Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Birding Around Coolum, Sunshine Coast

The day started with a morning paddle up Coolum Creek in the kayak. This beautiful stretch of waterway is close to the high rises of Coolum, chaotic with holiday-makers at this time of the year, yet I had the place to myself, other than plentiful birdlife including this Rufous Fantail in the mangroves.
This Azure Kingfisher allowed a close approach.
 An Osprey was patrolling the backwaters of Coolum Creek.
Little Pied Cormorants sunning themselves with an Australasian Darter
At the Coolum sewage treatment works, these Wandering Whistling-Ducks and Little Black Cormorants were unperturbed by a large Lace Monitor in their midst
An estimated 200 Wandering Whistling-Ducks were at the treatment works - the largest concentration of this species I have seen in southeast Queensland. With these 4 Wandering Whistling-Ducks were a pair of Grass Whistling-Ducks.

In the grasslands along nearby River Road were several Brown Falcons.

And this neat female  Golden-headed Cisticola.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

A Morning in the Kayak on Coochin Creek, Sunshine Coast

A morning exploring the myriad of waterways in the mangroves of Coochin Creek, Sunshine Coast. I was in this general area - mostly in the Pumicestone Passage - last week and returned because of some interesting things going on here with flycatchers.
I found two new pairs of Shining Flycatchers (including this female), bringing to 12 the number of territories I have found for this species in the Coochin Creek-Pumiceston Passage area during the two visits. Hard to believe that this bird was regarded as extremely rare in southeast Queensland until recently.
I returned to the area because suspicions remain about whether Broad-billed Flycatcher, another predominantly tropical mangrove flycatcher, may be about. I posted photographs last week of a bird I thought to be that species but which was evidently a female Leaden on the basis of the absence of graduation in the tail. However, I realised subsequently that I failed to photograph two other flycatchers which were behaving as a pair; one of these was much more brightly coloured than the other, showing glossy blue upperparts. I  looked hard for them today but failed to see any Leaden Flycatcher-types. I mention this because it may be worthwhile for birders to keep an eye out for Broad-billed Flycatcher in southeast Queensland.

There were plenty of Collared Kingfishers about today - always a joy.
Mangrove Honeyeaters were abundant. It is interesting that this species appears to be absent from some parts of the Sunshine Coast - such as along the Noosa River, while it is scarce along the Maroochy River.

Brahminy Kite showed nicely.
As did this Great Egret in breeding plumage.
There were plenty of Whimbrels roosting in the mangroves.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Black Bittern & Shining Flycatcher in Pumicestone Passage

I had a Black Bittern in mangroves today in the northern Pumicestone Passage, on the Sunshine Coast. It was too quick to photograph - this one is from Barra Imaging.
 The bird was in the same habitat as 10 Striated Herons that I saw today - including this one.
This was one of the Shining Flycatchers I had at 10 sites where I saw or heard the species in the passage today, bringing to 20 the number of sites on the Sunshine Coast that I have for the species.
I was fooled by this Leaden Flycatcher in the mangroves, thinking it was a Broad-billed initially.

Nice to see some terns including with these Gull-billed Terns, a Whiskered Tern (in flight) and a White-winged Tern (third from left).
And waders, including these Bar-tailed Godwits

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Superb Fruit-Dove and Fruit Pigeons of the Sunshine Coast

Superb Fruit-Dove, Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove and Wompoo Fruit-Dove were all seen today in a patch of rainforest behind Yandina on the Sunshine Coast. The Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove pictured was seen earlier on the Maroochy River.
This male Superb Fruit-Dove was distant but we (myself, Chris Corben, Gerry Richards and Lucy Richards) were able to get onto it finally. As usual, it was calling high up in the rainforest canopy and difficult to find.
Here is a nice image of the species, by Chris Todd.
 There were plenty of Wompoo Fruit-Doves about. All three fruit-doves could be heard calling simultaneously.
White-headed Pigeon is another rainforest pigeon that is about in good numbers around the Sunshine Coast.
This White-eared Monarch was seen today in the Yandina scrub.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Cotton Pygmy Goose & Great Crested Grebe on Sunshine Coast

