Bird types on the NSW South Coast

Bird types of the NSW South Coast

Seabirds. The NSW South Coast is host to a vast array of seabirds too numerous to mention individually. A Pelagic Trip to the Continental Shelf will yield a range of albatrosses, petrels, prions, shearwaters and diving petrels while shore-based watchers can have good views of Gannet, cormorants, Pelican and Darter, and sometimes sightings of many of the true seabirds, specially in a strong, onshore wind. The annual southerly migration of Short-tailed Shearwaters is often visible from the shore. Tropicbirds, Frigatebirds and boobies are all vagrants, with only one or two sightings in the last 30 years.

Bird types (continued)

Waterside birds and shorebirds. The NSW South Coast is endowed with many wetlands where egrets, herons, spoonbills and ibises are commonly seen. The lakes and shores are home to a resident wader population of oystercatchers, some plovers, crakes and rails, Purple Swamphens, Coots and Dusky Moorhens. In spring, the northern hemisphere waders come flooding in to spend the summer fattening up on the lakes and mudflats of estuaries in preparation for the long, autumn journey north. Bush and Beach Stone-curlews are vagrants.

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Skuas, jaegers, gulls and terns are residents and are often seen from shore, perhaps a big, brown skua following a fishing trawler or a jaeger hunting well out behind the line of surf. Pacific and Kelp Gulls are rare vagrants, usually as brown immatures in winter. Three of the tern species are migrants: Common are summer migrants, White-fronted Terns are winter migrants from New Zealand and Little Terns are summer breeding migrants. The latter is an endangered species and breeding sites are monitored throughout summer by NSW National Parks and Wildlife.

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Doves and pigeons. Fourteen species have been confirmed, most resident, though Superb and Rose-Crowned Fruit-doves are rare vagrants, usually as post-breeding dispersal of immatures, and Topknot Pigeons are nomadic and follow the fruiting of trees and vines. Three species are relatively new residents: Crested Pigeons were first seen in 1986 and White-headed Pigeons two years later, both are now common breeding residents, and the Bar-shouldered Dove arrived in 2008 and may be expanding into the area south of Ulladulla.

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Cockatoos, parrots and allies are colourful birds of temperate and tropical lands. They have short legs and muscular feet for creeping round in the foliage and their strong curved bills are articulated, enabling them to crack big, hard nuts and seeds. The NSW South Coast is home to a wide range, including King Parrot, Crimson and Eastern Rosellas, Rainbow, Musk and Little Lorikeets, several Cockatoos and Galahs. Food consists of a wide range of seeds, blossom, fruits, roots and shoots and invertebrates. Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos use their powerful, curved bills to open and expose the larvae of wood-boring moths hidden in tunnels in acacia and banksia trees, and Glossy Black-Cockatoos crack the hardest casuarina nuts with their even bigger and stronger bills. All the species on the NSW South Coast nest in tree hollows, with the exception of the Ground Parrot which nests on or near the ground, usually in thick cover.

Bird types (continued)

Cuckoos. All seven species recorded are summer-breeding migrants, though some Fan-tailed and both Horsfield's and Shining Bronze-Cuckoos pass through as winter migrants. Eastern Koels and Channel-billed Cuckoos are now common and extend as far south as the Victorian border.Owls are solitary, nocturnal birds of prey, feeding on small mammals, birds and insects. Much of the NSW South Coast is still heavily forested and hosts several owls. There are three species of Tyto: Sooty, Masked and Barn, the first two are forest owls, the latter is more at home in open land and round farmsteads. Of the hawk owls, the Powerful is found mostly in forested land, the Barking on woodland edges and round wetlands and the Southern Boobook in towns and open farmlands.

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Frogmouth, nightjar and Owlet-nightjar. One of each species inhabits the NSW South Coast: Tawny Frogmouths and Australian Owlet-nightjars are residents, White-throated Nightjars are summer-breeding migrants. Characterised by their wide bills, these nocturnal birds are insectivorous and very quiet and unobtrusive except for a brief period of calling in the breeding season. In past times, the nightjars of Europe were named, and retain to this day, Caprimulgiformes (goat suckers) as it was thought their wide bills allowed them to do just that, whereas the frogmouths are Podargidae, the gouty-footed. The nicest part of natural history study lies in the naming of various species and the stories those names tell. Swifts. Both White-throated Needletails and Fork-tailed Swifts are summer migrants and both are particularly active in the humid, thundery months of December and January. The birds are forever on the wing, feeding, resting, sleeping, and are not known to land, except in rare, individual cases of exhaustion. The needletails are fairly common, forming flocks up to 500; Fork-tailed Swifts come in much smaller numbers, rarely more than ten or fifteen.

Bird types (continued)

Dollarbird and kingfishers. The Dollarbird is a relative of the northern hemisphere Roller, a colourful, summer-breeding migrant to the NSW South Coast. Our well-known Laughing Kookaburra is a kingfisher, a resident, as is its tiny, colourful cousin, the Azure Kingfisher. The Sacred Kingfisher is a summer-breeding migrant, arriving in September and leaving in March, though some birds overwinter in temperate coastal villages. Lyrebird and treecreepers. Only the Superb Lyrebird is found on the NSW South Coast, in forested land and the damp rainforest gullies of the coast. Known for its mimicry, certain birds have been recorded imitating fifteen or sixteen different bird species resident in their area; they also known to imitate the sounds of chainsaws and various vehicles, specially motorcycles. Both White-throated and Red-browed Treecreepers are breeding residents in forest and coastal woodland.

