Winter Solstice weekend

I started off the weekend by heading to Woorim on Bribie Island Saturday morning to see if any Fluttering Shearwaters were present. They can often be viewed from here during the winter months but none were sighted during the time I was there. Common birds for the site were recorded including Pied Cormorant, Crested and Caspian Terns, Silver Gull and a couple of Australasian Gannets. The Gannets are also regular winter visitors to our area. While there, I was entertained by a pod of about 10-12 Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins which are regularly recorded from here (Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins are also recorded from here but I didn’t see any this morning).

Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins of the beach at Woorim with Moreton Island in the background

Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins off the beach at Woorim with Moreton Island in the background

 

Leaving here I headed to Buckleys Hole Conservation Park on the south-west coast of Bribie. Among a couple of highlights here was a single Beach Stone-curlew which was nice to see as I haven’t seen one at this site for a while although I am sure they are usually present, maybe further along the beach or sheltering in the coastal scrub or mangal. There is a pair that is regularly observed at the Kakadu Beach wader roost a little further up the west coast at Banksia Beach. Flying over was a flock of eight Musk Lorikeets. This species has been reported from various places in Brisbane over the last few weeks. They are irregular visitors to the coast around Brisbane being more often recorded around the Great Dividing Range and slopes in South-east Qld. In some years large numbers turn up and stay for quite a while. A Black-backed Bittern was heard calling while I was in the hide – presumably a female by the call. A non-avian highlight was a small school of Longtail Tuna boiling briefly just off the beach.

Beach Thick-knee at Buckleys Hole Conservation Park

Beach Thick-knee at Buckleys Hole Conservation Park

Longtail Tuna off Buckleys Hole Conservation Park

Longtail Tuna off Buckleys Hole Conservation Park

 

Whistling Kite at Buckleys Hole Conservation Park

Whistling Kite at Buckleys Hole Conservation Park

Moving on from Bribie, Sheep Station Creek Conservation Park was the next stop. Nothing out of the ordinary here but always an enjoyable visit. Noisy Miner was recorded nest building, a single Lace Monitor was out and about and good views were had of one of the dark phase White-bellied Cuckoo Shrikes which are regular here (there are often a couple present).

Dark phase White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike at Sheep Station Creek Conservation Park

Dark phase White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike at Sheep Station Creek Conservation Park

 

An afternoon visit was made to Wallaroo Circuit, North Lakes. The waterhole here has had a relatively co-operative pair of Black-backed Bitterns since at least March. Today when I pulled up, the male showed well briefly. Also of note were a group of five Yellow-rumped Thornbills, one of which was collecting nest material and taking it to a small planted Hoop Pine. Although generally common throughout most of their range in suitable habitat, they are fairly limited around the north side of Brisbane. I have observed them at Bald Hills and Lawnton areas, and there were old reports from Gold Scrub Lane, Samsonvale (pers.comm. T Tarrant). Also nice to see this time of year was a Spotless Crake which aren’t as showy now as they are over the summer months.

Sunday morning started with another visit to Sheep Station Creek Conservation Park. A Black-striped Wallaby posing briefly on the trail was a nice start to the morning as this species is more often heard or glimpsed through the undergrowth as they move away at speed. Other interesting sightings included Black-chinned Honeyeater giving full renditions of its song which hopefully means they are close to nesting, Noisy Miner nest building and nice views of Crested Shrike-tit.

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Black-striped Wallaby at Sheepstation Creek Conservation Park

 

 

After a pleasant couple of hours, I headed out to Winya Road dams near the Kilcoy abbatoir. Nothing out of the ordinary here but it was nice to see a few species of butterflies about on a winters day including Monarch, Lesser Wanderer, Blue Tiger and Meadow Argus.

A tatty Varied Eggfly at Winya Road

A tatty Varied Eggfly at Winya Road

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Inskip Point, 29/03/14

An enjoyable visit was had to Inskip Point on Saturday morning where the highlight for me was a single Black Noddy that hung around the point for the duration of my visit.

