Raptor Mania at Iluka

Dog fight part 2
Brahminy and Sea-Eagle in a dog fight

 

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Wow what can I say?? The photos and videos speak for themselves. This is a definite must do place to visit again. After missing out on the Sea Eagle photos we decided to cheat a little…… Anthony went to the Bait shop and found a whopping big mullet that cost $6, I couldn’t believe one bait fish would cost that much. We defrosted it and went back to the rocky ledge at Iluka Bluff and placed it where we could get good video and photos. The Brahminy Kite was on to it within minutes and had a great feed, of course birds of prey always eat the eyes first, must be some delicacy for them. He tried to lift it a couple of times but it was too heavy. He flew off  with plenty left over and we were hoping the Sea Eagles would come and pay a visit. We thought maybe they wouldn’t come  this time, we were scanning the perimeters for about half an hour.

Anthony’s battery was going flat and as he was changing it one of the Eagles appeared flying so low across the beach I almost missed him. He zeroed in on the fish and bang …..he grabbed it and was off. He must have spotted that fish from miles away, Amazing hey??
Of course Anthony couldn’t get his camera around in time and focus so sadly missed out but I managed to get it on video.🤩🤩
Today was our last chance to try again so another defrosted $6 fish and back down to the rocky ledge. This time the Brahminy was there with his mate so after one finished having a snack the other one came down. After a while the Sea Eagle appeared and tried to swoop the fish but the Brahminies wouldn’t let him , it was great to watch the mid air tussle going on. We were surprised that the Eagle gave up and took off but came back about an hour later and took us by surprise again, it’s unbelievable how fast a big bird like that is. I only just got it on video and Anthony missed out yet again.😪😪
But Wow what a fantastic show.

 

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Iluka Buff – featuring Sea-Eagle action


 

 

Brahminy Kite
Lunch time
Brahminy Kite trying to get airborne
All attempts failed to get Airborne
White-bellied Sea-Eagle
White-bellied Sea-Eagle

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Iluka Bluff
Iluka Bluff and shelf

 


Blue-faced Honeyeater
Blue-faced Honeyeater
We walked through the rainforest at the Iluka reserve that is World heritage listed. Lots of birdlife there too and a really nice walk. We were lucky to spot the Rufous Fantails building a nest.The walk goes from the Bluff through to the harbour and township of Iluka around 1.5 hours one way.
So we have had an amazing time here, could probably stay longer but yet again the weather will be deteriorating from tomorrow afternoon so we want to get further up the road. Eventually we will have to work again so have to keep moving along. This was our last day on the coast, we will be inland at the Murwilumba Showgrounds for a few nights and then see how the weather shapes up. Please enjoy the pics and videos.
Cheers, Steph and Anthony.

 

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Other birds of Iluka Reserve

 

Sooty Oystercatcher
Tit bits for an Oystercatcher

 


 

 

‘Look’ a Land Mullet

Iluka Bluff

Whistling Kite
Whistling Kite staring us down
Looking over to Yamba from the Bluff
Looking over to Yamba from the Bluff

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Hello everyone,

Today we hitched up and headed back to the coast. Anthony found a nice caravan park in a place called Woombah, in the Yamba region and the bigger town of Iluka is just up the road. We got here around lunch time, so after setting up and cuppochinos we headed out to explore. We only got as far as the Iluka Bluff, a fantastic headland with a great lookout. We just got to the top of the steps and were greeted by a Brahminy and Whistling Kite hovering very close over our heads. Just another WOW factor. The sky was so blue and not much wind. There’s a rocky ledge that comes out from the headland so we made our way down there and next thing a Brahminy Kite lands in front of us and starts ripping into this big dead fish laying on the rocks. To top it off there were Whales breaching just of the coast, incredible. The Brahminy took off after having a feast and instantly two Sea Eagles came soaring over the headland together…. I mean who ever gets to see two Sea Eagles soaring over their heads, lucky lucky us🤩🤩 We instantly thought they might come down to feast on the fish as well so we were quickly trying to move away, and get in a better position for photos and at the same time a couple were walking from the other direction also into the fish zone and before we could even think …….one of the eagles dived down around the backs of this couple and snatched up the fish prize and flew off into the sunset. We just stood there a bit stunned as we both missed a fantastic video and photos. The couple were hardly even aware that they were witness to an amazing act of nature and were more engrossed in their selfies in front of the waves. Wow people sure are funny.

Brahminy Kite guarding its prey
White-bellied Sea-eagle
The very Majestic Sea-Eagle

 

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Iluka Bluff Snippets

 


 

Pelican Flyby 


 

We ran out of time to explore further, tomorrow’s another day and there’s plenty more to see. The weather is looking good for the next few days so we can’t wait. Bye for now,

Steph and Anthony.


