Fruit-doves, Fantails and Fairy-wrens
This is a report on a brief sojourn in the Brisbane area as part of a more extensive birding trip in Australasia
Those taking part were Bo & Maggie Crombet-Beolens and friends Brian & Joanna Anderson. Brian is a wheelchair user being unable to walk or stand so the trip represented some logistical problems which were overcome through planning, goodwill and Brian’s willingness to sacrifice dignity and comfort in pursuit of a long list! This was my third trip to Australia but my first to the Brisbane area and I had particular target birds in mind to extend my world list but, as always, never went in pursuit of one rare or difficult to find species at the expense of more common lifers, or, indeed variety. So many birds are special to Australia that seeing many species again was welcome.
Through Fatbirder I had corresponded with and briefly met Roy Sonnenburg of Brisbane Birding Services fame, and had heard so many good things it was obvious that time spent with him guiding would pay great dividends. What I hadn’t realised was that his “homestay” [93 Huet Street, Nundah, Brisbane 0732 566 952] run by his wife Helen, would be so comfortable, offer such good garden birding or such excellent dining. Not being fully accessible they could not accommodate Brian & Joanna who stayed in a couple of motels neither of which was worth recommending. However, they took their meals at Roy’s B&B and were ferried back and forth by Roy. The B&B is 10 minutes from Brisbane airport and Roy also offers a free pick up and drop off service. I can highly recommend the standard of accommodation, excellent meals, great garden birding, and every other aspect of their B&B as well as Roy’s services as a guide. He is an ornithologist whose survey and conservation work is in demand yet at heart he is a birder who, like the people he guides, just loves seeing the birds.
Having spent two weeks in New Zealand before going to Brisbane we had planned to take the first day easily with a late start and a touristy city tour but Roy offered to show us the city himself with the common city birds being pointed out along with the “sights”. This was a great idea which should be adopted by other tour operators. Many of us obsessed birders resent the time spent sight-seeing but feel obliged to do it anyway. Combining sight-seeing with birding is a great way to “get your eye in” and familiarise oneself with the common birds one will see over and over during the stay.
Day by Day
Day one started with a late breakfast when Brian & Joanna joined us, but we had already had an hour or two sitting on the veranda drinking coffee and enjoying some of the birds in the garden which just so happens to back onto a very large park. There were delightful close up views of Rainbow and Scaly-breasted Lorikeets and a Kookaburra that came and sat on the veranda rail! Noisy Miners [actually a honeyeater] were the commonest visitor along with Spotted Dove; other notables being Grey and Pied Butcherbirds.
After breakfast we took Roy’s “tuppeny tour” of the City. This enabled us to familiarise ourselves with Blue-faced Honeyeaters, Galahs, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Willie-wagtails Welcome Swallows and both Tree and Fairy Martins to name just a few. The late afternoon was spent back at the B&B planning our next two days.
Mount Glorious is a very scenic wooded highland area 45 minutes from the city and adjacent to Maiala NP. we spent time near the village where light housing development has only served to improve habitat and we were enthralled on the lanes by many small passerine species as well as being surrounded by huge and beautiful butterflies. Birds seen included Red-browed Finch, Satin Bowerbird, Eastern Yellow Robin, Brown Thornbill, Large-billed Scrubwren, Yellow-throated Scrubwren, Rufous Whistler etc. as well as a chorus of calls identified for us by Roy.
From Mount Glorious we travelled for the nearby Maiala National Park in search of Noisy Pitta [which eluded us] along a quiet track through a heavily wooded part of the park. At the track entrance and in the more open areas we had brief views of Eastern Whipbird, excellent views of displaying Rufous Fantails as well as being delighted by such birds as Grey Fantail, Eastern Yellow Robin, & Red-browed Finches etc. We took a break here for a welcome snack. The bush walk also gave many of us our first encounter [of many] with the local mosquito troupe.
Elsewhere in the area we managed Wompoo Fruit Dove and, at Camp Constable, several Bronze Shining-cuckoo which gave terrific views as well as several honey-eater species. We also had some flyby Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos.