Black Noddy at Inskip Point

Black Noddy at Inskip Point

Black Noddy at Inskip Point

Black Noddy at Inskip Point

 

After arriving at the end carpark at around 8am, I headed down the short track which runs between the road and the inside of the point. There were many platelets made by Black-breasted Button-quail visible as usual with the freshest ones at the far end of the track near the clearing and it was here that a pair were observed foraging about 10m in off the track. A couple of Lace Monitors were observed through here as well plus many of the usual birds including Sacred Kingfisher, Little Wattlebird, White-cheeked Honeyeater, Fairy Gerygone, White-browed Scrubwren and Eastern Yellow Robin.

Black-breasted Button-quail at Inskip Point

Black-breasted Button-quail at Inskip Point

Walking out onto the point there were many terns on the beach as well as some Red-necked Stint and Double-banded Plovers which were possibly recent arrivals of this winter visitor. Several Pied Oystercatchers were also present. While scanning through the terns for something unusual a Black Noddy flew by along the waterline. After a short disappearance it returned and landed on the point on the outer edge of the the rest of the birds. During the entire course of my visit it was mostly seen foraging in the shallows and at times came to within 2 metres of me.

Double-banded Plover at Inskip Point

Double-banded Plover at Inskip Point

Bar-tailed Godwit at Inskip Point

Bar-tailed Godwit at Inskip Point

White-breasted Woodswallow at Inskip Point

White-breasted Woodswallow at Inskip Point

Black Noddy at Inskip Point

Black Noddy at Inskip Point

Black Noddy at Inskip Point

Black Noddy at Inskip Point

 

 

 

 

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Mount Mee section, D’aguilar National Park, November 15th, 2013

A quick drive to Mount Mee on Friday night produced a single Long-nosed Potoroo – a species I used to see fairly regularly here in the nineties – as well as Long-nosed Bandicoot, Red-necked Pademelon, Common Ringtail Possum, Marbled Frogmouth and Southern Boobook. A plethora of calling frogs were heard after a week of stormy weather including Great-barred Frog, Wilcox’s Frog, Red-eyed Frog and Laughing Treefrog. Another surprise on the way out was a Stephen’s Banded Snake crossing the road.

Long-nosed Bandicoot at the Gantry Day-use Area Mount Mee

Long-nosed Bandicoot at the Gantry Day-use Area Mount Mee

 

Great Barred Frog

Great Barred Frog

Wilcox's Frog

Wilcox’s Frog

Stephen's Banded Snake

Stephen’s Banded Snake

 

 

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Nathan Road Wetlands Reserve, Rothwell 20/10/13

A good morning was spent at this reserve which although small, has turned up some good birds over the years. This morning yielded two vagrant species to south-east Queensland as well as a few other nice birds.

Pectoral Sandpiper with Sharp-tailed Sandpipers

Pectoral Sandpiper with Sharp-tailed Sandpipers

 

 

 

 

 

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Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus4192

On arriving there was a solitary Black-necked Stork standing at the western end of the receding main water body. Most of the ducks that had been present while the water was higher were absent with about 30-40 Chestnut Teal and two Pink-eared Duck. All three Ibis species were recorded as well as common things like Purple Swamphen and Black-winged (White-headed) Stilts.

 

Recurvirostra novaehollandiae4231Several Red-necked Avocet were also present. Red-kneed Dotteral were common. A single Buff-banded Rail was also found foraging along a muddy edge.

The drying out wetlands has plenty of habitat for foraging waders currently with several Marsh Sandpipers, approximately 80 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, four Red-necked Stints, a single Black-tailed Godwit, two Pectoral Sandpipers (one of the aforementioned vagrants) and a Wood Sandpiper (the other vagrant) all recorded during the visit.

