Terrick Terrick National Park (TTNP) is located just over 200km north of Melbourne, and comprises of light forest and grasslands. There is a single campsite along with an outhouse and picnic area situated near a large rocky hill called Mount Terrick Terrick.
So how’s the birding? The picnic area abounds with little brown birds like Jacky Winter and Brown Treecreeper. Near the cemetery not far from the picnic area we saw White-browed babbler, Red-capped Robin, and one of either Brown Goshawk or Collared Sparrowhawk.
Now there are two large rock formations in the park aside from Mount Terrick Terrick: Bennett’s Rock and Reigel’s Rock. In fact from the top of any of these, you can see the other two. Both sites are a meeting of the forest and rockier habitats and proved to be great birding. Reigel’s Rock was first on our list, and on the way we saw a kangaroo drinking site. This region is a little different than the more forested area of the park, being more sparse and rocky.
In the area near Reigel’s Rock we were lucky to catch a fairly nice glimpse of Diamond Firetail, a species that is supposed to be in decline. (We read that it’s possible to see it near the toilet but we never did.)
It’s not hard to climb to the top of Reigel’s Rock and get a view of the vast expanses of farmland surrounding the park. Since there is a relatively open view it’s not a bad place for raptors, and we managed to see both the Peregrine Falcon and the massive Wedge-tailed Eagle.
After Reigel’s rock we tried the Paddocks. This area is outside the main area of the park and much of it is conserved grassland. We weren’t very impressed by it. For one, it’s basically just driving down roads much more bumpy than the other park roads, and it also was mostly devoid of interesting things. We got worse views of some Wedge-tailed Eagles and we saw a large flock of black birds that we were never able to identify.
The next day we tried Bennett’s Rock. This area is pretty cool and has lots of spiders. Unlike Reigel’s Rock, it has a large flat area at the top and is more forested, and has a fair number of Ringnecks.
We also saw White-browed Babbler here again as well as Hooded Robin. We liked this area so much we came on our last day at the park again and also saw Dusky Woodswallow and Eastern Rosella.
Throughout the park we repeatedly saw White-winged Chough. The Chough is a timid bird and scares easily, so it was difficult to get a good picture of it. But the most common of all birds was probably the Galah. It’s probably impossible to go for five minutes during the day without seeing the crazy antics of this classic pink Cockatoo. We saw a flock of about two hundred near the paddocks that sounded like an approaching storm. It was one of the coolest things I ever saw!
At the other end of the spectrum was the elusive Plains-wanderer that we never saw. I’m not surprised that we didn’t see it, though I hope it’s doing well there in TTNP. Perhaps it was in the Paddocks that we never really gave a chance? We also saw no owls, though we heard some sounds that seemed to suggest Boobook or Barking owl.
There are other creatures in the park besides birds too. I already mentioned the many spiders, but there are also many kangaroos or wallabies. We saw at least thirty or forty in three days, including some fence-hopping action. The stare of a large kangaroo early in the morning really gave our stay some Australian atmosphere.
One thing I think is unfortunate about TTNP is that there are so many dirt roads (“tracks”) running through it. I think it’d be better, conservation-wise, if most of these were replaced with walking-only trails, and maybe just the main roads of Sylvaterre and Mologa were kept. This way, you could take more walks in the park without having to be disturbed by seeing or hearing vehicles. Moreover less erosion would occur as a result of fewer people taking their vehicles off the tracks, which seems to occur here and there. I think TTNP is pretty nice in spite of the large number of tracks, but I can see vehicular use getting out of hand if the park ever became much more popular.
Overall though, the park has a strong feeling of solitude and was a very welcome contrast from the busy city life of Melbourne. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, and were sad to leave. Even the trip on the way back rewarded us with raptors on fenceposts, and we managed to see both the Brown Falcon and the Nankeen Kestrel not far outside the park.
Also on a fencepost but not a raptor was a Masked Woodswallow, so we stopped the car to take its picture. The action of doing so attracted a couple of very serious-looking birding dudes in a truck, who immediately stopped too and wanted to know what we saw. I don’t think they were too impressed that we saw Diamond Firetail and Wedge-tailed Eagle. They said they were out there to find Letter-winged Kite, and left Melbourne at 3am on a tip that it was around. Unfortunately, we didn’t see the Letter-winged Kite, which looks quite similar to the Black-shouldered Kite that we have seen at the Western Treatment Plant, but is much more rare and stays inland. I hope they managed to see it, but I’m just happy we found a few Ringnecks and in total fifteen new birds for our quest.