Near Samford, we forded the Pine River in the 4×4 which is impassable at times. The bushes along this track were alive with small passerines including Scarlet Honeyeater and no less than three species of fairy wrens in the same bush; Red-backed, Superb and Variegated all about us martins and swallows reaped the air-born harvest of small insects.
We called in at North Pine Country Park where Koala can often be found – and were lucky enough to get our first ever sightings in the wild.
We took lunch sheltering from a shower at Dayboro and a trip to the public toilets was serendipitous as a group of honeyeaters in a treetop included White-throated as well as some Double-barred Finches.
After lunch we moved on to Lake Sampsonvale where the lake held a variety of common species including four varieties of cormorant, Australian Pelican, Australasian Grebe, Plumed Whistling Duck and a couple of Darters. Bushes around the nearby cemetery held Tawny Grassbird as well as calling cuckoos which we never managed to see.
From here we went on to the Redcliffe Peninsular – a series of coastal suburbs including Margate [our home town in the UK]. Beaches held several Crested and Caspian Terns, Silver Gulls and Pied Oystercatcher and a fishing Osprey which took a crab.
In the late afternoon we moved on to Tinchi Tamba Wetlands – where a boardwalk goes through the mangroves on the river banks offering a chance of estuarine species as well as mangrove specialities. Here we had Mangrove Honeyeater, Golden Whistler and a variety of woodswallows as well as our first glimpses of Rainbow Bee-eaters. There were few wader species or herons other than Whimbrel, Greenshank and distant Terek Sandpipers with a few kingfishers on the opposite side of the river.
Roy deliberately took us back through Deagon as dusk fell – and we were treated to the site of thousands of fruit bats [of three species] swarming out of their daytime roosts – an excellent end to a terrific days birding.
Day three started damp as we travelled up to Lamington National Park and “O’Reilly’s” resort where one can feed hundreds of King Parrots and Crimson Rosellas which come out of the trees to take seed like pigeons in Trafalgar Square. We were unashamed tourists delighting in filming ourselves with parrots on heads and hands whilst Brush Turkeys cleaned up the leftovers. Our intention was to walk the trails in search of Logrunners et al but this proved very difficult as it is such a tourist magnet that noisy parties of Asian tourists abounded. We did manage stunning close-up views of Eastern Whipbird and a few Brown Gerygones before giving up and going elsewhere.
We took the back road down the other side of the mountain “Duck Creek Road” in search of some open woodland species which, at first, proved very elusive. Despite our best efforts and the evidence of Roy’s ears we never connected with pardalotes – birds I have managed to hear but not see on three visits to Australia ranging over three states and one territory. We picnicked at the top of the hills and did manage good views of White-throated Treecreeper. After lunch as we descended we did come upon a party of Bell Miners and were treated to their superb calls as well as getting great views. I managed a fleeting view of a Musk parakeet too. Here birds were much more in evidence notably the always charming flocks of Red-browed Finches.
As we left the woodland we caught up with several new dove species including our first Common Bronzewing and Brown Cuckoo Doves with a supporting cast of Peaceful Doves, Bar-shouldered Doves and Crested Pigeons. We also began to come across raptors with Wedge-tailed Eagle and spotted Harriers putting in appearances.
We drove along Kerry valley and found not one but two Black Falcons and their nest site. On the road near Beaudesert we lucked upon a small party of Grey-crowned Babblers. We also stopped to view a distant Beaudesert Marsh with Comb-crested Jacana, a variety of herons and egrets and our first Jabiru of the trip.
Our last scheduled stop of the day was at Kalbar Cemetery – where we successfully searched for Zebra Finches and Yellow-rumped Thornbill amongst others.
We approached Brisbane in the dark and, just two streets away from Roy’s house we passed a night football game just catching site of some nightjars catching moths around the floodlights. A swift U-turn allowed us to get good sightings and positive ID – White-throated Nightjar – a new patch tick for Roy and a small re-payment for all his efforts on our behalf.