The pair of Swamp Harriers that were present over winter appeared to have left. The only raptors recorded were a pair of Whistling Kites and a pair of Peregrine Falcons. There are a pair of Peregrine Falcons that frequent Redcliffe Hospital and this may have been the same pair.

Other birds observed included Australian Koel, Forest Kingfisher, Australian Reed-warbler and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin.

 

 

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D’aguilar National Park, Mount Mee section, 20/10/12

Went for a quick drive to Mount Mee on Saturday night hoping for a few reptiles. I didn’t get too much while driving around but saw a couple of nice things.

Along Sellins Road on the way in was a recently deceased Bandy Bandy as well as a Southern Boobook. This is a fairly reliable place to see this species around dusk with them often being seen perched on the fence posts.

As I got to the intersection of Lovedays and Neurum Creek Rds at the Gantry there was a Rough-scaled Snake on the road.

Rough-scaled Snake

Rough-scaled Snake

I stopped in at the Mill Rainforest to look for Marbled Frogmouth and heard one calling as soon as I stopped the car. A single Long-nosed Bandicoot was the only other animal observed here although I could hear some possums in the trees. Common Ringtail and Mountain Brushtail are both regular in this part of the forest.

Before heading home I drove a few kilometres along Peggs Road seeing nothing on the way down but getting a nice Golden-crowned Snake on the return trip.

Golden-crowned Snake

Golden-crowned Snake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Golden-crowned Snake

Golden-crowned Snake

 

The forest is still extremely dry which may be the reason that things are still quiet at the moment.

 

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Gold Creek Reservoir, 30th June 2012

After dropping off a part at Fig Tree Pocket in western suburbs of Brisbane, I decided to visit Gold Creek Reservoir for the morning to see if it lived up to the hype of a good birding site. It did.

Arriving a few minutes after 8am, I followed the track clockwise around the lake. Birding was a little bit slow through the open forest but there were patches of birds including Australian King-parrot, Pale-headed Rosella and Golden Whistler. Around the grassy lake edge were White-faced Heron, Red-backed Fairy-wren and Red-browed Finch. Not too many birds were present on the water- 25 Australasian Grebe, Little Black Cormorants, Pacific Black Duck and Dusky Moorhen. Welcome Swallows hawked over the lake and the manicured lawn below the dam wall.

Towards the upstream end of the reservoir, the track passed through a small patch of vine forest and highlights here included Russet-tailed Thrush, Painted Button-quail x 3 and a very vocal pair of Lewin’s Rail which behaved in a typical manner by remaining hidden from view under a large Lantana clump despite being less than ten metres away.

After following the trail – which was in poor shape in places – I ended up back on the same section of the track where I had observed the Painted Button-quail so I returned back to the car. Before leaving I decided to have a look at the last causeway before you reach the gate to the reservoir. White-eared Monarch are often reported from here and after a crude imitation of the call, I had a single bird fly straight in ending the mornings birding in style.

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Darwin and Mataranka, NT 9th-17th June 2012 Part 3

continued from part 2

Tuesday I again headed to Channel Island and Palmerston STW, East Point and Buffalo Creek. There were plenty of sea turtles around the bridge but I was not confident in identifying any of them I am sure there was at least two species including Green and I did get a good look at a Hawksbill Turtle on Wednesday. If anyone is familiar with this area I would like to hear from you what the likely species may have been. Also there were a pair of Batfish swimming around below me which I am sure I have narrowed down to species but again I would like to hear from someone familiar with this location or area. A single Red-backed Kingfisher was present on powerlines along Channel Island Road between the bridge and Wickham Point turnoff.

Wednesday morning was spent at Charles Darwin NP, Channel Island yet again and the afternoon saw me searching unsuccessfully for Rufous Owls at the Botanic Gardens. Some good birds at Charles Darwin NP included Mangrove Golden Whistler, Arafura Fantail and Dusky Honeyeater.

