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.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Grey Falcon & Diamantina National Park

Grey Falcon

In April last year I visited Lark Quarry and other sites in the channel country of western Queensland with Scott Baker and Bernie O'Keefe in search of Night Parrots and other goodies. The three of us decided it was time for another foray so we returned to the region, this time checking out the southern end of the Brighton Downs cattle property and the northern sector of Diamantina National Park along the main road (2-4 July). 

Diamantina National Park

Diamantina National Park
We were careful not to stray into the prohibited zone of the national park or the neighbouring Pullen Pullen Reserve – the area where Night Parrots are known from in Queensland - so perhaps not surprisingly, we failed to encounter the species in the limited habitat that can be reached.

Grey Falcon

Grey Falcon
We did, however, find some nice stuff, most notably no fewer than three pairs of Grey Falcons within 60km of each other. Of particular interest was a pair attending a nest in a eucalypt in the national park – a pleasant change from the usual telecommunication towers chosen by this rare species for nesting.

Grey Falcons

Grey Falcon

Grey Falcon
One of the birds was feeding on a Diamond Dove when we spotted the pair; the falcon with the prey shared it briefly with its mate before depositing it in the nest. The next morning we returned to the site and a falcon with a freshly killed small bird, probably a Zebra Finch, was seen on the road before taking flight to the nest. We were careful to keep our distance as these falcons reportedly are quick to vacate their nests if disturbed.

Further on in our journey we ran into a Darwin birder, Laurie Ross, on the road and told him about the nest. We were very disappointed to see that Laurie wasted no time in linking photographs he took of the birds to his commercial birding site and signalled he would be taking commercial tours there. The Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service will hopefully take a dim view of any such activity. Laurie claimed on Facebook that people who found the birds were "happy for me to take clients there"; that statement is untrue. Laurie requested publicly that nobody ask for the site details for this Grey Falcon pair, then he promptly offered to reveal them to another birder in return for site details for a Palm Cockatoo nest.

Last year I suggested to a Sunshine Coast birder that he remove reference to a nest from an ebird post from the region; he responded with a vitriolic personal attack, and the post remained unamended. I'll leave it to others to judge the conduct of some members of the birding community on such matters.

Painted Finch - juveniles

Painted Finch - adult male
Grey Falcons aside, the most interesting observation during this part of the trip was the large numbers of Painted Finches seen among the mesas and break-away country of rocky ridges and spinifex. This can be an uncommon species but it was easily the most numerous that we saw. As usual, this part of the world is exceptionally scenic – easily the jewel in the crown of the vast Diamantina National Park - and it's a matter of regret that access to it is banned.

Spotted Nightjar
A special treat one evening was a Spotted Nightjar tracked down during a nocturnal foray.

Black Honeyeater
Black Honeyeaters were quite common about the area, with many flowering Eremophila shrubs attracting them.  Spinifex Pigeon, Budgerigar and Red-capped Robin were among other species about. Good rain had fallen in the area earlier this year.

Red-capped Robin

Spinifex Pigeon

A small number of Red Kangaroos were the only mammals seen. The historic Mayne Hotel ruins are worth a look. Ebird list.

Mayne Hotel ruins

Red Kangaroos
The boys in action

1 comment:

  1. Awesome photos Greg. Shame the nest has now been revealed. If only Grey Falcons were dime a dozen. Jude