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, 8 March 2017

Golden-headed Cisticola All At Sea

Golden-headed Cisticola off Sunshine Coast
 The Australian Reptile Park's Tim Faulkner has drawn my attention to a strange event concerning the diminutive Golden-headed Cisticola. Last weekend off the Sunshine Coast, fishermen reported that "dozens" of cisticolas had landed on several fishing charter boats and trawlers about 30 nautical miles offshore. Deck hands were able to easily capture some of the birds.

Golden-headed Cisticola
The boats were in an area where there have been large numbers of baitfish recently with attendant flocks of terns and other seabirds. We were offshore for our March 4 pelagic at this time and although we saw some boobies perched on fishing trawlers, we did not encounter a cisticola. The area where the cisticolas landed on boats is some distance north of where we were.
This seems to me to be an extraordinary sighting. The Golden-headed Cisticola is to my knowledge not known to migrate. It is a resident of a variety of habitats that have healthy growth of grasses and other ground vegetation.

Golden-headed Cisticola offshore: Pic Jason Pietzner 
Soon after hearing from Tim, I was contacted by Paddy Dimond, our skipper on Saturday's pelagic. He also had been sent pictures from a fishing mate of this strange little bird landing on boats offshore. One fisherman described a bird that landed on his boat as "exhausted"; he said it hung around for a few days before flying off.

Golden-headed Cisticola offshore

Eastern Koel
Meanwhile, the long, hot summer is finally winding down with seasonal migrants preparing to head north for the winter. They include a recently fledged Eastern Koel in the garden at Ninderry.

And a male Cicadabird on Mt Ninderry.

Australilan Owlet-Nightjar
Also on Mt Ninderry was an Australian Owlet-Nightjar perched at the entrance to its tree hollow. I was alerted to its presence mid-morning by the characteristic call near the walking path to the summit.

Eastern Grey Kangaroo
The garden birdbaths have been particularly popular during the hot weather. Eastern Grey Kangaroos are regular drinkers and their attention requires continual replenishment.

Baillon's Crake
The Parklakes wetland took a battering when much of the aquatic vegetation was removed by the real estate developers early last year. It has recovered to an extent, with Baillon's Crake making a welcome return in recent weeks after an absence of a couple of years. Australian Little Bittern has also again been recorded at Parklakes and I saw one last month at the Coolum Industrial Estate, where a bird was present this time last year.

Black-necked Storks
A pair of Black-necked Storks were by a small dam near River Road, Yandina Creek, where a Grey Goshawk was flying overhead.

Grey Goshawk


  1. I am yet to see all of these birds, except the Black-necked Stork!

  2. Interesting story about the Cisticolas at sea,any follow up?