Feathered Frenzy

Gang gang m Woodford smallPHOTO: Mark Ley

From its windswept heath clinging to the escarpment, to misty rainforests or soaring eucalypt woodlands, the Blue Mountains is a haven to more than 180 species of Australia’s most beautiful birds.

By Julie Miller

The Blue Mountains may be world-renowned for its incredible landscapes, but its audio track is every bit as alluring. Close your eyes and listen: the dawn symphony swells with the melodious song of magpie, percussion courtesy of kookaburra and raucous sulphur-crested cockies. Blue gum forests resound with the chime of bellbird, layered with the rusty hinge call of the gang gang; while above the escarpment, dappled skies echo with the funereal wail of a yellow-tailed black cockatoo in flight.

More than 230 species of birds have been observed in the Blue Mountains (around 180 of those resident or commonly sighted), with the region recognised by the Register of Birdlife International as a significant habitat. From magnificent wedge-tailed eagles soaring on thermals above the Kanimbla Valley, to a flash of cerulean as a male fairy wren flits and flirts in garden shrubbery, the Blue Mountains is a twitcher’s paradise, with bird-watching an ideal way to immerse yourself into the World Heritage-listed wilderness that cloaks the region.

“The Blue Mountains is surrounded by National Park, so the habitat is still pretty much intact,” explains Mark Ley, President of the Blue Mountains Bird Observers. “There’s also such a variety of habitats - we have woodland, pockets of rainforest, small wetlands, hanging swamps in the parks. Then we have the Megalong Valley which attracts different types of species as well.”

BMBG_Spring_superb_fairy_wren_bird_-_credit_Carol_Probets.jpegPHOTO: Carol Probets

A passionate collective of 220 Blue Mountains bird-lovers, the Blue Mountains Bird Observers holds regular outings for members, targeting a different trail, wetland, mountaintop or forest on twice-monthly excursions. Armed with binoculars, field guides and notebooks, members are encouraged to record the birds they sight, with the aim of compiling a comprehensive list of birds that frequent the area.

But any visitor to the Blue Mountains can be a birdwatcher – it’s just a matter of opening your senses, listening for distinctive calls and watching for movement amongst foliage. Whether you’re hiking along a clifftop walk, picnicking by a lake or soaking up the sun in a public garden, stop, look and listen – our inquisitive feathered friends will soon make themselves known.

BMBG_Any_Season_Bird_Male_King_Parrot_-_credit_Carol_Probets.jpegPHOTO: Carol Probets

Here are some of the best places in the region for spotting birdlife:

Wentworth Falls Lake: Both water and open forest birds can be seen around this popular picnic spot. Mostly common water birds such as Pacific Black Duck, Eurasian Coot and Little Pied Cormorant are seen dipping and diving along the lake’s edge; but you may also spot Hardheads, Hoary-headed Grebes or even an elegant Black Swan.

Old Ford Reserve, Megalong Valley: With its rolling pastures, open forests and riverside habitats, the granite country of Megalong Valley harbours species not found on the cliff tops. At the picturesque creekside camping area at Old Ford Reserve, you may spot Buff-rumped and Yellow-rumped Thornbill, tiny grey Jacky Winter, the exquisite Flame and Scarlet Robin or the rainbow-hued Eastern Rosella.

Murphys Glen, Woodford: This campground surrounded by tall open forest of Blue Gum, Turpentine and Angophora trees is a haven for numerous species, including Rose Robin, Shining Bronze Cuckoo, Satin Bowerbirds and Bassian Thrush. You may also be lucky enough to spot a Superb Lyrebird performing its mating dance.

Evans Lookout, Blackheath: As you tackle a bush trail leading into the Grand Canyon or Grose Valley from Evans Lookout, be on the lookout for Glossy Black Cockatoos, Gang Gang Cockatoos, Superb Lyrebirds or the rare Rockwarbler, the only bird species endemic to New South Wales and a prized species in the Blue Mountains.

McKeown’s Valley Track, Jenolan Caves: Pre-purchase a cave tour, dining or accommodation at Jenolan Caves to access free bushwalking in the Jenolan valley, where observant birdwatchers can spot Superb Lyrebirds, King Parrot, Golden Whistler and Rockwarbler along McKeown’s Valley Track.

Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens, Mount Tomah: More than 140 species of birds have been recorded in the Botanic Garden, from kookaburras to raptors, to tiny Superb Fairy Wren and Superb Lyrebird. Nectar-bearing plants attract Red Wattlebirds and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters; while spectacular plants such as the South American blue puya have adapted as habitats for Eastern Spinebills.

PBMBG_Any_Season_Bird_Yellow_Robin_-_credit_Carol_Probets.jpegPHOTO: Carol Probets

To find out more about Blue Mountains Bird Observers, visit bmbo.org.au

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