|Black-faced Monarch – one of the special birds found at Croajingolong|
Croajingolong National Park is a wonderful coastal national park in Victoria 450 km east of Melbourne, and 600 km south of Sydney. About 90 000 hectares, Croajingolong along with the adjourning Nadgee Nature Reserve is one of only 12 World Biosphere areas in Australia.
Some of the interesting birds that can be seen at Croajingolong (in no particular order) include Ground Parrot (Shipwreck Creek and Howe Flat), Eastern Bristlebird (Howe Flat), Black-faced Monarch, Beautiful Firetail, Scarlet Honeyeater, Glossy Black-Cockatoo, Eastern Whipbird, Superb Lyrebird, Powerful Owl, Red-browed Treecreeper, Large-billed Scrubwren, Brown Gerygone, Cicadabird and White-throated Nightjar.
More recently rarer east coast migrants such as Wandering Tattler (first record for Victoria found by none-other than me :-), Black Bittern, Striated Heron, Eastern Reef Egret, Australian Figbird, Topknot and White-headed Pigeon, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Australia Koel and Spangled Drongo, are all starting to be recorded with greater regularity.
On the way into Mallacoota, along Mallacoota Rd, there are some nice areas of open woodlands including banksia woodland. The bush along here usually contains Scarlet Robin, Jacky Winter, Mistletoebird, Varied Sittella, Striated Pardalote, Spotted Pardalote, Rufous and Golden Whistler, Olive-backed Oriole, White-winged Chough, Yellow-tailed and occasionally Glossy Black-Cockatoo.
|Gippsland Water Dragon, found along creek lines in Croajingolong. (Image Tim Bawden)
Double Creek Nature Walk
An excellent area of temperate rainforest is along Double Creek Nature Walk, located on Mallacoota Rd.
Look along this walk for Black-faced Monarch, Large-billed and White-browed Scrubwren, Red-browed Treecreeper (on the ridge-tops), Brown Gerygone, Scarlet and Crescent Honeyeater, Rufous Fantail, Satin Bowerbird, Superb Lyrebird, Brush Cuckoo, Cicadabird, Collared Sparrowhawk, and, usually feeding along the creek, Azure Kingfisher.
Shady Creek Bushland Reserve
As the name suggests Shady Creek Bushland Reserve is a nice area of temperate rainforest. In summer Scarlet Honeyeater can be relatively common along this gully, particularly in areas of Melaleuca armillaris near the bridge at the bottom of the reserve.
Also near the bridge there is often a roosting pair of Powerful Owl. They don’t seem to mind disturbance. I once saw them sit quietly while a trail bike rode directly under them.
Some of the other birds that I’ve recorded in this gully included Black-faced Monarch, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Cicadabird, Large-billed Scrubwren, Brown Gerygone, Eastern Whipbird, Rufous Fantail, Satin Bowerbird, Superb Lyrebird, Wonga Pigeon, Satin Flycatcher, Southern Boobook, Australian Owlet-nightjar and, in summer, flocks of White-throated Needletail circle over the gully each evening.
|Scarlet Honeyeater. Another special birds to be found in summer at Croajingolong.|
Betka Road and Heathland Walk
One of the best areas of coastal heathland is along Betka Road. On the Heathland Walk between Betka Road and Davies Creek I have flushed both a Ground Parrot and Brush Bronzewing. Nearby Davies Creek is also a good site for Scarlet Honeyeater and Varied Sittella, and in 2006 I saw Cicadabird near the bridge.
|Powerful Owl, Shady Gully Creek.|
At Betka Beach there is usually a pair of Hooded Plover, which one year nested right in the middle of the popular surf beach, and there is often Eastern Curlew near at the bridge over of Betka River.
Striated Calamanthus, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Brown Quail, Southern Emu-wren and occasionally Ground Parrot can be found in the heath beside the Mallacoota Airstrip.
Eastern Reef Egret can sometimes be seen on rocks around Bastion Point – as well as the beaches east of Bastion Point, such as Secret Beach and Quarry Beach.
|The superb heathland at Shipwreck Creek, habitat for Ground Parrot and Southern Emu-wren.|
Shipwreck Creek contains some of the best coastal heathland in Victoria. Research suggests that Ground Parrot prefer heath 30-50 cm in height, with clumps of of higher vegetation scattered throughout. In essence this relies of a mosaic fire pattern on a 8-10 year cycle, with the optimum habitat at 3-7 years after burning. Shipwreck Creek has a number of area which fit this description perfectly.
With some effort Ground Parrot can usually be flushed here. I’ve visisted this site many times and have rarely failed to flush Ground Parrot and in one case I re-flushed one bird 4 times. Southern Emu-wren is also common here. This area also contains a population Chestnut-rumped Heathwren. Shipwreck Creek can also provide a few surprises. Perhaps the most interesting being a pair of Topknot Pigeon, which circled over the bush to the west of the uppermost heath area.
Both Leaden and Restless Flycatcher can be seen near the car park, as well as Sacred Kingfisher, and White-throated Nightjar can usually be found along the road into shipwreck creek at night. The campsite at Shipwreck Creek is also a good place to the Lace Monitor (Varanus varius), the second largest of all goannas. Please be careful though. Although most Goannas are rather wary of human intrusions, they can recover from their initial fear especially when food is involved.
Tawny-crowned Honeyeater can be seen on the walk to Seal Creek, where there is usually a pair of Hooded Plover.
