Any good birdwatching/bird forest walks in Sydney?

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DeeManG's picture
Any good birdwatching/bird forest walks in Sydney?

Hi, so yesterday I went to the Lanecove National Park, it was amazing with all the beautiful rainforest/woods scenery and just the environment and air in general. Along the way I got to see alot of Cockatoos, Crimson Rosellas, Kookaburras and even a Brush Turkey.
For my next trip with my family I was going to go to a national park nearby it, called Ku-rin-gai Chase National Park, apparentally with over 160 species of birds to see including wedge-tailed eagles.

But I just want to know, from any other users on here in Sydney, are there any excellent places you know of/been to for seeing birds in the wild?

Thanks :)


Hi Daniel

I was going to recommend Lane Cove NP, but you have already been there. But it is big park with many different entrances - one access point i have found very good for amazing variety of bird species is the short walk down from Vimiera road to Browns waterhole.

Sydney Olympic Park (SOP) is great for birds but it is not a forest area. There is a water bird refuge area and i have seen 6 different raptor species including sea eagles around the Woo-la-ra area there at SOP. The BirdLife Australia Discovery Centre is also at SOP.

Cumberland State Forest is a small area of forest with walking tracks that is quite good for a look. Also the circuit around Lake Parramatta is through different types of forest and takes 2-3 hours good for birds and lizards (water dragons and lace monitors).

Bird watching doesn't have to be a major expedition - any small area of bush in a reserve is always worth a look. Can be surprising what you can find in unlikely places.

If you don't get many replies here in the General forum - try asking for suggestions about places in the best photos forum.

Good luck with your bird watching!

Holly's picture

I second SOP but I may be a bit biased wink


This site has some really great suggestions as well: - Royal NP is always stunning. So many gorgeous walks.

But WD is right - you can bird watch anywhere laugh

TTT's picture


you just missed a bird walk last sunday ,see warriewood wetlands detail and location here

Woko's picture

Hi Daniel. Is there any opportunity for you to get hold a piece of backyard & grow indigenous native plants in it? If you were able to do this you could have your own national park!

DeeManG's picture

Hey guys so I ended up going to Royal National Park, wanting to see the wildlife in general. On the NSW National Parks website, it says that you can see over 300 species of birds, some lizards, possums, amphibians.etc However, I'm not sure if it was the the weather or something (weather was very bright, no clouds, sunny very low winds.) but I honestly only saw a few ducks, some cockatoos and a kookaburra.
Has anyone else been here; what did you see? I went through the forest path and saw nothing at all. (I know I kind of sound stingy but it was disappointing.)

So, now I'm absolutely sure that I'll be travelling to Ku-rin-gai Chase national park soon, hoping to see more than what I saw at RNP, can anyone tell me about their experience here? Thanks!

These beautiful critters around us, believe it or not descended from theropod dinosaurs :) !!

BabyBirdwatcher's picture

Hi DeeManG,

Kuringai NP is absolutely Brilliant. Make sure you go down Chiltern Trail (entry from Chiltern Road) as you can see up to 13 species of honeyeater in a day! Currently there is also a regent honeyeater about 500m into the track. You also get lots of birds of prey at the NP. At west head lookout you also have a good chance of seeing rockwarbler and glossy black cockatoo. Here is a detailed list of sightings:

And all the birds that you get there, click on a bird to find where it has been seen and more info:

Cheers BBW


Berowra and Cowan are absolute faves for me specially Berowra Valley NP. All kinds of honeyeaters, Spotted Pardalotes, Red Browed Firetails, King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas, Tawny Frogmouths, Black Cockatoos red (glossy) and yellow tail. Tree Creepers, Drongo's, Flycatchers, Fantailed Cuckoos, Eastern Robins, Lyrebirds aplenty... the list goes on. You won't see any reptiles until spring but I have seen many Goannas and Lace Monitors down there as well as the water and bearded dragons. Wallabys and echidna have also featured in some walks. There are also some really nice lookouts and views to be had.

