South-West Queensland (April 1999)


Brisbane to Thargomindah via Sundown NP, Mulga View, Eulo, Carpet Springs, Lake Bindegolly. Thargomindah to Brisbane via Eulo, Mulga View, Broadwater Lagoon and Lockyer Valley

Black-breasted Buzzard

Crested Bellbird

Black-breasted Buzzard
(Hamirostra leucosternum)

Crested Bellbird
(Oreoica gutteralis)

Marie and I accompanied two overseas birders, Detlef Davies from the UK and Michael Knoll from Germany on a trip to Sundown National Park near Stanthorpe, S Qld commencing on Saturday 10 April 1999. About a kilometre from the park entrance we encountered a superb male Turquoise Parrot which allowed me to get some reasonable video-footage, although it decided to leave when the others tried still-photography!

From lunch-time on Saturday to the same time Sunday we came across most of the noted Sundown species including White-browed Babbler, Dusky Woodswallow, Southern Whiteface and Diamond Firetail although this time we missed Plum-headed Finch and White-backed Swallow. Marie returned to Brisbane that afternoon and Michael, Detlef and I headed west to spend the evening near Mulga View Station approximately 30kms from St George. The evening turned out to be very quiet and the visitors were looking a bit glum from the long drive and my talk of probable Horsfield's Bronze and Black-eared Cuckoos which were distinctly absent. Fortunately the following morning morning their spirits were revived with good views of Spotted Bowerbird, Mallee Ringneck and Pink Cockatoo. Continuing west we stopped at Bollon and searched again (in vain) for Plum-heads and someone forgot to take their binoculars off the car-roof and a birders worst fear was realised....fortunately they were just about useable and a trip back to Brisbane for a new pair wasn't required. Near Munda Munda on the Bollon to Cunnamulla road there is usually an area of inundation, where I have seen some good stuff in the past, on this occasion Brolga, Pink-eared Duck and Hoary-headed Grebe were the high-lights.

Turquoise Parrot

Common Bronzewing

Turquoise Parrot
(Neophema pulchella)

Common Bronzewing
(Phaps chalcoptera)

The whole route seemed much 'greener'than on previous visits due to recent rains but I was disappointed to find most of the 'mitchell-grass' plains in the Cunnamulla area to be over-grazed and consequently lacking in Little Button-Quail. Surprisingly we did not see Black-faced Woodswallow on the outward journey until Eulo and no Brown Songlark and few Brown Falcons seemed to be in this area.
On arrival at Eulo we arranged to spend a couple of nights at the camp-site run by our old friend Nan Pike, who told us that Easter had been very wet and the whole place was looking very lush and good for birds.
The first afternoon we spent about an hour near Eulo on the Hungerford road coming across Brown-headed Honeyeater, Black-breasted Buzzard, Blue Bonnets and many Pink Cockatoos also in a mulga-bush I found an unusual 'Bearded' Dragon, I've seen them in western Queensland before but not of the same colour as the local earth which this seemed to be. In the evening we headed to Eulo Bore where Michael managed to flush half-a-dozen Bourkes Parrots but we saw very little else there.

Golden-backed Honeyeater

Mallee Ringneck

'Golden-backed' Honeyeater
(Melithreptus gularis laetior)

Mallee Ringneck
(Barnardius barnardi)

After a sumptous evening meal in the 'Eulo Queen' Hotel we rose early and drove to the distinct ridge about 4kms from Eulo Bore where we quickly came across a pair of Chestnut-breasted Quail-Thrush. For future reference note the numbers on the telegraph poles, this species can normally be found between 255-257 and during the previous week a Plains Wanderer was spotted somewhere between 260-261.
At this site we found several White-browed Treecreeper which conveniently sat still in the early sun rays (I've had this experience with at least 2 other Treecreeper species) allowing me to film them. Also there were Crested Bellbird and White-winged Triller. On the slope down to Eulo Bore we were fortunate to find a group of Chestnut-crowned Babbler awaking from their roost-nest and a handful of Ground Cuckoo-Shrike flew across the road in the distance.
From here we returned to Eulo for breakfast where Michael celebrated 5 or 6 'ticks'and then went out to Carpet Springs to the west on the Thargomindah road where he found several Black-chinned Honeyeaters of the 'Golden-backed' race laetior in a flowering gum along with many White-plumed Honeyeaters and Yellow-throated Miners. A pair of Black-breasted Buzzard flew tantalizingly close but seemed to be miles away every time I attempted to film them! Strangely unlike previous trips at the same time of year no Chirruping Wedgebills were calling in the area.

