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, 24 September 2012

Durikai State Forest-Coolmunda Lake - Western Queensland Part IV

Little Eagle

Moving on from our nice encounter with Painted Honeyeater east of Nindigully, we headed east towards Coolmunda Lake and Durikai State Forest on the final leg of our 12-day western Queensland sojourn. At a roadside birding stop west of Goondiwindi, I stumbled upon a Little Eagle and an Australian Raven entangled together on the ground in brigalow scrub. It was clear that the raven was an intended prey item as it was firmly in the grip of the eagle's talons. Upon my unintended disturbance, the two birds separated and a bloodied raven flew to its freedom.

Little Eagle

The seemingly exhausted eagle sat close by while I photographed it.

We moved on to Lake Coolmunda, where we camped lakeside for two nights. After the fabulous encounter with Freckled Duck and other waterbirds at Currawinya National Park, the waterbirds here were disappointing, but birds in the surrounding woodlands were interesting.

Western Gerygone
I was surprised at how numerous Western Gerygone was here. Birds were singing everywhere and clearly nesting. Just a little further east at Durikai, I found no Western Gerygones but plenty of White-throated Gerygones.

Little Thornbill

Little Thornbill was plentiful in the dry scrub behind the lake.
Swamp Wallaby 

Plenty of macropods were about Coolmunda Lake - Swamp Wallaby (photographed through a fence above), Black-striped Wallaby, Red-necked Wallaby and Eastern Grey Kangaroo.

Red-necked Wallaby

Moving on to Durikai, we found the famed waterhole with some effort. It is 45 kilometres west of Warwick and 5 kilometres east of the village of Karara. We camped by the waterhole, but the traffic noise is a problem: better to stay at the small motel in Karara with the benefit of hindsight.

Yellow-tufted Honeyeater

This is a sensational birding spot. All day, a constant procession of birds flew in to drink at close quarters, the most numerous being Yellow-tufted Honeyeater.  I encountered a staggering 15 honeyeater species around Durakai: Noisy and Little Friarbirds; Noisy Miner; Blue-faced, White-naped, White-throated, Black-chinned, Brown-headed, Brown, Striped, Yellow-tufted, Fuscous, White-eared, White-plumed and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters.

White-eared Honeyeater

 White-eared was one of the scarcer honeyeaters.

Brown-headed Honeyeater

Among the honeyeaters were four species of the Melithreptus genus. I had commented in an earlier blog post about finding three species of honeyeater from this genus in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Here, a fourth was added to those three: Brown-headed (above). I saw and heard just one White-throated Honeyeater.

Black-chinned Honeyeater

Black-chinned Honeyeaters were quite plentiful. This bird can be hard to find in southern Queensland and I've not seen them in such numbers previously.

White-naped Honeyeater

White-naped was the most numerous of the Melithreptus species and the second commonest honeyeater after Yellow-tufted.

Fuscous Honeyeater

Plenty of Fuscous Honeyeaters were about. A few other birds seen around the water hole included:

White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike
Restless Flycatcher
Spotted Pardalote

Another nice surprise was a party of White-browed Babblers in the same patch of scrub as a group of Grey-crowned Babblers. This brought to four the number of babbler species seen on the trip - the others being Chesnut-crowned and Hall's further west.

Grey-crowned Babbler

Buff-rumped Thornbill

It was nice two see Buff-rumped Thornbill showing well.

Crested Shrike-Tit

A pair of Crested Shrike-Tits was pleasant.

Not so nice was this road-killed Koala.

Our camp behind the waterhole.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Painted Honeyeater near Goondiwindi - Western Queensland Part III

Painted Honeyeater is one of my favourite birds and although I had seen it in New South Wales a couple of times, I'd not scored it in Queensland previously. So I was keen to try and catch up with it during our western Queensland trip and am pleased to report success.

After leaving the Eulo-Currawinya National Park area, we drove east to St George then south towards Goondiwindi, camping overnight by the Moonie River at a quaint place called Nindigully, which is essentially an historic hotel. This must be the only camping ground in Australia which is not only free but has free showers, which are provided by the hotel.

Painted Honeyeater

I was checking out suitable areas of mistletoe-infested brigalow as we headed east along the Cunningham Highway when I finally found an obliging pair of Painted Honeyeaters.

Painted Honeyeater

The birds were 67 kilometres west of Goondiwindi, or 2-3 kilometres east of the small settlement of Bungunya, in an area of thick roadside brigalow.

Painted Honeyeater

One of the pair in this image was captured singing its characteristic "Georgie, Georgie" call, which can be heard at a considerable distance.

