Dorrigo National Park, in Australia’s World Heritage Area, offers stunning scenery and remarkable bird watching opportunities that are sure to delight the whole family. See how many birds your family can identify!
The spectacular views afforded by the Skywalk, accessible from the Dorrigo National Park visitor centre, provide an exhilarating location to look out for some of 150 species of birds that have been recorded in the area. From this majestic location you may catch a glimpse of a circling Grey Goshawk, or a flock of Top-knot Pigeons clambering in the tree tops.
The Glade picnic area, 1km from the Visitor Centre, is a great place to kick back, enjoy a picnic lunch, and let some of the birdlife come to you. Birds commonly observed in this area include Australian Brush Turkey, Eastern Yellow Robin, White-browed Scrubwren and Bassian Thrush.
The elevated ‘Walk with the Birds’ boardwalk starts at the Glade picnic area and takes you above the forest floor, closer to the canopy, where you may see the stunning Paradise Riflebird, or one of the fruit doves that regularly feed here. Also keep an ear out for the Australian Logrunner and the Noisy Pitta. The Logrunner may be heard frantically scrabbling around in the leaf litter for bugs, while the Pitta may be heard smashing the shell of a large snail.
The ‘Satinbird Stroll’ is another short loop walk that commences at the Glade. This part of the rainforest is dense with amazing plant life. Trees adorned with ferns, mosses and interesting fungi create an enchanting setting to observe the many birds that dart about. Make sure to look out for the Satin Bowerbird and their fascinating bowers.
Another spectacular spot close to the centre of Dorrigo is Dangar Falls, 2km to the north of town on the Coramba Road. The easily accessible lookout provides great views from the top of the falls. Nearby, a short walkway through the trees leads down to the base of the falls, allowing you to explore around the rocky riverbed. Golden Whistlers, Grey Shrike Thrushes, and dainty Red-browed Finch are just some of the birds you may spot among the trees and grasses.
A dark olive greenish grey in colour, with yellow corners to the mouth and obvious pale yellow crescent ear patches. They have a strong appetite for fruit and have become a nuisance in certain areas where they attack crops, particularly bananas. Their song is a simple but loud (and often long) machine gun like rattle which carries over long distances.
The male is olive green above with a splendid vibrant yellow underside, separated from its white throat by a broad black band. Females are a uniform brownish-grey all over. They are found in most types of wooded habitat, although they prefer dense covering. They have a ringing musical song, which has many variations, but one common phrase particularly in the breeding season is “we-we-we-tu-whit”.
The Grey Fantail is closely related to the Willie Wagtail, only it seems to wag its tail even more! The Grey Fantail is rarely still, constantly shuffling about and swishing its tail when perched and then fluttering off to chase an insect with a quick twisting flight. Despite the light fluttering nature of their flight, they are capable of travelling long distances, even crossing Bass Strait to Tasmania.
Australian Brush Turkey
These are not easily confused with any other Australian bird. They are a large black fowl, with a prominent tail flattened vertically, with the breeding male sporting a bright red head and yellow neck wattles. They are often seen raking the ground with their feet, looking for food including insects, seeds and fruit. Males also use their feet to rake leaves and twigs into huge nest mounds, upto 4m across and 1m high. Females then lay their eggs into this mound and that is the extent of their involvement in the breeding process. The male maintains a constant temperature of 33 – 38°C by digging holes in the mound and inserting his bill to check the heat, then adding and removing vegetable matter as required. After hatching, the chicks may take 2 days too burrow out of the mound, at which point they are left to fend for themselves. These chicks are fully feathered and are able to walk and fend for themselves immediately. Remarkably, they are able to fly just a few hours after hatching. Although often silent, the male has a deep three-noted booming call.
The beautiful male Satin Bowerbird does not develop his glossy blue-black plumage until around 7 years of age. Before that, males and females both look a similar olive-green and brown above, and paler underneath with a dark chevron pattern. The call of the Satin Bowerbird is a wild mix of whistling, buzzing and hissing as well as excellent mimicry of other birds. Full adult males tend to be solitary birds, but the young males and females often form groups that forage together, feasting on fruits, insects and even leaves in winter. The male builds a display bower on the ground, for attracting a mate. This is decorated with a variety of blue-green items such as flowers, feathers, shells, and a whole range of man-made plastic and ceramics.
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.
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’.
The White-browed Scrubwren is usually found busily scurrying around in the leaf litter of forested areas, searching for a wide variety of insects and arthropods. They are constantly chattering away with a harsh scratchy voice, which can occassionally be turned to good mimicry of other species.
A busy little bird which may be found foraging in large family goups, which keep in contact with a variety of squeaks and warbles. It is an acrobatic feeder, often hanging upside down and occassionally fluttering and hovering on the edge of the foliage, before it expertly picks a small bug off a leaf.
Eastern Yellow Robin
The bright yellow of these robins contrasts with the dark green vegetation of the forests and woodlands where it is most commonly found. They are often seen perched very still on a branch or clinging to a tree trunk, from where they will quickly fly down to the ground, pouncing on their prey. There clear call is often one of the first to be heard at dawn.
These sprightly finches are also known as Red-browed Firetails and are often seen in groups on the ground feeding on seeds.
An elegant bird of prey that comes in two varieties. Either a fine grey above with a paler undeside, or a ghostly all white version. Both types have the same long yellow legs, which they use to attack their prey of small birds (including chickens) and a variety of insects and beetles.