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Birdland Animal Park Birdland Animal Park, January 2015

Discussion in 'Australia' started by Geoffrey, 5 Jan 2015.

  1. Geoffrey

    Geoffrey Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    6 Oct 2007
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    Location:
    Canberra, ACT
    Birdland Animal Park is a small privately run (mostly) native animal park in Batemans Bay on New South Wales’ South Coast. It is located right on the bay (you can see straight through to the water from some of the exhibits).

    It is probable that my impression of Birdland suffered a bit from having spent the morning at Mogo Zoo, which has never been more obviously thriving. Birdland, by contrast, is much the same as I remember it from my last visit about ten years ago; a sleepy little collection of large wallaby pens, wombats and overcrowded backyard-style aviaries. The contrast in visitor numbers was also notable; Mogo was packed during my visit, whereas I saw fewer than twenty-five people during the whole of the hour and a half I spent at Birdland, despite the fact that it’s only five minutes from central Batemans Bay and it was a sunny Monday in January.

    I should say that there is a small railway that runs around the park on the hour. This is a rather lovely little attraction that doesn’t disturb the animals at all, and is great for kids. There are a lot of free-ranging peafowl and guineafowl throughout the park, as well as wild birds – there was a particularly large flock of Rainbow Lorikeets hanging about. Also anyone planning on going should be aware that there is no real cafeteria; the food on offer is pretty much drinks, ice creams and microwaved sausage rolls and meat pies.

    On entry ($24 for adults, a little steep for what was on offer), I was at least pleased to see that the old “please donate unwanted pet birds here” cage was gone. There were, however, a host of small aquaria and tanks sitting on some tables under the awning, housing an assortment of lizards and the like. There was a Jacky Lizard, two baby Eastern Snake-necked Turtles, a small group of Green Tree Frogs, some stick insects, a goldfish tank, a Freshwater Catfish, two terraria with bearded dragons, and a pair of Blue-tongued Lizards. There was also a cage with a blue-morph Princess Parrot. Apart from the cage, these were all adequate for their inhabitants, if not exactly state-of-the-art exhibits.

    Just behind this area was a small complex called the “orphanage”, which housed some young wombats and kangaroos. The young wombats were delightfully active and barrelling around their yard. The exhibit is dotted with some rather unsightly garden furniture but otherwise is quite green (most of the macropod yards are very brown, which a sign explains is due to the she-oaks’ needles). Around from this area is a small exhibit for two Diamond Pythons.

    Orphanage
    Orphanage
    Orphanage
    Orphanage
    Orphanage
    Diamond Python exhibit
    Sign explaining lack of grass

    The next exhibit (the whole park is very compact) housed a pair of Lace Monitors. I would say this is probably the newest and by far the best-looking exhibit (although when I say “newest”, this was here on my last visit). It’s well-planted and the monitors have plenty of space to hide. There is a sort of picnic area next to this, and doubling back you find the little train station, which has an aviary on either side. One houses a substantial flock of mixed-morph Indian Ring-neck Parrots, as well as three Alexandrines. This aviary also has a pair of Chukar Partridges. On the other side of the station was an aviary with a pair of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, a pair of Little Corellas, and a lone Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo. There was also a small yard housing a pair of echidnas, as well as some Cunningham’s Skinks and Blue-tongued Lizards. (The sign also said bearded dragons, but I couldn’t see any and signs were unreliable throughout the park.)

    Lace Monitor exhibit
    Lace Monitor exhibit
    Lace Monitor exhibit
    Mixed parrot aviary
    Mixed parrot aviary
    Cockatoo aviary
    Echidna yard
    Echidna

    There was a fairly standard koala exhibit behind these aviaries, where I saw two koalas. I then headed off on one of the many paths that branched off from this central area (the place is a bit of a maze, with lots of interlocking paths), and encountered a shady aviary that housed not one, not two but six Tawny Frogmouths, as well as three kookaburras, two Masked Lapwings and a Nankeen Night-heron (the sign also said Grey Butcherbird, which I couldn’t see). This seemed pretty crowded; there wasn’t a lot of activity in here, but it wasn’t a huge aviary. Next were large yards for Agile and Tammar Wallabies, as well as a dingy hutch which housed about a dozen rabbits (rather audaciously labelled “European Rabbit”).

    Koala exhibit
    Frogmouth aviary
    Frogmouth aviary
    Mixed wallabies
    Agile wallaby exhibit
    Agile wallaby exhibit
    Tammar wallaby exhibit
    Rabbit hutch
    Rabbit hutch

    Another group of aviaries was next (near another picnic area). The first – which is a bit larger than the photo suggests, but still a little small – held a Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, a male King Parrot, a female Regent Parrot, a small flock of Cockatiels, a Bush Stone-curlew, a Wonga Pigeon, a White-headed Pigeon, and two Common Bronzewings. Behind this was a more sparsely-planted aviary with two Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, three Regent Parrots, two Crimson Rosellas, a Western Rosella and a Mallee Ringneck. This struck me as a singularly pugnacious mixture, but I saw nothing to suggest any aggression. The third aviary in this group held a small group of Rainbow Lorikeets, a single Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, and a small group of turtles in the pond. What I will say about the Birdland aviaries in general is that they tend to be of basic but fairly sound construction (a lot of chicken wire), planted but not very thickly, and a little to very overcrowded. The whole thing put me very much in mind of backyard aviaries.

