Skip to content

Spotlight Prowl

Have you ever wondered what kinds of creatures you might spot in Centennial Park as the sun goes down?

Sunset is a wonderful time to see some of our nocturnal residents emerge. Follow Louise our Education Ranger to learn more about the animals you might find at night. 

Scientific name: Anas superciliosa

A common visitor to the park, these ducks have a distinctive black stripe across their faces and a bright green patch on their wings visible in flight. They feed mainly on seeds and plants, as well as small crustaceans and aquatic insects that live in our ponds.

Scientific name: Fulica atra

With black feathers and white bill, these birds are often mistaken for young swans! They are found in Europe, Asia, and Australia in swampy areas. You will find them nesting in the plants at the edge of our ponds during breeding season.

Scientific name: Gallinula tenebrosa

Often seen walking across the lily pads in Lily Pond with their long yellow toes spread wide, these dark coloured birds have a bright red patch (facial shield) above their red and yellow beaks. You might hear them sound an alarm call if you get too close.

Scientific name: Porphyrio porphyrio

These birds are much larger than the similar-looking moorhens and have a bright blue-purple neck and chest. They flick their tails as they walk, flashing a white rump. Swamphens eat both plants and small animals,, such as frogs

Scientific name: Cygnus atratus

These beautiful birds can be found all over Australia in wetlands, lakes and rivers. They eat water plants and grasses. Be careful not to get too close when they have cygnets with them!

Scientific name: Anser sp.

A number of domestic geese call the park home. Their flocks can be seen in the ponds or on the fields nearby.

Scientific name: Manorina melanocephala

These native honeyeaters eat nectar, fruit, and insects. They are very territorial and will defend their favourite trees from other birds and animals, even ganging up on large birds of prey!

Scientific name: Trichoglossus haematodus

These brightly coloured birds are often heard in the late afternoon as they come back to roost in large numbers. Lorikeets need tree hollows to build their nests in and can be quite aggressive towards other birds or animals using hollows during the breeding season.

Scientific name: Cacatua sanguinea and C. tenuirostris

The little corella and long-billed corella are cockatoos often found in mixed flocks using their beaks to dig up grass roots and the bulbs of onion weed on the fields. These are playful birds, so you might see them hanging upside-down from tree branches!

Scientific name: Cacatua galerita

The loud cries of these birds are familiar to anyone who has lived in or visited eastern Australia. These cockatoos eat fruits, seeds, nuts, and roots. You might see lots of ‘mess’ under the trees where they have been chewing branches and pine cones, which they are likely to do to keep their beaks from getting too long.

Scientific name: Pteropus poliocephalus

These fruit bats can be found roosting in the swamp during the day, before flying out each night to search for fruit and nectar to eat. Keep a look out for baby flying foxes during late spring and early summer.

Scientific name: Anguilla reinhardtii

These eels live in ponds and rivers along the east coast of Australia. They are nocturnal and feed on insects and small animals such as fish, frogs, and young birds. When they are mature, eels will leave our ponds and travel to the ocean where they spawn. Young eels will eventually find their way back to freshwater to grow.

Scientific name: Trichosurus vulpecula

These large possums are common in Sydney and have adapted well to life in urban areas where their native woodlands have been lost. In the park we have provided extra nesting boxes for them because there aren’t enough tree hollows for all the animals who need them.

Scientific name: Podargus strigoides

With their spotted and striped brown-grey feathers, it can be hard to spot these birds in their favourite paperbark and casuarina trees. To improve their camouflage, a startled bird will stretch out its neck and very closely resembles a broken branch. Tawny frogmouths hunt for insects and small animals at night, but they are not owls!

Scientific name: Ninox strenua

The powerful owl is Australia’s largest owl species. They hunt possums and flying foxes at night, and you might find pellets containing fur and bones on the ground under their favourite roost. These owls mate for life and need a very large hollow in which to lay their eggs.

Scientific name: Sparassidae family

There are many different types of huntsman spider. Most are grey or brown and they often have flattened bodies which allow them to live in narrow spaces, including between the layers of bark on paperbark trees or under logs. These spiders are not dangerous to humans, but they are excellent hunters of insects such as cockroaches!