On the Kuringai side you have "Jerusalem Bay" or Berowra/ Mt Kuringai to Apple Tree Bay/ Bobbin Head. or the other way from Wahroonga to Bobbin Head then Mt Kuringai or Berowra (depending on how energetic you are)

Lachlan's picture

Sydney's a great place for both birdwatching and bushwalking. Wildwalks is a great reference for walks in the Sydney area, although it's focussed on bushwalking not birdwatching, and it has a great range of walks for all capabilities:

The detailed track notes generally make it easy to work out if a walk will have lots of birdlife or not. 

Have to agree with Richman, the walk down to Jerusalem Bay is great, although I've never seen much birdlife on it. Make sure you take some salt and a sharp knife with you, as there is an abundance of leeches on that walk. 

The RNP is ok for birdwatching, but you have to remember that the lists for urban national parks are inflated. They get a lot of visitor, so lots of birds are seen, and the probability of seeing rare birds thus increases. From what I've read, the Lady Carrington Drive walk is a really profitable birdwalk, and the area around Bundeena is good too. My thought would be that the RNP would be best in spring, when there are more flowers out too. Heathcote Station to Waterfall Station via Karloo Pools and Uloola Falls is a really nice day walk, although probably not best from a birdwatching perspective, but when it's dry I reckon that you'd see plenty of life in the area. 

If you're willing to go further afield, Fitzroy Falls can be a good place to visit. It's a spectacular spot, and had some fairly friendly Lyrebirds last time I was there, but I haven't seen them since NPWS redesigned the carpark. The Blue Mountains is also crwaling with nice walks. The Charles Darwin Nature walk at Wentworth Falls is nice, and ends at the wonderful falls. 

Two other places worth a visit are the Mount Annan Botanic Gardens (Australian Botanic Gardens) and Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens (Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens). The Mount Annan Gardens are predominantly native plants, while Mt Tomah has a mix of both, as opposed to the exotics of the RBG. Just a quick note about both though, either bring your own lunch or buy it somewhere nearby, as the cafes in the Gardens are ridiculously expensive!


I'm glad this question was asked as I have a lot of new places to visit thanks to all the detailed replies

Raven's picture

Get off the train at Otford on the Illawarra line, just south of Waterfall, great birding area and also good bush walks to be had.  A good day trip would be up to Mount Victoria in the Blue Mountains, and do a walk to Bell.  Less houses, and thus less humans and in turn, more birds! Just be aware that you will have to walk back to Mount Victoria as trains do not stop at Bell railway station.

Also there are a number of good birding pots along the Wakehurst Parkway on the way to Narrabeen, also the Narrabeen Lakes area is another top spot for birding, especially water birds.

St Ives Wild Flower Park off Mona Vale Road is another good place with plenty of walks.  Plenty of decent walks too from St Ives Showground, just up a bit from the wild flower park.


Thanks for those new places Raven -there is a lot of good information in this thread for Sydney bird watchers 

Canonguy's picture

For starters, it is silly to expect to see up to 300 species on your first visit to the park. That most likely means that in total there were 300 species seen there over the years, but I would be surprised if anyone could turn up more than a 100 in one outing.

You will find that the biggest improvement to your birding experience will come once you begin to familiarize yourself with the different bird calls of a local area; eg the Sydney basin. It also helps if you concentrate on a "local" patch that you start going to regualrly and suddenly, you will notice more and more and more birds everywhere you go.

There are many excellent spots in Sydney, though I am biased towards the Nepean-Hawkesbury areas from about Silverdale to Cattai. Just incredible stuff out there..

alexanderpavan11's picture

Sydney Park is good for seeing birds. Just make sure you go on a day with minimal wind because then you won't see many things. There are a lot of currawongs, ducks, dusky moorhens as well as some other less common visitors.

Woko's picture

A couple of thoughts occur to me (a couple is about my limit these days) after reading about all these wonderful places to watch birds in & near Sydney. 

How come a giant metropolis like Sydney has so many locations with so many bird species to see? I live near Adelaide, a metropolis on the edge of semi-desert country, & there seem to be fewer & fewer bird species to be seen in & near the city. Have Sydneysiders placed a much higher value on their natural environment than Adelaidians? I recall drinking coffee about 4 km from Sydney's CBD about thirty years ago &, lo & behold, there were Superb Fairy-wrens in the hedge of the establishment serving the coffee. Adelaide wouldn't have seen a Superb Fairy-wren for nearly a hundred years I would think. Is there something in Adelaide's air deterring Superb Fairy-wrens?

