Fatbirder's Top 500 Birding Websites

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Fairy Dell and Mitchell River Weekend 25-26 November 2011


We packed up our camping gear and headed for East Gippsland to spend the weekend exploring Fairy Dell, Deptford and the Mitchell River National Park in East Gippsland. The Bureau of Meteorology was predicting thunderstorms along with high UV so we weren't quite sure what type of weather to expect.

Our first stop was the rainforest at Fairy Dell Flora Reserve just out of Bruthen on Deep Creek Road. On this occasion we took the Eleven Mile Road turnoff from the Great Alpine road which was fortunate as a temporary roadside sign warned the road was closed at the Deep Creek Bridge, just after Fairy Dell so there is currently no access from the other end of Deep Creek Road.

As soon as we arrived in the car park Sacred Kingfisher was heard calling. After a brief look around we spotted Varied Sitella, Brown Headed Honeyeater, King Parrot and Wonga Pigeon. We took the left fork of the path which heads up over a small ridge and allows a view down into the rainforest gully on one side and the dry forest higher up on the other side. It wasn't long before we heard a Cicadabird calling. We scanned the tree tops for it and while looking heard another Cicadabird on the other side of the path. They were both calling intermittently so it was difficult to get a location and we eventually got tired of looking and headed up the path.

In the drier sections of the forest we saw New Holland Honeyeater, White-throated Treecreeper, White-naped Honeyeater, Thornbills, Eastern Yellow Robin and Rufous Whistler.

We followed the path down wards into the rainforest in the hope of seeing a Monarch. It was moist and humid under the canopy with mosses, ferns, and creepers growing luxuriantly. The path was very overgrown in places, we brushed our hands on a stinging plant which gave us a few moments of discomfort but luckily there were no leeches. We heard a Superb Lyrebird making an alarm call before seeing it dash across our path. Along the path we also saw Brown Gerygone, Large Billed Scrubwren and Golden Whistler.

Rain, which had been threatening for most of the day, started to fall once we reached the 'Fairydell' so we sat under the rainforest canopy for a while, which kept us dry. While waiting for the rain to stop we heard a Black-faced Monarch calling from within the denser foliage, not far away. We caught sight of two Rufous Fantails as they were passing through and finally a Black-faced Monarch approached us closely to check us out while we were sitting still watching it. After deciding we were of no interest it disappeared into the bush.

When the rain stopped we returned back down the path, keeping an ear out for Cicadabird, but we did not hear them calling again. We did see a beautiful pair of Rose Robins feeding two chicks huddled in the bushes.

Fairy Dell Trip List

After leaving Fairydell we stopped at the newly opened Bullant Brewery in Bruthen for coffee. We marked this down as a good option for lunch and a beer for future trips.

Next stop was to check out the Deptford camping ground. It was about 5pm by the time we arrived, the rain had set in so we had a look around this pretty camping site next to the Nicholson River before we bailed out and headed back to Bairnsdale for motel accommodation.

The next morning we drove to the Mitchell River National Park. Our first stop was the Den of Nargun. When we arrived in the carpark Brush Cuckoo and Rufous Whistler were calling. The day was warm and humid, heading down into the warm temperate rainforest in the river gorge was like stepping into a lost world, with steep cliff faces festooned with overgrown jungle like vegetation. It was difficult to search for birds while navigating the steep slippery steps which led to a waterfall and rock pool behind which lies the Den of Nargun, said to be the home of a mythical beast half human half stone. However, we did see a Satin Bowerbird, Brown Gerygone, Yellow Robin and Silvereye.

After visiting the den we returned by the Mitchell River walk. Along the river we heard a Brush Cuckoo calling, a group of agitated thornbill gave away its location and we were able to see it high in a tree. After crossing the river, the path heads back up the gorge to the car park. At the top we stopped for a while to watch a Peregrine Falcon glide along the cliff top and also noticed a flock of White-throated Needletail to high up to be seen with the naked eye.

Back in the car park a small flock of Musk Lorikeet passed through.

We drove around to the Billy Goat bend campground, from the campground a path leads out to a spectacular view of the Mitchell River. By this time a strong wind had blown up and heavy dark clouds were threatening so we reluctantly made the decision to return to Melbourne.

Mitchell River Trip List