Birdwatching in the Blue Mountains in Winter - Mt. Tomah Botanic Gardens
Last weekend Amy and I had the pleasure of attending birding legend Carol Probet's walk in the Blue Mountains at the Mt. Tomah Botanic gardens. Not many people realize this, but the Botanic Gardens in Sydney have two sister gardens; the cool climate garden in the Blue Mountains and a natives garden at Mt. Annan near Campbelltown.
The walk was early in the morning letting us maximize the number of feathers we saw, but since it's Winter it was FREEZING. Even though I grew up in New York, I wore about six layers and my Winter hat like someone born at the equator seeing snow for the first time. Carol was amazing and took us through the beautiful gardens stopping along the way to see birds. In Winter, birds are in flocks so where there was one, there were others. Right now the gardens at Mt. Tomah are chock full of Honeyeaters and we saw several New Holland Honeyeaters and Lewin's Honeyeaters.
But, the real show stopper was an actual Bower from a Bowerbird (I'm getting excited all over again just writing this). As soon as Carol said the words ‘Would you like to see a bower?’ Amy and I looked at each other and then definitely DID NOT play it cool. We were like overzealous Beliebers waiting outside the ticket office to get the best seats to an upcoming Justin Bieber concert. The Bower was amazing and let me tell you, those birds can decorate.
Male bowerbirds make beautiful bachelor pads to mate with females in, even complete with a tunnel of love. They work tirelessly to adorn the outside of the tunnel with all sorts of found blue items and shiny bits. Before plastic, they used things like berries and feathers, but since its invention, these birds now have some serious Bower bling (this is not condoning plastic garbage, though - it's terrible!). The bird that made the bower we looked at had bits and pieces of everything blue and it looked great. Well done sir.
Plus there were lots of actual bowerbirds! Loads of them. In the trees. On the lawn. Male, female and juveniles (who look like males until they turn 7 then morph). Seeing all these bowerbirds and actual bower was a dream come true.
Carol does walks each season at the gardens and we definitely recommend checking them out. They're perfect for beginners and she does a tutorial on how to use binoculars at the beginning. We'll definitely be there for her Spring walk!
Best pairs with afterwards: Hillbilly Cider, just down the road from the Mt. Tomah Botanic Gardens. They turn famous Bilpin apples into ciders, non-alcoholic and alcoholic. Since the only way to get to Mt. Tomah is driving, we recommend the non-alcoholic. It was DELISH.
The full list of what we saw: Crimson Rosellas / Superb Fairy-wrens / White-browed Scrubwrens / Satin Bowerbirds / Laughing Kookaburras / Brown Thornbill / Eastern Spinebill / Lewin's Honeyeater / Red Wattlebird / New Holland Honeyeater / Eastern Whipbird / Golden Whistler / Australian Magpie / Pied Currawong / Australian Raven / Eastern Yellow Robin