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, 27 September 2017

South-East Oz Part 4 – Victoria's Great Ocean Road

Rufous Bristlebird
Following our visit to Ballarat (see next post) we continued south to meet the Southern Ocean and the Great Ocean Road for a 2-night stay in the caravan park in the delightful seaside town of Port Campbell.

Port Campbell coast
I last saw Rufous Bristlebird at Port Addis in 1973 in the venerable company of John McKean, Billie Gill and Margaret Cameron. So I was keen to become reacquainted with this one. We spent a morning exploring the fabulous coastal scenery just east of the town at Loch Ard Gorge and the famed Twelve Apostles.

12 Apostles
Loch Ard Gorge
We did all the walks at the gorge before finally finding a pair of suitably co-operative bristlebirds on the path to Tunnel Cave. Later in the day I found another pair, though much more shy, along the Discovery Walk on the edge of Port Campbell. Then later still that day I found a third pair at the northern edge of the caravan park.

Rufous Bristlebird

Rufous Bristlebird
Striated Fieldwren was present in the coastal heath above the cliffs just east of Port Campbell.

Striated Fieldwren
Crescent Honeyater was common in the heath along the coast. Other honeyeaters included Red and Little Wattlebirds.

Crescent Honeyeater

We then drove east along the Great Ocean Road for a 1-night stay in the Bimbi Caravan Park at Cape Otway. Warning: do not stay in this overly priced hole unless hordes of noisy children are your thin. Luckily the birds helped ease the pain, and a big male koala along the road into the park was a nice find.

We walked a back track almost to the Cape Otway Lighthouse and saw a total of 6 Beautiful Firetails in two spots. Rufous Bristlebird was heard and more Striated Fieldwrens were about.

Cape Otway Lighthouse
We toured the historic lighthouse and visited Blanket Bay and Point Franklin, where another Beautiful Firetail was seen, in Great Otway National Park.

Beautiful Firetail

Beautiful Firetail

In the early evening a pair of Gang Gang Cockatoos flew down to drink. More were in the trees about the camp the next morning.

Gang Gang Cockatoo

Gang Gang Cockatoo

That morning I returned to the trails behind the lighthouse where another pair of Rufous Bristlebirds were seen well and 15-20 Beautiful Firetails were spotted, mostly feeding on the grass at a private camping ground 500m from the carpark. A Swamp Wallaby and a Peregrine Falcon were spotted on the way back.

Peregrine Falcon

Swamp Wallaby

Friday, 22 September 2017

South-East Oz Part 3: Bendigo & Ballarat

Black-eared Cuckoo
On our last morning in Deniliquin (see following post) I again checked out the back roads north of the town, seeing Pallid Cuckoo and a nice female Superb Parrot feeding in a flowering eucalypt.

Pallid Cuckoo

Superb Parrot
We headed on further south to the Victorian city of Bendigo for a 2-night stay in the Central City Caravan Park. We did some touristy things here like the Deborah underground gold mine and the trams. I was impressed with how well-wooded and birdy the city was. Grey Currawong and Musk Lorikeet were among birds seen close to the CBD.

Grey Currawong

Musk Lorikeet
A Common Bronzewing sitting on a suburban roof-top is not seen every day.

Common Bronzewing
A spent a morning 30km north of town in the Greater Bendigo National Park, birding along Bendigo Tennyson Road and Campbell Road in the dry sclerophyll-mallee woodlands, ablaze with wildflowers at this time of year.

Greater Bendigo National Park
I pulled up at the spot where my friend Kevin Bartram recently spotted a Black-eared Cuckoo, 100m or so up Campbell Road from its intersection with Bendigo Tennyson Road. Within seconds I had a Black-eared Cuckoo, soon to the joined by a second bird; both were extraordinarily fearless. One of the birds at one point kind of flattened itself out on the branch. I heard a third bird later and also had Shining and Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoos.

Black-eared Cuckoo

Black-eared Cuckoo
I was keen to photograph Purple-gaped Honeyeater and came across several pairs and small groups along Campbell Road.

Purple-gaped Honeyeater
I saw a Black Honeyeater along here and other honeyeaters were plentiful: White-fronted, Yellow-plumed, Brown-headed, Yellow-tufted, White-eared and Tawny-crowned.

Tawny-crowned Honeyeater

White-fronted Honeyeater
Other nice birds included Brush Bronzewing, Red-capped Robin and Crested Bellbird. I had good views of Shy Heathwren at Round Hill Reserve in NSW but was happy to connect with a co-operative individual of this different subspecies here.

Shy Heathwren 
We moved further south for a 2-night stay at the Eureka Holiday Park in Ballarat. Again, a nicely wooded city, this one with the impressive Lake Wendouree in its heart. On the lake were plenty of Great Crested Grebes along with a few Musk Ducsk and Blue-billed Ducks.

Musk Duck

Great Crested Grebe
While plenty of Black Swan families were about.

Black Swan family
Swamp Harriers quartered the reed-bed, where a pair were clearly attending a nest.

Swamp Harrier

Monday, 18 September 2017

South-East Oz Part 2: NSW Riverina

Superb Parrot
We had a Pink Cockatoo in the camping ground on our last morning at Lake Cargelligo (see following post) and two more at the treatment works, where Swamp Harrier and Spotted Harrier also showed. We headed south through the NSW Riverina to the rice town of Leeton, known as a birding hotspot, for a 2-night stay at the showgrounds.

Superb Parrot pair
It wasn't long before the first Superb Parrots flew overhead and I was soon enjoying close encounters with several birds of this aptly named species on the well-wooded golf course adjoining the showgrounds.