 

Whale Watching at Smoky Cape

Breaching Humpback Whale

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Lighthouse, Smoky Cape
Smoky Cape Lighthouse
Hello again, today we took a drive to Smoky Cape which is just south of South West Rocks. Well we found another Wow place, honestly if you have never been to this part of Australia, you have to visit.
This time of year all the Whales have just been migrating North and over the last few days it seems they are heading South already. Every time we look, we always see them, usually quite a distance away but today we were walking along the track and one was breaching just off the cliffs. I couldn’t get my video going quick enough but Anthony got some great photos. What an experience. We saw them on the way back from our walk too, they are doing all sorts of displays, with their fins sticking out and when they breach like that is just fantastic.
We walked our socks off today, there’s a very picturesque lighthouse and a few tracks here, we walked the coastal one, also saw a few birds of prey and the scenery is stunning. As you can see the weather today was just perfect, and we only saw a few people on those perfect beaches.
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Whale Watching – Smoky Cape

Smoky Cape and lighthouse
Beaches of Smoky Cape

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More images of Smoky Cape

 

Ok we love Brahminy Kites


Immature Crested Tern
A young Crested Tern fishing

 

A few more birds in flight


 

We also visited Boyters Lane again, there’s always something to see along this dirt road. Luckily we had some rain last night so it wasn’t too dusty walking along with cars passing, although they do all slow down when they see us avid birdwatchers. Both sides of the Lane are really just cow paddocks but very swampy along the roadside fence and there’s quite an aroma of cow dung in the air and the swampy water, doesn’t look very clean but I guess the birds must like it because there’s plenty here. Especially Ducks, Stilts and the gorgeous little Dotterels. We did see two Jabirus (Black-necked Storks) but they were just flying off. Better luck next time.

There’s a small wetland at the start of the Lane which is where we saw the huge Kangaroo, wow he came bouncing along the track and stood over 6 feet tall when he almost bumped into us. Yikes…. I was already trying to find a tree to hide behind. He realised we were good humans and just bounded past us, what a beautiful animal, we just love encounters like that.

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Snippets from Boyter’s Lane and Grassy Head

 

 

And some other birds

 


 

Late afternoon at Middle Head

Well how time flies yet again, it’s hard to believe nearly another week has flown past. We are still at Grassy Head and have been busy most days getting out and about but not too far from here. We had a few iffy days with the rain and lots of wind etc so not really the best conditions for videos and photography.

The forest alongside the beach here is very similar to the Bongil Bongil walk which we had recently done, as you can also hear the surf while walking through and we have seen the same birds here, we are hoping to go a bit earlier in the morning and try for better photos.
Enjoy the pics and videos,
Cheers Steph and Anthony.
Exploring Smoky Cape

 

Grassy Head & Surrounds

👍 Grassy Head 👍

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Well we have been at Grassy Head a few days now and it’s been fantastic. We can easily walk from the van to the headland and the stunning beaches, there’s a strip of trees between us and the beach so it’s quite sheltered from the wind as well. We took a drive to Crescent Head and it is also a stunning place, we saw lots of dolphins here quite close to the surfers. The Yarriabini National Park  is just up the road from here and  the drive up the mountain to the lookout has got some beautiful big Flooded Gum trees. We only went as far as the picnic area and walked around the loop walk, we saw a few birds there. The lookout was another 6 kms from there but some big black clouds were rolling in and it’s quite a slow dirt road so we will leave that for another day.

 

Yarriabini National Park 

 

Superb Fairy Wren
Stunning Superb Fairy Wren

 

 

 

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Yarriabini National Park 

 

Picturesque Crescent Head 

Brahminy Kite Flyby- Grassy Head
Brahminy Kite Flyby- Grassy Head

 

A few other Flyby’s 
Stephanie waiting for some action at Grassy Head.

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Macleay Valley Coast


Driving around this area is great too, very picturesque and always something to see. The headland here at Grassy Head has become one of our most favourite places to hang out. We have seen the Humpback Whales a few times now and this morning they came in quite close to the beach and surfers. Yesterday afternoon there was lots of tail slapping going on. It’s fantastic to see these mighty creatures in action. The birds of prey here are amazing to watch too, they soar across the headland and you can lay back in the grass and just look up at them in awe. It will be hard to leave this magical place.
Bye for now, Steph and Anthony.

