At Hawks Nest ocean, bay, river, beaches, mangroves, islands, forest, heath, parks and gardens come together to create a great variety of environments that suit hundreds of species of birds.
Overhead you may see the majestic White-bellied Sea-Eagle and the aptly-named Whistling Kite patrolling, an Osprey about to plunge for a fish, or Pelicans spiralling on a thermal to gain height to fly to distant inland breeding sites. The Pacific Baza and occasionally other hawks hunt on land. The water's edge is the place for large white birds - three species of egrets, the Australian Ibis and the Royal Spoonbill, with White-faced and Striated Herons for contrast. Four species of Cormorants and the Darter join the Pelicans as fishermen, while graceful Black Swans and various ducks explore the muddy bottom.
Eastern Curlews, Godwits, Tattlers and less common migrants fly all the way from Siberia or Japan to stay from October to March, while the tiny Double-banded Plover crosses the Tasman Ocean to over-winter with its relative the Red-capped Plover. They share the beaches with Pied and Sooty Oystercatchers and several species of Tern, when the latter are not offshore diving for fish with the Gannets.
Butcherbirds, Magpies and Currawongs are outstanding vocalists. Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos, Galahs, Eastern Rosellas and three species of Lorikeets, pigeons, doves, honeyeaters, whistlers, wrens, robins, fantails, cuckoo-shrikes,whip birds, lapwings and scrub-turkeys are just some of the permanent residents who are joined for the summer by more northern birds like cuckoos, orioles and flycatchers. You never know what surprising visitors may show up - a flock of choughs perhaps, or even a Jabiru coming back to their old haunt.
Words by Hal Wootten – Hawks Nest birder