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.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Cooloola to Mooloolah: Brush Bronzewing, Ground Parrot, Shining Flycatcher, King Quail, Fairy Gerygone

Noosa Plain
 An interesting couple of days about the region. I spent a late afternoon/early evening on the Noosa Plain at Cooloola, followed by an early morning session there. The next morning I was back on the Sunshine Coast and out in my kayak on the Mooloolah River.

Brush Bronzewing
I flushed two Ground Parrots by the road in the late afternoon at the traditional spot along the telegraph line road. At dusk I heard about 8 parrots calling, including one which called as it flew from one area of heath to another, crossing the road.  A total of 3 King Quail (a pair and a single male) were also flushed from the road edge and several called at dusk. Also calling in the heath was a pair of Lewin's Rail.

The next morning I saw 3 Brush Bronzewings on the road at the Como Scarp end, quite close to its junction with the Cooloola Way. They were distant and very shy so only poor images were obtained. I noticed that the birds returned to the road after being flushed so this may be a good spot for this difficult (in south-east Queensland) species.

Emerald Dove
A juvenile Emerald Dove was in the same spot as the Brush Bronzewings.

White-winged Triller
Also around the edge of the Noosa Plain I found a White-winged Triller and a Rufous Songlark. Both are scarce summer visitors to south-east Queensland.

Noisy Friarbird
 Wildflowers were looking good in the flush of spring, with plenty of honeyeaters attacking the flowering xanthorrhoeas.
Mooloolah River
I kayaked about 7km up the Mooloolah River from Kawana Island on the Sunshine Coast.

Shining Flycatcher
I never tire of Shining Flycatchers and was pleased to find a pair in the mangroves quite close to the busy Kawana Way. This is my first record of the species from the Mooloolah River, so it is established in the Sunshine Coast's three rivers - the Noosa, Maroochy and Mooloolah - as well as in Tin Can Bay to the North and Pumicestone Passage to the south.

Fairy Gerygone
I also found a Fairy Gerygone in the mangroves, the first time I have seen the species in mangroves on the Sunshine Coast, where they are usually in dry vine scrub. Mangrove  Gerygone was also here. A couple of other birds along the way:

Pied Oystercatcher

Striated Heron
Meanwhile the spring nesting season is in full swing. This Noisy Friarbird is nesting in our Ninderry garden. And this week, the Koels and Channel-billed Cuckoos have returned for the season.

Noisy Friarbird

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Eidsvold: Squatter Pigeon, Ground Cuckoo-Shrike, Emu, Herbert's Rock-Wallaby

Squatter Pigeon
After visiting Cania Gorge and Kalpowar, we moved on to Tolderodden Conservation Park just west of Eidsvold for three nights, completing our visit to the North Burnett region.

Squatter Pigeon
 Of interest here were repeated sightings of Squatter Pigeon, a very rare species in south-east Queensland becoming more common (though still quite scarce) further north. I had up to five birds coming in regularly to a waterhole near our camp and saw them also on the outskirts of Eidsvold.

Squatter Pigeon

Squatter Pigeon
The camp at Tolderodden is by the Burnett River, which snakes its way through dry eucalypt woodland and the rich cattle pastures of the Upper Burnett. Large numbers of fallen trees by the river are testimony to the force of flooding in the river in recent summers, especially 2010.

Burnett River

The view from our camp at Tolderodden (above).

It was nice to encounter Emu a few times near the camp.

Australian Pelican, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Royal Spoonbill, Straw-necked Ibis

Cotton Pygmy-Goose
Waterbirds on a dam nearby included Cotton Pygmy-Goose and a few others.

Eastern Brown Snake
 This Eastern Brown Snake was found freshly road-killed. The Eastern Brown is one of the world's deadliest snakes, a cautionary reminder of the need to tread carefully when birding the woodlands.

Termite mound
Plenty of old termite mounds were about, a reminder that this was the heart of the distribution of the now extinct Paradise Parrot, which nested in the mounds. The last confirmed sightings of Paradise Parrot were not far from Eidsvold - see here for report.

Brown Falcon
While wandering this area I encountered Ground Cuckoo-Shrikes on three occasions but the birds flew off each time before I had a chance to photograph them. The species has a bad habit of disappearing into the distance for no apparent reason. This falcon, which was mobbed by one of the cuckoo-shrikes, was more obliging.

White-winged Triller
Plenty of White-winged Trillers about.

Wedge-tailed Eagle
A pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles maintained a roadside vigil as they fed on a road-killed kangaroo.

Herbert's Rock-Wallaby

Herbert's Rock-Wallaby
It was nice to find plenty of Herbert's Rock-Wallabies in the area. They were easy to see early in the morning sunning themselves on rocks near the camp.

