The Gold Coast may seem an unlikely destination for bird lovers, however, there are some amazing offerings for bird lovers – some in the most unexpected places. While some tourists delight in seeing ibis in the “wild” (for many birders, the Gold Coast is the first place they’ve encountered an ibis), the Gold Coast is also home to an array of colourful bird species.
Bird Places of the Gold Coast is a wonderful resource for those wanting the low-down on the City’s Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and what you might see at each site.
The most common birds seen across the Gold Coast include the Australian Magpie, Australian Pelican, Purple Swamphen, Rainbow Lorikeet, Silver Gull, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Silvereye, Grey Butcherbird, Laughing Kookaburra, Little Corella, Magpie-lark, Masked Lapwing, Superb Fairywren, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Pied Butcherbird, Pied Currawong, Torresian Crow, Welcome Swallow, Australasian Figbird and Willie Wagtail to name a few! While that list may seem long, there are still hundreds of other species you could be ticking off your list while visiting this beautiful city as well.
Get ready to pack your gear; here are our top picks for highly accessible bird watching outside of Gold Coast’s national parks.
AQUA PROMENADE & CURRUMBIN ECO VILLAGE
Alike to many tourists (and even some locals), you might not know that there’s a big public park in the middle of the Eco Village, called Currumbin Reach. The park encompasses the flood plains both upstream and downstream of a bridge over the magnificent Currumbin Creek. Residents of the Eco-Village have been maintaining a list of birds seen on-site for seven years and have clocked some 181 species to date. Water-bird lovers will be delighted with the variety of birds to be seen both within that floodplain as well as Robert Neumann Park which adjoins the Village. You can literally grab your binoculars from the comfort of your car and see a collection of different bird species right there at the park.
In the lake and from the bridge across Currumbin Creek you’ll see Jacanas, the four Cormorants, Australasian Darter, Whistlers, Eastern Whipbird, Topknot Pigeon, Egrets and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, Fairy Martin, Buff-banded Rail and more.
The community group Currumbin Creek Care have planted more than 18,000 trees in the area, which has contributed to the growing number of birds found on the site. Once you’ve checked out Robert Neumann Park, the bridge, the lake and the park, you can meander up to Pasture & Co. (located on the surrounds of the Village and Currumbin Valley) to rest and refuel for your next adventure.
FEDERATION WALK, THE SPIT
The Federation Walk Coastal Reserve is 93 hectares of coastal dunes with a network of established paths and tracks throughout. It’s a popular spot for active recreation as well as quiet reflection and leads all the way from opposite Sea World to the Gold Coast Seaway – approximately 3km in total.
Coastal forest, open woodland and other dune vegetation communities provide habitat for birds such as Black-shouldered Kite, Bush Stone-curlew, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Little Strike-thrush, Bar-shouldered Dove and lots more. There are two great resources for bird watching at Federation Walk. There’s a list of wildlife, including birds, you can find onsite at the Friends of Federation Walk website, plus Peter Scholer has a very comprehensive (and beautiful) guide on his website too.
UPPER ORMEAU ROAD, ORMEAU
There are three popular sites for birdwatching in Ormeau and all of them are along Upper Ormeau Road. Ormeau Sports Park is located just off the Pacific Motorway and has plenty of open green space (including well-kept sports fields). Pimpama River passes through just north-west of the car park and there’s riparian and eucalypt forest onsite. Nearby, you can see Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Noisy Friarbird and Grey Fantail amongst others.
Just 3km west of the Sports Park is Upper Ormeau Park, also running along part of Pimpama River and located at the corner of Barrenjoey Drive and Upper Ormeau Road. Some tree plantings have occurred on this site and there’s some intact riparian vegetation along the river. Here you can see the Australian King Parrot, Grey Fantail, Double-barred Finch, Red-browed Finch, Scarlet Honeyeater, Tree Martin, Golden Whistler and more.
Finally, there’s an environmental reserve adjacent to the Boral Quarry a little further along Upper Ormeau Road. There’s riparian vegetation including rainforest and large fig trees and Olive-backed Oriole, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Varied Triller and Rose Robin will be out for viewing.
COOMBABAH WETLANDS & LAKELANDS CONSERVATION AREA
Encounters of birdwatching is considered excellent around Coombabah Wetlands, which is no surprise as the site is listed in Migratory Bird Agreements with China and Japan (known as CAMBA and JAMBA respectively) which protect migratory birds (and their habitats) in danger of extinction.
227 bird species have been recorded at Coombabah Wetlands and its associated reserve, including the Jabiru, Eastern Curlew, Red Capped Curlew and Bar-tailed Godwit, White-faced Heron, Great Egret, Royal Spoonbill and Whistling Kite. 35 of those bird species are listed in international migratory bird treaties. But birds aren’t all you’ll find. According to the Directory of Australian Wetlands, more than 308 fauna species have been recorded in the area. Kangaroos, koalas, and frogs can also be seen frequently.
There are multiple sites and entry points to the Conservation Area including a bird hide, boardwalks, viewing platforms and unpaved tracks – perfect for people of all ages and abilities.
OTHER NOTES FOR BIRD VISITING THE GOLD COAST
Robina Lakes ranks high amongst local bird enthusiasts, particularly given its highly urban location. Austinville, Coomera, Bonogin and Tallebudgera Valley also have numerous spots with long lists of birds to see. Early morning is always best for bird watching and I can’t stress enough what a wonderful resource Bird Places of the Gold Coast will be to serious birders keen to add a few species to their lists, as well as amateur bird lovers who may not know where to start. Here are some useful links:
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