of the trip: Rufous Fantail, Black-faced Monarch, Green Catbird, Bassian Thrush and four Topknot Pigeons. A Scarlet Honeyeater was heard but couldn’t be seen in the foliage.

We were packed and on our way early on Friday morning, in the expectation of an extremely hot day. Our first and, as it turned out, only birding destination for the day was the Bomaderry Creek reserve. I’d never heard of this, and was delighted to find that it is a lovely, green, ferny, scenic rainforest gully. We spent about three hours walking the track along the creek. Normally it’s full of birdlife but the heat was having its effect even here. Nevertheless, the first 100 metres or so produced good views of our target bird, the Rock Warbler and one or two more were seen further along the track. After a late morning tea, the group broke up and headed for their various destinations, having agreed that conditions were too hot for humans (and birds) to continue on to The Grotto. (Nowra’s maximum for the day was 43°.)

Overall, 109 species were seen over the four days. Given the weather, this was felt to be a very satisfactory result. Many of us visited areas that were new to us, quite a few of us were able to tick off a lifer or two, and most of us can now put a name to at least a handful of shorebirds. Thanks to Sue Lashko for her excellent organisation, leadership and teaching skills. (We mightn’t put her in charge of the weather again, though!)

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