Showroom Surf + Espresso, Scotts Head – Fantastic Coffee

Dorrigo visit and Sawtell birding

Dangar Falls, Dorrigo
Dangar Falls, Dorrigo

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Sawtell and Bongil Bongil 


 

Pelican pair glideby

 

 

 

Some coastal birds

 

Pelican Glideby

 


 

Hello everyone, I just realised it’s been 5 days since our last blog…… how time flies here. We have been out and about every day though the cold mornings make it hard to leave the pod too early. Really, it’s still around 10 degrees in the mornings and we have also had some very windy days which has made visiting the headlands still enjoyable but not very comfortable.

 

Osprey soaring
Osprey soaring

 

 

 

Bird of Prey in flight captures

We have also been catching up with friends and did take another drive up to Dorrigo, by the way it was 12 degrees up there so we had jackets on the whole time. The Dangar falls up there are very picturesque and we did another 8 km walk around the rainforest at the Dorrigo NP. We didn’t see many birds though, I think the cold weather is scaring them off. We have been to the Bongil Bongil NP again a few times which is always nice. We were there yesterday and saw the Osprey had caught a fish and while we were standing on the beach this RAAF plane came and did a very low flyby, I was so excited, I was waving like crazy….the noise was deafening and the pilot dipped his wings a couple of times as he blitzed past, how cool is that??? Even more amazing that Anthony got a great photo as well. You just never know what you will see when out and about.
RAAF Hawk Flyby
Today we finally put our canoe in the water at Sawtell, there’s a great spot to launch it at the Bonville creek boat ramp. Wow what a beautiful morning, couldn’t have asked for better, we saw plenty of birds of prey but nothing close enough for a photo. Not many other birds either but we did have a close encounter with this huge Stingray, almost slid under the canoe but veered off at the last minute. Great to see. Of course the wind really picked up on the way back and luckily we could walk and pull the canoe along the sandbars most of the way back. It was really good to have the boat back in the water, we used it a lot early on when we first started travelling but seem to forget we have it most of the time. It gives you a great aspect when photographing the wading birds though so we are hoping to use it a bit more.

 

 

Canoeing at Bonville Creek 

White-cheeked Honeyeater at Sawtell

 

 

Perching birds at Bongil Bongil National Park 

Tomorrow we have a huge trip…..we are towing our pod to Grassy Head, it’s maybe 1 hours drive away, we just really fell in love with the place so had a look the other day to see if we could fit in there and have booked for 10 days. There’s also a lot to see further south from there too so we are really looking forward to that. It will be Chloe’s (our cat) second trip and it’s not long so hope she doesn’t stress too much. She has been using the cat enclosure at last but doesn’t stay out for long. She moves around from spot to spot chasing the sun coming through the windows and is very relaxed in our pod.
Chloe catching some sun
Chloe catching some Sun

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Dangar Falls & Sawtell birding
Please enjoy the pics and video….I have finally managed to edit music on to my snippets. I have been struggling to get much footage with the wind always howling. Now I can just put nice music over the top.🤩🤩. I randomly picked the music in this video, it’s called “Among the clouds” and it’s just beautiful so hope you like it.
Bye for now, Steph and Anthony.

Scott’s Head, Stuart’s Point & Grassy Head

Grassy Head
Grassy Head

 

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Stunning coastline of this region

 

 

Murals and Mosaics at Scott’s Head

 

 

Wow what a day…..It’s quite amazing how we can go out nearly every day exploring and looking for birds and we can still find so many fantastic photos. We left a bit earlier this morning as it was a bit of a drive down south of Nambucca, around Grassy head. We actually missed the turn-off and ended up further south, at Stuart point. It didn’t really matter though as we were doing a circuit anyway though we did it the opposite way instead. Stuart poInt was nice, another footbridge to cross over the river into some nice bush land and a nice walk to the beach. It seems the whole coast here is full of estuaries, rivers, creeks, stunning beaches, boardwalks etc. Fantastic, we just love it down here.

 

Whistling Kite
One of the Whistling Kites we were fixated by at Grassy Head

 

 

Flyby’s of the day

We then drove further north to Grassy head and this was a wow factor for us. The beach there… Wow, then we walked around Grassy head. We just got around the headland and three Whistling Kites appeared and  they were having such a great time. They flew right over our heads and we quickly threw ourselves on the grass which was nice and soft….they were quite curious and were hovering over us so close it felt like we could reach up and touch them. It was quite windy and sometimes they flew past with the wind behind them and they are like bullets, they just streamed past so fast and other times they came around the opposite way and were at a standstill against the wind which allowed Anthony to get some great photos. We found it hard to leave here but eventually the Kites moved further down the coast a bit and we lost sight of them. Neither of us has ever had an experience like this where we are laying flat on the grass with birds of prey hovering over us and looking into their beautiful eyes, it’s something magical that will stay with us forever.
Little Wattlebird feasting among a Coral Tree

