Coffs Harbour Birdwatching

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Coffs Harbour is a vibrant, NSW coastal city boasting a variety of exciting nature based tourist experiences. One of the highlights of this natural playground is the colourful bird life, which is extraordinary both in its variety and numbers.

Park at Fitzroy Oval and take the Coffs Creek Walkway east, towards the Botanical Gardens. As you walk beside the massive swamp mahoganies and scribbly gums that stretch out over the creek, keep an eye out for Galahs, majestic King Parrots and, cheeky Willie Wagtails. In the spring, when the trees are in flower, watch Rainbow Lorikeets and Blue-faced Honeyeaters feed on the nectar of the native blossoms.

Take time to stop at Coffs Harbour Botanical Gardens which is one of the major regional botanic gardens on coastal New South Wales. It covers 20 hectares of Crown Land and is bounded on three sides by Coffs Creek, a wide mangrove-lined, tidal estuary.

The Garden was designed to feature natural forest, rare and endangered Australian species, and exotic plants from other sub-tropical regions of the world. There are five kilometres of well-made paths and boardwalks for visitors to explore this enchanting garden.

The garden and adjacent creek is a nature wonderland. Within this magnificent, diverse landscape more than 150 species of birds have been documented.

The central path leads to the delightful sensory garden and on to the Japanese Garden.

Along the way you are likely to see dozens of different birds including the acrobatic Grey Fantail, Striated Pardalote and Rainbow Bee-eater. A roosting Powerful Owl might be seen surveying the landscape.

Rich floral scents attract delicate Eastern Spinebills or even the brilliantly coloured Scarlet Honeyeater. Purple Swamphens, Australian Wood Ducks, and Pacific Black Ducks can be seen in and around the peaceful pond waters.

Not far away the Paperbark boardwalk leads to a tranquil part of the garden which is the perfect place to look out for the Glossy Black-Cockatoo, Pied Butcherbird, and Honeyeaters of all kinds.

The Mangrove boardwalks provide access to the mangroves that line the eastern boundary of the garden. Use the specially designed bird hides to possibly spot a Silver Gull, White-faced Heron, Little Black Cormorant, or even an Azure Kingfisher swooping down from the trees.

Leaving the gardens, and further along the walk, you arrive at the Promenade. Be sure to take a few minutes to climb to the lookout at the top of the complex and enjoy the sweeping view of the creek and surrounding areas.

The next section of the walk includes the extensive boardwalk that winds through the mangroves. Some of the many species that frequent this coastal area include the Australian White Ibis, Silver Gull, Australian Pelican, and Royal Spoonbill. See if you can spot a Little Black Cormorant with its outstretched wings drying in the sun.

Your final destination is Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve, a historically and ecologically significant island with its panoramic coastal views. It is the most important roosting site in NSW for Wedge-tailed Shearwaters.

To get to the island cross the road next to the bridge over the creek and follow the path along the back of the dunes until you emerge at the northern break wall. This leads to Mutton Bird Island.

The shimmering water and incredible coastal views provide an awesome setting for viewing the diverse marine wildlife that inhabits the area. The popular, easy walk along the break wall is perfect for spotting Pied Cormorant and Crested Tern hunting for fish. As the trail climbs up to the observation platform you will see Shearwater burrows throughout the long grass.

Now that you have worked up an appetite take the opportunity to visit one of the many local cafes.