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8 Apr 2019

Changing seasons, changing of the guard

With the changing of the seasons comes the changing of the guard of the bird life within the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, South west of Sydney. The Garden's 416 hectares of over 3,000 Australian native plant species is the perfect location of spotting some of the 187 different bird species that have been recorded visiting the Garden over the last 30 years.

With the coming of autumn sees the summer migratory birds make their way out of the Garden, like the Latham’s Snipe making their way to Japan each year. This bird will be leaving the east coast of Australia flying via Papua New Guinea and onto Japan for the Northern Hemisphere summer.

Another of the birds that will be leaving us is the Eastern Koel, which is often heard at night throughout Sydney with its call throughout the warm summer months.

Female Eastern Koel, australian botanic garden mount annan
Female Eastern Koel at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan. Photo by Glenn Smith

Where to spot the migrating birds

As these birds leave, the Garden gains its winter residents, with the arrival of the Robins, Rose, Red Capped and Scarlet, all arriving to keep the ever present Eastern Yellow Robins Company.

The Rufous fantails also arrive to visit their cousins the Gray Fantails which are another year-round resident of the Garden. You’ll find the Rose and Red-Caped Robins around the eastern shore of Lake Nadungamba in amongst the Casuarina trees.

You’ll also find the Rose Robin often around the Australian Plant Bank and the Scarlet Robin is along the top of the ridge line in the Garden at the northern end.


Lake Nadungamba is a popular place to see birds and other wildlife. 

Rose Robin, australian botanic garden mount annan
The Rose Robin can be seen throughout the Garden in Casuarina trees. Photo by Glenn Smith

Nomadic birds

The Rufous fantails are usually found throughout the woodland areas of the Garden, particularly around the Stolen Generation Memorial up to the Plant Bank or in the canopy of the Connections Garden.

Winter also sees the possible arrival of the endangered Swift Parrot from Tasmania. The Swift Parrot enjoys autumn and winter on the mainland in woodlands and forests of Victoria, NSW and southern Qld before heading back to Tasmania for summer to breed. 

These are highly nomadic birds that follow the flowering gums in the woodland. As well as nectar, they also eat lerp which are white sugary secretions from sap-sucking bugs.

There are only 2,000 of these precious birds left in the wild from an estimate in 2011. Last year a pair were in residence in the woodland area for a few weeks.  Keep your eyes and ears open for this special threatened parrot.

Ruffous Fantail, the australian botanic garden mount annan
Ruffous fantails can often be seen near the Plant Bank. Photo by Glenn Smith

Surprise sightings

You never know what birds you might spot in the Garden. On a recent Bird Photography Workshop the participants were lucky enough to catch site of a Powerful Owl in the thick canopy in the Connections Garden.

In another workshop an Australian Owlet-nightjar was spotted peering out of its hollow. To compliment these Bird Photography Workshops the Garden also runs regular Breakfast with the Birds walks in the early mornings on selected weekends where a guide will bring you around to the various locations where seasonal birds can be seen, which is then followed by breakfast.

Powerful Owl, the australian botanic garden mount annan, glenn smith
A magnificent Powerful Owl calls the Garden home. Photo by Glenn Smith

Birding in the Garden

You can see more of the birds from the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan on my website or Instagram. If you are interested in seeing them in person, join one of my photography workshops at the Garden.

Or why not venture into Garden and see the abundance of birdlife for yourself? Find a place and just sit for a while and you’ll be surprised how many birds are around the various areas of the gardens.

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