Some worthwhile birding locations in the Wellington Shire and beyond.
The Port is at the western end of the Shire, and the whole tidal area east to McLaughlin's Inlet is fantastic for migratory waders in season. A boat is necessary to get the best out of this area, although there is good spotting from the sea wall with the 'scope, and the Old Port is accessible by car, and offers lots of shallow water. Large boats can easily be launched at the Port, but a tinny is good to get around the shallow areas, and is easier to get off the sandbanks!
*Jack Smith Lake Game Reserve.
This is a top spot, a former location for Orange-bellied Parrots, which were seen here in '80 and '83. Blue-winged Parrots are a consolation prize. These come to feed in the salt marsh, and are occasionally seen in large numbers, When the lake is holding plenty of water, it is also good for waders, Sharp-tails, Curlew Sandpipers, R.N. Stints, B.T. Godwits, Red Knot, Terek Sandpiper, Whimbrel, E. Curlew etc. are some that have been recorded. Sometimes the first three are present in thousands. Water birds abound, and in years gone by there was a Pelican breeding rookery at a spot called The Roller. The Reserve is also an excellent place to see Striated Fieldwren or Calamanthus, a very common species in the sedges and tussocks, and in winter, Flame Robins are a feature. A notable record was a pair of Osprey, which visited briefly in July '92. This is also a major stopping off point for Double-banded Plovers, which are sometimes there in hundreds. White-winged Black Terns are often seen here, and in May '95, one in full breeding plumage was feeding along the shore. Another interesting feature of this spot is the extensive aboriginal middens, which are found in sheltered areas behind the dunes. After a long period of dryness, in July 2021 Jack Smith Lake is again holding a lot of water.
end of Lake Reeve at the Honeysuckle village
near Seaspray, can be excellent for waders, as it holds water
when much of the rest is dry. Lake Reeve goes right through to
Rotamah Bird Observatory in the east, where it borders Sperm
Whale Head, and the Lakes National Park, all good birding
territory. The causeway at Loch Sport can be good for waders in season.
*Giffard Flora Reserve.
A large reserve, excellent for birding and wildflowers in season.
*Sale Common and Flooding Creek.
Sale Common has a boardwalk and lookout/bird hide, which are good for relaxed birdwatching. If you are feeling energetic, the Flooding Creek walking track runs for 3.6 km., from the road to the Latrobe River. The Common is on one side of the track, Flooding Creek on the other. Excellent birding, with water birds and raptors the highlights. It's not uncommon to see seven species of raptor along this track.
This is a
fairly new man made
wetland adjoining Lake Guthridge in Sale, and can be a real
surprise packet. Water birds, and waders including Latham's
Snipe, are approachable and easily seen. Freckled Duck are regular, and
other significant sightings have included Cape Barren Goose, Wandering
Whistling Duck, Black-tailed Native Hen, and Magpie Goose.
*The Heart Morass.
Close to Sale, this is an excellent spot to see Greenshanks and Whiskered Terns.
A boat trip down the Latrobe River from the Port of Sale will provide good birding. Azure Kingfishers are usually seen, as are colonies of Nankeen Night Herons. Down near the mouth, where the river empties into Lake Wellington, Sea Eagles are usually close to their nest site, and on the piles in the lake, Little Terns are often present.
is saline, and takes
the drainage from the irrigation district. It is connected to
Lake Wellington by a drain, causing the water level to fluctuate
according to the prevailing wind, and bird species also fluctuate
as the water level changes. One morning here we counted twenty
odd Spotted Crakes feeding near the reed beds. Perhaps a bit hard
to find, it's reached via Murphy's road off the Marlay Point road.
Blue-winged Parrot is a possibility in season.
*Avon River Wetlands.
from Kakydra, this area
on the lower reaches of the Avon, is part of the greater Lake
Wellington Wetlands. Accessed from Chinn's Bridge, there is good
birding right down to the Lake, along the river, and in the many
lagoons. This is private property with no vehicle access.
very good location to see tern species in season. Crested, Common,
Caspian, Whiskered, White-winged Black, and Little Terns are regulars,
with Gull-billed Tern a possibility on the adjacent Clydebank wetlands.
Good birding too in the adjoining game reserve leading down
Marlay Point, White-bellied Sea Eagles are regularly seen.
Quite a famous spot for water birds and waders, in '94 there were good numbers of Red-necked Avocets, plus some Banded Stilts present. It is situated at Holland's Landing, on McLennan's Strait, which runs between Lakes Victoria and Wellington.
* McLeod's Morass.
A top birding location at Bairnsdale.
On the outskirts of
Bairnsdale, in season good for waders, access via Phillips Lane.
*Macalister Swamp Reserve.
On the edge
of Maffra township,
this small wetland has been a haven for Latham's Snipe for years.
In Feb. '92, 200 were recorded in their favourite spot of an acre or
so. Since being flooded out one year, their numbers have declined
here, but the area is still good for other species. A small breeding
population of Brown Gerygone along
the river has now disappeared after clearing of weed tree species.
