Visit to King Parrot Cottages
This week I was very fortunate to spend a few days at King Parrot Cottages and Event Centre, located at Pennyroyal Valley, near Deans Marsh, which is Ganubanud Country. The owners of the property, Nicole, and Ryan, invited me to the King Parrot Cottages to conduct a bird survey to identify some of the birds that inhabit the area.
The property can be found on Dunse Track, which is a dirt track around 10 minutes’ drive from Deans Marsh. I do love a dirt track as usually this indicates remoteness and peace and quiet, and I was not disappointed. The instructions for locating the cottages, found on the website at Contact | King Parrot were very clear and concise. On arrival I easily located my allotted cottage and found that I had a lovely balcony overlooking a pond that was surrounded by native vegetation. The first bird I noticed was a Red Wattlebird that was very busy chasing all other nectar eating birds away from the pond, including a few Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and Eastern Spinebills. Next, I heard the distinctive song of a Grey-shrike Thrush and saw a pair of these birds busily carrying food (insects and a small lizard) to an obvious nesting site under the balcony of the adjoining cottage. After a lovely cup of tea, I was ready to explore!
Nicole had emailed me a map of the walking trails around the property, so I set off for the first of many walks. After around 30 minutes of walking, I found myself at the bottom of the valley, where there was a creek, which after the recent rains was almost a raging torrent. This creek is surrounded by dense vegetation, which is a perfect habitat for Pink Robins and other birds that like wet forests. I sat on the high rocks around the creek, listening to the bird calls and hoping that the birds that I could hear would come into view. I did see an Olive Whistler that was hiding behind some vegetation and then disappeared from view.
I also saw several Pied Currawongs, Grey Fantails, and Brown Thornbills, and was happy to hear and see several White-throated Treecreepers.
After a very comfortable night spent in Windmill Cottage, I rose early and set off down the hill to the valley, to check out the camping area on the property. The camping site is only accessible by four-wheel drive (and by foot)! as the access road is very steep. The habitat in the camping area included grassy, cleared areas around the creek, surrounded by old gums and other trees. I saw and heard Gang-gang Cockatoos, but they were too high in the canopy for a decent photo. Singing its heart out was the only introduced bird that I spotted- a male Common Blackbird. Silvereyes were moving through the lower shrubs on the side of the creek. There were many Brown Thornbills and a large flock of around ten Striated Thornbills.
I walked for most of the day, up and down the bush tracks, following the bird calls. I came across three Bassian Thrush in the dense vegetation around the Creek, so they were very hard to photograph. I was surprised to spot two Rufous Fantails in this area as well. The Rufous Fantail is found in northern and eastern coastal Australia, and are more common in the north, and they inhabit dense rainforests, and wet forests. I find them impossible to photograph as they are always in dark areas and they move very quickly through the shrubs, so the photos are usually a blurry flash of rufous!
When I returned to the Windmill Cottage for a cuppa, I saw a sizable snake of around 1.5 metres in length, which I think was a Copperhead, climbing up some bare branches outside the adjoining unit. Unfortunately for the Grey-shrike Thrush pair, the snake was trying to get to their nest under the veranda. The birds were understandably very distressed and were calling frantically and using the ‘broken wing’ routine trying to lure the snake away from the nest. I wondered if I should throw something in the general direction of the snake (not at the snake) to scare it away, but just as I was contemplating this the snake fell to the ground with a thud. Fortunately, the nest was just out of it’s reach. The snake slithered away, and the Grey-shrike Thrush resumed providing their hatchlings with delicious insects.
The other highlights were a close encounter with the resident Kookaburras, spotting a Brown Quail, seeing several flocks of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, King Parrots, and Crimson Rosellas.
I can’t recommend the King Parrot Cottages enough- the venue was very comfortable, the birds were interesting and obliging, and the area was very peaceful. I hope to go back to see if there is a resident Powerful Owl. Thanks to Nicole and Ryan for a wonderful few days of birding delights!