PHOTOS from New England NP: Thungutti

We camped for two nights at the Thungutti camp-ground, near Pt Lookout in the New England National Park on the northern tablelands in NSW at the end of our weeklong trip south in March of 2016.


Please find the photos taken during this trip beneath the text.


Thungutti campsite is situated on the edge of the national park, in a small patch of rainforest surrounded by shrubby woodland and cleared farmland. It was quite moist and showery during this visit although country to the west was dry, even droughty. After the dryness of Goulburn River NP we liked the wet, but misty weather is not ideal for bird photography, and our species count was not as high as it might have been. Rain also prevented us from going spotlighting at night.


During our stay we met a couple of other very serious bird photographers with the most enormous fixed focal length lenses (600mm lenses, I think), both of whom (independently) were in pursuit of flame robins - males of course. These beautiful little birds were becoming almost commonplace for us, since in the last few months we have seen flame, scarlet and rose robins, on camping trips in different places.


There was a pair of flame robins in the camp-ground and we took photos of the male. The female was more elusive. Only the male birds have the orange-red colouring, the females being drab brown with paler beige markings.


A Bassian thrush hung around the campground, foraging on the cleared ground. There were also the other common species that we see everywhere, white-browed scrub-wrens, brown thornbills and yellow robins, while white-eared honeyeaters and New Holland honeyeaters fed on the nectar in the banksia blossoms that were flowering at the time. Spotted pardalotes and a little wattlebird foraged in the treetops.


A family of superb fairy-wrens (blue wrens) lived in the grass and shrubs along the sides of the access road, accompanied by another tail flicker, a willy wagtail. A tawny grassbird was also spotted in the long grass in the adjacent paddock. Other birds seen along the edge of the road included crimson rosellas, a grey shrike-thrush, magpies and currawongs. A group of noisy miners dominated the farmland.


A small group of musk lorikeets flew into a tree for a lunch-time rest, during our brief visit to Pt Lookout. This is only the second time we have seen this species, the first time being in Goulburn River NP which we had just left!


A red-necked wallaby was the only native mammal that we saw, but to our great surprise on a couple of occasions we saw at least one hare that came to feed on the grass in the camp-ground at night.


Laura and Joe struggled out of bed before dawn on our last morning, to take photos of the sun rising, from Pt Lookout. Laura has lent me one of her spectacular images to include here. (Many thanks, Laura.) I was up at dawn too, but I just hung around the campsite trying to take more photos of birds - different priorities!

Thungutti camping area
Grassy woodland
The campground was situated in a small patch of rainforest near a creek, but was surrounded by grassy woodland and cleared areas of farmland.
Early morning mist
Spiders' webs covered with due in this view across a swampy area next to the campsite, in the early morning mist.
Bassian thrush
This Bassian thrush was frequently seen foraging on the ground in the camping area.
Flame robin, male
Like a scene from a fairytale, this robin happened to land on this lichen-covered branch at just the right moment! A perfect picture for painting!
White-browed scrub-wren
Brown thornbill
Yellow robin
Superb fairy-wren
This is a juvenile male that still has flecks of grey amongst its blue feathers.
Superb fairy-wren, female
Females of this species lack the blue colouring of their male relatives.
Tawny grassbird
These elusive birds hide in dense grass and are very difficult to see and photograph, unless you are lucky enough to capture one that has emerged onto a vantage point to assert its territorial dominance.
Willy wagtail
Spotted pardalote
White-eared honeyeater
New Holland honeyeater
Little wattlebird
Musk lorikeets
It is a funny thing but it sometimes happens that once you see a species for the first time you start to see it everywhere. We saw musk lorikeets in the Goulburn River NP in central NSW, and now found them again on the Northern Tablelands.
This group flew in to a tree in the Pt Lookout picnic area, apparently just to have their lunchtime snooze.
Crimson rosella
Grey shrike-thrush
Pied currawong
Noisy miner
Noisy miner wiping its beak.
We regard these native birds as a big nuisance because they form large family groups and completely dominate their territories, excluding most other bird species. This bird belonged to a group occupying farmland adjacent to the campsite.
Red-necked wallaby
Craneflies mating
Sunrise from Pt Lookout
Laura and Joe struggled out of bed before dawn on our last morning to take photos of the sunrise, from Pt Lookout (or rather, Laura took photos - poor Joe's role was merely to act as her chauffeur!). Many thanks for this photo, Laura.
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