I used to participate in Birds SA weekend excursions about thirty years ago & over the last two or three years of my involvement the numbers of species seen on excursions dropped suddenly from about 100 to between thirty & forty. Has more natural habitat been left within Sydney's suburbs than within Adelaide & its environs? 

What effect have all those bushfires In & near Sydney over recent years had on species numbers? Very little, it seems, which would suggest, perhaps, that there has been sufficient unburned habitat to provide a refuge for bird populations & from which populations can recolonize recovering patches of bushland thus sustaining numbers over time. But what happens when bushfire frequency & extent become so severe that bird populations' chances of survival are diminished, thanks to climate change? 

So I'm wondering what all this means for urban planning everywhere. Maybe Sydney is leading the way & provides a model for urban planners. But is this model under threat from climate change & its attendant intense bushfires as well as, if the emails I receive are any guide, from ill-conceived changes to bush clearance laws? And why would any government want to increase bush clearance when natural habitat destruction from intense bushfires is, I understand, increasing or, at least, likely to increase. 

Oh, yes, & are we going to see soon a slump in the camera & binocular sectors of the NSW economy?


It is an intersting topic, Woko. There has been a huge re-greening of Sydney in the last 15-20 years with a lot of natives being planted in gardens and any new landscaped areas. A lot of the manufacturing and dirty factories have either gone or moved west. This could be because of the loss of any manufacturing industry at all or just the incredibly expensive property market. These factories are replaced or converted to blocks of flats with native landscaping. You find that most of the land around these blocks of flats is rarely used, therefore useful to birds.

I remember as a teen in the 1970s (in Sydneys North) There seemed very few native birds. a few magpies, magpie larks (peewees) there were a lot of Indian Mynahs, sparrows and in the built up city areas there were starlings too. Maybe I was distracted by other things and didn't notice them in the background, but I would be surprised as we were always in the local bushland and keen on reptiles and animals of any type. 

In the last ten or so years there has been quite an explosion of wildlife and birdlife. I had moved into the heart of the city and had cockatoos and lorikeets on my window sills. Currawongs, Magpies, Butcherbirds and Kookaburras then we started getting Corellas (both little and longbill) and strangely the city started to become inundated with Sacred Ibis. At night there were thousands of Flying Foxes filling the sky, possums and owls. This is in the Darlinghurst, Kings Cross, Potts Point, Wooloomoolloo area... the most densely populated area in Australia. Admittedly this area is close to the Botanic Gardens and Lady Macquaries point which is lovely green area in heart of the city. When sitting on the Harbour shores at Lady Macquaries you can still see large wooded areas dotted around the shores. and there is a whole section of Middle Head and around the Zoo which is protected.

There have been many area's that were once disgusting polluted wastelands such as Homebush Bay, once the most polluted waterway in Australia and ranked in the top ten most in the world. We used to hold our breath when travelling through this area on the train because it stank so badly.  This area has now been treated to a cleanup and is now a great Bird sanctuary wetlands and large mangrove with limited access. You still cannot eat any fish caught or swim in the area thanks mainly to Union Carbide who was allowed to leave the area in the 80s without cleaning up their polluted wasteland. But the birdlife is quite amazing.

Admittedly there is a large sprawling over populated area west of Sydney out almost to the edge of the mountains where there the birdlife is not as good. but on the fringes of that it has grown immensely. 

Where I now live in the Hornsby Shire North of Sydney. (Not far from the Hawkesbury River) I am surrounded by trees and national parklands. There are so many types of birds around even more than when I was growing up in this area as a child. 

Sydney is Surrounded by large tracts of bushland national parks. Most have been selectively logged some areas cleared and regrown. If you look at a map of the Sydney area from the 1940s it looks very grim. Since then though nature has fought back well and though we still don't have certain types of tree such as the what they called the Red Cedar and very few original stands of Blue Gums like there were before over logging. Things like Banksias and Wattles that are great for birds but bad for timber have thrived.

As far as the bushfires. There have been more bushfire up in the Blue Mountains than in other closer areas to Sydney. a decade ago there was a big one in the Royal National Park south of Sydney. But yes there are large tracts of national park and I guess it is easier for birds than koalas, possums and reptiles to escape. I don't see koalas and very few snakes on my many bushwalks around Sydney which is a bit sad.

