Dorrigo Rainforest Tour Report
Day 1 Syd – Dorrigo
Easy drive out from the city up the coast and away from the day-to-day, phew!
Female Paradise Riflebird by Greg McCarry
Our first stop at Newcastle’s Botanic Gardens was inundated with Rainbow Lorikeets feeding on flowering trees. Despite this and the mozzies we managed to find a freshly plumaged Golden Whistler, Red-browed Finches, Brown Gerygone and buy picnic lunch.
Along the M1 we ground to a halt for a couple of thermalling Wedge-tailed Eagles, and again for a Brown Goshawk and Whistling Kite. Flocks of 30+ White-throated Needletails brought plenty of joy and a Black-necked Stork flew straight across the Freeway in seeming slow motion giving memorable views. At Old Bar we bumped a couple of Bar-shouldered Doves from the roadside but not before we all had great views in perfect sunlight. The waders: 2 Eastern Curlew, quite a few Pacific Golden Plovers, Red-necked Stints and Bar-tailed Godwits kept us entertained during lunch before the bush birds diverted us around to face land for White-cheeked Honeyeaters, Little Wattlebird, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Scaly-breasted Lorikeets and a couple of Lewin’s Honeyeaters that at this early stage we tried to ignore due to their increasing prevalence.
I braved my first-time instinct to investigate a dead bird…which was in a contained sleeping position on the main beach. Luckily I was foiled, as the exhausted bird raised its head to behold the disturbance while resting to recovery, we hope. A juvenile Australasian Gannet, sparkly (Rob Hynson description, lovely) on the wings.
Day 2: Into Dorrigo National Park, the Skywalk on a beautiful, crisp morn had Topknots and White-headed pigeons, thermalling White-throated Needletails, and under the canopy we saw Yellow-throated and White-browed Scrubwrens busy on the periphery of Lyrebird scratchings, and lots and lots of Brown Gerygones and Brown Thornbills, with a Rose Robin soundtrack. A thermal at Dangar Falls had a huge flock of Straw-necked Ibis and 2 Wedge-tailed Eagles much higher.
White-headed Pigeon by Greg McCarry
Day 3: Morning walk at Griffiths Lookout. Regent and Satin Bowerbirds, Brown Cuckoo-dove, White-headed Pigeon and King Parrots galore, immatures digging for corms, roadside. Bat Island at Bellingen gave us immature and adult Barred Cuckoo-shrikes and an immature White-bellied Sea-eagle. Fruiting Small-leafed Figs at Mylestom yielded more immature Barred Cuckoo-shrikes, Varied Triller and Regent Bowerbird. At Boronia Park, Sawtell, we witnessed interaction between a small Red-bellied Black Snake (escaped) and a Brush Turkey (interested but warned off), Brahminy Kite, Crested Tern, Pied Oystercatchers, Whimbrel, several Pied Cormorants, and Golden Plovers colouring up.
We found 3 untagged Beach Stone-curlew at the Urunga foreshore, and at the remediated Urunga Wetlands, had Noisy Friarbird and a pair of Australian Shoveler.
Day 4: Griffiths Lookout again but the wind was up, which didn’t bother Grey and Rufous Fantails, Topknots zooming around, and a Forest Raven. We returned to basecamp and Janene excitedly called to us – Paradise Riflebird, a splendid female inspecting tree crevices.
Dorrigo Lookout Boardwalk
Our plan for the day was to head northeast along Eastern Dorrigo Way, passing through lovely small villages: approaching Megan we came across a perfect Rose Robin, Brown Cuckoo-doves, Purple Swamphen and a Pelican! and a Land Mullet slid off the road; Australasian Pipit, the tinkling song of butterbums (Yellow-rumped Thornbills), and Blue-faced Honeyeaters at Ulong. Then winding down the escarpment to Coramba Nature Reserve, where we heard the accelerating call of Rose-crowned Fruit-dove. Bruxner Park’s rainforest was humid, full of fungi, and a Wompoo Fruit-dove gave a subdued call.
A delicious Japanese meal that evening was a fitting finale to a lovely, intimate tour of Dorrigo and surrounds, with fine company and great birds.
By John Gale bird guide for FTB
Day 5 passed fairly uneventfully as a travel day and with high temperatures we stayed cool and comfortable despite some brief intrusions eg mozzies. No new birds were sighted, and understandably no one was interested in looking at Dusky Moorhen etc. that seemed to be loving the 30+ degrees at Bulahdelah. We returned safe and happy to Killara, sorry that we’d left the rainforest behind. Thank you Chris, Bernice and Greg for making the tour possible.
Dangar Falls by Greg McCarry