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.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Avian Joys of Jondaryan: Where West Meets East

Painted Honeyeater

Updated January 26, 2016. Birding highlights from a couple of days in the Jondaryan-Oakey area of the eastern Darling Downs (18-19 January) included Painted Honeyeater at 4 sites, Red-chested Buttonquail, Black-eared Cuckoo, Ground Cuckoo-shrike, Black-faced Woodswallow, Plum-headed Finch, White-winged Fairy-wren at 3 sites, and numerous Brown Songlarks and Horsfield's Bushlarks.

Juvenile Black-eared Cuckoo?
Following a spate of sightings of some of these species in recent times, we booked a self-contained cabin at Jondaryan Woolshed, 3km west of the town of Jondaryan, which is central to the birding sites. First port of call was remnant brigalow just before the woolshed, where a Painted Honeyeater was quickly found.

Painted Honeyeater
On the western edge of the town were a pair of Black-faced Woodswallows, here at the eastern end of the expansive inland range of this species. Many western birds generally occur as residents no further east of this region.  See here for Jondaryan-Jondaryan Woodshed species list. I was fortunate with the weather for a mid-summer visit with unusually mild conditions: max 28 on both days.

Black-faced Woodswallow
Then on to Doctor's Creek Reserve, a small area of woodland 2km south of Jondaryan at the intersection of Warrego Highway and Jondaryan-Mt Tyson Road. Chris Burwell found an immature Black-eared Cuckoo here a couple of weeks ago, along the track that follows the telegraph  lines, running parallel to the highway east of Jondaryan-Mt Tyson Road.

Plum-headed Finch
This track terminates in long grass on Doctor's Creek. I photographed a cuckoo in Acacia trees (image above) about 100m before the end of the track which I initially thought was a juvenile Black-eared Cuckoo. However, following an interesting discussion on Facebook scroll down on this page there is some doubt about whether this may be a juvenile Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo. I saw and heard juveniles of both species in this area during two visits. Since then (January 25) others have found 2 adult Black-eared Cuckoos in the same spot. So at least 3 Black-eared Cuckoos appear to be present here as well as Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo.

Yellow Thornbill

More Painted Honeyeaters were in the woodland, with 2 adults and a juvenile spotted. Other birds included Red-winged Parrot, 20+ Plum-headed Finches and Yellow Thornbill.  See here for Doctor's Creek Reserve species list.

Red-winged Parrot
A short distance from the woolshed, near the intersection of Jondaryan-St Ruth and Jondaryan-Evanslea roads, I found a party of 6 Ground Cuckoo-shrikes.

Ground Cuckoo-shrike
I headed north to bird the Bowenville-Norwin and West Prairie roads. The area has had good rainfall since November and there was plenty of water about.

Horsfield's Bushlark

Horsfield's Bushlark
Horsfield's Bushlark and Brown Songlark were common along these roads and elsewhere in the region, while Stubble Quail were calling in several spots. White-winged Fairy-Wrens were half way along the Bowenville-Norwin Road.

Brown Songlark male

Brown Songlark female
I had Zebra Finches in several spots. Yellow-throated Miners were along West Prairie Road; this western species occurs side-by-side with the more common Noisy Miner in the region.

Zebra Finches

Yellow-throated Miner
Twice I birded along Devon Park Road, east of Jondaryan and close to Oakey. I heard a Red-chested Buttonquail at a spot where Marie Tarrant heard a buttonquail last week.  It was in lightly grazed pasture just north of the junction between Devon Park and Devon Park Boundary roads, where water crosses the road. Yellow-throated Miner was also here and parties of White-winged Fairy-wrens (another species occurring no further east of this area) were half-way along Devon Park Boundary Road, and on a track heading east, 1km north of the junction between Devon Park Road and the Warrego Highway. Some more Plum-headed Finches were also on this track.

White-winged Fairy-wren
I failed to see Black Falcons noted in the region by several observers but I had a Peregrine Falcon along Devon Park Road. It's been a long time since I've seen so many Nankeen Kestrels and Black-shouldered Kites; both species were in abundance throughout the region. I was surprised not to see more harriers: I saw a single Spotted Harrier and a single Swamp Harrier.  See here for Devon Park Road species list.

Peregrine Falcon
I saw Painted Honeyeaters at two sites along the Jondaryan-Sabine Road. One bird was about 1km north of the Warrego Highway just outside Jondaryan town; the second was 1.5km further east along Jondaryan-Sabine Road. Both were in remnant roadside brigalow. These patches of scrub were heavily infested with mistletoe. To find this normally scarce bird so readily at 4 sites in a relatively small area suggests that the Jondaryan region may be an important breeding centre for the species, which has been recorded here in past years though not in these numbers.

Southern Boobook

Southern Boobook
A Southern Boobook was vocal around the woolshed at night. Presumably the same bird was roosting in the shed during the day.

Common Sandpiper
On the way home we called in to Peach's (Pechey's) Lagoon, where a single Common Sandpiper was present. This species is rare in south-east Queensland and very scarce in the Lockyer Valley. Small numbers of Pink-eared Duck and Australasian Shoveler were on the lagoon. A Pacific Baza was attending a well-fledged chick on a nest here. See here for lagoon species list.

Australasian Shoveler

Blue-billed Duck
At the Gatton University lake (Lake Galletly), a Blue-billed Duck was seen along with 8 Australasian Shovelers.

Little Red Flying-Foxes
We had travelled to Jondaryan via Kilcoy, where a very large (several tens of thousands) of Little Red Flying-Foxes were roosting on both sides of the road at the eastern end of town.


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  2. Wonderful report and pics, thank you!

  3. Great collection of birds here, Greg, and you scored some wonderful shots of them too!

  4. Such a fabulous series of birds, Greg!