I don't know that Sydney is leading in any way as far as urban planning in concerned. Maybe it did a decade ago. It seems the whole place has now been sold to developers for new high rise flats and the Baird Govt seems to be bypassing any environmental laws they want without repercussions. We may see the problems from their folly in future generations.

I think the binocular sector will be OK for the next few decades. There is plenty to look at, Camera sellers may suffer from the increase in quality of smartphone cameras. Only the future will tell. 

Woko's picture

Thanks for that information, richman. It seems revegetation & wetland habitat development are the keys to the resurgence in a number of bird species in Sydney. I'm wondering if, following the work of the Bradley sisters, whether bush regeneration has also played a part in the increase in bird species numbers. 

In Adelaide the strong tendency is for developers to have logos with native birds & promotions featuring large River Red Gums but to root out the Red Gums & other native vegetation & replace them with exotics thus creating ecological deserts. Fortunately, the state government is using indigenous species along parts of some of the new highways which have been built recently. Here & there schools are planting native vegetation, Trees for Life are doing great things in encouraging the planting & restoration of native vegetation in Adelaide's hinterland & there has been some wetland building (but no wetland restoration). But overall, native vegetation is not at all popular so bird life is suffering severely. 

The sad thing is that it's impossible for revegetators to replace precisely the full range of plants that are destroyed when native bushland is wrecked. From my observations in SA & Victoria revegetation focuses on trees &, sometimes, shrubs & little attention is given to enabling restoration of understorey species from any remnant plants or seed. Consequently, the diversity of birds suffers. 

There's certainly a need for city fathers & mothers to think more broadly about the nature which once existed or still exists in their bailiwicks. 


You're dead right there. I have noticed that the native plants they are planting in the city are not generally native to their area. I don't think they ever get that specific. In some area's it is true. In Alexandria, Mascot and Botany area, previously an industrial and low cost housing area which is near the airport, the main type of trees they use for the roadside is the Paperbark and other Melaleuca (which the nectar-eaters enjoy) this was indeed a local tree and is seen in any vestiges of un destroyed land but also we see in any private redevelopment, Australian Natives, but not district native, decorative plants such as red flowering gums (ficofolia which is a southern WA native) and various nursery hybrids are used extensively.

In the CBD and most inner city locales the main roadside plant is the Northern Hemisphere Plane tree (Platanus x acerifolia) Which I don't like. I believe it is the gardens full of red bottlebrush and grevillia species around mixed with flowering exotics that have helped birds in this area. In the outer suburbs with bushland there has been a strong push towards the bush regeneration projects and clearing of Lantana, Privet and wandering Jew which have been huge problems in the past. You still see a lot of privet and lantana along the railway lines though and I cannot help but think that this needs attention. 

I do agree that in suburban parks especially there is no low thickets for the small birds and the city suburbs suffer from their loss. Surely there are plenty of Leptospermum which would work nicely. I don't know what you would use for close ground cover as I don't know that much about plants. That said I have seen Mistletoe birds and scarlet honeyeaters in the middle of Crows Nest, a city Suburb on the North side of the Harbour (this was a surprise).

I'm sure quite a few suburban mother and fathers have good intentions but then go to Bunnings and buy what they have on sale there and I must say my local ones have very poor choice of natives compared to exotics. In this shire they have a free native plant giveaway every six months and I bet a lot of people don't even know about it. A good initiative but poorly advertised. 

Woko's picture

The planting of those colourful Grevillea cultivars, hybrid bottlebrushes & "natives" of similar ilk generally favour large, nectar feeding birds & exclude a range of smaller species. They certainly aren't oriented towards providing a high quality natural environment, in spite of all the warnings about the consequences of ridding our planet of its biodiversity. So "Going Native", the headline I once saw in a gardening magazine, can do a lot of damage. Hence the need to carefully restore original vegeation. Unfortunately, the populace & its authorities are yet to cotton on to the importance of doing this.

Incidentally, I saw a promotion for an ABC television programme last night which indicates that viewers will be encouraged to replace native landscapes with feral gardens. There are lots of battles to be fought yet, it seems.

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