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.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Kayaking the Mary River

Today I paddled the Mary River in the Sunshine Coast hinterland in two stretches. I was dropped off at Kenilworth Homestead early morning, travelling 14km to Pickering Bridge for lunch, then paddled a further 11km to Walker Road. This nice patch of lowland rainforest along the river was an unexpected find.
 Bunya Pine on the left, Hoop Pine on the right.
 Restless Flycatcher was one of the commoner passerines in riverside vegetation.
Azure Kingfisher always looking good.
Little Pied Cormorant was plentiful.
A stretch of the river with Kenilworth Bluff in the background. The Mary is the river that would have been flooded by the Traveston Dam, a state government proposal which was canned by the federal Labor Government on environmental grounds.
Following another solid wet season, the river was flowing strongly, with frequent stretches of rapids, sometimes a tad intimidating.
A single Platypus put in an appearance; I expected to see more.
 Two female Red-backed Fairy-wrens were nice in riverside grasses.
Along with this Tawny Grassbird.
I was surprised to find two pairs of vocal White-eared Monarchs in late-May, indicating that this species is indeed resident in south-east Queensland year-round; it had long thought to be a summer migrant, like the Black-faced and Spectacled Monarchs. The White-eared Monarchs were in narrow strips of riverside vegetation consisting primarily of introduced Camphor laurel trees.
Black-fronted Dotterel was regular on pebbly banks.
The kayak beached on a sandbar in the river.
Just before the end, one of the many stretches of rapids proved a bit too much. I was unable to avoid a protruding branch over the rapids and was knocked out of the boat as it was upturned. Fortunately my camera, I-Pod etc were in a waterproof bag; I salvaged everything except an old cardigan and my dignity.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Yeppoon and Tannum Sands

Following our visits to Eurimbula and Byfield, we had a couple of days in the coastal town of Yeppoon before finishing up with three days camping at Tannum Sands, near Gladstone. Red-tailed Black Cockatoos were frequently in the beachside pines opposite our Yeppoon apartment.
Those same pines in the early evenings were the chosen roosting place for tens of thousands of Rainbow Lorikeets.
A Pacific Baza in a roadside eucalypt while waiting at one of the innumerable blocks for roadworks along the Bruce Highway.
A highlight of our camping at Tannum Sands - the town has just one campiing area - were four Barking Owls in residence. Two pairs could often be heard calling simultaneously, though it is possible that two birds were the offspring of an adult pair. The Barking Owl is very rare in south-east Queensland but becomes increasingly common northwards.
The camping ground was opposite Tannum (Wild Cattle) Creek, which I kayaked one morning.
This Brahminy Kite showed well.
Several Shining Flycatchers were seen. I encountered numbers of this species in each of the three waterways I kayaked during this trip.
Mangrove Honeyeaters were also common throughout the region.


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Birding, Camping and Kayaking around Byfield

After our visit to Eurimbula, we moved on for a four-day stay in the Byfield area north of Yeppoon on the central Queensland coast. From here, I kayaked the lower reaches of beautiful Water Park Creek (above) which empties into Corio Bay; I was dropped off at Corbett's Landing and picked up at Kellys Landing downstream after paddling the mangrove edges of the bay's north-western sector. It was here that I saw Broad-billed Flycatcher and Mangrove Golden Whistler and Little Kingfisher at the southerly end of their Australian distribution.
I was told by the rangers that a large Estuarine Crocodile was resident in this stretch of river, so it was with a little trepidation that I took to the water. Like the three bird species referred to above, the crocodile is at the southern end of its distributional range in Australia here.
On another day, I paddled the upper reaches of Water Park Creek (above) from the causeway at the campground. While we were staying at Yeppoon after our Byfield visit, I returned for a second kayaking on Corio Bay; I was dropped off at the end of Fishing Creek Road and picked up at Sandy Point.
Also at the southern end of its range here is the Olive-backed Sunbird. It was nice to find several in vegetation along Water Park Creek as well as in the mangroves of Corio Bay.
 Ospreys were plentiful in Corio Bay. This one unsuccessfully tried to catch a fish a couple of metres from my kayak.
Most waders had gone, but this pair of Bar-tailed Godwits and a pair of Great Knots were still about.
We camped at Water Park Creek - one of three camping grounds available in Byfield State Forest - in an area of lowland rainforest and pine plantation.
Birds here included Wompoo Fruit-Dove, easily visible around the picnic areas.
Along with loads of Topknot Pigeons.
Other birds included White-eared Monarch, Fairy Gerygone, and Little Bronze Cuckoo, possibly the race russatus which reaches the southern limit of its range here. I thought that's what this bird (without red eyes) was initially but the consensus is that this is a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo.
Black-striped Wallabies emerged from vine thickets late in the day to nibble on grass.
 I saw several Krefft's River Turtles while kayaking the upper reaches of Water Park Creek.
Extensive freshwater wetlands are encountered along Kelly's Landing Road, with good numbers of waterbirds including this pair of Brolgas with a Black Swan.
 And a couple of Black-necked Storks.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Eurimbula National Park

