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, 30 January 2017

Sooty Owl & Marbled Frogmouth at Mary Cairncross; Lewin's Rail & Spotless Crake at new Maleny Wetland

Marbled Frogmouth
It's satisfying to report two positive environmental news stories from the Sunshine Coast hinterland. The rare Sooty Owl and Marbled Frogmouth have been seen in Mary Cairncross Reserve in the latest indication that the extensive rehabilitation of cleared farmland in the Blackall Range is reaping rich biological dividends. Meanwhile, a new wetland created by Unitywater in Maleny's community precinct is shaping up as one of the Sunshine Coast's prime waterbird habitats.

 Mary Cairncross Reserve is one of the largest tracts remaining of the extensive rainforests that once covered the northern Blackall Range. It has suffered in the past from being isolated from other rainforest and wet sclerophyll forest remnants, but in recent years extensive areas in the region have been replanted with native vegetation. Valuable wildlife corridors are being created, allowing the spread of wildlife to areas from which they had long been absent.

Sooty Owl
Sooty Owl and Marbled Frogmouths are iconic species of the Blackall-Conondale Range complex. Both species have hitherto been very rarely recorded in Mary Cairncross (I can find evidence of just one record for each) although the habitat is ideal. So I was pleased to have a pair of Marbled Frogmouths and a Sooty Owl calling simultaneously and showing nicely last night in the reserve. I've noticed in the past that Marbled and Tawny Frogmouths do not seem to be at all deterred by nearby Sooty or Masked Owls.

Marbled Frogmouth
Although I've looked in the past for Sooty Owl and Marbled Frogmouth in Mary Cairncross without success, hopefully these species may become long-term residents as the good news story of habitat rehabilitation in the region continues.

Southern Boobook
Earlier in the evening, local wildlife enthusiast Barry Traill (of Pew Charitable Trusts fame, among other things) and I heard another two pairs of Marbled Frogmouth calling from rainforest gullies below the Maleny escarpment. A fine pair of Southern Boobooks were encountered as we left the area.

Common Ringtail
A poke around Barry's Maleny property revealed no fewer than 6 Common Ringtails in the space of a few minutes.

Yellow-throated Scrubwren
I had called into Mary Cairncross earlier in the afternoon. As usual, Yellow-throated Scrubwrens were abundant. See here for Mary Cairncross list.

Barry and I also visited the newly created wetland in the Sunshine Coast Council's Maleny Community Precinct. The wetland has been established by Unitywater for filtrating treated effluent from its Maleny Sewage Treatment Plant. The result is most impressive, with an extensive area of mixed aquatic vegetation providing refuge to what I suspect will be some interesting wildlife. The surrounding slopes are being replanted with native rainforest trees, with plenty of help from community-spirited locals.

Barry Traill at Maleny Precinct Wetland
It did not take us long to spot a couple of migratory Latham's Snipe. We saw a Spotless Crake and heard another 4 or 5. We also heard 3 Lewin's Rails. There are very few records of either of these two cryptic rail species from the Maleny region.

Lewin's Rail (file pic)
This is a spot to keep on eye on and congratulations to Unitywater, the Sunshine Coast Council and local residents for the good work they've done here. See here for the wetland list.

Wild Dogs
 In other news, I was birding with some friends near Kenilworth when we came across a pack of dingo-wild dog hybrids. These animals are rarely encountered in the field and it was interesting to see how dingo-like they were in appearance.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
This Sulphur-crested Cockatoo was nesting in a large eucalypt at Ninderry.



  1. Great shots Greg! How did you manage to get into Mary Cairncross at night-I've tried but they close down the walks?

  2. Good news on the Sooty and Marbled Frogmouth , Greg. Thanks for info .
    Heard both of them but never sighted them .
    Is the site reasonably accessible after hours , please ?

  3. The park is not accessible after dark. The birds were heard from the carpark area.

    1. I have frogmouths that regularly sleep in my trees during the day. Have a nice pic of them with their baby. Don't know how to send pic to you to see if they are the same as the ones your interested in.