• Welcome to BirdForum, the internet's largest birding community with thousands of members from all over the world. The forums are dedicated to wild birds, birding, binoculars and equipment and all that goes with it.

    Please register for an account to take part in the discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.
Feel the intensity, not your equipment. Maximum image quality. Minimum weight. The new ZEISS SFL, up to 30% less weight than comparable competitors.

Novice Birder, 1st time visit to Australia (1 Viewer)

mtar925

Well-known member
Hi! I live in California, and as a birder might be described as an "advanced beginner." My life list is just over 300, and I'm at the level where I'm starting to know a few birds by sound alone but am also still thrilled to see for the first time other species that are quite routine to local birders, in the right season.
I'm planning a trip to Australia - my first - in October. The driving purpose of the trip is stargazing, as I've been an avid stargazer for much longer than I've been a birder and this will be my first time seeing the skies of the Southern Hemisphere. But I don't know how many times I may have the opportunity to travel to the region, and want to make the most of it.

I'll be lodging for a week at a farmstay near Crooked Corner (north of Canberra, west of Sydney) where our host is providing astronomical telescopes for night-sky viewing. I will certainly take a few walks around the farm during the daytime, with an eye out for birds, but would also like to visit other habitats in southeastern Australia. Plans are only starting to form but I expect to visit (non-birding) friends in Melbourne, and will probably visit Sydney. Canberra is the closest large city to the astro-camp, and looks to have some well-regarded parks with some variety of habitat in its vicinity. I may rent a car to drive a winding multi-day route from my arrival airport to the astro-camp, making stops along the way; or may take a train from Sydney to Melbourne, stopping at Canberra and renting a car from there... planning is just getting underway.

Do any hotspots jump to mind, in and around Melbourne, Canberra, and maybe Sydney, that a first-time visitor should be sure to visit in late October?

Any suggestions for budget-friendly birding guidance in these areas? When my wife and I visited Hong Kong a few years ago, we joined the local club on bird walk around Kowloon Park that - in those days - was a weekly event. In addition to spotting many lifer birds right there in the urban park, it was a fun to meet both local birders and other visitors from around the world.
I've also found a website called Birdingpals, and wonder if people have had good luck using it to connect with birders for short outings while traveling, or if there's a better option?

Any other advice would be appreciated!
 

KC Foggin

Super Moderator
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
United States
Can't help you out with Australia but that is a pretty hefty life list you've got already.
 

mtar925

Well-known member
Can't help you out with Australia but that is a pretty hefty life list you've got already.

LOL! Maybe it comes with living in California... my year list is approaching 200, and I haven't traveled 100 miles from home yet in 2022. I'd have to multiply my life list by ten to match my dad, and many of the folks I've been birding with. In that company I feel like a rank beginner.
 

Hotspur

James Spencer
United Kingdom
Hey Mtar, my brother lives in Canberra and I loved birding there on my first visit. Jerrabomberra Wetlands and Tidbinbilla are where I'd recommend for a range of things in a short hit. You also have a fair shout of platypus and Red-bellied Black snake at Tidbinbilla. Obviously check out the hotspots on ebird. I was blown away by the colour, variety and approachability of the birds.
 
Last edited:

KC Foggin

Super Moderator
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
United States
LOL! Maybe it comes with living in California... my year list is approaching 200, and I haven't traveled 100 miles from home yet in 2022. I'd have to multiply my life list by ten to match my dad, and many of the folks I've been birding with. In that company I feel like a rank beginner.
Birding for over 20 years and I still consider myself a "rank beginner" :)
 

mtar925

Well-known member
Hey Mtar, my brother lives in Canberra and I loved birding there on my first visit. Jerrabomberra Wetlands and Tidbinbilla are where I'd recommend for a range of things in a short hit. You also have a fair shout of platypus and Red-bellied Black snake at Tidbinbilla. Obviously check out the hotspots on ebird. I was blown away by the colour, variety and approachability of the birds.
Those spots both look exciting and accessible - thanks!
 

mjh73

Well-known member
Australia
In and around Melbourne I'd suggest:

1) Western Treatment Plant, an hour or so west of Melbourne is probably our biggest local hotspot. A good cross section of Australian waterbirds (and raptors trying to eat them), shorebirds, a vagrant hotspot and a number of other local birds in the paddocks and tree-lines surrounding. 70-80 bird species typical on a decent day, 100 possible in dawn-dusk with good luck!
You need someone with a permit and an access key - if the timing works that could be me, but David & Sarah's birdinpal idea might sort you out with someone too.

2 / 3 / 4) Bunyip State Forest, Toolangi State Forest and the Dandenongs each an hour or so east of Melbourne are good for temperate rainforest birds - Lyrebird, Robins, Whipbirds, Thornbills, Parrots etc.

5) Royal Park just outside Melbourne city centre and accessible by tram / train can be very good for parrots, honeyeaters and other birds.

Philip Island is easy to get to on an organised tour from the city to see penguins, but the penguins can also be see at St Kilda seawall in the city, with the added bonus of native water rat - Rakali! Little Penguins

Otherwise you are in for a long trek to most more interesting places. The Mallee and Deni mentioned by Welsh Peregrine are good places for sure but while they look close to Melbourne in the context of a map of Australia, they are many hours drive away! For some of this drier country birds (unless you really want a Malleefowl in which case the long drive is unavoidable) somewhere like Greater Bendigo National Park, 2 hours or so north-west of Melbourne is a great spot, and if you can arrange a spotlighting trip Plains-wanderer can be found in the nearby Terrick Terrick National Park.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top