Sydney Basin Loop

Sydney Basin Loop Day Tour Overview
Incredibly, despite being a busy city, over 300 different bird species are recorded in Sydney each year. Top birdwatching sites include parks and gardens, woodlands and forest, grasslands as well as freshwater and estuarine wetlands.

This Birding Day tour takes place in and around Sydney
The expert-guided tour can be booked as a small group private tour for dates that suits your travel plans.

Top Birds
• Powerful Owl
• Laughing Kookaburra
• Oriental Dollarbird
• Sacred Kingfisher
• Pink-eared Duck

On this day tour we will visit several key spots.
Centennial Parklands
Despite being close to the city this beautiful, 2.2 km2 (0.8 sq mi) park is a must-visit destination for both local and visiting birders. Key species include a mix of cockatoo such as Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo (mainly winter), Little and Long-billed Corella, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and occasionally Galah.

The park is dotted with many water features and ponds making it a haven for waterfowl such as Black Swan, Hardhead, Pacific Black Duck, Chestnut and Grey Teal, and occasionally Pink-eared Duck and Australasian Shoveler. All four Sydney species of cormorant nest at the site – Australian Pied, Little Pied, Little Black and Great Cormorant. Australasian Darter also nest on the islands. Intermediate Egret, not very common in Sydney, can also be found from time to time in the parklands.

Another highlight is Australia’s largest owl, namely Powerful Owl. An Eastern Barn Owl occasionally calls the Parklands home. There are also a number of resident Tawny Frogmouths. Buff-banded Rail can also be found in the more swampy environments. Eurasian Coot, Australasian Swamphen and Dusky Moorhen are also present there.

The Parklands also hosts Sydney’s largest flying fox breeding colonies, dominated by thousands of Grey-headed Flying Fox with the occasional Black Flying Fox roosting amongst them. It is quite a sight to see these large flying mammals departing in the evening to feed at dusk. Rather conveniently for the Powerful Owls the flying foxes are on their menu!

Richmond Lowlands
As the name suggests, the Lowlands is an area of floodplain bordering the Hawkesbury River at the base of the lower Blue Mountains in far western Sydney. Much of the area has been given over to market gardens, turf farms and polo clubs but there are still large areas of grasslands and many water features attracting a wide variety of bird life.

Quite a mix of birds can be seen in the area including small passerines such as Zebra and Double-barred Finch, Yellow and Yellow-rumped Thornbill, right up to large raptors like Australian Hobby, Brown Falcon (seasonal), Nankeen Kestrel, Wedge-tailed Eagle and even White-bellied Sea Eagle.

Interesting species that are usually more common in other parts of the world can also be seen here, including Scaly-breasted Munia, Red-whiskered Bulbul, European Goldfinch and many others.

Other highlights include Laughing Kookaburra, Olive-backed Oriole, Azure Kingfisher, Australian Pelican, Horsfield’s Bronze Cuckoo and Yellow-billed Spoonbill. Grassland specialists include Golden-headed Cisticola, Rufous Songlark, Australian Pipit and Stubble Quail. Pink-eared Duck are often seen as well as the delightful Red-rumped Parrot.

Sydney Olympic Park
This vast area was the site of the 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games hosted in Sydney. The 6.6 km2 (2.6 sq mi) area features open parks, planted woodlands as well as both freshwater and mangrove-lined saltwater wetlands.

Nesting waterbirds can be found at a few of the park’s wetland areas, including Australian Pied, Little Black and Great Cormorant, Australasian Darter and Royal Spoonbill. Grey and Chestnut Teal, and Pacific Black Duck are all present.

Highlights include Red-necked Avocet and Pied Stilt . It is one of a very few Sydney basin sites which regularly have avocet present. Also often seen are Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel. Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Bar-tailed Godwit can often be found in summer at the site.

Other interesting finds could include Latham’s Snipe, Pacific Golden and Red-capped Plover, Greater Crested Tern, Nankeen Night Heron, Black-backed Bittern and many others.

Mangrove specialists such as Striated Heron and Mangrove Gerygone can also be found in the area. White-plumed, Yellow-faced and New Holland Honeyeater are also present around the historic park.

Pitt Town Lagoon
This lagoon is a large shallow basin bordered by reed beds located in the historic town of Pitt Town, about 60 kilometres northwest of the Sydney CBD. Pitt Town has many heritage-listed sites, indicative of the early and significant history of the area.

The lagoon hosts a few island refuges for roosting and nesting birds. The water levels within the lagoon reflect the conditions at the time. Often the water levels drop exceedingly low after a prolonged dry spell causing many of the carp which infest the lagoon to die-off. At the other extreme the lagoon becomes unapproachable as floodwaters readily drown the access points.

When water levels are ideal Baillon’s, Australian and Spotless Crake increase in number and become much easier to find. Very occasionally Australasian Bittern (last reported in 2013) and Black-backed Bittern (last reported in 2011) make an appearance. Quite often Red-kneed and Black-fronted Dotterel can be seen darting across the mudflats. Royal Spoonbill, Glossy, Straw-necked and Australian White Ibis roost at the site.

Australian Reed Warbler, Little Grassbird and Golden-headed Cisticola are rather vocal in the spring/summer months. Swamp Harrier, Whistling Kite and White-bellied Sea Eagle are often seen scattering the many waterfowl on the lagoon. Red-browed Finch, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin and Scaly-breasted Munia are often seen around the reed beds.

Scheyville and Cattai National Parks
These are two fantastic parks for birdwatchers and nature lovers to explore. Both these parks are at their best in the spring and summer period.

The 9.2 km2 (3.6 sq mi) Scheyville National Park is situated 40 kilometres (25 mi) northwest of the Sydney CBD and contains dry sclerophyll forest and woodland. Just to the north lies the 4.24 km2 (1.6 sq mi) Cattai National Park that borders the Cattai Creek and Hawkesbury River, and is therefore more moist with patches of remnant rainforest.

The parks are host to many of Sydney’s summer breeding visitors. Highlights during summer include Oriental Dollarbird, Sacred Kingfisher and those “masters of the air”, namely White-throated Needletail. Very occasionally Pacific Swift are amongst the needletail.

A mix of honeyeaters can also be found in the parks including Scarlet Myzomela, Lewin’s, Fuscous and Yellow-faced Honeyeater. A variety of pigeon can be seen, especially late in the afternoon, including Wonga Pigeon, Brown Cuckoo-Dove and Common Bronzewing. Peaceful Dove are also occasionally seen, as is Bar-shouldered Dove.
Both parks host a number of residents such as Little, Musk and Rainbow Lorikeet, White-throated Treecreeper, Eastern Yellow Robin and Crimson Rosella to name a few. In the late afternoon Eastern Grey Kangaroo often venture out into the open grasslands to feed.

Get in touch with one of our team members for more information at