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.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Franklin's Gull and Barambah

Franklin's Gull
 A vagrant Franklin's Gull turning up at Barambah (or Bjelke-Petersen) Dam near Murgon, south-east Queensland, a fortnight ago seemed like a good opportunity to check this area out. I saw the Franklin's Gull, one of only a handful recorded from Australia, on each of the four days we were in the area, and on four of six visits to the dam.

Franklin's Gull
The bird was reasonably close only on the first day, when it frequented the shoreline between the two retaining walls at the southern end of the dam. For about an hour, the gull was in this area although it was regularly flushed by children. Each time it flushed, it would fly high, following the shoreline for a while before crossing the water and returning to the same part of the shore. I also saw it land on the water twice in this area. Its favourite spot appeared to be the small bay to the west of the boat ramp between the retaining walls.

Franklin's Gull
On the other three occasions that I saw the Franklin's Gull, it was on the far side of the lake perched with Silver Gulls and Caspian Terns. A scope was necessary to find it, and the best spot to view it from was the boat ramp below the camping ground where the fish cleaning platform is. It was very windy this week and even with a scope it could be challenging at times to find the gull, although it appears decidedly smaller and greyer that the other gulls and terns. The bird was found here by Doug Armstrong on January 16, so it has been present for more than two weeks.

We camped at Barambah Bush Caravan Park, a few kilometres from the dam towards Murgon. This park was bushier, birder, quieter and cheaper than the caravan park at the lake. It had some nice trails through open woodland and some dry country birds that are normally scarce in south-east Queensland such as Apostlebird, White-winged Chough and Brown Treecreeper.

Barambah Bush Caravan Park

Common Bronzewing
 Plenty of parrots and pigeons at the caravan park feeders. Red-rumped Parrot (200+ on an irrigated field between the park and the dam), Red-winged Parrot (together with Australian King-Parrot) and Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (60 at the park) were among the parrots seen in the area.

Rainbow Lorikeet & Galah

Red-rumped Parrot

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo

Sacred Kingfisher
 Other birds included Sacred Kingfisher and Weebill, with raptors including Wedge-tailed Eagle and Whistling Kite.

Wedge-tailed Eagle

Whistling Kite

Common Brushtail
 Mammals included an obliging Koala and a few pesky Common Brushtails around the camp.


Pink-eared Duck
On the way home, a pair of Pink-eared Ducks were on a farm dam near Widgee, just west of Gympie. A flock of 20 Red-tailed Black Cockatoos here was unusual.

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo
Yellow Admiral
And among the butterflies - a Yellow Admiral. Full list of birds:


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  2. All great sightings Greg - interesting how the avifauna changes so much just an hour or two's drive in from the coastline.

  3. Another good read and yet another site to remember when travelling north.

  4. I've seen the red-tailed black cockatoos near the Kilkivan cemetery. And Booinbah swamp by Tansey is worth checking out if you are back in the neighborhood. Lots of swans, pelicans and other water birds in season.