Eurimbula National Park is a nice area of lowland rainforest, wallum, maleleuca forest, beaches and mangroves near the Town of 1770. We camped for four nights at Bustard Beach, where Eurimbula Creek enters the bay. The Fairy Gerygone shown here was one of the common birds around the camp.
The scene from our camping spot at sunset looking north over the Eurimbula Creek estuary. It was strange to be in such a perfect setting with so few people around.
Three Beach Stone-Curlews would spend the day just around the corner from our camp at the beach edge, usually hidden among the branches of fallen trees. The birds would come out to the sandflats at night to feed.
Sacred Kingfisher is scarce in south-east Queensland at this time of year but there were plenty about at Eurimbula, where I watched them feeding on crabs caught during the receding tide.
Other common birds about the camp included Spectacled Monarch.
 And Dusky Honeyeaters were plentiful. Other birds in the scrub patches included Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove, White-eared Monarch and Noisy Pitta.
Twice I kayaked up Eurimbula Creek in the mornings, seeing a total of 12 Shining Flycatchers. I was hoping to find some more northerly mangrove denizens but had better luck later in the trip further north around Corio Bay.
This Striated Heron put in an appearance.
 My upturned kayak had its uses. This young Lace Monitor scrambled up it to escape a much larger monitor which was chasing it.
A soaring White-bellied Sea-Eagle is always a sight for sore eyes.
The rough road to the camping ground passes through rainforest and this interesting wet coastal forest with plenty of Pandanus and Maleleuca trees.
En route to Eurimbula we visited our friends Trevor and Annie Quested at their Bundaberg home. They are pictured here with Glenn.
This Bush Stone-Curlew was in their garden, so we had a two stone-curlew species trip.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Mangrove Golden Whistler & Little Kingfisher at Corio Bay, Queensland

Following my posting of photographs of Broad-billed Flycatcher from Corio Bay in central coastal Queensland, I report here sightings last week of Mangrove Golden Whistler and Little Kingfisher from mangroves in that area on the same day. As with the Broad-billed Flycatcher, these records appear to indicate southerly extensions of range for both species.
It was difficult to photograph the whistler but the diagnostic black tail is apparent in the above two images, especially the first. Also evident is the greyer edging to the wing feathers, supposedly another identifying feature. However, two things which struck me about this bird was that it was clearly smaller than Golden Whistler and its voice was quite distinct; I had been watching Golden Whistlers in the mangroves a couple of days earlier.
The Mangrove Golden Whistler was at the western end of Corio Bay, near Yeppoon, not far from the end of Kelly's Landing Road. I reached the area by kayak. It was in a loose flock with Little Shrike-thrushes and Dusky Honeyeaters.
As with the case with the Broad-billed Flycatchers, the whistler was deep inside the extensive areas of mangrove which occur around Corio Bay. The tip of my kayak can be seen here.
In the same general vicinity, I saw a Little Kingfisher very well albeit briefly at close quarters. The bird could not be photographed so thanks to Geoff Jones and Barra Imaging for this image. I saw the kingfisher twice more briefly after the first encounter. It was feeding from the exposed dead roots of tall mangroves on a receding tide.
Mangrove Golden Whistler is reported rarely from Shoalwater Bay, about 50 kilometres north of where my bird was seen. Little Kingfisher is reported further north from the Mackay area as the southerly point of its distribution, though there are unconfirmed reports also from Shoalwater  Bay. As well, there is reportedly a specimen of Little Kingfisher further south still from Eurimbula, but I have been unable to confirm this.