By Toni Stevens 6 January 2024
On an intimate Dawn Discovery Tour at Wildlife Wonders, your conservationist guide will give you exclusive insights into the lives of some of the more elusive and rarely seen animals who call the Otways home, and getting up early gives you the chance to spot them in action.
“It’s a really different experience to visit the sanctuary at dawn, as the sun rises over the Southern Ocean and the dawn chorus of birds heralds the start of the day,” says Operations Manager Delaney Martin.
“On a Dawn Discovery Tour you get a full 90-minutes to soak up the atmosphere in our sanctuary, followed by a delicious breakfast and coffee or glass of bubbles at the café,” says Del. It’s such a wonderful way to start your day in Apollo Bay.”
For Wildlife Guide Nicole Tielemans, the abundance of birds is one of the things she loves most about guiding the dawn tours at Wildlife Wonders.
“From the moment we leave the door we start hearing all the birds,” says Nicole. “We commonly see Gang-gang Cockatoos, a flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos and even Rufous Fantails on our tours.”
“At the moment, what I’m really excited about is how many cicadas are here with this current weather,” says Nicole. “More cicadas mean more birds, and we are seeing a lot of birds here that we haven’t seen before.
“The other day I spotted a Brown Falcon cruising over the grasslands which overlook the Southern Ocean, and that’s a place where we also regularly see a white morph Grey Goshawk that nests here.”
“I’ve also noticed Eastern Yellow Robin and White Earned Honeyeater nests in our forest, and I love how the Yellow Robins dart away and start vocalizing to try to distract our attention away from their nests”.
Last month, Nicole and the other nature guides were thrilled to spot a pair of Blue-winged Parrots at Wildlife Wonders. These vulnerable birds migrate north from Tasmania annually, before returning south for the breeding season. They were listed as vulnerable in March 2023 after a significant decline in their population was observed.
“It was such a thrill to spot them here at Wildlife Wonders,” says Nicole.
Visits to the sanctuary are by guided tour only, but the on-site café is open daily from 9.30am to 2.30pm.
Walk with Wildlife Tours depart at 10am, 11am, 2pm and 3pm.
Dawn Discovery Tours are run seasonally on Thursday mornings from November to March departing at 6.30am.