Masked Woodswallow

Masked Woodswallow
(Artamus personatus)

White-browed Woodswallow
(Artamus superciliosus)

Continuing on to Lake Bindegolly we stopped at the causeway and found many Australian Darters, Blue-billed and Musk Duck and assorted wildfowl, though as at Carpet Springs still no Chirruping Wedgebills calling. We spent the middle of the day searching for Orange and Crimson Chat; in vain, but did managed to find about a dozen Freckled Duck and large numbers of Hoary-headed Grebe. Fortunately as we left we spotted a Shingleback Lizard on the newly tarred track to the unfinished Visitors Centre. Detlef and Michael were busy photographing it while I was watching some White-winged Fairy-Wrens when I spotted something sneaking through a clump of grass, at last we had a group of Chirruping Wedgebill!
As it was getting on in the afternoon we set off for Thargomindah reaching there about 2pm. On arrival the vegetation seemed to dramatically change from the arid mulga to the lush green riverine of the Bulloo River and we could hear the calls of thousands of White-browed and Masked Woodswallow, new birds for Michael, then he did it again finding a White-fronted Honeyeater (which I missed....a 'lifer' for me!)and a group of Diamond Doves. We spent a couple of hours searching this area but found little else that was new, and left to try and get to the 'gap' or ridge near Dewalla Springs before nightfall. About 8 years ago Chris Corben had showed me this site as a 'stake-out' for Grey-headed Honeyeater which is fairly south of it's usual known range. We just got there before sunset and while looking for the Honeyeater heard a loud contact call. Sitting just outside their roost-nest were 2 Hall's Babbler and one actually retired whilst we watched; one or two minutes later and we would surely have missed this sought after species. We also just caught brief views of the Honeyeater and photographed a great sunset.
So ended a busy day with much 'ticking'.

White-browed Treecreeper

Unknown 'Dragon'

White-browed Treecreeper
(Climacteris affinis)

Unknown 'Dragon'
(Pogona species?)

We decided to head back on Wednesday to get back to Brisbane before the weekend when Michael had planned to go on a 'pelagic' on his last day in the country. The journey was fairly uneventful after the excitement of the day before and we turned up at the Mulga View area in the early afternoon.
Deciding to take a walk through the Cypress scrub we managed to 'pish' out a few thornbills, Chestnut-rumped, Inland and Yellow, Weebills and Grey Fantails but then Michael found his first Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo and not long after I caught the distant mournful "phew-phew" call of the Black-eared Cuckoo and attempting a poor imitation managed to bring a curious individual in to binocular range. Later whilst taking afternoon tea we spotted 2 birds chasing each other around but as usual not stopping long enough for me to get any video-footage.
Thursday began with the long drive from St George to Dalby where we had planned to spend the night at Lake Broadwater. This must be the most boring road from a birders perspective, nothing but agriculture past the rodside strip and the cotton industry seemingly spreading its 'fauna-free' influence from the St George and Dalby areas.
At Lake Broadwater in the afternoon the birding was a bit quiet; the only highlights being a male Red-capped Robin, White-eared Honeyeater, lots of Plumed Whistling-Duck, Emu and three Musk Ducks. However the following morning we woke up early after a Brush-tailed Possum decided to visit us and sample our breakfast menu, although he did leave promptly without the need for threats! More worrying however was the crop-dusting aircraft which turned fairly close to our campsite, I wonder what the Parks and Wildlife Dept have to say about this activity above an environmental park?
On a lighter note, Michael was beginning to 'twitch' again and so we walked from the campsite down to the lakeside where I hoped we might come across a Painted Button-Quail (Sadly one of the few birds that we eventually failed on) On arrival at the waters edge we flushed a juvenile Rufous Night-Heron and then I heard the pleasant high-pitched call of the Little Lorikeet (another new bird for Michael) after a time we managed to spot several in a large flowering gum, buoyed by this success we made our way to Helidon east of Toowoomba, but found little of interest, still no Plum-heads or White-backed Swallows and where have the Squatter Pigeons gone?


Near Thargomindah

Breakfast at Sundown

Scenery on outskirts of Thargomindah

From Helidon we had a little more luck at Jahnke's Lagoon where we found Pink-eared Duck with young, 3 Cotton Pygmy-Geese, Australian Shoveler and an Australian Hobby. Nearby at Lester Bridge we searched in vain for Blue-winged Kookaburra but managed to spot a lone Black Falcon harassing a Wedge-tailed Eagle, and at Seven-mile Lagoon the whole area was full of birds, however there was so much heat-haze that only the closer species were readily identifiable. Another Australian Hobby landed on the wires very close to the car but waited until we all had our cameras out before flying off again. Whiskered Tern were in large numbers and Glossy Ibis were feeding on the edge near to the vehicle.
Detlef finally got lucky near the Turf-farms at Atkinson's Dam and found a Yellow-billed Spoonbill, his first for SE Qld.
From Atkinson's Dam we made our way over Mt Glorious stopping for a last hunt for Wompoo Pigeon and Paradise Riflebird in the rainforest, heard the pigeon, no sign of the Bird-of-Paradise!
So the journey ended, Michael has now returned to Munich, Detlef will be here until May and I am looking forward to the next trip into the outback!



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