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 November 2014

Yandina Creek Wetland and its Wonderful Waterbirds at Risk of Destruction

Black-necked Stork
Lewin's Rail, Spotless Crake, Black-necked Stork, Red-necked Avocet and Mallard were among a fine array of waterbirds seen in a couple of hours recently in an extensive area of newly discovered wetland and grassland at Yandina Creek on the Sunshine Coast that is threatened by development. Other good birds included Latham's Snipe, Red-kneed Dotterel, Whiskered Tern, Glossy Ibis and Little Grassbird.

Spotless Crake
I had previously birded the far eastern edge of this wetland, where interesting species included Australian Spotted Crake, Australian Painted-Snipe (see here) and Black-tailed Native-Hen (and here). However, I was unaware at the time that the wetlands and grasslands extended some distance inland on private property that is not accessible to the public.

Red-necked Avocet
In one morning at the newly discovered wetland area I heard 5 Lewin's Rails calling from 3 sites and saw 1 bird briefly. I heard no fewer than 12 Spotless Crakes and saw 3, including some nice close views. A fine male Black-necked Stork was strutting its stuff. Also present were 4 Red-necked Avocets, a species I had not seen previously on the Sunshine Coast. Of further interest was a free-flying female Mallard. This bird clearly was not domesticated or semi-domesticated, unlike the great majority of Mallards encountered in south-east Queensland; genuinely wild, feral Mallards are rare in SEQ, unlike in the southern states.

Red-kneed Dotterel
About 20 Red-kneed Dotterels were present; this visitor from the inland has been in this area for a couple of years now. Little Grassbirds were calling commonly, side-by-side with Tawny Grassbirds. A flock of 50 Whiskered Terns was noted and at least 20 Latham's Snipe were flushed.

Royal Spoonbill
Three Glossy Ibis were seen along with good numbers of more common species such as Royal Spoonbill and all four species of egret.

Yandina Creek Wetlands looking west to Mt Ninderry
These wetlands have been created by tidal flooding from the Maroochy River and associated canals due to changes in the water table caused by many decades of sugar cane farming, which has long stopped at this site. Although created artificially, the wetlands and grasslands provide excellent habitat for waterbirds. Their preservation and management would help atone for the widespread destruction of wallum heath and natural wetlands around the Sunshine Coast.

Yandina Creek Wetlands looking east to Mt Coolum
I have had discussions with the Sunshine Coast Regional Council about the prospect of the council acquiring some of the land in this area (Lot 2 River Road) which is presently up for sale. Another area of bird-rich wetland adjacent to Lot 2 was bulldozed for a housing block redevelopment (see here). The council was reluctant to  purchase the property, in part because it was concerned that waterbirds could interfere with air traffic at the nearby Sunshine Coast Airport, where a new east-west runway is to be built. However, the airport has confirmed there is no risk of bird strike.

The council advised me in a letter dated August 12, 2013 that although the land had habitat value for some bird species, priority was given to acquiring properties that exhibited "significant environmental values and are in highly strategic locations". How the council came to the conclusion that these wetlands were not of significant environmental value and were not in a  "highly strategic" location was not explained.

The new airport runway will destroy large swathes of this human-modified grassland-wetland habitat along with remnant wallum heath that is home to a tiny population of endangered Ground Parrots. The Yandina Creek Wetlands, however, are well to the west of the extensions. In view of the recent discoveries, I have asked the council to think again and it has agreed to reconsider a fresh proposal which now covers 200 hectares over three properties. If the land is not protected, it will inevitably be redeveloped. Sugar cane was last grown on the land 10 years ago when it was sold by its farmer-owner to development interests.

Anyone who feels the same is asked to email the council here at, asking that their concerns be drawn to the attention to the mayor, Councillor Mark Jamieson. Refer to Nomination R100 under the council's Environment Levy Land Acquisition Program.

A full list of birds seen today can be found here. Since writing this post, further significant bird discoveries have been made in the wetlands: Eastern Grass Owl, Large-tailed Nightjar - a southern extension of range for this species - and Australian Little Bittern (see here) and Broad-billed Sandpiper, with Lewin's Rail - a threatened species - found to be quite common (see here).


  1. What a great set of birds - I have to travel a bit to have a chance of seeing the stork!

    It would be great if you could link this (and future) post to Wild Bird Wednesday, that runs on my photo-blog from Wednesdays (!) - there are about 50 bird bloggers who link up, but more are always welcome!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  2. Lovely photos of a beautiful spot. It is so sad that environmental wildlife habitat is being cleared for development all over Aus at the moment- with no care or concern given to the wildlife that inhabit the areas- only the human needs :(