After picking Ashley up from the Airport at 6am on Thursday, we headed for the Botanic Gardens on the off chance of hearing Rufous Owl returning to roost. Next stop was Channel Island Rd for Red-backed Kingfisher. By the time we reached Pine Creek it was the middle of the day and no Hooded Parrots could be located. We continued on to Mataranka. After arriving in the afternoon and asking the hosts at Mataranka Cabins about the possibility of Rufous Owl, we had a bit of a look around the Red Goshawk nest. On being advised that we were likely to have more success late in the afternoon, a trip was made into town for some tucker and then we returned and tried our luck finding roosting Rufous Owls – unsuccessfully. Back to the Red Goshawk and one flew in just as we got there. It was thought to be the female from last seasons hatch. With that one under the belt we went back to the cabins park and down to the boat ramp. Just before dusk I just happened to turn around after hearing a noise in the gully beside me and there was a large owl sitting out in the open. A nice Rufous Owl which allowed us to watch and photograph it for a couple of minutes before moving off. After this we did a night drive down John Hauser Drive which proved uneventful.

The following morning we had a quick look to see if the Goshawk was present but it wasn’t visible to us at the time so we started back towards Darwin. A brief stop was made on the Central Arnhem Hwy about 6km in off the Stuart Hwy after Ashley spotted a Bustard in the woodland. Other birds here included Varied Lorikeet, Yellow-tinted, Rufous-throated, Banded and Black-chinned (Golden-backed) Honeyeater. After a quick and unsuccessful check at Chainman Creek west of Katherine for Chestnut-backed Button-quail, we again tried Pine Creek for Hooded Parrot and again failed. It was late morning so after lunch at the cafe we decided to head back to our accomodation at Tumbling Waters Caravan Park to drop our bags off and then try Buffalo Creek for Chestnut Rail.

The Chestnut Rail didn’t put in an appearance although they were heard calling around dusk. There were some waders and terns for Ashley to sort through as well as the ever present Pacific Reef Egret, White-bellied Sea-eagle and Azure Kingfisher.

Saturday the decision was made to visit Adelaide River Bridge for the Mangrove Golden Whistler and Arafura Fantail, then we headed to the Marrakai Road to try for the Gouldian Finches and Buff-sided Robin. Both were easily located as well as the Freshwater Croc I’d seen earlier in the week. After spending some time birding at a few spots along the road we headed back to the accommodation for a couple of hours before trying Buffalo Creek again for the Chestnut Rail. Again we dipped.

Sunday we decided to try Buffalo Creek yet again for the Rail before heading to the airport. We were rewarded almost instantly with brief but good views of a bird out in the open across from the boat ramp. A nice end to another great visit to Darwin.

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Darwin and Mataranka, NT 9th-17th June 2012 Part 2

continuing on from part 1

Monday was spent around Adelaide River Bridge on the Arnhem Hwy, Marrakai Rd (between the Arnhem Hwy and Bamboo Creek) and Fogg Dam. Leaving Darwin first thing in the morning , my first stop was Anzac Parade which runs from Arnhem Hwy past Fogg Dam. The main purpose here was to check if there were any Red-backed Kingfisher. Two pairs were observed between the Highway and the Fogg Dam.

Next stop was the Adelaide River Bridge a bit further along the highway. This area is reputed to be reliable for Mangrove Golden Whistler and I can attest to that as I have had 100% success in four visits. A few other species were observed here such as Little Corella, Varied Triller and Arafura Fantail.

