birdwatching

GALLERY: Urban bird watching guide to Canberra

Wildlife

The woodlands, grasslands and backyards of Canberra are teeming with birdlife. “Canberra is known as the ‘Bush Capital’ for good reason,” says local birder and photographer Tobias Hayashi. “Many reserves within and around the city attract lots of wildlife.” The annual Garden Bird Survey, running since 1981, has collected a treasure trove of observations for more than 200 species. For a bird watching adventure close to the CBD, Tobias recommends Mount Ainslie. “The grassy woodland around the base of Mount Ainslie, in particular Campbell Park, is probably one of the best and most easily accessible places to see a wide range of bush birds,” he says. “In spring, many species can be found busily building nests, only a few kilometres from the city centre.” The Australian National Botanic Gardens is another great spot to hang out with the local birds. Keep an eye out for two special residents. “There is a very large resident population of superb fairy-wrens, which have been part of an ongoing study by researchers looking at the promiscuous sexual behaviours of these iconic birds,” says Tobias. “There are many satin bowerbirds around the gardens as well, and if you look closely you may find a bower,” he adds. Further afield, keen Canberra twitchers flock to Jerrabomberra Wetlands. According to Tobias, “The wetlands support a great range of birds including many waterbirds and birds of prey. Rare birds from other states turn up at the wetlands too.” For a ‘wilderness’ birding experience, there’s always Namadgi National Park, which makes up more than 40% of the ACT. “In the wetter forests, you may find lyrebirds, rufous fantails and even the odd wonga pigeon, which has recently returned to the area after disappearing following the 2003 bushfires,” says Tobias. Here are 20 Canberran residents you may encounter on your birding adventures. Text by Ellen Rykers.

Gallery: Urban birdwatching guide to Brisbane

Wildlife

From the coast to the rainforest-draped hills, Brisbane is a biodiversity hotspot bursting with interesting birdlife. A range of habitats – including dry forest, grasslands, wetlands, and even backyards – supports an impressive number of birds. “We have the benefit of the overlap between the northern tropical birds and the southern birds,” says David Niland from Birds Queensland. “Plus we have a few species that are unique to southeast Queensland and northern NSW, such as the black-breasted button-quail.” The coast of Brisbane is home to a range of marine birds – from your standard pelican to rather more unusual visitors. “Out on the islands you can see the beach stone-curlew,” says David. “From time to time you can see black swans and ducks feeding on the saltwater estuaries too, which is a bit unusual.” It’s tricky to pick just a few species from a total of around 400, but we’ve compiled a list of 20 Brissy birds you might encounter around the city.