Favourite Birding Spot #7 Ferries McDonald Conservation Park

Ferries McDonald Conservation Park

Ferries McDonald Conservation Park

Ferries-McDonald Conservation Park is one of the closest large parks of its kind near where I live. It is about 20 km south west of Murray Bridge and about 60 km south east of our state capital, Adelaide.

The park has easy access from two good dirt roads; one road bisects the park, the other follows the southern boundary. Update 2015: a new sealed road bisects the park in a north-south direction. There are several walking tracks through the interior of the park, including one established by the Friends Group a few years ago. There are no toilets or camping facilities within the park.

The park is predominantly mallee habitat. Many small native bushes flower in the spring time making it an attractive place for birds and a good place for birders to visit. I have recorded quite a variety of honeyeaters in the park, including

  • Singing Honeyeater,
  • White-plumed Honeyeater,
  • Yellow-plumed Honeyeater,
  • Purple-gaped Honeyeater,
  • White-eared Honeyeater,
  • Brown-headed Honeyeater and
  • Red Wattlebirds.

Other birds I commonly see in the park include:

  • Superb Fairy-wrens,
  • Golden whistlers,
  • Rufous whistlers
  • Yellow-rumped thornbills,
  • Bronzewing pigeons,
  • Crested pigeon
  • several kinds of robin and
  • White-browed Babblers.

The parrots include:

  • Purple-crowned lorikeets,
  • Musk lorikeets
  • Galahs and
  • Mallee Ringnecks.

In all I have recorded over 60 different species.

Nest of a Mallee Fowl

Nest of a Mallee Fowl

This park is one of only a few local sites for the highly endangered species, the Mallee Fowl. I have only seen this bird once in the park but I have found several active nesting mounds (see photo above). For more information about this bird click on the link below or click here.

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This article was last updated in July 2015.


8 Responses to “Favourite Birding Spot #7 Ferries McDonald Conservation Park”

  1. Ron Jackson says:

    Hi Trevor.

    My wife and I were walking in Ferries-McDonald CP on Saturday 24 April, and saw what I believe to be a Mallee Fowl being chased by a tan-coloured fox.

    I understand that the fowl is a highly endangered species, and wondered who to get in touch with to report the incident, with a view to having fox-baits laid if appropriate.

    Kind regards………Ron Jackson

  2. Trevor says:

    Hi there Ron,

    I suggest you contact the relevant National Parks and Wildlife office.

    Contact details can be found here:

  3. d.m.thomas says:

    can you tell me how the Ferries Mcdonald nat. park was named.
    Ihave just enjoyed a walk through this park and wondered how it was named.

  4. David Trebilcock says:

    I visited Ferries MacDonald CP on Tuesday 23 June and noticed that 1080 poison baits have been used to attempt to eradicate foxes. There were signs on the boundary fences warning dog owners. I did not see any mallee fowl despite spending several hours wandering through and around the park. I suspect there are none left unfortunately. I last visited the park thirty years ago and saw one there at that time as well as a few active nests. The park is not large and is surrounded by farmland. It may be too small to provide a suitable habitat for mallee fowl. I hope I am wrong.

    • Trevor says:

      Hi David,

      Thanks for visiting my site and for leaving your comments. As a result of your comments my wife and I briefly visited the park last Sunday. We actually spent more time in the nearby Monarto Conservation Park.

      The poison baits programme has been ongoing for quite some time, probably years, and is a common practice in many parts of Australia. I have walked through both of these parks on numerous occasions over the last 30 years (I live in Murray Bridge) and have only ever seen Mallee Fowl on one occasion, two together on the side of the road near where the two roads intersect.

      Last Sunday I checked on one of the Mallee fowl nest mounds that I have checked regularly since finding it some 10 years ago. It was active as recently as about 3 years ago, but sadly it now looks as if it hasn’t been used in at least the last two years. I know of at least 3 other mounds but I would be hard pressed to find them now. Extensive surveys of nesting sites have been conducted but I do not know when the last was done, or the results.

      On a related matter, national parks rangers were, I believe, removing eggs from the active nests, taking them to Monarto Zoo for hatching artificially and then returning the birds to the wild, including this park. Some birds were released with radio tracking devices and the failure rate was near to 100%, probably due to fox predation.

      On a brighter note, a friend who lives less than a kilometre from the park saw a Mallee Fowl wandering through his garden only last year, so there is hope that some are surviving in this area. There are also regular reports of sightings east of the Murray River, and from the south east parts of the state.

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