Two days of birding around the Sunshine Coast region with an overseas visitor resulted in sightings of, among other things: Black-breasted Buttonquail, Ground Parrot, Painted Buttonquail, Eastern Grass Owl, Black-chinned Honeyeater, White-eared Monarch, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Beach Stone-Curlew (above), Glossy Ibis, Spotted Harrier and Spotless Crake; Lewin's Rail and King Quail were heard.
We kicked off Day One with a visit to a nice patch of rainforest abutting eucalypt forest by the Mary River, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Here, several Black-chinned Honeyeaters were present in flowering eucalypts, feeding with White-throated Honeyeaters. This is turning out to be a reliable winter site for Black-chinned Honeyeater, a rare species in south-east Queensland. Thanks to Trevor Quested for this image.
We moved on to my traditional Black-breasted Buttonquail area near Imbil and were surprised to find a Painted Buttonquail roadside just 500 metres east of the site. Despite the presence of numerous platelets (above) we could not get on to any Black-breasteds; at this time of year, these shy birds are difficult to see in this densely vegetated habitat. Last week, I found fresh platelets almost certainly made by this species in rainforest in the Blackall Range near Mapleton, but again no birds could be found.
After Imbil we visited the sewage treatment works at Cooroy, where we heard Spotless Crake.
We moved on to an area of wallum heath near Noosa where we had success in flushing a Ground Parrot at a distance of five metres within an hour of our arrival. We then visited the Noosa River estuary, where a flock of about 15 Double-banded Plovers were feeding on a sandpit with several Australian Pelicans. The pelicans appear to be returning to the coast after a nesting splurge inland. We ended the day with a search for Lewin's Rail at Peregian Beach; one bird was heard but not seen.
Keen to see Black-breasted Buttonquail, early the next morning we headed north to Inskip Point, seeing a small group of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos - another species that is scarce in south-east Queensland - just outside Gympie. At Inskip, we had excellent views of a nice female Black-breasted Buttonquail in the coastal scrub after about an hour of searching.
We also scored a White-eared Monarch at the entrance to one camping-ground, and a Beach Stone-Curlew at the end of the vegetation line at Inskip Point. Mangrove Honeyeaters were plentiful, while overwintering Little and Common Terns were seen distantly.
We stopped for a look at the pretty Seary's Creek (above) in Cooloola after leaving Rainbow Beach, then headed back to the Sunshine Coast, where we found Mangrove Gerygones along the Maroochy River and Restless Flycatcher at Paradise Waters.
We spent the rest of the afternoon in wetlands and grasslands in the vicinity of the Maroochy River. A surprise was the good numbers of Australian Reed-Warbler (above) about mid-winter; this species is normally a summer visitor.
A single Glossy Ibis was present.
This Fantailed Cuckoo showed nicely during a stop at Bli Bli. Late in the afternoon, in an area of marshy vegetation near Bli Bli, we had superb views of Spotless Crake, while Lewin's Rail was calling frustratingly close but failed to show. King Quail were calling in nearby grassland.
We were standing by our vehicle at dusk when an Eastern Grass Owl flew out of grass just 10 metres away to begin its nightly sojourns. The bird appeared to deliberately fly towards and over us, presumably out of curiosity. Thanks to Rob Hutchinson for this image. A fitting end to our two days' birding.