Birds at Woody Head

Being inside a National Park (Bundjalung, named after the Indigenous nation that calls this part of the country home), Woody Head has many birds in and out of the forest. We saw some of the ones that were outside the forest on our camping trip. It is a joy to watch them puttering about living their lives.

Noisy miners

Noisy miners (Manorina melanocephala) and blue-faced honeyeaters (Entomyzon cyanotis) like to live around people, perhaps because people provide good habitat and food. Noisies feed mostly on nectar, fruits and insects. They feed and raise their young in groups. They are quite aggressive towards other birds and occasionally humans (I’ve been swooped by one.) Having a lot of short dense shrubs provides protection for other small birds like wrens that the noisies try to drive away.

Blue-faced miner

The blue-faces were certainly hanging around the camp kitchen looking for food scraps. They supposedly have similar diets and habits to noisies, but I’ve not seen noisies alighting on camp kitchen supplies.

Crested pigeon

Crested pigeons (Ocyphaps lophotes) also hang around the campsite – they were displaying to each other a lot. They eat mostly seeds, supplemented with insects and leaves.

Are you my mummy?

Andrew took this shot of a baby bird in its nest – he didn’t recognise the adult that came to feed it.

One of a pair of lapwings

One of a pair of lapwings

Also hanging about the humans were pairs of masked lapwings (Vanellus miles). Masked lapwings feed on insects and their larvae, and on earthworms.

Masked lapwing with wing-spurs visible

Note the defensive spurs

You can clearly see the spurs on the ‘wrists’ of the adult in the right-hand photo. These birds lay eggs on a scrape on the ground, and swoop on anything that gets too close to it. The adult can also pretend to have a broken wing, and staggers about, leading the interested predator away from the nest.

Pied oystercatcher pair

Sooty oystercatcher pair(Haematopus longirostris).

On the beach, I saw pairs of sooty oystercatchers (Haematopus fuliginosus) and pied oystercatchers (Haematopus longirostris).

Sooties are endemic to Australia (i.e. they occur nowhere else). Both types of oystercatcher feed on bivalve molluscs, crabs and other crustaceans, marine worms, starfish, sea urchins, and small fish. Their long bills stab prey and lever, prise or hammer open food items. They drink seawater. Both sooties and pieds are listed as vulnerable to extinction in New South Wales.


Raptors like the osprey (Pandion haliaetus) and the white-bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) scour the water for fish. The local osprey flew past me with quite a large fish in its talons. Presumably it was headed for its nest to rip apart and feed the fish to its young one. Ospreys are listed as vulnerable in New South Wales.

Sea eagles eat turtles, sea snakes, birds, mammals and carrion as well as fish. Both species build large stick nests that they use over a period of years. Information on the sea eagle (and other Australian birds if you search for them) can be found at the Australian Museum’s site:


I’m not so good with identifying some of the migratory birds that fly thousands of kilometres from Siberia and such places and that spend the summer here. The photo  could be of a sanderling in non-blooming plumage.

Ruddy turnstone

The ruddy turnstone is another long-distance migrant that hangs about the shore feeding on pretty much anything it can find under stones (hence the name) and seaweed. When one flies, you can see a distinctive pattern on the wings.


Another reef-wanderer is the whimbrel, casting around for crabs and small fish. At least I think it’s a whimbrel, although the beak looks a little short.

This entry was posted in Animals on land, Birds, Travels and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Birds at Woody Head

  1. Joy Window says:

    Jane from Capetown, South Africa, says: Our lapwings are very mean. They camouflage brilliantly and if you accidentally go near, attack you viciously – no decoy stuff here.
    Our osprey equivalents are known as fish eagles and their call is used as a kind of signature tune for South Africa so inimical is it – also hauntingly beautiful. They’re prolific on rivers and river mouths mostly.

  2. Cath Clark says:

    great original pics. the Turnstone’s a new one to me. Andrew must have grown very long legs for the baby bird pic–a special green moment, captured.

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