En route to Marrakai Rd a Dingo was observed near Leaning Tree Lagoon. Several good birds were observed along this road with the highlight for me being Gouldian Finches. Although I didn’t catch up with the numbers that were being reported, I saw a couple of pair with one pair feeding a number of dependants. There are also plenty of Black-tailed Treecreepers along this road. There were plenty of Diamond Doves, White-winged Trillers and Little Woodswallows. Raptors were well represented and included Black-breasted Buzzard, Brown Goshawk and Brown Falcon. A stop at a small creek crossing provided close views of a young Freshwater Crocodile that was doing its best to convince me either it wasn’t there or it was dead. In a small waterhole were plenty of Black-banded Rainbowfish. On arriving at Bamboo Creek, Buff-sided Robin were quickly found. Another nice bird here was a single male Red-backed Button-quail. I had to do a double take as back home it is really difficult to get on ground views (let alone clear on ground views) of this species. As there was no ground cover along the banks of the creek I had great views as it walked between Bamboo clumps. I turned around at this point and headed back out to the highway and on to Fogg Dam.

My plan was to stay after dark to do a few drives along the dam wall as it can be a great place to see various species of snakes. This plan was cut back to two passes due to three cars of locals collecting Northern Long-necked Turtles making it difficult (for me anyway) to spot anything along the causeway. I did see a single Keelback and a Northern Brown Bandicoot.

Arriving here around midday, I started by doing both walks (Monsoon Forest Walk and Woodlands to Waterlillies Walk). Even though it was a quiet part of the day there were plenty of birds around including Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Collared Sparrowhawk, Little Bronze-cuckoo, Broad-billed Flycatcher, Shining Flycatcher, Grey Whistler and Bar-breasted Honeyeater. From the walks I went straight to the hide across the other side of the causeway where there were plenty of waterbirds including Radjah Shelduck, Pied Heron, Glossy Ibis and Australian Pratincole. Moving back to the causeway there was a small Estuarine Crocodile basking on a small mud island. Birds included Green Pygmy-goose, White-bellied Sea-eagle, Paperbark Flycatcher and Crimson Finch.

Leaving the dam after dark, a nice surprise in the form of an Orange-naped Snake was on Anzac Parade between the dam turnoff and the highway.

Continued in part three.

 

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Darwin and Mataranka, NT 9th-17th June 2012 Part 1

A mate from the UK was making a stopover in Darwin en route to lead one of his tours in PNG and asked if I wanted to join him. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse as I love this region. Ashley wasn’t arriving until the 14th and only had two main targets although there were several lifers available for him in the area. The targets were Rufous Owl and Red-backed Kingfisher and I had decided to go to Mataranka to get the Red Goshawk for Ashley and as a second site for Rufous Owl which proved to work well.

Saturday afternoon was spent around East Point Reserve, Botanical Gardens (unsuccessfully looking for the Rufous Owls that are often present) and Buffalo Creek Boat Ramp where I didn’t bother staying due to the amount of people around. It was a nice afternoon catching up with species I don’t get to see too often in recent years such as Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Torresian Imperial Pigeon, Green-backed Gerygone, White-gaped Honeyeater, Red-headed Honeyeater and Yellow White-eye to name a few.

Sunday morning I headed out to Channel Island to try for Great-billed Heron (unsuccessfully) and Palmerston Sewage Treatment Works for mangrove species and waterbirds. Although I dipped on Great-billed Heron (not a lifer but I haven’t seen one in a long time) I managed to get 25 species on this small island while I was here. Some of the birds here included Pacific Reef Egret, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher, Yellow Oriole and Great Bowerbird.

As I was standing on the bridge I heard several microbats making a racket from under the bridge. In the expansion gaps on horizontal tops of several support pylons were numbers of medium to large microbats that I thought may have been a species of Sheathtail or Mastiff bat from the poor views that I could obtain. If anyone reading this has experience in this location or could enlighten me on the most probable species that would be located here I would really appreciate hearing from you.

Leaving the bridge I headed for the Palmerston poo ponds catching up with Radjah Shelduck, Pied Heron, Shining Flycatcher, Rufous-banded Honeyeater and Crimson Finch among others. A nice surprise for the area was an immature Black-breasted Buzzard being mobbed by Sulphur-crested Cockatoos over woodland immediately to the south. Species dipped on that are often seen here included Mangrove Grey Fantail and Mangrove Robin.

