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, 27 March 2013

Beach Stone-Curlew, Huge Tern Flock at Maroochydore

Beach Stone-Curlew
Yesterday I took the kayak out for a spin around Goat Island at the mouth of the Maroochy River.

Beach Stone-Curlew
A pair of Beach Stone-Curlews was present on the eastern shore of the island. This has been a reliable spot for the species for the past couple of years.

Also on Goat Island were good numbers of Swamp Tiger butterflies - a mangrove edge specialty.

White-winged Terns
Sandflats near the Maroochy River mouth attract large flocks of terns as the high tide recedes. Hundreds of Common and White-winged Terns return from the sea to rest on the sandflats. Many of the White-winged Terns seen yesterday were attaining breeding plumage prior to their migration north. White-winged Tern is generally a fairly scarce bird in south-east Queensland but they are present in large numbers about the Sunshine Coast in summer.

White-winged Terns & Common Terns
Common Terns are also numerous, and the two species tend to feed and roost together. A very rough estimate yesterday was about 1200 Common Terns and 500 White-winged Terns.

Common Tern
This Common Tern appears to coming into breeding plumage.

Common Tern & Crested Tern
Ten or so Crested Terns were among the flock.

Little Tern
Along with about 30 Little Terns, mainly in breeding plumage.

Gull-billed Terns
And a few Gull-billed Terns.

Double-banded Plover
A handful of Double-banded Plovers were on the sandbanks - the first I've seen this season of this autumn-winter visitor from New Zealand.

Pacific Golden Plover
Along with quite a few Pacific Golden Plovers, some in breeding plumage.

And a few Whimbrels.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Shining Flycatchers Galore on Kauri Creek

Shining Flycatcher female
We camped for a couple of nights at the Log Dump camping ground on Kauri Creek, in Tuan State Forest, north-east of Gympie.  During several kayaking forays along various mangrove-lined waterways, I saw no fewer than 14 Shining Flycatchers.

Shining Flycatcher female
I saw four pairs of Shining Flycatcher in the mangroves and six individuals - five males and a single immature female.

Shining Flycatcher male
Shining Flycatcher male
Kauri Creek
Probably the most extensive stands of mangrove I have seen in south-east Queensland were present in this area. I've never encountered sandflies as bad as this place - we had intended to stay three nights but were driven off by countless clouds of the pests. They were even flying through the campervan netting!

Collared Kingfisher
A few Collared Kingfisher were about, including this juvenile.

Azure Kingfisher
This Azure Kingfisher had caught some kind of shrimp.
Some other birds about Kauri Creek:

Whistling Kite
Little Friarbird

Little Egret

Mangrove Honeyeater

Red-capped Plover


Birds aside, I've started identifying butterflies by photograph instead of catching them in nets. Here is a pair of Orange Ringlets.

Orange-streaked Ringlet
 Back around the Sunshine Coast, a nice party of Varied Sittellas showed at Moy Pocket.

Varied Sittella
Shining Bronze-Cuckoo

As did this Shining Bronze-Cuckoo.

While a Nankeen Kestrel posed at Maroochy River with a freshly caught grasshopper.

Nankeen Kestrel


Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Square-tailed Kite, Black-necked Stork, Glossy Black Cockatoo on Sunshine Coast

Square-tailed Kite
Good birds encountered around the Sunshine Coast in recent days have included Square-tailed Kite, Black-necked Stork, Glossy Black Cockatoo, Pale-vented Bush-hen and King Quail. I saw this Square-tailed Kite above the entrance to the Fairhill Nursery at Ninderry, not far from where I live. I've seen the species several times in the area, including in my garden, and it seems likely there is a resident pair. Along a creek at nearby North Arm, a trio of Pale-vented Bush-hen were calling loudly.

Black-necked Stork
This adult female Black-necked Stork was on a property dam at Yandina Creek, on the Coolum-Yandina Road. It's good to know some birds are still about following the apparent shooting of a Black-necked Stork at Ewan Maddock Dam recently.

Glossy Black Cockatoo
This pair of Glossy Black Cockatoos was feeding in an Allocasuarina littoralis on a privately owned property at Noosaville. The male (left) and female (right) are simultaneously splitting cones with their bills as they hold them with their left feet. As discussed previously, the Noosaville-Sunsrise Beach area of the Sunshine Coast has emerged as one of the best places in Australia to see this endangered species.

Pacific Golden Plover
Following recent rains, much of the low-lying cane country in the vicinity of the Maroochy River is under water, with extensive areas of mud exposed in places. I had a flock of 20 Pacific Golden Plovers near the river along with a fair sprinkling of Black-fronted Dotterel and Red-kneed Dotterel. In tall grassland near Bli Bli I've had at least 6 King Quail calling (seeing two on one occasion) along with plenty of Brown Quail.

Plumed & Wandering Whistling-Ducks 
There are large numbers of both Plumed and Wandering Whistling-Ducks presently about the coast. Between 100 and 150 Wandering Whistling-Ducks and a smaller number of Plumed are frequenting flooded farmland behind Sunshine Coast Airport. Another interesting sighting in recent weeks is between 10 and 20 Black Kites hanging about the turf farm near Nambour.

Dollar-birds have usually headed north by now but there are still good numbers about.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Sri Lanka - Culture, Scenery, People

Nuwara Eliya
Some images of culture, scenery and people enjoyed during our recent trip to Sri Lanka, following back-to-back our trip to India (see post following). This shot was taken early in the morning as we descended the hill town of Nuwara Eliya to the lowlands.

Horton Plains
Horton Plains National Park in the central highlands of Sri Lanka was an interesting mix of moist forest and native grassland.
Tooth Temple
The Tooth Temple in Kandy is one of Sri Lanka's main tourist sites.

Tooth Temple drummers
Several times a day in the temple, a traditional ceremony is held featuring some fine drumming.

In Kandy's Botanic Gardens L-R - Ketil, Chandima, Bente, Glenn

Nuwara Eliya
Tending the veges opposite our hotel.

Nuwara Eliya
A mother helped by her young son as she does the daily washing.

Yala National Park
We had a full day's safari in Yala National Park. This is an image from the coast in the park.

Yala National Park
We rushed our picnic lunch in Yala as a rain squall approached, raining out the rest of the day.

Rock Python
A huge rock python was seen in Yala, its head disappearing down a burrow.

Tea factory
We visited a tea factory near Kandy. 


The historic fort at Galle on the southern coast is another key Sri Lankan cultural site.

We had two nights near Galle at the delightful Bay Beach Hotel.

Tea pickers
Tea plantations were widespread. These tea pickers were at Sinharaja.

Sinharaja World Heritage Area was our most important birding site. This is the view across the valley from our hotel.

In the forest at Sinharaja. L-R - Chandima, Greg, Ketil

Locals enjoying a boisterous day out in the water at Kithulgala.

This is the site of the bridge near Kithulgala in the famous old movie, Bridge Over River Kwai.

Gomez Hotel, Negombo
We had a few restful days at the end of the trip in a hotel in Negombo, north of Colombo.

Fish drying in the sun, Negombo

Negombo Beach