Painted Honeyeater

I watched the birds for close to an hour and they were seemingly undisturbed by my presence. This image was taken after a bird robbed a cobweb, picking at insects snared in it. Both birds were also seen feeding on mistletoe berries.

Eulo to Currawinya National Park - Western Queensland Part II

Crimson Chat

Following our visits to Bollon and Bowra in western Queensland, we headed further west to have a look around Eulo and Currawinya National Park, on the Queensland-New South Wales border. Crimson Chat, a scarce bird during the long years of drought,  was widespread and common throughout the region following a couple of years of good conditions (small numbers of chats were also seen at Bowra). Birding highlights in this sector included Freckled Duck, Australian Pratincole, Bourke's Parrot,  Pied Honeyeater, Black-eared Cuckoo, Hooded Robin, Whie-browed Treecreeper, Black-eared Cuckoo, Mulga Parrot, Red-backed Kingfisher, Black-breasted Buzzard and Crimson Chat.

Black-breasted Buzzard
We saw a Black-breasted Buzzard high above the road not long before reaching Eulo. Although the bird in the picture is distant, the distinctive wing patches are evident.

A few kilometres before Eulo we dropped in at the Paddabilla (Eulo) Bore, a favoured birding site.

Bourke's Parrot

As soon as we arrived at mid-morning, I found two Bourke's Parrots drinking at a bore trough. This species can be very difficult to find and I've looked previously for them here without success. Soon after these birds flushed, one parrot was chased by an Australian Hobby.  We spent a night in Eulo on our return from Currawinya and again visited the bore just after sunrise. In the space of two hours, I saw Bourke's Parrots coming in to drink on three occasions.

Moving on from Eulo, we headed down the Eulo-Hungerford Road, ploughing through the red bull dust which managed to fill every nook and cranny in our campervan. We camped for two nights at Ourimperee Waterhole (above), a billabong of the Paroo River. It was a lovely spot and we would have stayed longer but a gas leak forced us to leave early.

Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater

Hoary-headed Grebe

On our first morning we drove in to look at Lake Wyara (salt) and Lake Numulla (fresh). These Ramsar Convention-listed lakes, especially Wyara, are renowned for their huge numbers of waterbirds -as many as 100,000 in some seasons. This Hoary-headed Grebe in non-breeding plumage was one of the first birds we saw at Wyara.

Pink-eared Duck, Eurasian Coot, Black Swan 

The numbers of waterbirds were staggering, numbering many thousands. The most common species were Eurasian Coot, Pink-eared Duck, Grey Teal, Black Swan and Australian Pelican. Shorebirds were scarce but Red-capped Plover and Australian Pratincole were about in small numbers.

Red-capped Plover

A view over the saltbush flats to Wyara Lake.

Freckled Duck, Pink-eared Duck, Grey Teal

A highlight of the trip was the good numbers (50+) of Freckled Duck seen at Wyara. This scarce duck is rarely encountered and to find them here so easily was unexpected.

Freckled Duck, Pink-eared Duck

Freckled Duck, Pink-eared Duck, Eurasian Coot

Australian Pratincole

The flies lakeshore were a bit bothersome for Glenn.

Female White-winged Fairy-wren

Crimson Chat

Australasian Darter, Australian Pelican

After Wyara we moved on to Lale Numalla. Waterbirds were scarcer here but large numbers of pelicans were on the lake. Pelicans bred in huge numbers at Wyara earlier this year, but many birds fly to nearby Numalla because of its greater numbers of fish.

Female Pied Honeyeater
Male Pied Honeyeater
Pied Honeyeaters were in surprisingly good numbers around both lakes. Many birds were singing and engaging in display flights.

Red-backed Kingfisher
Red-backed Kingfishers were regularly seen and heard as we drove about the national park roads.

This sign at the campsite talked about a fence built with public money to provide a sanctuary for the endangered Bilby. In 2008, I visited Currawinya as a journalist to report on the release of bilbies into the sanctuary. Unfortunately, the rains last summer washed away part of the fence and feral cats entered the reserve, which was inaccessible to national park rangers for three months. The cats are believed to have killed most of the bilbies, which had been breeding successfully.

We visited The Granites, a small range of large granite boulders in the national park.

Curl Snake
 This young Ringed Brown Snake, Psuedonaja modesta, was seen crossing a road.

White-browed Treecreeper

White-browed Treecreeper is another south-west Queensland mulga specialty. We encountered several in the park.
Mulga Parrot
The spectacular Mulga Parrot is always a pleasure to behold.

Red-capped Robin male

Red-capped Robin female