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, 5 December 2012

Wetlands Destruction on the Sunshine Coast

Current and planned developments threaten what little remains of freshwater wetlands on the Sunshine Coast. The images here were taken yesterday at the end of River Road, Maroochy River. The land being bulldozed above was until this week an excellent area of grassland and swamp. I have had a breeding population of at least two pairs of Lewin's Rail for the past couple of years at this spot. This is the only place on the Sunshine Coast where I had recorded Red-backed Buttonquail, and King Quail, another scarce species, were regular here.

Across the road, as part of the same development on the same land title, another area of grassland and swamp has been destroyed. A pair of Eastern Grass Owl had been resident at the site in the image above.
The land was sold recently to someone who wanted to "build a shed on it", said Nambour real estate agent Gary Blake. The new owner had "cleaned up the place, it was a real mess", he added. It's interesting how varied the perception of what constitutes a mess can be.

Lewin's Rail

Lewin's Rail is listed as Near Threatened under Queensland's Nature Conservation Act. Permission for development that could have detrimental consequences for the species is supposed to be obtained by the state Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.  No such approvals were given for the development in the images above.

This land is a former sugar cane farm so the swamps and grassland are not natural. However, given the almost total destruction of natural wetlands on the Sunshine Coast, they provide crucial habitat for many waterbirds and other birds and mammals. Government authorities should consider buying some of the properties and managing them as wetland habitat; the image above shows what this habitat looks like.

Eastern Grass Owl - Pic by Jim Sneddon
The flats around both sides of the Maroochy River constitute one of the best sites in Queensland for the rare Eastern Grass Owl. Other raptors frequenting them include good numbers of Spotted Harrier and Grey Goshawk, both regarded as uncommon.  

Spotless Crake

Good numbers of Spotless Crake and Buff-banded Rail are among the waterbirds that live in the grasslands and swamps. Other birds here include Brolga, Bush Stone-Curlew, Tawny Grassbird and Brown Quail.


  1. Greg,
    have you sent these images and questions to the Coucil or the Daily? Is there somewhere to gain an 'official' response or reaction? My other thoughts are regarding the SCC conservation fund which is for aquisition of land of biodiversity value? Perhaps some of these areas could be purchased within that scheme?

  2. Yes I've sent a link to the blog post to the council, the SCD and others, including the state Environment Department

  3. I totally agree with the comment about the perception of mess. It's great to see that someone in the area is keeping an eye on this sort of thing. I get saddened every time I see development in areas where I know there are lots of animals, especially uncommon or threatened species. I was told when I moved onto my property that I had to slash the entire property. Where would all the frogs, birds and mammals go once all their habitat was destroyed? I slashed some (about 1/3) of the property to make it "look more appealing" and to keep certain people off my back but staggered the slashing to allow the animals to move into other areas. I outright refuse to slash any more of the property as I know how many species rely upon the habitat, many of which are uncommon. Keep up the fight Greg.

  4. I have to be careful what language I use when I see sights like this. I 'd like to say more but I can't.