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.