*Maffra Sewage Treatment Works.
On the ponds here 8 or 9 species of duck are often present, as well as Grebes and Stilts, small waders such as Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterels on the margins, Latham's Snipe along the stormwater drain, and a small population of White-plumed Honeyeaters in the trees, a rarity in the district. A Common Sandpiper has been recorded. Unfortunately access to this spot is now prohibited.
Situated four kilometres NW of Maffra, this riverside area offers easy walking, and a remarkable variety of birds throughout the year. The Bell Miners which gave the spot its name, disappeared about forty years ago, when much of the streamside vegetation was cleared. The area is now under the control of the Bellbird Corner Riverside Reserve Management Committee, and a program to try to restore the river to some semblance of its former condition is under way. Recent sightings include White-bellied Sea Eagle, Olive-backed Oriole, Varied Sittella, and Red-capped Robin, a real surprise.
This creek north west of Newry is one of the nicest in the area. Its heads run up to Mt Hedrick and Pearson's Point, and it shares with those two peaks a rich Australian Plant community. Rock outcrops, creek flats, and lots of birds.
Reached via the Marathon Road north of Briagolong, this creek has excellent birding upstream from where the bitumen ends.
*Mt. Angus Creek.
Follow the road north into the forest from Valencia Creek, and this creek can be accessed from several forest roads. Rose Robin in the moister areas, and Beautiful Firetail was also seen here recently. Breeding Leaden Flycatchers were ticked on one visit.
*Stratford Highway Park.
East of Stratford on the highway, this small oasis of Red Gum country is worth a visit. It is one local place where a few Weebills occur. Varied Sittellas are resident, and many woodland birds are here at different times of the year. Until recently, Diamond Firetails were a possibility, but like the Weebills they are getting hard to find.
*Providence Ponds Flora and Fauna Reserve.
Half way between Stratford and Bairnsdale, this is a large area of bush, interesting for its plants and animals as well as its birds. The New Holland Mouse occurs here, and some fairly rare plants hold out as well. The best birding is to the north of the highway, along the creek. Crested Shriketit is reasonably easy to find.
*Swallow Lagoon Nature Reserve.
hectares of bush with
habitat types with a rich terrestrial orchid flora and a good variety
of birds in
season. Scarlet Robins are breeding residents year round, Weebills,
Buff-rumped Thornbills, and Painted Button-quail also feature.
*Holey Plains State Park.
Near Rosedale, this is a large area of bush, 10,800 ha. Botanical values of this park are of national significance, with 530 species recorded, including the Wellington Mint-bush, Prostanthera galbraithiae. 120 species of bird are noted for the park, but be warned, there is a lot of bush for them to hide in!
*Heyfield Racecourse Wetlands.
including crakes and rails,
Latham's Snipe in season, bush birds including a small population of
and occasionally a sighting of Square-tailed Kite. A great place for
The visitor's centre is excellent.
The Licola road will take you from Lake Glenmaggie, and its associated Red Box / Red Ironbark country, up along the Macalister and Wellington Rivers to the high country. As the country changes, so do the birds, which can be sampled at stops along the way, such as Twenty Acre Creek, Burgoyne's Gap, the Wellington River and The Horse Yards. The Macalister River valley seems to be a corridor for birds from the north coming south for a holiday. Leaden Flycatcher, Olive-backed Oriole, Noisy Friarbird, are often plentiful breeding visitors in Spring and Summer, and the Red-capped Robin is sometimes seen. The camping area on the Wellington is a staging area for Flame Robins on their way back and forth from the mountains, and are sometimes there in large numbers, delightful to see.
This is a gem of a spot in the high country to the north. On the upper Moroka River just before it tumbles into the wonderful Moroka gorge, it seems to be a favourite breeding spot for the Satin Flycatcher. Plenty of other birds here in the warmer months, including Olive Whistler. Possibly the best spot in the mountains to camp, soft green grass surrounded by the snow gums, Black Sallee and White Sallee. Fresh mountain water, and trout in the pools.
Another gem, with great birding, reached with an 800 metre walk along a good track off the forest road. Highlights are Satin Flycatchers, this area seems to be a breeding stronghold for the species, Crested Shrike-tit, Flame and Scarlet Robins, Rufous and Golden Whistlers, the former breeding.
In the East Gippsland Shire, Marlo is a special place. Great for plants, especially orchids, and lots of great birds. Ground Parrot, Beautiful Firetail, Emu Wren, Black-faced Monarch, etc, and the chance of visitors from further up the coast, like Spangled Drongo, Osprey, Scarlet Honeyeater, White-headed Pigeon, Turquoise Parrot. There is also a small breeding population of Square-tailed Kite, according to David Holland. One other special is the Common Sandpiper, which spends the summer at "the cut-through", junction of the Snowy and Brodribb rivers, it can be seen foraging on the rock beaching. The mouth of the Yeerung River is good for Hooded Plover, follow the track from the bridge, through the heathland, bush, and the Coral Fern stretch, to the mouth, then back to the car past the lookout. Good birding all the way.