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.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Hervey Bay, Maryborough & Great Sandy Strait

Greater Sand Plover
Three Asian Dowitchers, 150+ Grey Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Brolga, loads of Greater Sand Plover in breeding plumage and Beach Stone-Curlew were the highlights of birding around Hervey Bay and the Great Sandy Strait in south-east Queensland. We camped for 3 nights by the beach at Pialba in Hervey Bay where we camped at this time last year. Of interest was a flock of 50 Greater Sand Plover on the rocks at Pt Vernon. Most birds were in full or partial breeding plumage and unusually, no other species (including Lesser Sand Plover) were with the flock.

Sooty Oystercatcher
A single Sooty Oystercatcher (northern race) was on the rocks. I looked unsuccessfully for Black-breasted Buttonquail at Mungomery's Vine Scrub; platelets were very old and I suspect well-meaning locals who removed lantana and other weeds from the scrub may have unwittingly subjected the birds to cat predation.

Arkarra Lagoons were also unproductive other than a couple of Nankeen Night-Herons although an Osprey showed nicely nearby.

Grey Shrike-thrush
A Grey Shrike-thrush attracted to its image in a car mirror at River Head was a distraction. Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove and Fairy Gerygone were in the vine scrub here.

Wood Sandpiper
I visited Garnett's Lagoon with John Knight. We found a Wood Sandpiper at the same spot where we saw one this time last year. The lagoon was looking good for waders with 300+ Red-necked Stints among those present (full list here). Large numbers of sand plovers of both species were on the salt plan but interestingly, unlike the Pt Vernon birds, none had traces of breeding plumage.

Five Brolga - a good number for this species in south-east Queensland - were about.

White-winged Chough
 We moved on to another caravan park for 3 nights by the Mary River in Maryborough. Fairy Gerygone was common in mangroves along the river along with Mangrove Gerygone. White-winged Chough, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike and Nutmeg Mannikin were among the birds in the area.

Great Egret at nest

Intermediate Egret at nest
Intermediate Egret, Great Ă‹gret and Cattle Egret were nesting in the same trees at Queens Park in Maryborough.

Gull-billed Tern & Caspian Tern

Bar-tailed Godwit, Great Knot, Greater Sand Plover, Lesser Sand Plover
Waders were in good numbers at the Boonooroo high tide roost, with many coming into breeding plumage. An Asian Dowitcher was seen briefly among the big flocks of larger waders, predominantly Bar-tailed Godwit. Also of interest were 150+ Grey Plover - an unusually large number for a species that is a scarce visitor to south-east Queensland. A large flock of Little Tern was also of interest. Both species of sand plover were in good numbers (full list here).

Grey Plover
I moved on to nearby Maaroom, a few kilometres to the north, while the tide was still high. A found a second  Asian Dowitcher foraging in low mangroves with a small group of Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwits. This group flushed and flew into the distance.

Asian Dowitcher & Bar-tailed Godwits
Then, in the main large grouping of waders, I found a third Asian Dowitcher which I saw several times. Unfortunately the above is the only image I managed of any of the three dowitchers: a distant digiscoped snap of the bird (in the centre, left and behind a Bar-tailed Godwit, with its bill tucked away; characteristic plumage differences can be discerned, as demonstrated in the image below).

Asian Dowitcher
This is a better snap of a dowitcher I took a while back at Toorbul.

Beach Stone-Curlew
A Beach Stone-Curlew at Maaroom was another nice find. Interestingly, no plovers of any species were present at this site: See full list here.

1 comment:

  1. Great wader sightings, Greg! Interesting to see a good photo of the grey plover, I've always been worried about overlooking them inside golden plover flocks but they really are a different looking bird.