Brisbane 2004 – Birds Seen
1. GREAT CRESTED GREBE Podiceps cristatus
2. AUSTRALIAN GREBE Tachybaptus novahollandiae
3. AUSTRALIAN PELICAN Pelecanus conspicillatus
4. DARTER Anhinga melanogaster
5. PIED CORMORANT Phalacrocorax varius
6. LITTLE PIED CORMORANT Phalocrocorax melanoleucos
7. GREAT CORMORANT Phalacrocorax carbo
8. LITTLE BLACK CORMORANT Phalocrocorax sulcirostris
9. PACIFIC (WHITE-NECKED) HERON Ardea pacifica
10. WHITE FACED HERON Ardea novaehollandiae
11. GREAT EGRET Ardea alba
12. LITTLE EGRET Ardea garzetta
13. INTERMEDIATE EGRET Ardea intermedia
14. EASTERN REEF EGRET Egretta sacra
15. STRIATED HERON Ardea striatus
16. CATTLE EGRET Ardea ibis
17. AUSTRALIAN WHITE IBIS Threkiornis molucca
18. STRAW-NECKED IBIS Threskiornis spinicollis
19. ROYAL SPOONBILL Platalea regia
20. BLACK-NECKED STORK Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus
21. WANDERING WHISTLING DUCK Dendrocygna arcuata
22. PLUMED WHISTLING DUCK Dendrocygna eytoni
23. BLACK SWAN Cygnus atratus
24. PACIFIC BLACK DUCK Anas superciliosa
25. MALLARD Anas platyrhynchos
26. GREY TEAL Anas gibberifrons
27. CHESTNUT TEAL Anas castanea
28. AUSTRALIAN WOOD DUCK Chenonetta jubata
29. OSPREY Pandion haliaetus
30. BRAHMINY KITE Milvus indus
31. WHISTLING KITE Milvus sphenurus
32. WEDGE-TAILED EAGLE Aquila audax
33. SPOTTED HARRIER Circus assimilis
34. AUSTRALIAN HOBBY Falco longipennis
35. BROWN FALCON Falco berigor
36. BLACK FALCON Falco subniger
37. NANKEEN KESTREL Falco cenchroides
38. AUSTRALIAN BRUSH-TURKEY Alectura lathami
39. DUSKY MOORHEN Gallinula tenebrosa
40. PURPLE SWAMPHEN Porphyrio porphyrio
41. EURASIAN COOT Fulica atra
42. BROLGA Grus rubicundus
43. COMB-CRESTED JACANA Irediparra gallinacea
44. PIED OYSTERCATCHER Haematopus ostralegus
45. MASKED LAPWING (PLOVER) Vanellus miles
46. WHIMBREL Numenius phaeopus
47. LITTLE CURLEW Numenius minutus
48. COMMON SANDPIPER Actitis hypoleucos
49. GREENSHANK Tringa nebulara
50. TEREK SANDPIPER Xenus cinereus
51. SILVER GULL Larus novaehollandiae
52. WHISKERED TERN Chlidonias hybrida
53. CASPIAN TERN Sterna caspia
54. CRESTED TERN Sterna bergii
55. FERAL PIGEON Columba livia
56. SPOTTED TURTLE-DOVE Streptopelia chinensis
57. BROWN CUCKOO-DOVE Macropygia amboinensis
58. PEACEFUL DOVE Geopelia placida
59. BAR-SHOULDERED DOVE Geolpelia humeralis
60. COMMON BRONZEWING Phaps chalcoptera
61. CRESTED PIGEON Geophaps lophotes
62. WOMPOO FRUIT-DOVE Ptilinopus magnificus
63.YELLOW-TAILED BLACK COCKATOO Calyptorhynchus funereus
64. SULPHUR-CRESTED COCKATOO Cacatua galerita
65. GALAH Eolophus roseicapilla
66. LITTLE CORELLA Cacatua tenuirostris
67. LONG-BILLED CORELLA Cacatua tenuirostris
68. RAINBOW LORIKEET Trichoglossus haematodus
69.SCALY-BREASTED LORIKEET Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus
70. MUSK LORIKEET Psitteuteles versicolor