The bush around Mt Genoa contains the right mix of Casuarina and old growth forest to support Glossy Black-Cockatoo. In 2005 I saw a flock of at least eight birds were seen along Genoa Peak Rd, with another flock being heard later in the day. There has been some suggestion that numbers of Glossy Black-Cockatoo has increased recently along the south east coast of Australia. Note: the road to Wallagaraugh is also a good site for Glossy Black-Cockatoo.
Very pleasant area, with the rocky creek line an excellent place to see Eastern Water Dragon.
|Waders roosting on a sandbar in Mallacoota Inlet.|
Gipsy Point is regarded as the best site for Topknot Pigeon, and there are also Brown Quail at this site. It is also worth hiring a canoe from the Gipsy Point Lodge, with Striated Heron and Black Bittern both regularly seen west of the Gypsy Point Lodge Jetty. While in the area lookout for wild Dingo. In the paddocks west Gypsy Point in 2006 I saw a dark-phased Dingo.
Mallacoota Inlet and Captain Stephenson’s Point Lookout
At Captain Stephenson’s Point Lookout, situated in the main camp ground in Mallacoota, especially during spring and summer, you can see large numbers of waders on the sand banks. Some of the birds seen here include Red-necked Stint, Curlew and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Red Knot and Double-banded Plover, Grey-tailed Tattler, Eastern Curlew, Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit, Great and Red Knot, Pacific Gulls, Pied and Sooty Oystercatcher, Caspian Tern, Crested Tern, Fairy Tern and Little Tern, which often nest on the near sand spit.
|Orange-spotted Tiger Moth, quite common during summer.|
On the very edge of township of Mallacoota there is an excellent area of lowland forest along Watertrust Road (named on some maps as Pipeline Road).
Beautiful Firetail can be reasonably common here, particularly on the roadside margin near the entrance to the Mallacoota sewage ponds ponds and directly beside the heath area before you reach the entrance.
At this site I’ve also recorded a single Brown Quail marching up the road, Jacky Winter, Leaden Flycatcher and White-throated Gerygone. As mentioned along Watertrust Rd there is also an area of heath that supports good numbers of Southern Emu-wren, and has potential for other heathland birds (such as Ground Parrot).
Mallacoota Sewage Ponds
The Mallacoota Sewage Ponds are also worth visiting and usually contains some excellent waterbird such as Baillon’s Crake, Spotted Crake, Spotless Crake, Chestnut Teal, Wood Duck, Black-winged Stilt, Black-fronted Dotterel and Black Swan. I have also recorded Little Grassbird at this pond, a species considered uncommon for this area.
|Entrance to the walking track at Howe Flat. This is the place to look for Eastern Bristlebird in Victoria!|
The Wallagaraugh River a good site for the south-east Australian specialties. A good walk is along a track that leads along the Wallagaraugh River, with the entrance is just to the right of the Wallagaraugh camp site. The track follows the river and estuary, and was teaming with birds particularly at dawn. Lyrebird, Black-faced Monarch, Satin Bowerbird, Eastern Whipbird, Bassian Thrush, Wonga Pigeon, Pied Currawong, Crescent Honeyeater, Olive-backed Oriole, Leaden and Satin Flycatchers, Brown Gerygone, Spotted Quail-thrust, Cicadabird and Azure Kingfisher were all seen on this walk.
On the way down to the Wallagaraugh campsite lookout for Glossy Black Cockatoo; this can sometimes be seen in the area of Casuarina and big gums.
Cape Howe Wilderness Area
Eastern Bristlebird can be found at Howe Flat near the short board-walk that’s located on the foot track that leads south to the coast from Howe Flat Track. The board-walk is on the second track that you come across (as you head west) on Howe Flat Track, although it actually later joins up with first track. Habitat along both tracks is suitable for Eastern Bristlebird. The habitat is in Coastal Tea Tree heath with a grass and bog sedge tussock understorey.
To get to Howe Flat Track the best access (from the Princess Hwy) is via Maxwells Road, then to Mines Road, to Buckland Road, and then Lakeview Track. Note: Lakeview Track is 4X4 access only. In the summer months there are usually good numbers of White-throated Gerygone and Scarlet Honeyeater, and more recently White-cheeked Honeyeater.
|Maxwell’s Rainforest Walk in Nadgee Nature Reserve.|
Maxwell’s Flora Reserve
On the drive into Howe Flat along Maxwells Road (Wallagaraugh Forest Drive) it is worth stopping at the Maxwell’s Rainforest Walk (1.2 kms return), set within the 370 hectare Maxwell’s Flora Reserve. It’s an exquisite walk that guides you through a some pristine Lilly Pilly and Pinkwood temperate rainforest with a lush understorey of tree ferns, with mosses, lichens and ferns cling to massive fallen trees and rocks.
Some of the birds seen here included Wonga Pigeon, Topknot Pigeon, Brush Bronzwing, Crimson Rosella, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Black-faced Monarch, Cicadabird, Satin Bowerbird, Pilotbird, Red-browed and White-throated Treecreeper, Rufous Fantail, Superb Fairy-wren, Scarlet, Lewin’s, White-naped, Brown-headed and Crescent Honeyeater, Spotted Pardalote, White-browed and Large-billed Scrubwren, Brown Thornbill, Brown Gerygone, Eastern Whipbird, Pied Currawong, Golden Whistler, Grey Shrike-thrush, Varied Sittella, Grey Fantail, Rose Robin, Bassian Thrush and Silvereye.