    Mixed aviary
    Mixed aviary
    Parrot aviary
    Lorikeet aviary

    Next I found a solitary goat, whose story I have photographed. There was a very long, sparsely populated exhibit for Red Kangaroos, Eastern Greys and an emu, before arriving at the pheasant hutches. I remembered these as the worst part of the park at my last visit, and they still were; small, chicken-wire contraptions containing bedraggled-looking specimens. The first was labelled Lady Amherst’s, but had a male Lady Amherst/Golden hybrid and a fawn Ring-necked. The next had two male Ring-necks, of which the green morph appeared to be missing an eye. The third, which was very densely planted, had a single male Golden Pheasant. Next were a pair of Reeves’s Pheasants, both with shortened tails, and finally a big flock of Barbary Doves with another male Golden Pheasant. It was a warm day and these birds were all fairly exhausted with the heat; most also appeared to be in various stages of moult. Nearby was an aviary housing a pair of Eclectus Parrots and another very small one with two Sulphur-cresteds and a Little Corella.

    Goat yard
    Sign about the goat
    Goat
    Kangaroos/emus
    Ring-tailed Pheasants
    Barbary Doves
    Barbary Doves
    Reeves's Pheasants
    Golden Pheasants
    Ring-neck Pheasants
    Hybrid/ring-neck pheasants
    Hybrid pheasant
    Green-morph ringneck without eye
    Green-morph ringneck without eye
    Eclectus Parrot aviary
    Cockatoo aviary

    Next was an aviary with a single Wedge-tailed Eagle, the story of which is photographed below. This was one of the better exhibits; although it was not particularly elegant, it was a decent size and appeared to meet all the bird’s needs (including a small pond). Nearby was the entry to the kangaroo walk-through (mostly Eastern Greys, but also a Fallow Deer that had apparently been hand-raised alongside kangaroos), which was very large. This was the part of the park that was right on the water, and the whole thing was very pleasant.

    Eagle aviary
    Eagle sign
    Eagle aviary
    Eagle aviary
    Walkthrough
    Walkthrough
    Walkthrough
    Walkthrough

    The path then meanders around along the water (where there are signs to help identify wild birds). There is another wallaby pen with about ten Swamp Wallabies, and then we’re back to aviaries. The first held a flock of Galahs, a flock of Rainbow Lorikeets and a pair of Bush Stone-curlews; again, this was rather small for these birds, I felt. A trio of Southern Boobooks occupied a fair-sized aviary further down the track, and there was a very picturesque little yard shared by an echidna and a group of turtles (the sign claimed Eastern Snake-necked, Saw-shelled and Macquarie). Behind all these was another large yard shared by alpacas, an emu and another goat.

    Signs for wild waterfowl
    Swamp wallaby yard
    Galah aviary
    Owl aviary
    Echidna yard
    Alpaca yard

    The next aviary was probably the least adequate of the lot; it housed a single Masked Owl, but was less than six feet high and had only a single perch. The next aviary had a big group of cockatiels, about ten Red-rumped Parrots and a Japanese Quail, while further along a flock of budgies (mixed morphs) shared with a small flock of Zebra Finches (normal and fawn), a few canaries, a pair of Bourke’s Parrots and a trio of King Quail. Again, this aviary felt very crowded. Lastly I followed a path beside a yard of Fallow Deer to the wombat pens, which were basic but actually a bit larger than they appear in the photos because most of the wombats had access to more than one area.

    Masked Owl aviary
    Cockatiel aviary
    Budgie aviary
    Fallow Deer
    Wombat pen
    Wombat pen
    Wombat pen

    All in all, Birdland is a decidedly modest affair. The aviaries range from decent to not-too-great, but the macropods all have plenty of space and the railway is a nice attraction. The place is pretty dated in a lot of ways, though, and I wonder how well they’re managing with the competition from Mogo, which is in an entirely different league, of course.
     
    Last edited: 5 Jan 2015
  2. snowleopard

    snowleopard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Thanks for the detailed review. Birdland seems as if it is a clone of the 150+ other small Aussie wildlife parks that are stocked with native animals. It most definitely appears to be worth a visit but the $24 entrance fee reminded me just how expensive zoos are down under. For example, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo only costs approximately $16 and it takes an entire day to see!
     
  3. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands Premium Member

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    Location:
    Christmas Island
    Nice review, Geoffrey. I've wanted to visit Birdland for a couple of years but it's too far away, and anytime I've been passing through I either haven't had the time or it's been at night. Your photos give a good impression of the atmosphere of the zoo, as well as the style and construction of the enclosures. There appears to be a lot of trees and vegetation between the exhibits, which I like, and I'm sure would attract a large variety of wild birds.

    Thanks for the review!

    :p

    Hix
     
  4. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Melbourne
     
  5. AlexB

    AlexB Member

    Joined:
    15 Jan 2015
    Posts:
    9
    Location:
    Sydney, NSW, Australia
    In Australia most wildlife parks have to rely on funds from admissions and sponsorships.
    There is not much funding available from local, state or federal government coffers.
    That said, most parks offer special deals during school holidays and even for annual passes, families, etc.
    If you live near a wildlife park, you can volunteer or become a sponsor at the individual, family of community group level (as well as the corporate level). Each of these help the parks to keep their extremely well trained expert staff personnel to ensure the park and animals are well looked after and breeding progams can be maintained.
    Most large zoos get funding from other areas including government funding.
    Maybe our prices seem a little high, but think of what that money is going towards... :)

    Cheers,
    Alex B
     
  6. Geoffrey

    Geoffrey Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Canberra, ACT
    Given the park was clearly not particularly well-off, I didn't mind paying the entrance fee, but there is no doubt that it was steep for what was there. I get the impression that for Birdland, the owners are getting on a bit and there is not a lot of marketing or sponsorship that goes on; the park pretty much chugs along, probably just breaks even, and stays exactly the same. I suspect there are a lot of similar establishments around, and it's not necessarily a bad thing, but given it's fantastic location I'd love to see what some updates could do to a place like this.