71. AUSTRALIAN KING PARROT Alisterus scapularis
72. CRIMSON ROSELLA Platycerus elegans
73. PALE-HEADED ROSELLA Platycerus adscitus
74. SHINING BRONZE-CUCKOO Chrysococcyx lucidus
75. PHEASANT COUCAL Centropus phasianinus
76. WHITE-THROATED NIGHTJAR Eurostopodus mystacalis
77. LAUGHING KOOKABURRA Dacelo novaeguineae
78. COLLARED KINGFISHER Todirhamphus (halcyon) chloris
79. RAINBOW BEE-EATER Merops ornatus
80. WHITE-THROATED TREECREEPER Cormobates leucophaeus
81. GREY-CROWED BABBLER Pomatostomus temporalis
82. EASTERN WHIPBIRD Psophodes olivaceus
83. SUPERB FAIRY-WREN Malurus cyaneus
84. VARIEGATED FAIRY-WREN Malurus lamberti
85. RED-BACKED FAIRY WREN Malurus melanocephalus
86. YELLOW-THROATED SCRUBWREN Sericornis citreogularis
87. WHITE-BROWED SCRUBWREN Sericornis frontalis
88. LARGE-BILLED SCRUBWREN Sericornis magnirostris
89. BROWN GERYGONE Gerygone mouki
90. BROWN THORNBILL Acanthiza pusilla
91. BUFF-RUMPED THORNBILL Acanthiza reguloides
92. YELLOW-RUMPED THORNBILL Acanthiza chrysorrhoa
93. LITTLE FRIARBIRD Philemon citreogularis
94. BLUE-FACED HONEYEATER Entomyzon cyanotis
95. BELL MINER Manorina melanophrys
96. NOISY MINER Manorina melanocephala
97. LEWIN’S HONEYEATER Meliphaga lewinii
98. YELLOW-FACED HONEYEATER Lichenostomus chrysops
99. MANGROVE HONEYEATER Lichenostomus fasciogularis
100.WHITE-THROATED HONETEATER Melithreptus albogularis
101.WHITE-NAPED HONEYEATER Melithreptus lunatus
102.BROWN HONEYEATER Lichmera indistincta
103.NEW HOLLAND HONEYEATER Phylidonyris novaehollaniae
104.EASTERN SPINEBILL Acanthorrhynchus tenuirostris
105.SCARLET HONEYEATER Myzomela sanguinolenta
106.EASTERN YELLOW ROBIN Eopsaltria australis
107.GOLDEN WHISTLER Pachycephala pectoralis
108.RUFOUS WHISTLER Pachycephala rufiventris
109.AUSTRALIAN MAGPIE-LARK Grallina cyanoleuca
110.RUFOUS FANTAIL Rhipidura rufifrons
111.GREY FANTAIL Rhipidura fuliginosa
112.WILLIE WAGTAIL Rhipidura leucophrys
113.SPANGLED DRONGO Dicrurus bracteatus
114.BLACK-FACED CUCKOO-SHRIKE Coracina novaehollandiae
115.FIGBIRD Sphecotheres viridis
116.WHITE-BREASTED WOODSWALLOW Artamus leucorhynchus
117.GREY BUTCHERBIRD Cracticus torquatus
118.PIED BUTCHERBIRD Cracticus nigrogularis
119.AUSTRALIAN MAGPIE Gymnorhina tibicen
120.PIED CURRAWONG Strepera graculina
121.TORRESIAN CROW Corvus orru
122.REGENT BOWERBIRD Sericulus chrysocephalus
123.SATIN BOWERBIRD Ptilonorhynchus violaceus
124.RICHARD’S PIPIT Anthus novaeseelandiae
125.HOUSE SPARROW Passer domesticus
126.RED-BROWED FINCH Neochmia temporalis
127.DOUBLE-BARRED FINCH Taeniopygia bichenovii
128.ZEBRA FINCH Taeniopygia guttata
129.WELCOME SWALLOW Hirundo neoxena
130.TREE MARTIN Hirundo nigricans
131.FAIRY MARTIN Hirundo ariel
132.TAWNY GRASSBIRD Megalurus timoriensis
133.SILVEREYE Zosterops lateralis
134.COMMON STARLING Strurna vulgaris
135.COMMON MYNAH Acridotheres tristis