Narrabeen Lagoon Trail was a project of the Northern Beaches Council in north-eastern Sydney NSW. On Wednesday 25th February 2015, Warringah Council opened the final link of the lagoon bush trail. Sturdy modern foot bridges, and sealed tracks with signs, maps and drinking water points have been installed along the way, to the council’s praise. However, there is a $10 day parking fee at each of the points around the lake, but modern toilet, shelter and BBQ facilities are also present. It was the day after Australia Day and we had been wanting to do this walk for ages, as others had told us how good it was. Click on photos to enlarge.
This now meant one could walk completely around the Lagoon, though when you see it, it is more like a lake, as it is large, and 8.4 km around, taking 3 -4 hours walking, though longer for birders of course. We commenced our circuit walk at Middle Creek (LHS of map) off the Wakehurst Parkway, which runs along the lake’s edge. We started late morning so we would arrive in Narrabeen township for a fish n chips lunch, half way around, which my wife loves to enjoy at holiday times.
Our first bird sighted was this Willy Wagtail, which I almost did not include, only that my wife insisted. Funny enough almost every where we travel in Australia, the first bird we usually see, and laugh when we do, is little Willy. I even use to have them follow me along the beach where I use to live.
Our second bird was this pair of Masked Lapwing. These birds are notorious for planting their nests in the middle of open grassed playing fields, parks, paddocks and golf courses. This Woman’s Golf Course was just the spot, these ladies would understand the needs of a mother to be.
As we walked we noticed the absence of birds, and I started sprouting off that the birds had gone low or headed to hills to escape the extended heat waves we have been having this summer. This mix of water birds, Black Swan and Pelican were all we saw for next km. However, we were soon to receive our first gift as an amazing surprise as we walked past this small pocket of bush and saw ….
My Bird of the Week – The Eastern Whipbird
What a wonderful surprise to see two Eastern Whipbirds climbing trees and not escaping into the bush. For years I use to pursue this bird only to be frustrated never catching a decent shot, but here in a most unseemly place, this bird continues to forage right before my eyes, even as two ladies loudly discussed their marital problems with each other only meters from the birds.
In the above sound file the male Whipbird, as I have explained in previous posts, makes the sound of a cracking whip, which amazingly resonates loudly with the eucalypt forest. The female immediately follows making the ‘tst, tst’ sound, if she is present and in range. This is how they keep track of each other and also mark their territories, so as not to intrude into other Whipbird family foraging areas. The Eastern Whipbird is only found along the east coast of Australia extending from southern Queensland down to almost entire Victoria, but not in Tasmania.
Above is the only photo I managed to get of the second Whipbird, which was not the female partner, but a juvenile, as you will notice the lack of white around the cheeks. Interestingly enough, the birds remained silent the whole time, not attracting attention. These birds mainly forage on the ground in leaf littler beneath rainforest and heavy foliage. They are often heard but seldom seen, and are quite shy of humans most of the time. They climb trees well and use their beaks to pry bark off to uncover insects and worms. The following is an example from another occasion, of how they communicate to each other.
To our delight birds started appearing out of nowhere in this small pocket of forest. Firstly a beautiful male Variegated Fairy-wren got our attention with its female mate, it was difficult to know where to point my camera. Notice the blue tail on the female distinguishes her from the Superb Fairy-wren female.
At the same time a young morphing male Variegated Fairy-wren briefly appeared. My wife was calling me to shoot it, but I am still trying to get the Whipbird and adult Variegateds.
If that was not enough, the male Superb Fairy-wren turned up in the same place, he did not want to miss having his picture taken either. Notice he lacks the orange back plumage of the Variegated.
After some time and many inquiries from passing walkers we pulled ourselves away from this wonderful birding spot, and again came across a bird quiet area. The variety of habitat on this walk is wonderful for seeing different kinds of birds, but on this next leg all we could hear was the raucous sounds of the Sulphur-crested Cockatoo high in the canopy of the rainforest. Until we passed by the lakeside to see this beautiful Australian Pelican and a little pocket of waterbirds.
What a beautiful majestic bird, and quite a clever and very resourceful bird as I have explained in my book “What Birds Teach Us” which, by the way, received a wonderful review from Sue, an Australian Wildlife blogger from Queensland, in her recent post.
The White-faced Heron was our next prize, featured above hunting. Notice like most herons, they lower their neck and hump their back when hunting to make their reflection less, but stand tall when feeling threatened, to make themselves taller and more threatening. This bird is also featured in my book for its patience.
Nearby was this immature/ juvenile White-faced Heron. Notice they are more lightly colored and the white face is only below the chin. Along a little further was this pair of Little Pied Cormorant. The one on the left had the Orange-brown morph. This was the first one I had seen like this. Nearby another one was airing its wings in true cormorant style, as they lack the oils in their plumage that many other water birds possess, and need to dry their wings out.
Out on the sandbar were the larger Pied Cormorants resting. They look identical but for their larger size and yellow facial markings
Soon as we walked through more bushland we found another pocket of birds. This White-browed Scrubwren caught our attention foraging around in the shelter of a cluster of fan palms.
Next in the same area this immature Grey Butcherbird was making a strange sound.
Then I noticed movement in the next tree and this Lewin’s Honeyeater was resting out of the hot summer sun. When I first started birding I had mistaken this bird for the Yellow-spotted Honeyeater which is almost identical except Lewin’s has a blue eye and Yellow-spotted a brown. Also, the Yellow-spotted is only found in Far North Queensland.
Then from another tree this beautiful little Silvereye appeared.
Off we walk again and no birds again for some time, only the sounds of Currawong and Magpie in the upper tree canopy, and then to our delight we heard the sound of the tiny Brown Thornbill. I only got one decent shot of it as it was in the dark under a thick tree cover.
In the same group of trees we heard the call of the eastern Yellow Robin, and as we kept looking into the darkness beneath the tree there it was watching us carefully.
It appeared to have an injury to the chest, or maybe a tick where it has been irritated. While we watched it pounced on a centipede and proceeded to kill it on a log on the ground.
And typically, we are being watched by the silent watchful eye of the Laughing Kookaburra.
In the sunshine as we walked on this beautiful Crested Pigeon caught my eye. I don’t usually see as much colour in these birds as I did with this one.
The call of another beautiful bird which is spending the summer with us, was heard and finally traced to a far away tree. This Red-whiskered Bulbul is another bird that is often heard but not seen, being shy of humans.
We reached our lunch destination walking back into the noise and bustle of Narrabeen shopping area, where we had an enjoyable meal of fish, chips and salad. Soon after we crossed the bridge and started making our way around the Wakehurst Parkway side of the lake, it was quite hot now being the middle of the day, and only noisy miners and this lone Rainbow Lorikeet took our eye.
Most of the next few km of the journey were birdless until near the end we came to a lovely sitting platform jutting onto the lake where we saw this Pelican on a sandbank, suddenly becoming quite distressed.