Fivebough Wetlands
I spent quite a bit of time at the RAMSAR-listed Fivebough Wetlands where an astonishing number of ducks were present. There were several thousand Grey Teal along with a sprinkling of Australasian Shoveler, Pink-eared Duck, Australian Wood Duck, Hardhead, Chesnut Teal, Australian Shelduck and a pair off Blue-billed Ducks.

Australian Shelduck

Blue-billed Duck
Other birds included good numbers of Red-necked Avocets, a few Yellow-billed Spoonbills and about 20 Australian Spotted Crakes. I also visited the Tuckerbil Swamp where a nice flock of Marsh Terns was present.

Australian Spotted Crake

Red-necked Avocet

Yellow-billed Spoonbill
We continued south to the town of Deniliquin for a 2-night stay in the Riverside Caravan Park on the Edward River.

Edward River at Deniliquin
At McLean Beach were several Long-billed Corellas, including this pair mating vigorously. The cockatoo was also present in the caravan park and elsewhere about town.

Long-billed Corella

Long-billed Corella

Yellow (Crimson) Rosellas are common in the grand river red gums that abound in this area.
One morning I headed up the road to Conargo and took some back roads returning to Deniliquin. 
Yellow (Crtimson) Rosella
Good birds along here including Banded Lapwing, Horsfield's Bushlark and White-winged Fairy-wren.

White-winged Fairy-wren
Others included Pallid Cuckoo, Greater Bluebonnet, 3 Blue-winged Parrots and a few more Superb Parrots.

Blue-winged Parrot
Greater Bluebonnet

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

South-East Oz Pt 1: Stanthorpe to Round Hill Reserve

Shy Heathwren

We left home on September 6 for a lengthy road trip through NSW and Victoria. First stop was Glen Alpin near Stanthorpe, staying by the Severn River at the Country Style Caravan Park. There were plenty of Dusky Woodswallows here. It's always nice to be in the Granite Belt but we could do without the weather – down to -2 on our first morning.

Dusky Woodswallow
We moved on to Armidale the next day, calling in on the excellent birding area along Old Wallangarra Road, where a Yellow-footed Antechinus was of interest in the short time available. A couple of Little Eagles were seen on the way south for a 2-night stay in the Armidale Tourist Park. I spent a full morning in the ironbark woodlands of the Yarrowyck area west of Armidale, along Gwydir Park Road and Gwydir River Road.

This is a known site for Regent Honeyeater, but none were to be encountered. Few ironbarks were flowering though plenty were full of bud.

Square-tailed Kite
Fuscous Honeyeater was abundant. Other good birds included a Square-tailed Kite quartering the woodland and a Rufous Songlark. The cold weather persisted with the temperature dropping to -4 in Armidale.

Rufous Songlark
We moved on to Dubbo, overnighting in a free camp 10km north of town in the Terramungamine Reserve. It's a pleasant spot by the Macquarie River, but not much was around in the way of birds. 

Macquarie River, Dubbo
We went upmarket the next night in the Dubbo City Holiday Park. We drove south-west through Parkes, seeing a Pink Cockatoo east of Condobolin. Our base for the next 4 nights was the Lake View Caravan Park by the lovely Lake Cargelligo, where we met up with our friend Kathy Haydon. A pool by the road just outside the town of Lake Cargelligo on the Condobolin road had Red-necked Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, a flock of 30 Sharp-tailed Sandpipers (some in partial breeding plumage) and Australasian Shoveler.

Sharp-tailed Sandpipers
Another pool had Black-tailed Native-hen and Red-kneed Dotterel, with loads of Australian Pelicans about.

Australian Pelican

Black-tailed Native-hen
The Lake Cargelligo Wastewater Treatment Plant is an excellent spot. Musk Duck and Hoary-headed Grebe were among the birds here. 

Hoary-headed Grebe
In the reeds were large numbers of Australian Reed-Warbler and Little Grassbird, with White-winged Fairy-wren and White-fronted Chat in the saltbush.

Black Falcon
A Black Falcon was among the raptors present.

Little Grassbird
Best of all were the three species of crake together at the treatment works. Over a couple of days I saw and heard 20+ Baillon's Crakes, 8 Australian Spotted Crakes and 5 Spotless Crakes.

Australian Spotted Crake adult

Australian Spotted Crake immature 

Baillon's Crake

Spotless Crake
We had a full day in the mallee of the Round Hill Reserve and adjoining Nombinnie Nature Park, concentrating on the area around the so-called old wheat paddock. 

Malle at Round Hill
Many mallee trees were in flower and honeyeaters were abundant: Black, White-fronted, Yellow-plumed, Grey-fronted, Brown-headed and White-eared Honeyeaters were everywhere.

Black Honeyeater

White-fronted Honeyeater

Grey-fronted Honeyeater
We saw a total of 5 Gilbert's Whistlers and heard 2 or 3 others in various spots; there was no sign of Red-lored Whistler.

Gilbert's Whistler
Shy Heathwren was encountered several times, offering nice close-up views.

Shy Heathwren
Southern Scrub-Robin was another mallee speciality that performed nicely.

Southern Scrub-Robin
Other birds included Mulga Parrot, Southern Whiteface, Red-capped Robin, Splendid Fairy-wren and Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo.

Splendid Fairy-wren

Southern Whiteface

Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo

Mulga Parrot
On the way back we stopped near the railway line on the southern boundary of the nature reserve and had a most co-operative pair of Chesnut Quail-thrush close to the car.

Chesnut Quail-thrush
Further on we stopped at the so-called Chat Alley, where plenty of White-fronted Chats duly appeared in the saltbushes.

White-fronted Chat
A Shingleback was encountered on the road.