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.

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.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Sooty Oystercatcher, Shining Flycatcher on Sunshine Coast

Pt Cartwright on the Sunshine Coast has been a reliable spot for Sooty Oystercatcher and so it was again today, with this bird roosting on the rocks at high tide.
A paddle up Bells Creek, Golden Beach, in the kayak turned up Shining Flycatcher at no fewer than three sites. A single male was at a site where I found the species a couple of years back. Two single females were upstream and downstream of this site. This brings to six the number of sites for the bird that I have on the coast.
 Striated Herons were about along the creek, trying unsuccessfully to hide as usual.
These black swans were hard to pass by.