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 July 2019

Central-Southern Queensland trip - Winter 2019

Barking Owl
We headed off for a three-week road and camping trip through Central Coastal and South-East Queensland on June 24, 2019. Good birds included Barking Owl, Zitting Cisticola, Yellow Chat, Olive-backed Sunbird, Shining Flycatcher, Bar-breasted Honeyeater, Freckled Duck, Square-tailed Kite, Plum-headed Finch, Australian Bustard, Western Gerygone and Spotted Quail-thrush. We kicked off with three nights at Bargara Beach near Bundaberg, a favoured haunt with the beautiful Mon Repos Beach nearby. A Square-tailed Kite was hanging around the camping ground.

Square-tailed Kite

Mon Repos
Nutmeg Mannikin, once common in South-East Queensland but now scarce and localised, was surprisingly numerous. Dusky Honeyeater was also exceptionally plentiful.

Dusky Honeyeater

Nutmeg Mannikin
We moved on to the Town of 1770 for two nights. I picked up a pair of Olive-backed Sunbirds in a garden adjoining Joseph Banks Conservation Park; this area is the southern limit of range for this species. Plenty of Fairy Gerygones were about. Brown Booby and Australasian Gannet were common offshore but a Brown Booby was unusually approachable as it frequented the town's marina, some distance upstream.

Brown Booby

Fairy Gerygone

Olive-backed Sunbird
Town of 1770
Then it was off to Tannum Sounds for two nights. We stayed here last in 2012 so I was hopeful to reconnect with the Barking Owl pair that entertained us then. The first night there was nothing so I thought they'd moved on, but they were around our camp on the second night, the female clutching a freshly caught cuckoo-shrike (probably White-bellied).

Barking Owl (male)

Barking Owl (female with prey)
Regent Bowerbird and Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove were in the vine scrub nearby, while a female Shining Flycatcher was in mangroves near the camping ground.

Regent Bowerbird

Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove

Shining Flycatcher

Our next stop was the hamlet of Marmor, famed as a hotspot for the rare Capricorn race of Yellow Chat, for an overnight stay at the Alkoomi Advanture Campground (warning – it's handy but don't stay there!). I spent an afternoon and morning at the site. A pair of chats flew overhead and off into the distance, sadly not offering a photographic opportunity.

Yellow Chat site at Marmor
We moved on to the nearby township of Bajool, from where the road to Pt Alma is another Yellow Chat hotspot. Camping opposite the friendly pub here was more congenial that the Alkoomi experience. No luck with chats (there seem to be no winter records for this site) though I found and photographed a Zitting Cisticola that was conveniently calling.The image is poor but the clearly defined pale tail tips can be seen - possibly the only defining feature of use to separate this species from Golden-headed Cisticola in non-breeding plumage.

Zitting Cisticola
A Black Falcon showed nicely at the lagoon a short distance from Bajool on the Port Alma Road. A pair of Brolga were among waterbirds on the lagoon, while a Blue-winged Kookaburra and several Black-faced Woodswallows were up the road nearby.

Black Falcon

Black Falcon
Black-faced Woodswallow

Blue-winged Kookaburra

Brolga and friends
Mangrove Honeyeater was common in dry scrub all over the place and many kilometres from the nearest mangroves, Lots of Striped Honeyeater and Little Friarbird were about.

Mangrove Honeyeater

Striped Honeyeater & LIttle Friarbird
We next had three nights in Rockhampton, camped by the Fitzroy River. Murray Lagoon at the Botanic Gardens had good numbers of waterfowl including about 40 Freckled Duck, a few Pink-eared Duck and 80 Australasian Shoveler.

Australasian Shoveler, Grey Teal & Pink-eared Duck

Freckled Duck
Nearby, at Yeppen Yeppen Lagoon, I found a Bar-breasted Honeyeater (here at the southern end of the range of this species) in flowering Melaleuca and a pair of Black-necked Storks. Pacific Baza was frequenting our caravan park.

Pacific Baza

Bar-breasted Honeyeater

Black-necked Stork
We headed inland for an overnight stay in the quaint town of Goovigen. The surrounding brigalow was full of interesting baobab trees and loads of macropods, including Whiptail Wallabies. Some drier country birds started showing, such as Yellow-throated Miner and Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo.

Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo

Whiptail Wallaby

Yellow-throated Miner
Baobab trees
We had two nights camping at the beautiful Isla Gorge National Park, at the eastern fringe of a huge area of sandstone escarpment, the best known part of which is Canarvan Gorge. The highlight here was a pair of vocal Spotted Quail-thrush, with a third bird heard.

Isla Gorge
Spotted Quail-thrush female

Spotted Quail-thrush male
White-eared Honeyeater was common in the park. Buff-rumped Thornbill was around the camping ground, while Yellow Thornbill was in remnant brigalow nearby, as was Spotted Bowerbird and Singing Honeyeater.

Singing Honeyeater

Spotted Bowerbird

White-eared Honeyeater

Buff-rumped Thornbill

Yellow Thornbill
Our next stop for an overnight stay was the town of Wandoan. A pair of Australian Bustards were in grassland outside the town. We then had a night in Chinchilla, where Red-winged Parrots and Red-rumped Parrots added splashes of colour and Chestnut-rumped Thornbill was close to the eastern end of its range here .

Australian Bustard

Chestnut-rumped Thornbill

Red-rumped Parrot
Red-winged Parrot
After that it was an overnight stay at the Bowenville Reserve near Dalby. The roads in this area have been good for birds in the past but less so this time. Very large flocks of Cockatiel and Little Corella were impressive. Nankeen Kestrel was surprisingly common. A couple of White-winged Fairy-wrens, here at the eastern extremity of their range, were seen.


Little Corella

White-winged Fairy-wren
The reserve itself was productive. A Western Gergyone was singing by our camp, where a pair of Tawny Frogmouths were in residence. Good numbers of Plum-headed Finches mixed with Double-barred Finches in creekside vegetation. A female Red-capped Robin, unusual so far east, was also here.

Plum-headed Finch

Red-capped Robin

Western Gerygone
Camping at Bowenville
Our final stay was in Toowoomba, mostly non-birding, but I looked unsuccessfully for Swift Parrots in Glen Lomond Park, where I saw them in 1998 and where they've been seen occasionally since. No luck there but plenty of Musk Lorikeets about.

Musk Lorikeet