Bellingen is a funky little town that is home to some amazing winged creatures like the Welcome Swallow, Rainbow Lorikeet, Australian White Ibis, and Grey-headed flying fox.
Exploring Bellingen is an activity the whole family will enjoy. The variety of bird species that can be spotted on this easy walk through the heart of Bellingen makes it the perfect experience for those who love birds…and good coffee. Wander through the heart of the community, over Lavender’s bridge, onto ‘Bat Island’ and experience great cafes, boutiques, picnic spots, and effortless bird watching opportunities.
Starting at the top of town, near the war memorial, where two towering Norfolk Pine trees grow, you are likely to encounter Australian Magpie, Rainbow Lorikeet, Blue-faced Honeyeater and Magpie Lark.
Heading down High Street keep an eye out for House Sparrows and Welcome Swallows. The swallows are constantly swooping and gliding, often quite low, in search of flying insects and are easily identified by their sleek blue appearance, rusty red head and forked tails.
At the junction of High Street and Hyde Street, turn left towards Lavenders Bridge and the Bellinger River, where you are likely to see a number of water birds such as the Pacific Black Duck, Wood Duck, Little Pied Cormorant and Dusky Moorhen. If you are fortunate you may even glimpse an Azure Kingfisher in a dazzling blur of blue and orange flitting across the water.
Bellingen Island (a.k.a. Bat Island), a rainforest pocket only a short stroll from the town centre is home to a maternity camp of Grey Headed Flying foxes whose numbers swell seasonally. Every evening is a thrilling wildlife spectacle as the bats, often in the thousands, leave their roosts and head off into the surrounding mountains and forests to feed. There are many birds that may be spotted in this fascinating little rainforest pocket. Species including Wompoo Pigeon, Top-knot Pigeon, Barred Cuckoo Shrike, Figbird, and White-headed Pigeon are all regular visitors when the various trees are in fruit.
Walking back to town through the Showgrounds you are likely to sight a number of species including Pied Butcherbird, Galah, Australian White Ibis, and Willie Wagtail. During the summer months it is also a reliable place to see Dollarbirds, a summer visitor from New Guinea.
They are readily identified by their sleek blue back & wings, rusty red face and throat, pale belly and forked tails. The swallows are constantly swooping and gliding, often quite low, in search of flying insects. Often perched on telegraph wires, singing their sweet twittering song.
beautiful bird, with wild plumage mix of green, purple, yellow and red, as well as a scarlet bill – a bird that truly fit its name. They often occur in large, loud, fast-moving flocks, which get even bigger when they meet up to roost. One of their physical features is a specially adapted brush-tipped tongue which is particularly useful when feeding on pollen and nectar, although they also feed on a wide variety of other foods, including fruit, seeds, grain and insects.
The Australian Magpie is a conspicuous large black and white bird with a pointed grey bill. It is found across the whole of Australia and is well known for its tuneful singing, one of the most complex of all bird songs. In fact the second part of its Latin name – ‘Cracticus tibicen’ means ‘flute-player’. It is also well known for the swooping attacks it makes on people who get too near its nest or territory during the breeding season. They are often seen walking along searching for insects, worms and other grubs to eat.
The Blue-faced Honeyeater is olive green above, white below with a black head and bright blue patch round the eye. This patch is pale green in younger birds. It is one of the largest honeyeaters, although it eats mostly insects and other invertebrates, as well as nectar and fruit. They often feed in noisy groups, excluding all other birds from the feeding area. When breeding, they will often use the abandoned nests of other species such as Grey-crowned Babbler, Noisy Friarbird, Magpie-lark or Magpie.
Little Pied Cormorant
The Little Pied Cormorant is entirely back above and white below, with a yellow bill. It is very adaptable and may be found on both fresh and salt water. It hunts by diving underwater and using both feet in unison to propel itself to the seabed, where its favoured food of crayfish and other crustaceans are found. Like other cormorant species, the Little Pied Cormorants feathers are not water repellent and therefore it must spread its wings out to dry.
The Top-knot Pigeon is a large grey pigeon with an obvious sweptback crest of feathers, resembling a large mop of dusty red hair, like an avian Elvis, that is used in mating displays. The pigeons love fruits of rainforest trees as well as the berries of Camphor Laurel trees and are particularly acrobatic when feeding, often hanging upside-down to reach the fruit. Often in autumn they form large flocks, which move across the countryside searching out trees in fruit.
