Monday, 27 May 2013

Uloola Trail, Royal National Park, Sydney, May 2013

Royal National Park can be found south of Sydney Airport. The Uloola Trail runs into the park from Waterfall train station which can be seen at Google Earth ref; 34 8 6.32S 150 59 43.75E. The trail runs for nearly 6kms through eucalypt woodland mixed with coastal heath and scrub. At the end of the trail is a waterfall which can be dry during the summer.


During the hot months this can be a hard walk with no facilities and no water, but the Austral summer is over and the mild weather was extremely pleasant for birding today. The cooler morning brought a slight mist and a grey sky which made the early pictures a little dull, but the Rainbow Parakeets brightened them up somewhat.

The trailhead is signed from the station car park on the east side of the tracks. It is a narrow path at the start, but opens out onto a meadow which may be the local Aussie Rules oval during the season. From here it joins the wider trail that is wide enough for vehicles, though a barrier prevents public access by car.

Birds were seen almost immediately. Yellow-faced Honeyeaters were especially common in the gum trees, often accompanying other birds in mixed flocks or escorting the Red Wattlebirds about their business. Wattlebirds are also honeyeaters and feed on nectar using their long brushy tongues, so I wondered why the Yellow-faced Honeyeaters felt the need to keep such close tabs on them. They also include insects as part of their diet, but I can find no mention of them being a potential threat to other birds.
The mixed flocks contained Striated Thornbill, Scarlet Myzomela, White-naped Honeyeaters and Eastern Spinebills.

Silver-eyes often made up part of the mixed flocks, but were also seen in their own single-species flocks.

As the trees gave way to heath and scrub, New Holland Honeyeaters became the predominant species. They responded quite well to “pishing” but were not easily approachable during the earlier part of the morning.

As the day wore on, they appeared to become less wary and I was able to watch them as they hawked for small insects that flew above them.
Eastern Yellow Robins and Yellow-tailed Black Cocakatoos were seen in the more thickly wooded areas, with Aussie Ravens, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Pied Currawongs recorded as flyovers.

The birds were so prolific today that I moved very slowly along the trail. It very quickly became obvious that I was not going to make it as far as the waterfall and back in time to catch my homeward flight. Thus, without a definite target to achieve, I could afford to dawdle and enjoy.
Birds seen; 15
Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo 2, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo 5, Rainbow Lorikeet 40, Eastern Spinebill 25, Yellow-faced Honeyeater 200, Red Wattlebird 25, Little Wattlebird 1, Scarlet Myzomela 4, New Holland Honeyeater 130, White-naped Honeyeater 15, Striated Thornbill 25, Pied Currawong 2, Golden Whistler 1, Australian Raven 2, Eastern Yellow Robin 2, Silver-eye 80.
Waterfall Station is about an hour south of Sydney on the South Coast, Illawarra Line. This line passes through the city and I caught it from Town Hall.
There is a local train which stops at all the small stations en-route. The express train is much quicker.
The fare was Aus$9 for a day return ticket. There are no facilities along the trail, but toilets and a cold drinks machine are available at the station.