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, 31 March 2012

Kayaking the Upper Maroochy River, Sunshine Coast

This young Nankeen (Rufous) Night-Heron was seen from my kayak during a 22-kilometre paddle down the Upper Maroochy River on the Sunshine Coast. A couple of Striated Herons were also seen but no sign of Black Bittern.
I launched the boat where Ninderry Road crosses the Upper Maroochy River. An hour's paddling downstream and I am under the bridge on the Yandina-Coolum Road. I was surprised to see a large number of Welcome Swallows evidently attending nests in various stages of construction, firstly because this bird does not normally nest in colonies, and secondly because it is late in the season to be nesting.
A little way down from the bridge, the north and south arms of the Upper Maroochy meet. Here is it is possible to enjoy fine views of Mt Ninderry to the north.
The river snakes its way through an extensive area of sugarcane fields, often with little vegetation remaining on the banks. Waterbirds can be seen anywhere, however, such as these Australasian Darters - an adult and an immature.
And these Little Black Cormorants.
Eastern Water-Dragons occur all along the river, but become less numerous as the water becomes more salty downstream.
I saw plenty of White-breasted Woodswallows, including this trio.
Well downstream, where the river joins Coolum Creek, extensive areas of mangroves occur. This Mangrove Gerygone came in for a look.
Brown Honeyeater is the most numerous bird in the mangroves. It is curious that there are no Mangrove Honeyeaters here, although they are abundant further south around Pumicestone Passage.
Golden Whistler appears to be resident in the mangroves.
Night-Herons are shy and difficult to photograph. It took a while to nail this one.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Birds of Timor, Indonesia

Timor has the largest number of endemic and specialty bird species of the Lesser Sunda islands of Indonesia and we connected with all but two during our visit to the islands last month. All agreed that Cinnamon-banded Kingfisher was one of the best birds of the trip. This bird was roadside at Bipolo, not far from the West Timor capital of Kupang. Thanks to Barbara DeWitt for most of the images that follow.
Black-chested Myzomela was one of the Timor endemics that we saw. It was widespread in small numbers in the remnant lowland rainforest patches at Bipolo and Camplong.
The White-bellied or Timor Bushchat was another endemic in the lowland forests, where it was reasonable common. This is a male.
Its relative, the Pied Bush-Chat, frequents more open areas. Although widespread in the Lesser Sundas, distinctive races occur on the major islands with the females varying markedly in plumage, perhaps indicating future splits. This is the female of the Timor race.
We were surprised to encounter Oriental Honey-Buzzard, supposedly a scarce summer visitor to the Lesser Sundas, on two occasions on Timor, including this bird at Oenasi, as well as once on Flores.
The Broad-billed Flycatcher in Australia is a bird of coastal mangroves and paperbark forests but on Timor it occurs at the forest edge as well as in the mangroves. This one, a brightly coloured male, was at Bariti.
The Golden Whistler has more races than any other bird and is likely to be split one day into multiple species. This is the female of the Timor race.
Black-faced Munia was widespread in the Lesser Sundas, especially on Timor where on one occasion we found it with Five-coloured Munias. This image from Tim Burr.
Long-tailed Shrike is a widespread species, occurring in the Lesser Sundas at the eastern extremity of its range.
The rice paddies at Bipolo where we had some nice birds, including Timor Sparrow.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Birds of Sumba, Indonesia