Males are olive green with a large red patch over each eye, and females are mainly brown above and paler below, with streaks on the breast. Originally a bird of rainforest and wet sclerophyll forests, they can regular be seen in parks and gardens, often in flocks of 10-20 birds, where there are fruiting trees, including figs and mulberries. During the breeding season, figbirds will usually nest in loose colonial groups, with nests often quite close together. They have a range of songs and calls, ranging from soft, musical notes to chattering, squeaky calls.
The White-headed Pigeon is a large dark grey pigeon with a distinctive white head, neck and breast. The eye ring is pink to dark red and the legs and feet are also pink-red. It was originally a bird of the rainforest and it suffered when these forests were heavily cleared in the last century. However, it has increased in numbers in recent years due to the availability of food from introduced Camphor Laurel trees. There call is a mournful repeated ‘ooom-coo’.
Widespread across Australia the Pied Butcherbird is closely related to the Australian Magpie and looks quite similar with its black and white plumage although it is somewhat smaller. It is considered to have one of the sweetest of all Australian birdsongs, with its beautiful piping call leading to one of its older names of Organbird. It is an agressive feeder, swooping down on a wide range of prey, such as insects, worms, small reptiles, frogs and birds.
easily recognised from other cockatoos, by its distinctive grey and pink plumage and short pale pink crest. Also known as the Rose-breasted Cockatoo, the Galah is one or the most common and widespread of Australia’s parrots. Since European colonisation, when they were found mainly inland, they have become more widespread, taking advantage of the changes in land use because of agriculture, which has increased availability of food and water. They are highly sociable and often join together in large noisy flocks when feeding and roosting. Also accomplished acrobats, often seen hanging upside down on telegraph wires.
Australian White Ibis
well known bird, with all white plumage, bald black head, long curved bill, and distinct pink /red patch on the underside of the wings. Fifty years ago, these birds were not regularly found in urban areas. There preferred habitats were freshwater swamps, lagoons, floodplains and grasslands, where they would find their traditional food of crayfish, mussels, insects and grubs. However, they have rapidly spread to urban and coastal areas, where they have taken to feeding on the abundant amount of human food waste, particularly at rubbish dumps. Despite a negative public image, they are graceful birds, particularly in flight, when they can be seen in V-shaped formation or in a tight group effortlessly circling on thermal air currents.
the largest of the Australian fantails, it is mainly black with a crisp white belly and thin white eyebrow. The almost constant wagging of its tail is believed to help in flushing out insects which it will then pounce on. They may be seen following or even standing on top of cattle, waiting for the insects that get disturbed. They are known to carry large prey, such as butterflies, back to a favoured spot where they can de-wing them before swallowing. They have a pleasant song which may be repeated for long periods, even throughout bright moonlit nights. They also have a distinctive alarm call, likened to a box of matches being shaken. Their nests of grass and bark shreds are finished off with a felting of spiders’ web.
Australian Wood Duck
A medium sized ‘goose-like’ duck, generally grey with black markings. The male has a brown head with a short dark mane. The male attracts a mate with a ‘burp’ display, holding its head high, spreading its feathers and erecting its mane while uttering a wheezy call. Breeding pairs stay together year round and will usually be seen together grazing on grasses often far from water. In fact they are more often seen away from water than in it. They nest in tree hollows, usually near water.
The Dollarbird is summer visitor from New Guinea, arriving in Australia from September onwards and leaving again in March. They are dark green, washed with blue and a red bill. Their name comes from the white wing patches that are shown off during flight. They are skilful fliers and during the breeding season often take part in acrobatic displays, with broad sweeps and steep dives, accompanied by their harsh cackling calls. They feed exclusively on flying insects, which can be eaten in the air or taken back to a perch for smashing or softening before swallowing. Dollarbirds will rarely be seen on the ground as their feet have evolved for grasping and they are poor walkers.
Wompoo Fruit Dove
Despite their magnificent colouring, the Wompoo Fruit-Dove can be difficult to see high in the rainforest canopy. It’s presence is often given away by the sound of fruit falling to the ground, as it feeds high above. The other sign to its presence is the deep resounding call of ‘wollack-woo’ or a quieter ‘wompoo’.