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.

Monday, 10 November 2014

November Blitz Around the Sunshine Coast

Eastern Grass Owl near Yandina Creek Wetlands - Picture by Hendrik Ferreira 
A highly productive one-and-a-half days and an evening of birding around the Sunshine Coast with Hendrik Ferreira and Anton Booysen yielded a veritable spray of goodies including Eastern Grass Owl, Sooty Owl, Large-tailed Nightjar, Marbled Frogmouth, Australian Little Bittern, Eastern Ground Parrot, King Quail, Beach Stone-Curlew, Wandering Tattler, Cotton Pygmy-Goose, Black-necked Stork, Barred Cuckoo-shrike, White-eared Monarch, Dusky Honeyeater, Crested Shrike-tit, Fairy Gerygone, Paradise Riflebird, Noisy Pitta, Russet-tailed Thrush, Little Bronze Cuckoo, Crested Shrike-tit, Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove, Little Grassbird and Spotless Crake.

White-eared Monarch
We kicked off at dawn on Day One at Little Yabba Creek, Charlie Moreland Park, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. We soon had a pair of White-eared Monarchs flitting about us side-by-side with Spectacled Monarchs and Black-faced Monarchs.

Paradise Riflebird
A small party of Dusky Honeyeaters foraged on the rainforest edge and a male Paradise Riflebird checked us out. Russet-tailed Thrush, Wompoo Fruit-Dove, White-headed Pigeon, Topknot Pigeon and Australian Logrunner were among other birds present. A Noisy Pitta performed well along a nearby rainforest circuit track. Crested Shrike-tit and Pale-yellow Robin were also here.

Noisy Pitta
We moved on to open eucalypt forest and vine scrub at Moy Pocket, nestled in a loop in the picturesque Mary River. A pair of Barred Cuckoo-shrikes were co-operative and Fairy Gerygone – a species recorded from the hinterland only in relatively recent times - was vocal and easy to track down. Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos entertained as they tore into the flowers of a Silky Oak.

Fairy Gerygone
Another patch of vine scrub near Imbil was our next destination. Here we found plenty of evidence of Black-breasted Buttonquail including fresh platelets but no birds were seen in the time we had available. While having lunch at Imbil, we were startled when a large vehicle came rolling down a hill, crossing the road and knocking down two wooded rail barriers before smashing into a tree a few metres from us, just before it would have otherwise plunged into Yabba Creek. It had been left in neutral with no hand brake on - an unusual diversion from birding.

Runaway Vehicle at Imbil
We headed east to the coast to Alexandra Headland where we found a nice pair of Wandering Tattlers on the sea edge along with a Pacific Reef-Egret. We continued to the mouth of the Maroochy River, spotting a Beach Stone-Curlew feeding on crabs on the seaward side of Goat Island.

Wandering Tattler
Large numbers of Chesnut Teal were at the Maroochydore sewage treatment plant. At Bli Bli Wetlands, a Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove put on a fine show in the afternoon light while we took time out to photograph more common species such as Leaden Flycatcher.
Leaden Flycatcher
Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove
Our final call for the day was a property adjoining the Yandina Creek Wetlands. I reported last week (see here) about some nice waterbirds at this site. This newly discovered spot was again impressive. A Black-necked Stork waded in the shallows as 15 or more Spotless Crakes and quite a few Little Grassbirds called from flooded grasses.

Black-necked Stork
At dusk, a lone Australian Little Bittern was calling vigorously from across a marsh. Then a Large-tailed Nightjar started calling before we saw it briefly flitting about. The nightjar had been roosting in thick vegetation lining a canal which cuts through the wetlands. This species was known to occur as far south as the Rainbow Beach area, 80km north of here, but was found nearby at Bli Bli Wetlands on October 20 this year by Russ Lamb and Pieter de Groot; these two records constitute a southward extension of range. See ebird list here.

Eastern Grass Owl - Picture by Hendrik Ferreira
As the sky darkened and a full moon began to rise, a pair of Eastern Grass Owls appeared overhead in response to playback, putting on an excellent display. We saw and heard the nightjar as we left the wetlands. These latest records strengthen the case for the wetlands to be acquired and managed as a reserve by the local council (see here for how you help this campaign).

Marbled Frogmouth
We headed west to the Blackall Range and Mapleton National Park, where we soon had a Sooty Owl calling in wet sclerophyll forest. We saw the bird in flight twice before finally cornering a brief but good view of it perched. Not much later we had a pair of Marbled Frogmouths calling on both sides of the road, with the female eventually showing nicely. See ebird list here. So we had Sooty Owl, Eastern Grass Owl, Large-tailed Nightjar and Marbled Frogmouth (along with Southern Boobook and Tawny Frogmouth) within a couple of hours.

Birding wallum heath near Noosa
We had just the morning on the second day for birding so it was off for an early start in a patch of wallum heath near Noosa. We flushed a female King Quail, always a difficult species, before our main target – an Eastern Ground Parrot – flew up obligingly from the heath. White-winged Triller was calling and a squadron of White-throated Needletails flew overhead.

Tawny Grassbird
The water level of Lake Macdonald was very low and not much was about although Red-kneed Dotterel and Whiskered Tern were nice. A Grey Goshawk was on a tree nearby where a pair raised a single young last year. Latham's Snipe and Tawny Grassbird were about at the Cooroy sewage treatment works, and Little Lorikeet here was unusual.

Cotton Pygmy-Goose
We found another Black-necked Stork on a farm dam near Eumundi and a pair of Cotton Pygmy-Geese on a second dam nearby. All up, an eventful couple of days.  


  1. Very impressive list, Greg. Glad you got the Beach Stone-Curlew!!

    1. Thanks Roy. The stone-curlews are resident there but it was good to have you confirm they were viewable in the afternoon, thanks. The bird we saw was at the far southern end of the island, keeping to the vegetation but venturing out to feed occasionally. I have a single bird at this spot before.

  2. Your rose-crowned fruit dove is so colourful. What a wonderful batch of bird sightings and photographs as well as a bit of drama with the careering vehicle. Glad you were only close, not in the way.

  3. Greg, so the question is: Is there more than one Large-tailed Nightjar? The sites appear to be about 10km apart as the nightjar flies, so it's possible it's the same one. Better add it to your published Sunshine Coast list! Russ Lamb

  4. Hi Russ
    I tried to email after your Bli Bli record but it bounced. Can you please email so I have the right address: or the westnet address. I went to the Bli Bli carpark a few nights after your sighting but nothing around at all. I think in a straight line it would not even be 10 km. So who knows? The Yandina Creek bird was totally unresponsive to callback which is unusual for this species. Greg