Mount Bass to Winifried Falls

Target Species: White-Naped Honeyeater

Gear:
Canon EOS 7D Mark II
Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L

The Mount Bass Firetrail to Winifried Falls is a relatively flat and and moderate walk through some wonderful heathland in the Royal National Park, south of Sydney. It culminates in the wonderfully clear waters of South West Arm Creek, a sure treat in any person’s eyes, the transparent waters draw you toward it and cause you to stare, to look out aimlessly. At first glance, it looks as though the colour is fabricated. How can the waters be so limpid yet be so close the city?

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The walk itself meanders through high, encapsulating shrub, dominated by Heath Leaved Banksia (Banksia ericifolia), Black She-Oak (Alloasuarina littoralis), Darwinina fasicularis and Dagger Hakea (Hakea teretifolia). The dense shrubbery surrounding you can make birding difficult as you can hear them, Variegated Fairy-Wrens or Yellow Wattlebirds peeping emphatically behind some brush, seeing them is another story. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to get a clear glimpse of an Eastern Spinebill and the ever raucous New Holland Honeyeater and get a few shots off.

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Now, in terms of birding experience, I am extremely raw. I read stories of people searching for years for that ONE bird, the elusive bird that continues to evade them. They look and look and look and it sidesteps them, hides from them, vanishes from thin air, only to leave that poor person pondering, wondering, thinking… “will I ever see this thing!” (I feel like the evasiveness of being spotted would resort the bird into being called a thing out of pure vexation!). I’m not quite there yet, and I wonder, will I ever be? Will I ever be chasing a “pseudo-bird”? I was posed this question recently and its got me thinking…

Anywho, the bird I wanted to see most on this walk and hopefully photograph was the White-Naped Honeyeater. Locally abundant at the right times of the year, White-Naped Honeyeaters feed on nectar, insects and their by-products; lerp and honeydew. I was still yet to photograph one clearly. Amongst a flock of Yellow-Faced Honeyeater, there one was! With a few friends too! I photographed my target species and I moved along. Happy!

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The heathland slowly develops into woodland dominated by Casuarinas and slowly into more Eucalypt dominated woodland as we neared the falls. An enthusiastic Eastern Yellow Robin greeted us down by the waterfall itself. The lack of rain of recent times hushed the waterfall to a small trickle. Still impressive, we wandered downstream, hopping amongst the sandstone creek bank. A whiff of sound and a falling branch caught our attention and a White-Bellied Sea-Eagle lurched off its perch and thrashed downstream. An astoundingly sized bird! But too fast for me and my camera.

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The shallow running creek slowly opens up to South West Arm Creek, the clear, green waters transfixing you. We wandered back, with the sun high and the birds quiet, we weren’t epecting a Beautiful Firetail to jump down the track in front of us and into its regular haunt, into an Allocasuarina littoralis where it posed cooperatively.

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A lovely walk throughout encasing many different vegetation communities. Dense heathland, newly burnt woodland, Casuarinas… I’ll be back for Spring, when the Honeyeaters will be out in force!

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