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, 28 August 2013

Black-breasted Buttonquail at Noosa Heads

Black-breasted Buttonquail
Yesterday I saw two Black-breasted Buttonquail in coastal scrub near Noosa Heads in Noosa National Park. I located a female and shortly after a male feeding relatively in the open under bushes, but they were extremely furtive. Later I saw a female but am not sure if it was the same female I found earlier. These images were taken by me last year at Inskip Point.

Black-breasted Buttonquail
I was tipped off to the presence of the birds by Luke Bennett, who saw a female in the area a few days earlier. Luke had seen buttonquail in the vicinity in 2009 and again in 2012. Black-breasted Buttonquail were located in another section of the park earlier this year by other observers. I also had them for several months in the Coolum section of Noosa National Park a few years ago. All three sites are similar - coastal scrub with open areas - favoured by the birds for feeding - with plenty of dense thickets into which the birds disappear when disturbed.

Black-breasted Buttonquail feeding area - Noosa National Park 
The birds are not easy to see here. I searched without success for two hours in the morning, eventually locating them in the early afternoon.

Black-breasted Buttonquail platelet
Platelets are a tell-tale sign of Black-breasted Buttonquail and there were plenty of fresh ones in the sand yesterday.

Lace Monitor
The birds were not interested in playback but this Lace Monitor certainly was. Black-breasted Buttonquail tend to be most responsive in the breeding season, which I believe is late spring-early summer; I have seen a male with chicks at Coolum in December.

Banksia flowers
Coastal scrub aside, there is nice wallum heath and rainforest in Noosa National Park. At this time of year the heath is ablaze with wildflowers, such as these banksias.

Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo
A party of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos was feeding on banksia cones.


Alexandria Bay
I callled in at Alexandria Bay - one of several beautiful sandy beaches in the park.

Alexandria Bay
Alexandria Bay has two claims to fame. It is Queensland's best-known nudist beach, and the only site in Australia where Blue Rock-Thrush has been seen (see here for link).


Monday, 26 August 2013

Bribie Island to Inskip Point

Double-banded Plover
A nice collection of birds seen in recent days over various sites extending from Bribie Island to Inskip Point includes Double-banded Plover in good numbers at three sites, Beach Stone-Curlew, Lewin's Rail, King Quail, Marbled Frogmouth, White-eared Monarch, Crested Shrike-tit, Black-breasted Buttonquail, Freckled Duck, Pink-eared Duck, an early Latham's Snipe and Glossy Black Cockatoo.

Double-banded Plover
A pleasant week was spent on Bribie Island, staying in a holiday unit at Woorim. About 20 Double-banded Plovers were present at the Kakadu wader roost, many looking smart in breeding plumage. Groups of Double-banded Plover were subsequently seen at the mouth of the Noosa River and at Inskip Point.

Beach Stone-Curlew
A pair of Beach Stone-Curlew was present at the Kakadu roost.

Brahminy Kite
This Brahminy Kite showed nicely at Woorim.

Common Tern

Crested Tern
Little Tern

Sunrise - Woorim, Bribie Island
Some nice terns were on the beach at Woorim, where the sunrise was also pleasant.

Wonga Pigeon
After returning from Bribie I hooked up with British birder Jonathan Newman for a couple of days birding about the Sunshine Coast. We started off well with a Platypus very close in the early morning in the Mary River at Moy Pocket. We heard Lewin's Rail in lantanna thickets nearby before moving on to a forest site on private property at Moy Pocket. Nice birds here included White-eared Monarch, Crested Shrike-tit, Wonga Pigeon, White-naped Honeyeater and Glossy Black Cockatoo (4 flying over). We visited another forest patch near Imbil where there were plenty of fresh Black-breasted Buttonquail platelets but no birds were seen.

Freckled Ducks & Little Black Cormorant

Comb-crested Jacana
We headed east from Imbil to Cooroy, visiting the sewerage ponds and flushing an early Latham's Snipe. Then on to Lake Macdonald in the Noosa Botanic Gardens, where the Freckled Duck that has been present for several weeks was in its usual position, this time accompanied by a mate. Comb-crested Jacana also showed well here. We then battled the tourist traffic to get to the mouth of the Noosa River, seeing Double-banded Plovers at roost in the distance.

Red-kneed Dotterel
We visited the Maroochydore sewerage ponds where a couple of Red-kneed Dotterels were about along with the usual large numbers of Chesnut Teal. We then checked out some wet sclerophyll forest behind Wappa Dam. The final site for the day was North Arm, where 15 Pink-eared Ducks were on the dam - the largest number since the species first turned up here more than a year ago. At a stream nearby, Jonathan was fortunate to glimpse a Lewin's Rail which had been calling.
That evening, we headed up to Mapleton National Park and after some effort, secured excellent views of a bill-clapping male Marbled Frogmouth.

Black-breasted Buttonquail
The next morning saw us leaving early for Inskip Point for the buttonquail as we had missed it at Imbil. We had good but brief views of a female Black-breasted Buttoquail soon after arriving but could not relocate the bird.

