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, 23 September 2012

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

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