Birds of the Parramatta River
While in Sydney earlier this year my wife and I took a day out from grandparent duties. One of the children was at school and the other at child care. We took the train into Circular Quay in the heart of Sydney Harbour. We had a short wait of about ten minutes for one of the ferries which operate up and down the Parramatta River, stopping at a dozen or more small jetties along the way and terminating near the heart of Parramatta CBD. We had done this trip some 35 years ago when our own children were little.
While I was more interested in watching and taking photos of the scenery along the way I also kept a watch out for any birds I could see. While I didn’t get a great list of species I really enjoyed the three hour return trip. To give me the best chance of getting good photos we stationed ourselves on the seats at the front of the ferry; sure- it was breezy at times but we had come prepared. The photo above shows another river ferry similar to the boat we were on. You will notice that it has the name “Dawn Frazer”. It was named after one of Australia’s most successful Olympic swimmers. On our cruise we passed the swimming pool where she trained. I believe that she still runs a hotel nearby.
As our ferry left Circular Quay (see photo above) the whole vista of Sydney’s CBD opened up for us. Leading up to this point I recorded Rock Doves everywhere, especially in the train stations and even in the underground stations. Around the ferry terminals were many Silver Gulls, Welcome Swallows and even a few Noisy Miners on the jetties, scrounging food dropped by passengers.
After only a few minutes in the ferry we passed under the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge (see below). It is always great to get a different perspective of this wonderful structure. Usually we cross over it in trains and occasionally by car. Opened in 1932 this bridge still serves the city wonderfully, although it is now assisted by several additional bridges to the west and the Harbour Tunnel under the water.
The bridge is best viewed close up, usually from a boat, ferry or on foot via many access points around the harbour. One can – for a fee – join a Bridge Climb over the arch of the bridge. It’s only for the brave and not for those scared of heights, though to assure climbers they are secured tethered to the railing at all times. I haven’t done the climb and regret not doing it a few years ago when I was fitter and healthier. The view must be truly spectacular from up so high above the water.
After about an hour of cruising the harbour the ferry heads on up the Parramatta River, subject to favourable tidal conditions. As banks close in on the passage I had good views of the following birds:
- Australian Pelican
- Pied Cormorant
- Little Pied Cormorant
- Little Black Cormorant
- White Ibis
- Sacred Kingfisher
- Australian Raven
- Australian Magpie Lark
- Welcome Swallow
- Willie Wagtail
- Common Myna
- Grey Butcherbird
- Rainbow Lorikeet
- White-faced Heron
- Pacific Black Duck
- Variegated Fairy-wren
Finally, cruising on the river and on the harbour afforded me an excellent platform for observing the many wonderful and interesting buildings along the harbour. These include dirty industrial sites near Parramatta, magnificent apartment buildings, splendid old mansions – and an old and still very useful boat shed (see below).
If you are an Australian citizen with a Senior’s Card, Pension or Health Care card, ask for the special fare price when buying your ticket. Being over 60 years of age we both have Senior’s Cards. Instead of the normal fare of about $18 (Australian) each, our P.E.T. (Pensioner Excursion Ticket) cost us $2.50 each. This ticket enabled us to travel on any trains, buses, and ferries for the day.
And it was worth every cent.
Enjoyed your photos. I Did that trip in 2006 and enjoyed it.
I think you have made a couple of typos on the photo labels.
The bird on the log in the foreground is a Pied Cormorant (Not Little Pied)
The black and white bird on the speed sign is a Little Pied Cormorant (Not Little Black)
Alan in Tassie
Thanks for this Alan.
If my memory is correct I posted this late one night and the brain was not operating as it should. Good pick up – the captions have been corrected.
I would like to get in contact with Alan Melville to obtain permission to publish his photograph of the Grey Fantail in Ebirds taken in Tasmania on the Cover and title page of Corella, Journal of the Australian Bird Study Association. The image would be acknowledged.
Alan Leishman Hon Production Editor Corella.