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Birds of New South Wales - #1 - Tweed Coast Region (4 September 2014)

contributed by cougar15
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Birds of New South Wales - #1 - Tweed Coast Region Great-billed Heron

We are heading south again and have almost completed our week's stay at Tamarind Sands Resort, Cabarita Beach, on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales. It is a lovely area and well suited to indulge my birding passion a little longer before we do some serious driving back to our beloved Phillip Island.

The area around Brunswick Heads was my first target and I wasnít disappointed.

Birds of New South Wales - #2 - Urunga / Forster-Tuncurry Australian King-Parrot

Our initial stop was to have a look at New Brighton and Ocean Shores where one can expect to see a good range of local birdlife. There, in only a very short period, I saw White-cheeked Honeyeater, Little Wattlebird, Eastern Whipbird, Rainbow Lorikeet, Australian Magpie, Magpie-lark, Pied Butcherbird, Australian Brush-turkey, Australian White Ibis and Australian Raven. It was well worth the detour off the coastal road.

Birds of New South Wales - #1 - Tweed Coast Region Australian Pelican

Brunswick Heads was also a productive site with large numbers of Australian Pelican perched on most of the mooring posts around the marina. Little Black Cormorants occupied any other vacant resting spots.

Birds of New South Wales - #1 - Tweed Coast Region White-bellied Sea-Eagle

Overhead, a lone White-bellied Sea-Eagle circled the entire waterway and regularly returned to its nest in the distant tree-line running parallel to the ocean foreshore.

Birds of New South Wales - #1 - Tweed Coast Region Pied Currawong

After a lovely meal of fish-n-chips from the local co-operative, I wandered down the road leading into the township. This is another good birding site with the right foliage to satisfy the needs of a variety of species. In addition to those mentioned above, I came across Lewin's Honeyeater, Pied Currawong, White-faced Heron and Great Egret.

Birds of New South Wales - #1 - Tweed Coast Region Australian Brush-turkey

On our return to Cabarita Beach I stopped at one of the breaks in the foliage along the banks of Mooball Creek where locals park their vehicles whilst fishing. The spot I selected was about 1.5 km before the little township of Pottsville. There are many such spots along this coastal road and, I guess, I was lucky enough to get one that was unoccupied at the time and which was the domain of a Rufous Whistler and a very tame Australian Brush-turkey which searched for food close to my feet.

With perfect timing, just as I arrived, a Brahminy Kite circled over the creek right in front of me. Unfortunately, the brilliant sunlight was at an angle which prevented me from taking a worthwhile shot of this magnificent creature.

Our next site took us from Cabarita Beach to the seaside township of Kingscliff.

Next to the bridge over Cudgen Creek there is a reserve with adequate picnic settings for family groups, etc. As it happened, there were quite a number of groups enjoying the winter sunshine in this area so I pulled up at the side of the reserve just over that bridge.

Birds of New South Wales - #1 - Tweed Coast Region Little Black Cormorant

My target was the group of Australian Pelicans and Little Black and Pied Cormorants on a sand-bar I had spotted whilst crossing the bridge. However, due to the thick mangrove foliage next to my parking spot, I decided to walk upstream along the creek bank to see if I could get a better vantage point.

Birds of New South Wales - #2 - Urunga / Forster-Tuncurry Eastern Yellow Robin

Much to my surprise, and great delight, I then flushed out a pair of Bush Stone-curlews that scurried away for a couple of meters and stood stationary hoping I didnít approach them again. They were totally unexpected as I hadnít seen them before in this area and didnít realise they would be this far south and so close to the ocean foreshore.

In Kingscliff, at the mouth of Cudgen Creek, there is another council erected platform which supports a large nest that is currently occupied by a pair of Osprey. No doubt there are chicks in the nest but I didnít see any during the period I was there.

Fingal Head was next on my birding list and I was pleased to see Osprey and Brahminy Kite patrolling the shoreline as expected.

Birds of New South Wales - #1 - Tweed Coast Region Black-necked Stork (Jabiru)

Further out to sea we were entertained by the antics of Humpback Whales returning south and two dolphins messing about in the breaking surf.

In the headland shrubbery there was a family of Red-backed Fairy-wrens to provide a welcome colour contrast.

Birds of New South Wales - #1 - Tweed Coast Region Bush Stone-curlew

As it had been a couple of years since we did the cruise down the Tweed River to Tumbulgum we signed up again for the 4.5 hr return trip with Tweed Endeavour Cruises aboard the Golden Swan.

Birds of New South Wales - #1 - Tweed Coast Region White-faced Heron

This cruise certainly is the real deal if you are looking to get close to the local raptors as they are fed from the stern of the vessel whilst it passes near the lush rainforest region of Stotts Island.

It truly is a great experience and very highly recommended.

Birds of New South Wales - #1 - Tweed Coast Region Whistling Kite

On this occasion we saw several Brahminy Kites, a couple of Whistling Kites and one White-bellied Sea-Eagle.

There were dozens of Australian Pelicans circling our boat to add to the excitement and, of course, the ubiquitous Silver Gull was well represented.

Whilst marking time in Tumbulgum, awaiting our return journey, I came across Crested Tern, Great Egret, Australian Raven, Little Black and Pied Cormorants, Welcome Swallow, Crested Pigeon, Willie Wagtail and Pied Currawong Ė all within a very short distance of the Tumbulgum Hotel.

Birds of New South Wales - #1 - Tweed Coast Region Red-backed Fairy-wren

It should be noted that this hotel is quite historic and has been maintained in excellent condition notwithstanding its owners have to deal with damage from the seemingly regular flooding of the Tweed River opposite. It is well worth your while to spend some time in the hotel to absorb its history through the architecture and memorabilia on display.

Birds of New South Wales - #1 - Tweed Coast Region Brahminy Kite

As with Fingal Head, the headland at Cabarita Beach is an excellent vantage point to take in all that is on offer around this part of the magnificent Tweed Coast.

Before leaving the area we visited Hastings Point again where I noted another Osprey nest atop a pole not far from the bridge over Cudgera Creek. Whilst standing on that bridge I was able to photograph Australian Pelican, Little Black, Little Pied, Pied and Great Cormorants, Pacific Black Duck, Great Egret, Silver Gull and Crested Tern.

Birds of New South Wales - #2 - Urunga / Forster-Tuncurry Whimbrel

I also photographed what I thought was a pair of Pacific Reef Herons which flew in my direction from the distant mangrove stand. It wasnít until I downloaded the images to my lap-top that I realised these birds were, in fact, a pair of Great-billed Herons.

Birds of New South Wales - #2 - Urunga / Forster-Tuncurry Eastern Spinebill

That pretty much sums up my birding experiences this trip to Cabarita Beach (and surrounds) save that two Black-necked Storks (Jabirus) flew over our resort complex the afternoon prior to our departure. That was a very exciting moment indeed. For someone who never sees these wonderful creatures down south, it really was the ďicing on the cakeĒ.

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