As it was only around noon, I headed to Howard Springs Nature Reserve to fill in some more of the day. There were plenty of mosquitos here as usual but they were bearable. This reserve is renowned for Rainbow Pitta and I managed to see one here. Other nice birds included Arafura Fantail, Grey Whistler and Large-billed Gerygone. Repticks here for me included Arafura File Snake, Macleays Water Snake and Northern Yellow-faced Turtle. There were several fish species including Barramundi, Black Catfish and Sooty Grunter.

Contined in part 2

 

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Brisbane Birding, April 27th-29th

I had the good fortune to show a prominent US birder some birds on his first visit to Brisbane over the previous weekend.

Friday 27th

After picking David up from the airport around midday and checking into his temporary digs we headed to Nudgee Beach to look for a couple of target birds – Mangrove Honeyeater and Mangrove Gerygone. As well as the targets we recorded several other species here such as Striated Heron, Spangled Drongo, an immature Rufous Fantail in the mangroves, Rufous Whistler and Grey Shrike-thrush.

Next stop was Osprey House in Griffin to get the Australian Owlet-nightjar that is often here. The bird was present and after spending a little time with it I decided to drive through the suburbs of Kallangur and Petrie to look for Square-tailed Kite. A pair of this species frequents the area every autumn and into winter but due to the heavily overcast conditions I wasn’t hopeful of coming across them and alas they remained unticked. After a bit of a look around we headed back to David’s accommodation and ended the days birding.

Saturday 28th

After some heavy rain overnight which was forecast to continue through Saturday along the coastal plain, I decided to head out to the Lockyer Valley where the radar showed a light drizzle happening. First I had to vote, so along the way we stopped at Nudgee Beach again to pick up Australian Pied Oystercatcher. After leaving Narangba we headed over Mount Glorious stopping to dip on the Red-browed Treecreeper and continued out of the heavier rain into the light drizzle that was falling in the valley. Picking up several Banded Lapwing on the turf farm across from Boyces Rd, but dipping on Ground Cuckoo-shrike, we made our way to Lake Gallettly for Pink-eared Duck, Blue-billed Duck and Little Grassbird. The two ducks were happy to show themselves but the Little Grassbird remained  heard only for today. We left here and headed to Lake Clarendon to look for Black Falcon but could not see any birds either perched or in the air. We decided to call it a day and head for home. As soon as we crossed the D’aguilar Range we were back in heavy rain again but this eased overnight.

Sunday 29th

The sun was shining as we set off Sunday morning and headed to JC Slaughter falls to look for Powerful Owl. Due to the previous nights rain the Aboriginal Heritage Trail was closed and with the creek swollen, access to the owls roosting areas was difficult so we had to leave this one go. Next stop was Bellbird Grove for Spotted Quail-thrush which were easily located. We headed for Maiala in the D’Aguilar NP at Mount Glorious and among common rainforest species the target of Russet-tailed Thrush was found. After completing the Rainforest circuit I decided to head for Wivenhoe Outlook to have another go for Red-browed Treecreeper. It remained unticked for my new American friend. As I walked back to the car feeling a little defeated I made the executive decision to try around Lake Samsonvale for some newly returned Rose Robins. These are winter visitors to the foothills and coastal plain. A call was made to Tom Tarrant and after coming down to the Samsonvale cemetery it was decided to try the end of Postmans Track as he had seen some here the weekend before. We ended up seeing some ‘brown’ birds and hearing more but didn’t get to sight any nicely coloured males. Among several common species for the area was a flock of Varied Sittellas which I always enjoy seeing. As it was getting into late afternoon we decided to call it a day and head back into Hendra to the accommodation.

Although I was disappointed with the lifer tally I was able to get for David, I had to concede that it wasn’t to bad considering that Saturday was almost a complete washout.

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