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.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

August 2017 Bits & Pieces

Little Wattlebird & young

Winter is almost at an end and for the second year running, the resident Little Wattlebirds have raised a single youngster at what should be the wrong time the year. The birds have taken a liking to the porch hanging baskets, having nested in three different baskets. Like last year, they laid in July. The young bird successfully left the nest three weeks ago and although it appears fully grown, it continues to be fed by the parents. They are expected to soon begin nesting for the second time this year.

Little Wattlebird & young

Little Wattlebird & young

Elsewhere, Black-necked Stork has been a regular visitor to the Parklakes Wetland. This adult female was feeding when I was there, wielding its substantial bill through the water in the hope of snaring a fish or frog.
Black-necked Stork

Black-necked Stork

Spotted Harriers are building a nest near Bli Bli. A Spotted Harrier was quartering the still empty Yandina Creek Wetlands, where a Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo was present.

Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo

Other birds at the wetlands included Golden Whistler and Rainbow Bee-eater. Note there continues to be no public access to the main site; its southern periphery is River Road.

Golden Whistler

Rainbow Bee-eater

Less welcome at the wetlands was the sighting of two Red Foxes in different places.

Red Fox

A Square-tailed Kite was seen nearby on the Yandina-Coolum Road. A female Shining Flycatcher was in the mangroves of the Maroochy River Wetland. Fairy Gerygone is common enough in the Sunshine Coast's coastal scrubs but this one was found in the hinterland at the Buderim Forest Park's upper carpark.

Fairy Gerygone

Great Crested Grebe continues to be a regular on Wappa Dam.

Great Crested Grebe

A pair of Glossy Black Cockatoos were feeding on Allocasuarina cones at Noosaville.

Glossy Black Cockatoo

A pair of Cotton Pygmy Geese were on one of the small farm dams near Eumundi. A single Black Bittern was seen behind Lake Doonella. A Dusky Honeyeater was busy on the Grevillea flowers at Cooroibah.

Dusky Honeyeater

Leaden Flycatchers are back in force, calling commonly about the Sunshine Coast. This species is the first of the summer migrants to return.

Leaden Flycatcher

Plenty of birds are busy nesting, like these Willie Wagtails that built their nest over the water at Lake Doonella.

Willie Wagtail on nest

Away from the Sunshine Coast, I visited the Port of Brisbane shorebird roost, where the only migratory waders present were two sparring Eastern Curlews.

Eastern Curlews

At Redcliffe I saw a second-year Common Tern with two Crested Terns, one with a yellow bill and the other with a bill that was much more orange, though not orange enough to indicate Lesser Crested Tern.

Common Tern & Crested Terns

Crested Terns with yellow and orangish bills were also present together at Woorim on Bribie Island.

Crested Terns
Sunrise at Woorim

Monday, 31 July 2017

Sunshine Coast Pelagic Trip July 2017

Brown Skua
Brown Skua and a fine suite of cetaceans were the highlights of the July 30, 2017 pelagic trip off Mooloolaba on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. The outing was significant because it was the first time we had used the 17m Crusader 1, and all aboard as we departed Mooloolaba Marina on a crisp winter morning at 6.45am were looking forward to experiencing the new boat. We weren't to be disappointed.

Crusader 1
The forecast did not bode well, with a breeze struggling to reach 5 knots as we departed the river mouth and headed out to sea on a swell of under 1m. It was very pleasant weather (surface temperature 22 degrees at 9am) but the winds were not going to be of the right speed and direction to net a substantial avian hall.

Brown Booby
On the way out we had a small group of Hutton's Shearwaters and a smattering of migrating Humpback Whales. We stopped for whales and a Brown Booby perched on a trawler before reaching the shelf beyond the Barwon Banks 32 nautical miles offshore in 320 fathoms (26.4419S; 153.444E) at 9.15am. Without stops, it would have taken us a bit over 2 hours to reach the shelf.

Brown Skua with Providence Petrel victim

When he stopped at the shelf we saw a Brown Skua feeding on what we eventually identified as a Providence Petrel. The petrel had evidently been freshly killed as the skua was vigorously removing dry features from its victim. 

Brown Skua with Providence Petrel victim
The skua allowed close approach and we saw it a couple more times while we were out on the shelf. Brown Skua is a rare winter visitor to south-east Queensland so this sighting was welcome.

Providence Petrel
We began laying a berley trail and soon the first live Providence Petrel put in an appearance. This species and Crested Tern were the only birds we saw regularly out on the shelf as conditions remained stubbonly mild with very little wind.

Mammals were more co-operative. We had several pods of Risso's Dolphins, some of which showed nicely close to the boat.

Risso's Dolphins
Risso's Dolphins
Of particular interest was a small pod of Dwarf Minke Whales, another rare visitor to south-east Queensland waters. One of the whales surfaced briefly very close to the boat.

Dwarf Minke Whale
A single Tahiti Petrel put in an appearance – another winter record for a tropical species that is not supposed to be in these waters in winter. We saw a single Wilson's Storm-Petrel and a couple more Hutton's Shearwaters out wide.