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Grassy Head and surrounds 

 

 

Very elaborate selfies

We drove further north to Scott’s Head, another beautiful place, more built up and lots of new houses and new shops. The main beach,(Forster Beach) wow factor yet again and there are some huge paperbark trees around the walkway to the beach. And check out the mural mosaics at the public loos here, fantastic.
There’s a little walk up the headland here too with a lookout and while we were admiring the view Anthony noticed a plane coming our way….very low. It was a RAAF plane obviously doing some sort of training excercise but golly, we got some great video and photos as he zipped past us, it was great to see. On the other side of the headland is yet another stunning beach called Little beach.
We had planned to go to the Yarriabini National Park as well but tick tock tick tock..we also had to go shopping on the way home so will leave that for another day. We have a few glorious days coming now weather wise so will get out as much as we can.
Cheers Steph and Anthony.

 

Adding to our days flyby’s. The RAAF joined in at Scott’s Head

Birding -Valla Reserve & Bongil Bongil

Square-tailed Kite
Exciting to capture a Square-tailed Kite at Bundagen Headland

 

Hello everyone. It’s hard to believe how quickly the time is going here. It’s just flying past for us. Everyday we are managing to get out and about even though the weather has tried its best to dampen our spirits.

On Friday we visited Valla beach again as it’s only down the road and with the weather being a bit iffy we didn’t want to go too far afield. We got amazingly close to a little Spotted Pardelote pair, the male was just stunning and seemed quite ok with us being so close. They are nesting in the sandy bank so hopefully we will be able to visit them again. There’s always the Black-shouldered Kite hovering around too and he had a bit of a run in with a Collared Sparrow-Hawk , they were squabbling over the same branch. It would have been great on video but I was too slow. Of course the weather turned nasty again and it was very windy so we had to hightail it home but it was still great to get out in nature for a bit.

Spotted Pardalote
Male Spotted Pardalote

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Birds spotted at Valla
Yesterday (Saturday) we decided to check out the Bongil Bongil NP again. We did a bluff loop walk which led onto the same rainforest track near the beach that we had been on before. The weather looked good, blue skies and only a chance of a shower so we were really taking our time looking for birds. The birdsong is fantastic here, so many little birds like the Thornbills and Silvereyes and Gerygones. There’s quite a few Wompoo fruit doves too but they are always hiding in the shadows, Anthony is trying really hard to get better photos of such a beautiful bird. We spotted this cute little mouse in a dead tree stump, what a great little house he has made himself.
We walked for around an hour and a half and all of a sudden it was getting dark, being in the forest doesn’t give you much of a view of the sky but we came to a clear spot and the sky looked very dark. Anthony checked the weather radar and there was this huge red blob coming straight for us. We quickly started half running back to the truck which seemed a long way away. We started hearing thunder….very loud and the sky was black. We really started running then and the last bit was uphill, great stuff, we made it back to the truck in less than a half hour and raced back to the park.

Hiking Bongil Bongil
Hiking Bongil Bongil NP
We didn’t think we would get back before the storm but we just made it. The wind really picked up and it was torrentially rain, then the added bonus of hail. Thankfully it was small round hail so did no damage but where we are parked quickly turned into a lake.
We thought that was it after it passed through but within an hour the sky was black again and we had round two of another ripper storm this time with bigger hail. Crazy stuff. It pretty much rained on and off all night.
This morning was very foggy but was shaping up to be a glorious day at last. We have a resident Satin Bowerbird  here. I got a great video of him calling his girlfriends, he has two that we have seen in his bower. Anthony got a spectacular photo of him, check out his beautiful mauve eyes and plumage, what a stunning bird.
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Satin Bowerbird
We can’t get a clear view of his bower but might snip a few branches away when he’s not looking. We don’t want to disturb him either but would love to get photos of him in the bower.
At Bundagen Headland
At Bundagen Headland, Bongil Bongil National Park

 

Valla & Bongil Bongil

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 Today we drove back to Bongil Bongil as we were having such a great time there yesterday. When we came out onto the beach at the headland we saw a kite flying around and didn’t realise at first but it’s a quite rare Square tailed kite. Wow wow, how cool is that. Anthony got a fantastic photo as he was banking away, what a spectacular bird. We hiked around 8 kms today, we just love that place, so much birdlife, and the coast is spectacular too. What a day. Please enjoy the pics and video.
Cheers Steph and Anthony.
Eastern Water Dragon
Eastern Water Dragon up a tree