Bird types (continued)

Fairy-wrens and Emu-wrens. Variegated and Superb Fairy-wrens are common residents in groups in coastal woodlands, round wetlands and in gardens. The Southern Emu-wren is far less common, and is found in damp water easements, near some wetlands and rural dams.Pardalotes, scrubwrens, gerygones, thornbills and allies. All are residents of coastal woodland, forests and farmlands. White-throated Gerygones are summer-breeding migrants, Yellow-throated and Large-billed Scrubwrens are less common than White-browed, and Weebills are rare and only occasionally reported.

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Honeyeaters. There are fifteen resident species of the honeyeater family, three vagrants (Little Friarbird, White-plumed and Blue-faced), one winter migrant (White-eared) and six summer-breeding migrants. The endangered Regent Honeyeater is a rare or accidental summer-breeding species. The narrow coastal woodland, rarely more than a kilometre wide, of Banksia integrifolia, Banksia serrata and eucalypts forms a breeding stronghold for the sedentary Little Wattlebird. The NSW South Coast is a migratory corridor for the autumn honeyeater migration that reaches its climax in the last week of April.

Bird types (continued)

Robins. Eastern Yellow Robins and Jacky Winters are breeding residents, the Flame Robin a rare breeding resident, while Rose and Scarlet are winter migrants to coastal zones, though the Rose will often remain into spring and breed. Hooded Robins are rare vagrants and the vulnerable Pink Robin is a rare migrant to the coast.

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Whipbirds, Spotted Quail-thrush, whistlers and allies. The striking Eastern Whipbird is a common resident of woodland and forest but the Spotted Quail-thrush is uncommon, favouring the stoney ridges of the hills. Varied Sittellas are not difficult to find, and though Crested Shrike-tits are scattered over all localities they are not always easy to find. On the other hand, Bell Miners can't be missed, for their large colonies are invariably very vocal. Golden Whistlers and Grey Shrike-thrushes are resident, whereas the Rufous Whistler is a summer-breedng migrant.

Bird types (continued)

Monarchs, flycatchers, fantails and allies. Rufous Fantails, Leaden Flycatchers and Black-faced Monarchs are summer-breeding migrants, Magpie-larks, Grey Fantails and Willie Wagtails are residents, the Spangled Drongo is a rare autumn-winter migrant in some years not seen at all, Restless Flycatchers are breeding residents making some winter movement to the coast and Satin Flycatchers are rare vagrants.

Bird types (continued)

Cicadabird, cuckoo-shrikes, trillers. Cicadabirds and White-winged Trillers are uncommon summer-breeding migrants, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrikes common residents, their White-bellied cousins less frequently seen, or perhaps identified, for it can be difficult to separate one from another. Australasian Figbirds are recently-established as breeding residents in certain towns and Olive-backed Orioles are summer-breeding migrants, though some birds, usually immatures, overwinter.

Bird types (continued)

Woodswallows, Grey Butcherbird, Magpie, currawongs. Only one of the four woodswallow species (Dusky) is a summer-breeding migrant, the other three are summer migrants not known to have bred. There is a movement of Pied Currawongs from the mountains to the coast in winter, and a few Grey Currawongs, usually solitary, are reported in winter.

Bird types (continued)

Ravens, White-winged Chough, catbird, Satin Bowerbird. The Little Raven is an uncommon resident but in some years there is a movement of hundreds to coastal farmlands and open country. Australian Ravens are common breeding residents of open lands and White-winged Chough can be found in localised parties. Satin Bowerbirds are also common breeding residents of towns, woodlands and forests but the Green Catbird has only been recorded in specific locations near Narooma and Tilba.

Bird types (continued)

Skylark, pipit, finches and allies. The Eurasian Skylark has become increasingly rare as small populations die off, Australasian Pipits can be found in suitable habitats, specially in farmlands, a small group of Diamond Firetails can be found at Belowra in autumn-winter, Red-browed Finches are common in grassland and on roadsides, there are rare sightings of Double-barred while European Goldfinch hang on in colonies at favoured farmsteads. House Sparrows maintain small colonies in towns and on farms.

Bird types (continued)

Mistletoebird, Welcome Swallow and martins. The Mistletoebird is a summer-breeding migrant and bird of passage and is fairly common on and near the coast. Welcome Swallows are numerous as both residents and summer-breeding migrants, Tree and Fairy Martins are summer-breeding migrants though some Tree Martins overwinter.

Bird types (continued)

Reed-Warbler and Old World Warblers. The Australian Reed-Warbler is a summer-breeding resident to wetlands and swamps, and both Little Grassbirds and Golden-headed Cisticolas are uncommon migrants frequenting the same habitats. Rufous and Brown Songlarks are rare vagrants, usually escaping drought or harsh conditions inland. The northern migration of Silvereyes of the Tasmanian species is a constant in autumn and a few Bassian Thrush move to the coast in winter. Flocks of Common Starlings favour farmsteads and there is some dispersal movement in autumn, as there is with Common Myna, though the latter occur in smaller numbers.


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