Sherwood Arboretum, Aug 2020

Grand parkland, riverside and small lake area with some okay birds.

Date of visit: Aug 16, 2020

Sherwood Arboretum, established in 1925, is a heritage-listed site with 15 hectares of Australian native trees. Sure, it doesn’t have the awesome species list or mystique of nearby Oxley Creek Common, which is surely the premier birding hotspot in inner city Brisbane, but it has quite a different feel.

There is plenty of parking access. I parked within the arboretum grounds, accessed off Jolimont Street, and did a circuit from there through the playground area, which features an enormous fig tree which proved to have several Figbirds playing around within it, then around to the riverside, swinging through the northern section of the arboretum, then through to the lake area. I didn’t see too much on the river, just a few Welcome Swallows swooping over the water and under the jetty, and a Magpie-Lark. Such is Brisbane River though, you can see nothing but if you wait long enough something interesting might very well come by.

The avenue of Kauri Pine that runs north-south through the arboretum is rather impressive, and the overall layout and vibe of the park is quite pleasant, with plenty of facilities.

The northern bushy area didn’t yield many birds, though I did see a couple of shy White-Browed Scrubwrens.

The real birding action seemed to happen in the lake area. This is bisected by a straight pathway, giving great views into the islands on either side – excellent for spotting birds and for photography too. Here there were good views of Australian Wood Duck, Egrets, Swamphens, Little Black Cormorants as well as common species like Pacific Black Duck and White Ibis. It has to be emphasised again, the pathways here do let you get very close to these birds compared to other wetland or lake areas.

There weren’t just water birds in this area, either: I also spotted a Black-Faced Cuckooshrike, a Spotted Dove, and a Blue-Faced Honeyeater. A Welcome Swallow seemed intent on hopping around on the pathway, despite the occasional pedestrian/birder; it might have been nest collecting, but that’s not behaviour I see every day from Welcome Swallows.

Finally on the way back around the southern lake, I came across a Little Pied Cormorant getting attacked by a trio of Noisy Miners. The drama of such incidents makes for great photography, and the Cormorant gamely stood its ground for quite some time. Noisy Miners really are little terrorists when they get into a group.

eBird shows 160 species at this site over all-time, so it seems like you’d have a chance of seeing a few interesting birds here. I only saw common birds on this visit, but people have seen Pale-Vented Bush-hen and Spotless Crake here with probably better chances here than elsewhere. eBird shows Little Friarbirds as more common than Noisy Friarbirds, as well as good chances for White-Headed Pigeons, Buff-Banded Rail and Little Lorikeet.

Sherwood Arboretum is worth a look if you happen to be in the area, or want to visit a premier parkland and do a bit of birding on the side, or want some more birding after pounding the track at Oxley Creek Common.

eBird hotspots:

Nearby eBird hotspots:

Notable species/quality encounters seen in this visit:

  • Figbirds
  • Intermediate Egret
  • Little Black Cormorant
  • Little Pied Cormorant
  • Australian Wood Duck
  • Black-Faced Cuckooshrike
  • Spotted Dove
  • Common species: White Ibis, Pacific Black Duck, Swamphen, Blue-Faced Honeyeater, Welcome Swallow, Magpie-Lark

Pluses and minuses:

+ Inner city location, easy to get to; you could even get there by train
+ Lovely formal park setting and riverside vibe
+ Pathway through the lake area good up close photography of water birds
– Small lakes and not enough dense bush to be super-interesting
– Not as prestigious or as bird-filled as nearby Oxley Creek Common

All images of the Sherwood Arboretum parklands included in this post under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike licence. The banner photo has been cropped and tweaked from “Meanders_at_Sherwood_Arboretum”. Images of birds are, like all other bird photos on this site, owned by and cannot be re-used without explicit permission.

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