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.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Princess & Scarlet-chested Parrots at Neale Junction, WA

It is not often that Princess and Scarlet-chested Parrots are seen in the same tree in the wild. Lovand Szucs has sent me these pictures from his trip earlier this month to Neale Junction in WA's Great Victoria Desert. He planned the trip as a result of a similarly successful foray to find these two rare parrots in 2009 by myself, Bill Watson and Alexander Watson.

Lorand reported a minimum of 50 Princess Parrots in his 1.5 days around Neale Junction, including this one. Subsequent to Lorand's trip, a Birdquest expedition found an average of 90 Princess Parrots a day in the area.

In 2009, we had a maximum of 17 Princess Parrots in 2.5 days; this bird was one of them. Princess Parrots were also found at Neale Junction in October in 2008 but not in 2010, so they have been there at this time of the year for three of the past four years. Examination of historical records shows the area has been consistently good for the species over many years, so it is difficult to fathom the obsession that birders have with finding the species in the much more remote Great Sandy Desert.

Lorand had a minimum of 10 Scarlet-chested Parrots this month. Freshly plumaged young of both species at Neale Junction indicated they had recently bred in the area. We had just one Scarlet-chested Parrot in 2009.

This is classic Princess-Scarlet-chested Parrot habitat at Neale Junction - Marbled Gum in sand-dune country with plenty of spinifex and other shrubs such as Eremophila. 

Friday, 28 October 2011

Spotless Crake, Cotton Pygmy-Goose, Little Grassbird on Sunshine Coast

Four Spotless Crakes were seen feeding in the open today at the Cooroy sewage treatment works.
The crakes were not vocalising; nor were they responsive to playback - not what I would expect at this time of year. Also at Cooroy were 4 or 5 Little Grassbirds, the first time I have had the species there.
 I had a 4-hour paddle in my kayak in the rain at nearby Lake Macdonald. Highlights here were a pair of Cotton Pygmy-Goose and 50+Whiskered Terns.

Pied Geese were in good numbers, with the furtive behaviour of several pairs around the lake edge indicating nesting. Another Little Grassbird was also found in the lake edge reeds.
Black Cormorant was among the more common species.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Extinction of Most Northerly Population of Eastern Bristlebird

The most northerly population of the endangered Eastern Bristlebird appears almost certain to be extinct.
This week, I spent some time in the Conondale Range, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, surveying a site which had in the past been reliable for Eastern Bristlebird, with several pairs resident in the vicinity. Not a squeak. What I did see was a large feral cat, at precisely the spot where I last saw bristlebirds in the area in the early-1990s.
That particular spot is pictured here. I and others have tried unsuccessfully at this and other sites in the Conondale Range since the last bird was heard there in 2009. It appears almost certain that the population is extinct.
The Eastern Bristlebird was discovered in the Conondales in the early-1980s by Chris Corben. The population is distant from other populations in the Main Range and around the Queensland-NSW border, which are also threatened.
Several factors could be responsible for the bird’s demise. Feral animals clearly are a threat. One bristlebird released in the Main Range under Queensland’s captive breeding program was quickly taken by a fox.
Habitat may have been altered in ways which do not favour bristlebirds. In protected reserves in the Conondales and elsewhere, fires may be less frequent than in the past. Consequently, vegetation may have become too dense for the birds.

At the site this week, there was no evidence of burning in recent times and the open grassy woodland favoured by bristlebirds was choked by various weeds in parts. However, there were a few nice patches, such as the one pictured above, of the native grasses favoured by the birds. Fires in the past had not directly threatened the bristlebirds as they sought refuge in adjacent rainforest areas.

The prolonged drought through the 1990s and 2000s may have been the nail in the coffin. Following good rains over the past 18 months or so, conditions are looking ideal now; there was plenty of bird activity this week.

Whatever the cause, the Eastern Bristlebird appears almost certainly to be longer present in this part of Australia.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Shining Flycatcher on the Sunshine Coast

Shining Flycatcher is always a tricky bird to find in southeast Queensland so it was nice to see three - a pair and a single male - from my kayak today along the Maroochy River, Sunshine Coast.
The female in the first pair was particularly inquisitive.
There were lots of Collared Kingfishers about, with this one showing nicely in the open.
Plenty of Australasian Darters were along the river,
Along with Royal Spoonbills.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Squirrel Glider In My Sunshine Coast Garden

This Squirrel Glider was in my garden this evening.
The Squirrel Glider was once considered a rarity in southeast Queensland, but the animal is not uncommon in its preferred habitat. That said, this is only the second time I've had them in my garden.
This one is feeding on lerpes (tiny insects) attached to the eucalypt leaves.