Cotton Pygmy Goose is always a nice bird to come across and today I found 5 - 2 males and this female on a farm dam near Eumundi,
and a second pair, including this male, on another dam nearby.
There were plenty of Pied Geese about on several farm dams, including this bird which was hanging around with the three pygmy-geese.
And loads of Hardheads were about, along with good numbers of Wandering Whistling-Duck.
Two Great Crested Grebes were on Poona Dam, and another three Great Crested Grebes were on Wappa Dam.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Shining Flycatcher & Ground Parrot near Noosa, Sunshine Coast

I had a brilliant couple of days watching Shining Flycatchers from my kayak around the Noosa River and Lake Cooroibah, Sunshine Coast. It started with this male and two female flycatchers in mangroves on the southern end of Lake Cooroibah.
One of the joys of kayaking is the close proximity that birds allow. I found another male Shining Flycatcher 1km upstream from where the Noosa River meets the lake.
The following day, again from the kayak, I found a solitary female Shining Flycatcher on Makepeace Island, which is owned privately by the British tycoon Richard Branson. I found a pair of Shining Flycatchers 1km uptream from here on Sheep Island. This brings to 10 the number of sites on the Sunshine Coast I have found for this species.
In wallum heath nearby, I had the unusual experience of having a Ground Parrot fly into playback just after sunset. The bird circled me close to the ground before disappearing in the heath. Another two Ground Parrots were calling at dusk here. At another site 1km away, I have heard 6-7 parrots calling at dusk.
This Rainbow Bee-eater showed nicely near Noosa.
As did this Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo. A flock of 30+ cockatoos was feeding on banksia cones in the vicinity of our camping ground.
Eastern Koels are particularly vociferous at this time of the year; often they are calling before 4am.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Stejneger's Petrel on Sunshine Coast - Likely New Bird for Australia

Photo - Paul Walbridge
We were already awash with an extraordinarily high number of Mottled Petrels during our second Sunshine Coast pelagic on November 5, when this Pterodoroma came in behind the boat about 40 nautical miles off Mooloolaba.
Photo - Brian Russell
At first we identified it as a Gould's Petrel on the basis of its dark brown head contrasting with paler brown/greyish mantle - a feature of this species.
Photo - Brian Russell
On examining his photographs later, Paul Walbridge formed the view that in fact the bird was a Stejneger's Petrel. When I saw the images, I readily agreed. The upperparts described above, combined with the underwing pattern and the small half-collar behind the eye leave not much doubt that we have here the first Australian record of Stejneger's Petrel. Note the very white underwing with narrow black edging, with the short diagonal stripe at the carpal joint, which is shorter that of Pycroft's Petrel. Pycroft's also does not share the contrasting plumage of the upperparts that Stejneger's, a very closely related taxa, has.  

Photo - Brian Russell
Stejneger's Petrel breeds on islands off the coast of Chile. There have been several beach-washed specimens of the species in New Zealand so it has long been expected in Australia.
Photo - Paul Barden
This caps off a brilliant pelagic trip, with other birds on the day including Mottled Petrel, Black-bellied Storm-Petrel, Tahiti Petrel and Red-footed Booby, see here:

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Sunshine Coast November 2011 Pelagic

Our second pelagic birding trip off Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast today turned up an estimated 50 Mottled Petrels - an extraordinarily high number for this species, which is scarce in Australian waters. Thanks here to Paul Barden for the great pictures. Conditions were a little choppy with E-ESE winds at around 12-14 knots all day, but these proved ideal for seabirds. We spent 4.5 hours on the continental shelf about 35 nautical miles east of Mooloolaba.
These petrels were very likely en route from wintering grounds in the North Pacific to breeding colonies in New Zealand.
One of the stars today was this Red-footed Booby, always a scarce species in southeast Queensland. This was an adult intermediate phase bird.
We had about 8 Pomarine Jaegers offshore, showing keen interest in our shark liver berley.

About 10 Tahiti Petrels were seen - always nice.
Along with a similar number of Flesh-footed Shearwaters - Short-tailed and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were more numerous.
This storm-petrel had us fooled at first. A clear white belly indicated White-bellied but the photographs revealed a faint black line, so it's a Black-bellied Storm-Petrel.
Some mammals also - a few humpback whales and these Pantropical Spotted Dolphins

On board the catamaran Cat-a-Pult with skipper Paddy.