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, 16 November 2014

Feathered Friends hit by Heat Wave and Drought in South-East Queensland

Spangled Drongo
The G20 meeting of world leaders down the road in Brisbane this weekend is under way in near-record temperatures for November in south-east Queensland. Citizens have evacuated the city en masse to avoid the G20 traffic chaos to head here to the Sunshine Coast or to the Gold Coast. The temperature in the garden this afternoon hit 40 degrees Celcius while nearby at Yandina it was 42. How do our avian friends cope?

Little Wattlebird
Not brilliantly, it seems. The day has seen a steady procession of garden birds visiting our two bird baths. Some are shown here, their bills open as birds pant to reduce heat stress, in much the same way dogs do. Those visiting today included Rainbow Lorikeet, Willie Wagtail, Little Wattlebird, Noisy Miner, Noisy Friarbird, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Lewin's Honeyeater, Magpie-lark and Spangled Drongo 

Pied Currawong
The water in the bird baths is so warm that the visitors do not partake in their usual indulgence of bathing. Some of the usual rules are broken. The birds are uncommonly accommodating each other; species that usually would be intolerant of others appear not to mind sharing a drink in these harsh conditions.

Noisy Friarbird

Red-necked Avocet
A few days ago I visited the Lockyer Valley, west of the Sunshine Coast, which is experiencing a prolonged dry spell. It was interesting to compare the birds with those seen in the valley last January  (see here). Many of the wetlands which had plenty of water 10 months ago are dry now. However, some of the species that have moved into south-east Queensland from the inland over the last 2-3 years continue to be present in numbers at those wetlands still with water, such as Lake Galletly. Here, Red-necked Avocet and Pink-eared Duck were common.

Whiskered Tern
Of interest was an abundance of Whiskered Tern. I saw a total of about 3000 at several sites, with good numbers of birds feeding not just on the shrinking wetlands but over dry paddocks.

Little Corella

Pink-eared Duck
Black Kites were abundant during my last visit but were  uncommon this time, though still about. Australasian Shoveler was present in small numbers at Lake Clarendon, where large numbers of Little Corellas were nesting in nearby eucalypts. A few Blue-billed Ducks were also on Lake Clarendon, though a little distantly. Another denizen of the inland, Hoary-headed Grebe, was common in January but on this visit I saw just two – on the dam on Colquhoun Road near Gatton.

Little Friarbird
White-winged Triller
Still, some birds were breeding nicely including Purple Swamphen and Dusky Moorhen. White-winged Triller and Little Friarbird were common. A party of 10 Zebra Finches, a rare species in south-east Queensland, was seen west of Helidon feeding roadside with Double-barred Finches.

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