The heritage-listed Royal National Park is the premiere destination for visiting birders and bird groups in south eastern Australia. Established in 1879, it is the world’s second oldest National Park after Yellowstone in the Unites States, and is affectionately known to the locals as the “Nasho” or even just “the Royal”. Perfect for birdwatching, walking, cycling, surfing, swimming, rowing, picnicking or whale watching, this diverse park offers something for everyone.
This Birding Day tour takes place in the Royal National Park
The expert-guided tour can be booked as a small group private tour for dates that suits your travel plans.
• Scarlet Myzomela
• Yellow-throated Scrubwren
• Australian Brushturkey
• Chestnut-rumped Heathwren
The park covers 151 km2 (58.5 sq mi) and encompasses many varied habitats such as heath, woodland heath, dry and moist sclerophyll forest, rainforest, swamp and an estuary, all of which is dominated by the stunning sandstone which underlies the Sydney basin. Royal shines in all seasons, though summer and winter each offer a few special attractions. More than 300 avian species have been recorded in the Royal.
In moist gullies and remnant rainforest patches Superb Lyrebird, Green Catbird, Satin Bowerbird, Eastern Yellow Robin, Eastern Whipbird, Bassian Thrush and Lewin’s Honeyeater can be found. All three of the expected Sydney scrubwrens can be found in the same habitats, namely White-browed, Yellow-throated and Large-billed Scrubwren. It is not unusual to find Yellow-throated Scrubwren following lyrebirds as they turn over leaf litter with their powerful feet in search of invertebrates. The other two possible scrubwrens, White-browed and Large-billed Scrubwren, are often nearby with each of the species preferring a different strata of the forest.
The Australian Brushturkey, another leaf litter specialist, is a recent self-reintroduction into the Royal. The birds have been slowly reclaiming their old territories across Sydney as they move south much to the annoyance of fussy gardeners. They finally crossed the harbour to the north a couple of years ago.
New South Wales’ only endemic bird, the Rockwarbler, is a resident at the Royal. Other residents include Azure Kingfisher, Laughing Kookaburra, Brown Gerygone, and Brown and Striated Thornbill. Australian King Parrot, Crimson Rosella and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo are also present year-round. Pigeons include the unique looking Topknot Pigeon, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Brush Bronzewing (decreasing in numbers) and the often vocal Wonga Pigeon.
Scarlet Myzomela are often heard across much of the Royal and with a bit of effort, also seen. Red and Little Wattlebird, and New Holland Honeyeater dominate much of the heath areas especially along the coast. Other heathland specialists include Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Southern Emu-wren and Chestnut-rumped Heathwren, all of which are much sort after by keen birders. Thornbills are across many of the habitats also.
A variety of raptors breed in the park, including Pacific Baza, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey and Brown Goshawk, and Collared Sparrowhawk. Other raptors seen are Swamp Harrier and Square-tailed Kite; they can turn up anywhere! Falcons are also represented with Peregrine Falcons utilising the dramatic cliffs which run the length of the coast for nesting sites in spring.
During the spring/summer season the park hosts many breeding migrants such as Oriental Dollarbird, Sacred Kingfisher, Common Cicadabird, Rufous Fantail, Channel-billed and Brush Cuckoo, Black-faced Monarch and Leaden Flycatcher. Around the swampier areas Nankeen Night Heron, Great and Little Egret, Royal Spoonbill and White-faced Heron are found. The park’s cliffs give vantage points for sea watching where Black-browed Albatross, Wedge-tailed Shearwater and Australasian Gannet are not unusual sights.
Some of the top plants to spot include Waratah (New South Wales’ floral emblem), Coastal Rosemary, Cabbage-tree Palm and Gymea Lily among the 1,000 species that have been recorded. Commonly seen mammals include bats, possums, Common Wallaroo, Sugar Glider, Swamp Wallaby and Short-beaked Echidna, but with luck even Koala, Spotted-tailed Quoll and Dingo can be seen. Cetacean are also often spotted along the coast. A variety of molluscs, amphibians, crustaceans, insects and fish species also occur.
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