Barlings Swamp and Bevian Road Walking Tracks
by Jill Whiter
Eastern grey kangaroo
Here are two places neglected by the world and therefore richly-endowed with a wide variety of birds. Be warned, the track known as Bevian Road is rough and should be negotiated with care, and there are no facilities for your comfort. But should you have a couple of hours to spare you will be well-rewarded by first-class birdwatching in quiet surroundings far removed from the tourist sites.
Barlings Swamp Walk
Continue south from Guerilla Bay on George Bass Drive for 3 km and turn west onto Bevian Road which is just past Barlings Beach Caravan Park. It is a dirt track prone to deep pot-holes and only the first kilometre or so is negotiable by two-wheel-drive vehicles. On the right lies Barlings Swamp, its reedy edges screened by casuarinas, and on the left is a sharpish hillside of Spotted Gum Corymbia maculata, Burrawangs Macrozamia and coastal woodland growth. Here are the same woodland birds as at Guerilla Bay and Burrewarra Point with the addition of Australian Reed Warblers and Little Grassbirds calling from the reeds in summer. Further along the swamp opens on your right and the road takes a sharp turn left, beyond which you will need a four-wheel-drive. Pause and watch all three thornbills, Yellow, Brown and Striated, both Fairy-wrens, Eastern Whipbirds, a Golden Whistler, Grey Fantail and Grey Shrike-thrush in the fringe of trees.
Clamber down the bank, keeping watch for a Red-bellied Black Snake lurking in the grass, and the swamp opens out before you. Stately Black Swans, all the common duck species, sometimes a Northern Mallard or a few Shelducks and Australian Shovelers. Purple Swamphens, Eurasian Coots, Australasian Grebes, perhaps some Black-fronted Plovers, go about their affairs and when the water is low, a Buff-banded Rail or an Australian Spotted Crake might be your reward. On the opposite bank a few Australian White Ibis and an Eastern Great Egret stand tall among the ducks hauled out. Stroll along to your left to a view of the back arm, the casuarinas painted ghostly white by roosting Great Cormorants, a Striated Heron still and watchful on a fallen log. Overhead the raptors patrol, Swamp Harrier, Whistling Kite, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Wedge-tailed Eagle and Little Eagle.
Return to the road and walk up the hill to a different world; open fields on either side of a track bordered by hedgings of small trees and shrubs. The raptors from the swamp call this hunting territory and are joined by Nankeen Kestrel, Brown and Grey Goshawks, Australian Hobby and Brown Falcon. Here we meet the Yellow-rumped Thornbills of the open country, and busy in the hedgerows are Variegated and Superb Fairy-wrens, one or two Mistletoebirds, a flock of Red-browed Finches and the ever-present honeyeaters. Jacky Winters and Scarlet and Rose Robins on the fences, jaunty Magpie Larks working the grassland, while Welcome Swallows, Tree Martins flit overhead, joined by Dusky Woodswallows in summer. At some time or another in the year, you can see a Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike, perhaps its White-bellied cousin too, an Olive-backed Oriole, the usual array of small cuckoos and an Eastern Rosella harvesting grass seeds. We mustn't forget the Australian Magpies, the Grey Butcherbirds, Pied Currawongs and those ever-present scavengers, the Ravens. The neglected and overgrown farm dams support a few of the common duck species and sometimes a couple of Purple Swamphen round the edges.
The mammals, reptiles and insects here are much the same as those found in and around Guerilla Bay, with the exception of Red-bellied Black Snakes that always favour swampy parts and the enchanting little Long-necked Tortoises. You will find more Eastern Grey Kangaroos in this open country than in the coastal woodlands. Barlings Swamp hosts a range of frogs, probably not dissimilar to that found in and around Guerilla Bay lagoon.