South Coast NSW

The Lake Wollumboola Key Biodiversity Area

Lake Wollumboola, located 200 km south of Sydney, is a shallow intermittently closing and opening coastal lake with extensive sand and mud flats, rocky reefs, sedge and coastal salt marsh with adjoining Swamp Oak and Melaleuca forests.  

Lake Wollumboola has been designated a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) because of its importance for migratory birds such as Godwits and Sandpipers and its large populations of Black Swans and Chestnut Teal. KBAs are “sites contributing significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity” registered with “The International Union for Conservation of Nature” (IUCN), an organization formed in 1948, with Australia as a signatory.  

Over 100 bird species have been recorded including 16 threatened species and total birds on the lake can number over 20,000. Rare birds make their way here, recently the Paradise Duck from New Zealand and the Hudsonian Godwit. Some common species found at Wollumboola can be seen at the link below.

Caspian Tern at Lake Wollumboola

Caspian Tern at Lake Wollumboola

Superb Lyrebirds at Granite Falls in Morton National Park

Superb Lyrebirds have been vocal the past few weeks, their characteristic calls and clever mimicry ringing across Morton National Park, South Coast NSW. The bird shown below was scratching at the turnoff sign from 12 Mile road to the Granite Falls car park.

Superb Lyrebird at Morton National Park

Superb Lyrebird at Morton National Park

Granite Falls is an easy walk from the car park through robust stringybark, red bloodwood and turpentine trees. There is evidence of tin mining from the 1900’s, then the falls are a spectacular 63 metres into a forested valley. After a week of patchy rain with some local heavy falls there was only a trickle flowing down the polished granite rock-face.

The Viewing Platform at Granite Falls

The Viewing Platform at Granite Falls

Visit to Shoalhaven Heads and Comerong Island

Shoalhaven Heads 150 km south of Sydney is a good place to see shorebirds and waders. It is one of the key NSW sites for migratory birds over the summer. 

At this time of the year, late May, it is reasonably quiet. When I visited last week there were Black Swans, Grey and Chestnut Teal, Red-capped Plover, Sooty Oystercatchers, Masked Lapwings and a White-faced Heron on the mudflats. Two White-bellied Sea-Eagles appeared, one carrying what appeared to be a hapless Australian Raven while two further Ravens attacked. They flew low over the sand hills before disappearing on the town side of the river. 

The mouth of the Shoalhaven River is often blocked by sand and you can walk across to Comerong Island Nature Reserve, which lists over 150 bird species. While walking at the high tide mark I disturbed a Buff-banded Rail. It flustered off then peered back through the tussock. There were Yellow and Brown Thornbills, Brown Gerygones, Silvereyes and a Bandicoot quite happy to dig its holes along the path ahead, oblivious to my presence.  

White-bellied Sea-Eagle with Australian Raven at Shoalhaven Heads

White-bellied Sea-Eagle with Australian Raven at Shoalhaven Heads

Critically Endangered Eastern Curlew at Lake Conjola

The sight of a single Eastern Curlew at Lake Conjola Entrance on New South Wales’ south coast is a poignant reminder of the perils this species faces. Australia is summer home to most of the world’s Eastern Curlew population but they breed in Russia and north-eastern China. They arrive in Australia from mid-July to September taking up residence along the coast.

 I saw this single bird twice over a week in the same area, foraging in the shallow water for its preferred diet of crabs, shrimps and prawns. Numbers of Eastern Curlews have decreased eighty per cent over the past three decades and they are now listed as critically endangered.

 A big factor in this decrease has been habitat loss: in Australia as mudflats were reclaimed to build airports, marinas and housing, and in Asia as development envelops bird “refueling” spots on the great East Asia Australasia Flyway route to Australia. It is outrageous to hear that Australia’s government is still positively considering the huge development project at Toondah Harbour in Queensland, on an internationally protected (Ramsar) mudflat, a site that supports a large population of Eastern Curlews. Another nail in the coffin for the Eastern Curlew!


Garrad Reserve at Narrawallee, South Coast NSW

Garrad Reserve comprises 66 hectares of beautiful bushland at the Narrawallee Inlet, close to Ulladulla on New South Wales’ south coast. The main vegetation types within the reserve include: Old-man Banksia open forest (Bangalay), Swamp Mahogany swamp sclerophyll forest, and Turpentine, Red Bloodwood, Sydney Peppermint shrubby open forest, as well as Saltmarsh and Mangrove along the river bank. 

The reserve was created in 2013 under a NSW Government biobanking agreement which provides the Shoalhaven council with funding to manage weeds, feral animals and access tracks and signs for the public. Biobanking sites create biobanking credits that are usually sold off to offset loss of habitat from developments elsewhere but in this case the credits created have been retired – so there is no development offset against the creation of this reserve. Nevertheless it is difficult to reconcile the large tracts of bush going under the bulldozer right next door, and not to be disappointed that adjacent bush has not been kept to surround and protect this valuable habitat. At the end of the day there is less bush than when it all started.  

Common woodland birds seen at Garrad include Brown and Striated Thornbills, Brown Gerygones, Golden and Rufous Whistlers, Olive-backed Orioles, Brown Cuckoo-Doves, Fantails, Flycatchers, Whipbirds and Woodswallows. Another visitor is the Black-faced Monarch pictured below.