Living on Lord Howe Island


A Bench for Birders

Posted by Pinetrees Lodge – Sunday, January 07, 2018

Contributed by Denis Corcoran: Birders rejoice! This is arguably one of the best places on the island to view seabirds in full flight.

Using colloquial bird slang, the official name for a group of sea birds is called a ‘wreck’. However this phrase seems grossly inappropriate to the scene at this bird watching location. 

I’m up on the side of Intermediate Hill, sitting on a wooden bench with an unparalleled view of Blinky Beach, but I’m also at eye level with a multi-tiered highway of birds gliding along effortlessly in the wind.

The whole scene quickly becomes intoxicating for the inner bird watcher within me. The gracefulness of each unique bird’s glide is something of a marvel, some hardly look like they’re breaking a sweat, and others are flapping about in their unique synchronised rhythm. I can see why they call bird watching ‘twitching’ - because that’s exactly what I find myself doing. My eyes dart about the sky, my smile widens, my mouth opens and shuts, I jiggle left, I shuffle right, I weave and bop as my eyes follow the hundreds of birds - and I haven’t even left my seat!

Up here you’ll see the Masked booby, aka the Albatross’ little sibling, the smooth talking and forever squawking Sooty tern, the not-so-Common noddy, the fancy named Wedge-tailed shearwater (commonly known as the simple Muttonbird), and who could forget the Black winged petrel which looks like the slick-black-suited Robo-Cop of the sky.

To get here you need to begin your journey at the track which starts from the end of the airport. This is where you’ll leave your bikes and scupper up the cow-pat-plotted grassy slope to the stile at the start of the tree line. This is also the same trail that heads straight up to Intermediate Hill, but instead of the aggressive slug straight up for 235 more metres, you veer left and follow the contours around the side of the hill for approximately one kilometre. It will take the average walker around 45 minutes. Birders, add another 30 minutes.

The lookout bench is a nice little surprise when you’re not expecting it, a place to park up and suck in a few deep ones, or if you’re of the feather inspired tribe, a place to whip out the ‘binos’ and settle in for 30 minutes.

Several hundred metres into the walk, just as the track starts to climb on a steep gradient, a stairway of recently reconstructed wooden steps leads you to a bird watching bench of pleasure. The days of pulling yourself up a muddy slope with a rope are nothing but a distant memory. Now from the top of this rise, 3/4 of the way around Intermediate Hill on the way to Muttonbird Point is one of the most spectacular vantage points to watch Lord Howe Island’s sea birds in full flight.

The foliage has been trimmed in all the right places, opening up previously obstructed views, and from here a sweeping 180 degree view greets you, stretching all the way from Transit Hill to Muttonbird Island, with Blinky Beach down below. It’s definitely got the wow factor.

Set against a backdrop of open sky and popcorn clustered clouds, the bird gliding show unfolds. What can only be interpreted in layman’s terms as the backdraft off the side of the Lord Howe’s third highest peak, the wind creates a vacuum of current on which the birds seem to play!

The Sooty terns soar and the waves down at Blinky below roar - this is certainly another one of those Lord Howe moments that will drop your jaw.

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About Dani Rourke

HELP! I have 2 children, 25 staff and up to 75 guests. I was a lawyer for 10 years, but escaped. My husband and I moved from Sydney to beautiful Lord Howe Island to run Pinetrees Lodge, which has been in my family for 6 generations. I'm writing about family business, island life and the whole work/family disaster. Did someone say balance? When I'm not writing, my lovely staff do it for me - they see more of the island than I do.

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