Pretty-face Wallaby
Other macropods included Pretty-face, Red-necked and Swamp Wallabies, and Eastern Grey Kangaroo.

White-bellied Sea-Eagle
On the way home, near Gympie, this White-bellied Sea-Eagle was attending two large young in a nest by a small dam.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Cania Gorge & Kalpowar

Common Sheathtail Bat
We spent eight days in the Upper Burnett region, north-west of Brisbane, visiting Cania Gorge, Kalpowar and the Eidsvold region. On the way we saw a Black Falcon just before Munduburra. First stop was Cania George for three nights in the camping ground at the entrance to the national park.

Common Sheathtail Bat
Cania Gorge is an outlier of the extensive sandstone escarpment country further west, best known at Canarvon Gorge. Among the many caves seen on the Cania park walking trails is one containing a colony of Common Sheath-tail Bats. The species must be at or close to the southern end of its distributional range here.

Cania Gorge
The trails pass through steep-sided sandstone gullies containing dry rainforest, with eucalypt woodland on the flats and slopes.
Cania Gorge

Whiptail Wallaby
Whiptail Wallabies are among the many macropods in the area.

Red-winged Parrot
Some of the birds here are more typical of western and northern Queensland, such as Red-winged Parrot, which occur side-by-side with their close relative, the Australian King-Parrot. Some of the birds out and about:

Rainbow Bee-eater

Leaden Flycatcher  

Pacific Baza

Southern Boobook

Freckled Duck
After leaving Cania Gorge, a few kilometres before Monto, a Freckled Duck was seen along with a few Red-kneed Dotterels on a roadside dam.

Red-kneed Dotterel
Next stop was Kalpowar, an interesting site comprised of dry woodland interspersed with extensive areas of vine scrub. There were plenty of disbanded mine shafts from a long-gone gold-digging era. We had the campsite here to ourselves for two nights. Of considerable interest was the recording of both Large-tailed Nightjar and White-throated Nightjar from the campsite. We saw and heard White-throated Nightjar in the early evening, while Large-tailed Nightjar was calling fairly distantly at intervals during the night, presumably from a nearby scrub patch.

Our campsite at Kalpowar

Jacky Winter
Jacky Winter was probably the most plentiful small bird.

Little Bronze Cuckoo

Dusky Honeyeater
Some nice birds about included  Dusky Honeyeater, Little Bronze Cuckoo and unusually good numbers of Speckled Warbler. White-eared Monarch, Wompoo Fruit-Dove and Noisy Pitta were heard in the vine scrubs.

Speckled Warbler
And a couple of butterflies. See the next post for the Eidsvold area.

Chequered Swallowtail

Common Pencil-blue

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Sunshine Coast Critter Pot-Pourri: Richmond Birdwing, Koala, Sooty Owl, Grass Owl, Marbled Frogmouth

Richmond Birdwing
A fine cast of critters seen on and about the Sunshine Coast over the past 24 hours includes an excellent encounter with a Richmond Birdwing butterfly, sightings of Sooty Owl, Eastern Grass Owl and Marbled Frogmouth, and a host of mammals including Koala and Greater Glider.

Richmond Birdwing
A male Richmond Birdwing was seen this morning in rainforest fringing the Maroochy River at North Arm. It was unexpected here as the habitat is fragmented and infested with Camphor laurel and various exotic weeds. The butterfly was watched for some time as it appeared to make a circuit of about 100 metres or so following the same route, more or less, over and over. The Richmond Birdwing is regarded as a threatened species, endemic to the rainforests of south-east Queensland and north-east NSW.

Eastern Grass Owl - Picture Jim Snedden
Late yesterday afternoon I set out in search of night birds and mammals with NSW birder Hans Wohlmuth. We scored our first success at sunset with an Eastern Grass Owl fly-over. A bird was heard calling soon after as it flew over an area of grassland. We also had 2 or 3 King Quail calling here just before sunset.

Short-eared Brushtail
We headed off to the Conondale Range in the hinterland where we spotlighted in the Conondale National Park and surrounding state forests. We could not locate a Masked Owl I found here recently (see here) but in the same spot where the owl was seen we enjoyed excellent views of a Sooty Owl. I have seen the two species co-existing in several places in the the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Later we heard a second Sooty Owl.

We had three pairs of Marbled Frogmouth calling in various places, seeing one bird, and also saw Australian Owlet-Nightjar, Tawny Frogmouth and Southern Boobook.

Greater Glider
We did well with mammals during the evening, seeing a fine male Koala, 4 Greater Gliders, 1 Common Ringtail, 1 Short-eared Brushtail, 2 Common Brushtails, 1 Brindled Bandicoot, 1 Grey-headed Flying-Fox, 1  Black Flying-Fox and several Red-necked Pademelons.