We ended up seeing 11 of the 12 endemic bird species on the island of Sumba during our tour of the Lesser Sundas in Indonesia last month. Thanks to Barbara DeWitt for most of these photographs. This Red-naped Fruit-Dove was seen on the forest edge from a clearing at Manurara. It is a highly sought after endemic which can easily be missed during a visit to the island.
Apart from recognised taxa, there are several birds on Sumba presently regarded as subspecies which will eventually elevated to species status. This is the endemic race of the Barn Owl at its hollow during the day.      
The Blood-breasted Flowerpecker was common in the forests of Sumba, where our birding was concentrated in the Langgalin National Park in the Lewa area. Again, this is a subspecies endemic to Sumba which will one day be split as a full species.
Red-cheeked Parrots were seen frequently as we birded the road west of Lewa. This race differs from our Australian birds.
Short-toed Eagle was seen several times on Sumba. The Lesser Sundas is the most easterly area where this widespread species occurs.
A Rufous-backed Kingfisher was a welcome sight below a bridge on the road to Manurara. This species is always difficult and it was most unusual to have one sitting out in the open.
Short-tailed Starlings were plentiful on Sumba, as they were on the other Lesser Sunda islands we visited.
Locals on the forest road near Lewa. Only about 5 per cent of the rainforest of Sumba remains, mostly in isolated fragments along this road, so the future of the island's special birds is by no means assured.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Birds of Flores and Komodo, Indonesia

During our trip last month to the Lesser Sundas we saw all the endemics and regional specialties on Flores and Komodo islands. This is a White-rumped Kingfisher which perched roadside on our first full day on Flores near the village of Pagal. Thanks to Barbara De Witt for this and some of the other images here.
We had large numbers of Flores Lorikeet in an area of flowering eucalypts during our drive from Labuan Bajo to Ruteng. This is a recent split from the Rainbow Lorikeet, which it closely resembles in habits and call.
Flores (Little) Minivet proved to be one of the more numerous endemics on Flores. We found it at all elevations in good numbers.
The stunning Flame-breasted Sunbird put on a good show for us on Flores, especially at Potawangka. We also had this species frequently on Sumba Island. It is one of the peculiarities of island zoogeography that bird distributions are not consistent; the Lesser Sundas are a good case in point. Flame-breasted Sunbird, for instance, occurs on Timor and Flores, but not on Timor. Other species occur on Timor and Sumba but not on Flores, or Flores and Timor but not on Sumba - and some are on all three.
We thought initially that this raptor flying over us at Potawangka was a Flores Hawk-Eagle but subsequently settled on immature White-bellied Sea-Eagle-Eagle, the young of which in Asia are evidently much whiter on the underparts than in Australia.
 Apart from its dragons, Komodo Island is one of the easiest places to see Green Junglefowl.
And certainly Komodo is the top site for Yellow-crested Cockatoo, a species which has suffered severely at the hands of illegal trappers. This bird appeared from a tree crevice as we were searching for Komodo Dragon.
Barred Dove, a close relative of Australia's Peaceful Dove, is another Lesser Sundas specialty which was easy to see on Komodo Island.
Green Imperial-Pigeon, while more widespread, was also common on Komodo.
As was Large-billed Crow. See here for further notes.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Birds of Bali

Following earlier posts about birding on Bali - see here and also here - the main object of which was to see the Bali Myna (below), I've put together some more images from the island, with thanks to Barbara DeWitt for many of those appearing. Along with Bali Myna, we were keen to catch up with another regional specialty from the same family - the Black-winged Starling (above). We found them easily in Bali Barat National Park and again in the well-forested grounds of a resort near Labuhan Lalong.
It is possible that the unringed Bali Myna here is one of the very few in the region that is not the progeny of birds released after being raised in captivity.

We found this Crested Serpent-Eagle in the same resort grounds where we had loads of Black-winged Starlings..
The resort was the best site for Green Jungle-Fowl. We heard plenty earlier in Bali Barat National Park but didn't get onto them there. They can be skulkers when they want to be.

During a visit to an area of shrimp ponds in West Bali, we had nice views of Striated Swallow.
 Along with about 20 Javan Plovers. This bird was behind a Long-toed Stint, another wader we were pleased to catch up with.
There were plenty of Javan Pond-Herons about, many in full breeding plumage like this one.
Black-naped Orioles were encountered frequently about Bali.
As were Olive-backed Sunbirds, even in the gardens of busy resort areas.
White-headed Munias were easy to find but there was no sign of White-capped, a recent split from Chesnut Munia.
Streaked Weavers were busily nesting in several places although we were in Bali at the end of the wet season.
While Yellow-vented Bulbuls were abundant.