Tahiti Petrel
Along with a few Australasian Gannets as we drifted eastwards for 7 knots before turning around in 470 fathoms and heading back to port. The wind picked up at this point to 10-12 knots, but from the north - not the best wind direction for seabirds in this part of the world. The Brown Booby was still at its trawler roost and the Humpbacks were plentiful if distant. We arrived back in port at 3.45pm.

Australasian Gannets
The boat fulfilled our most optimistic expectations in terms of creature comforts. Although 23 birders were on board, there was plenty of room to move about on deck and on the bow. Everyone was able to find a seat; hand rails were a welcome change; and an extensive roof provided shelter from the elements. Viewing conditions for seabirds from the deck were excellent. Most importantly, the deep-keeled, high speed monohull made for a smooth ride out and back. The boat is operated by Sunshine Coast Afloat, a Sunshine Coast family company with a solid reputation in this business. 

All aboard
PARTICIPANTS: Greg Roberts (organiser), Toby Imhoff (skipper), Zoe Williams (deckhand), Grayham Bickley, Todd Burrows, Chris Burwell, Jo Culinan, Jan England, Cecile Espigole, Alex Ferguson, Hendrik Ferreira, John Gunning, Nikolas Haass, Christian Haass, Bob James, Matt Latimore, Elliot Leach, Andrew Naumann, William Price, Jim Sneddon, Raja Stephenson, Ged Tranter, Paul Walbridge, Jamie Walker.

BIRDS Total Number Seen (Maximum seen at one time)
Tahiti Petrel 1 (1)
Providence Petrel 10 (2)
Hutton's Shearwater 5 (3)
Wilson's Storm-Petrel 1 (1)
Brown Booby 1 (1)
Australasian Gannet 6 (2)
Brown Skua 1 (1)
Crested Tern 60 (20)
Silver Gull 1 (1)
Offshore Bottle-nosed Dolphin 4 (2)
Risso's Dolphin 25 (7)
Humpback Whale 20 (3)

Dwarf Minke Whale 3 (2)

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Camping at Murphy's Creek, Crows Nest, Blackbutt

Red-rumped Parrot
We've returned from a 5-day camping trip through the Upper Lockyer and South Burnett regions of south-east Queensland. We had 2 nights at Murphy's Creek Escape, a pleasant place amid rocky terrain in open forest below Toowoomba; 1 night in Crow's Nest Falls National Park, where fine scenery is worth a visit; and 2 nights in the spacious and pleasant showgrounds in Blackbutt.

Murphy's Creek
Honeyeaters were the go at Murphy's Creek and along the back roads to nearby Helidon. Three species of Melithreptus were together here - White-throated, White-naped and Brown-headed.

White-naped Honeyeater
Fuscous Honeyeater and Yellow-tufted Honeyeater have patchy distributions in Queensland but both were common along the road into the camping ground.

Fuscous Honeyeater

Yellow-tufted Honeyeater
Also occurring in mixed flocks in several places were the three south-east Queensland species of fairywren - Superb, Variegated and Red-backed.

Red-backed Fairywren

Superb Fairywren

Variegated Fairywren
A feeding station in the grounds attracted Rainbow and Scaly-breasted Lorikeets, Common Bronzewing, Crested Pigeon and Pale-headed Rosella.

Common Bronzewing, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Rainbow Lorikeet
A distant Collared Sparrowhawk put in an appearance.

Collared Sparrowhawk
A Tawny Frogmouth roosting on the ground was unusual.

Tawny Frogmouth
Speckled Warbler, White-throated Gerygone and Buff-rumped Thornbill were among other nice birds in the ironbark forest.

Buff-rumped Thornbill

Speckled Warbler

White-throated Gerygone
A pair of Plum-headed Finches were encountered along a back road to Helidon. Double-barred Finches were common throughout.

Plum-headed Finch

Double-barred Finch
The camping ground at Crows Nest was a little crowded but in nice bushland, though birds were thin on the ground.

Crows Nest National Park

Crows Nest National Park

 I saw a total of 4 Brush-tailed Rock-Wallabies: 1 at the falls and 3 at the lookout. It's encouraging that the populations here and at the nearby Perseverance Dam are thriving, having survived the depredations of foxes that have wiped the species out of much of its original range.

Brush-tailed Rock-Wallaby

Brush-tailed Rock-Wallaby
Blackbutt has some good stands of dry rainforest and open forest around the town. Red-rumped Parrot and Jacky Winter were in the showgrounds.

Jacky Winter

Red-rumped Parrot
A party of Apostlebirds was in the town.

I searched without success for Black-breasted Buttonquail in the nearby Yarraman State Forest - the hotspot for this species until the discovery of Inskip Point. I did however find several areas with plenty of recent platelets. We also had a look at Clancy's and Emu Creek camping areas in Benarkin State Forest, where a showy Crested Shrike-tit put in an appearance.

Crested Shrike-tit
A Brown Goshawk was seen on the way home near Kilcoy.  

Brown Goshawk