BIRD WATCHING & BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

It's easy to find birds on the Sapphire Coast - they are literally everywhere!  The region offers incredible diversity with a wide variety of species and places to spot birds, even right in town.  Go 'birding' either with your eyes, binoculars or the camera and you'll find an enjoyable and relaxing pastime, offering a wonderful connection to nature and adding an interesting focus to any trip.

A few suggestions to incorporate birding into your visit:

Go pelagic bird watching with a local charter for an amazing day out, where you'll be likely to encounter whales (May to November), dolphins and seals as well as Gannets, Albatross, Petrels, Cormorants, Terns and Gulls.

Take a wander through Panboola, a local heritage and wetlands project right at the edge of Pambula Village.  You might spot the shy but incredibly pretty Southern Emu Wren.  Walk out to the old Pambula Racecourse to see Red-browed Finches, Golden-headed Cisticolas, Egrets, White-fronted Chats, Thornbills, Black-shouldered Kites and many more.  Tiny Scarlet Honeyeaters arrive early summer, often in abundant numbers and lingering for a few months, feeding on summer flowers.  In February/March, regular visitors Gang Gang Cockatoos arrive to pick hawthorn berries along the main path from the entrance, providing excellent up-close photo opportunities.  Look for the signs scattered around the wetlands with more information about various species to look out for.

Merimbula Boardwalk is another birding hotspot, with a variety of waders and migratory birds visible along the shoreline and plenty of wrens, wattlebirds and honeyeaters in the surrounding bush.  If you are lucky you may spot a beautiful Azure Kingfisher towards the top of the lake.

Head to a nearby National Park or take one of the many walks and you'll be sure to be rewarded with multiple sightings of many different species.  If you come across Casuarinas (she-oaks), keep an eye and ear out for Glossy Black Cockatoos, as they feed almost exclusively on the small seed cones.  Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos are fairly common, often seen gnawing on Banksia cones in the coastal heath or in local gardens.

Rarer and more elusive species are the Ground Parrot, Swift Parrot, Musk Lorikeet and Little Lorikeet, mainly found in neighbouring National Parks. The beautifully colourful and easy going King Parrot is relatively easy to spot and a regular visitor to many local parks and bird feeders.

We recommend picking up a copy of "Looking at Birds on the Far South Coast", a small handbook perfect for identifying local species.  The guide is created by the Far South Coast Birdwatcher's group. It is available for around $20 from the Merimbula Visitor Information Centre and local newsagents or directly from the birdwatchers group.

The Far South Coast Birdwatchers group meet regularly and offer information about several birding routes around the Sapphire Coast.  Visit their website for more info.

View the e-bird checklist for Merimbula here.

'Places to go', courtesy of Far South Coast Birdwatchers, in printable PDF format here.

Happy birding!  Don't forget to share your pics with #visitmerimbula!