Checking out the Noosa Plain

Teewah Creek
We moved on to the Noosa Plain at Cooloola in the Great Sandy National Park, flushing a King Quail from the road on the way in. We spent a couple of hours traversing the wallum heath but dipped on Ground Parrot. The delightful Teewah Creek nearby was a pleasant diversion. We ended the day by heading south to Bli Bli to clean up a couple of birds that Jonathan was still chasing.





Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Ground Parrot, Grass Owl, Lewin's Rail: Coast and Hinterland

Ground Parrot - Picture by Graeme Chapman

I've been endeavouring to survey Ground Parrot numbers in the remnant Sunshine Coast population of this rare species. I was delighted a few nights ago to hear 3 birds calling at dusk in wallum heath near Castaways Beach. Two birds were calling together, indicating a possible pair. At another site 1km north of here, I recently heard no parrots calling (see here).

Eastern Grass Owl - Picture by Jim Sneddon
As occurred recently, while playing a Ground Parrot call, an Eastern Grass Owl appeared from nowhere and was clearly interested in the sound. The owls appear to be resident in wallum heath in this area. Calling in an area of creekside marshland at the same site were two Lewin's Rails but they failed to show.

Yellow-billed Spoonbill

Swamp Harrier
Elsewhere about the coast, a Yellow-billed Spoonbill and several Swamp Harriers were seen on River Road, Yandina Waters.

Freckled Duck with Great Cormorant, Australasian Darter, Hardhead
The Freckled Duck is still hanging about the Noosa Botanic Gardens on Lake Macdonald, sitting on the same pipe over the water.

Emerald Dove
In the home garden, an Emerald Dove has appeared at the seed feeder for the first time. A Pale-vented Bush-hen is still vocalising noisily at the bottom of the garden.

Southern Logrunner
During a run out to Charlie Moreland Park yesterday, I managed a half-decent shot of a logrunner but the little buggers are not easy to get a grip on. The weather is warming up quickly and there was evidence of breeding underway with Logrunner and Noisy Pitta in particular being very vocal.

Crested Shrike-tit
Crested Shrike-tit is always nice to see in south-Queensland and a pair showed yesterday.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
A large group of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos was feeding roadside on the way to Charlie Moreland.

Carpet Python
A nice 2m Carpet Python is a sign of summer coming.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Birding and Camping in the Lockyer Valley

Freckled Duck & Pink-eared Duck - Kilcoy

A three-night campout on the shore of Atkinson Dam in the Lockyer Valley. There remain plenty of good birds in the area. On the way I stopped at the wetlands in Winya Road, Kilcoy. Eight Freckled Ducks were present along with Pink-eared Duck (6) and Australasian Shoveler (10). Nearby, at the Mary Stokes Creek roadside dam, Cotton Pygmy-Goose (8) was present.

Hoary-headed Grebe
An afternoon drive along Banool Road behind Atkinson Dam turned up Hoary-headed Grebe (2) on a small roadside dam. Interestingly, this species was not encountered later among hundreds of Australasian Grebes on Atkinson Dam.

Red-necked Avocet
Plenty of Red-necked Avocets (200+) were present on Seven Mile Lagoon, with other nice birds including Australasian Shoveler (40) and Hoary-headed Grebe (4) again.


Atkinson Dam proved a lovely setting for camping.


I set off in my kayak in the early morning to explore the 15km or so of dam shore.

Cotton Pygmy-Goose
The dam was full of birds with Cotton Pygmy-Goose (16) present in small flocks.

Pied Cormorant, Great Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, Black Swan, Australian Pelican

Clearly there were plenty of fish about as pelicans, cormorants (all 4 species) and darters were in large numbers.

Great Crested Grebe
Great Crested Grebe (50+) was plentiful with some birds close to shore.

Whiskered Tern, Caspian Tern
 Good numbers of Caspian Terns were about along with a few Gull-billed Terns and Whiskered Terns in non-breeding plumage.
White-bellied Sea-Eagle
White-bellied Sea-Eagles were surprisingly common - about 8 were seen.

Pink-eared Duck
Of particular interest on the dam was a huge (3000+) gathering of Pink-eared Duck at its southern end.

Black Flying-Fox

Sunset over Atkinson Dam
A small colony of Black Flying-Fox with a few Little Red Flying-Fox among them was roosting near the dam.

Freckled Duck - Peach's Lagoon
 A circuit of other wetlands in the region began with a stop at Peach's Lagoon, Lower Tenthill, where Freckled Duck (4) was present. These birds have been here for several months.


At nearby Karrasch's Dam, Placid Hills, a single Black-tailed Native-hen was foraging along the shore.

Australasian Shoveler - Karrasch's Dam
 Other birds at Karrasch's included Australasian Shoveler (10).

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo
A surprise was a party of Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (5) feeding roadside between the lagoon and the main road.
Blue-billed Duck & Freckled Duck - Lake Galletly

Blue-billed Duck females

After finding a pair of nesting Black Falcon on private land near Lake Clarendon (see post following) a visit to Lake Galletly near Gatton turned up Blue-billed Duck (2 male, 2 female), Pink-eared Duck (50) and Freckled Duck (3).