A wild Goose chase

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: A wild Goose chase
From: "Jon Wren" <>
Date: Tue, 20 Jun 2000 01:00:53 +1000
A wet and wild Goose chase.

Queens Birthday weekend had members of Townsville and Mackay/Whitsunday Bird
Observers Club travel to Bowen, Queensland 20 00S, 148 15E for a weekend of
wet birding. With the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting a wet long weekend
only toughened and dedicated birdo's ventured forth for a weekend of
surprises and a total of 108 species.

Peter and Pam Gallagher met our visitors at Mullers Lagoon on the wet
Saturday afternoon and capably introduced them to the waterbirds and other
associated North Qld. urban birdlife that call Mullers Lagoon home. This
birding area is only 1 Km from the Bowen Post Office and has quite an
impressive species list. Due to work commitments I was unable to join
activities on the Saturday so cannot report on the birds observed but from
what I heard that evening all considered the afternoon a success.

Sunday morning proved to be glorious, what do those weather-persons know? As
promised the night before we headed out to the Abbot Point Road to get up
close and personal with the resident Wedge-tailed Eagles. These majestic
birds did not disappointment anyone with close up views enjoyed by all. The
high road-kill rate along this 15 Km. stretch of road and rail provides for
a high concentration of these birds with minimal or no conflict. Breakfast
is served up daily for the WTE's, 17 birds being the maximum number observed
just a number of months ago.
Jock Payet asked, "What do Wedge-tailed Eagle eat"? We must have all looked
rather stunned until he replied in typical Jock fashion "their wedgetables
of course". Don't give your day job up Jock.

With the sun behind us we were able to scan Kaili Swamp with a collection of
scopes and glasses. Marion, calling out Swamp Harrier got our interest and
regardless of the distance of the sighting we all observed the distinctive
white rump and flight pattern. Cattle Egrets non-breeding plumage were
numerous feeding amongst the cattle and proved very cooperative in providing
good views of the feathering under the lower mandible, a reliable diagnostic
feature for this species in non-breeding plumage.  A White-breasted Sea
Eagle came floating in just to provide a comparison with the WTE, other
diurnal raptors observed were Nankeen Kestrel, Whistling Kite, Black Kite,
Brown Falcon and Australian Hobby.

Nulla Creek was alive with birds, Darters had recently nested with juveniles
settled on the branches of the trees along the banks. Could not locate a
Comb-crested Jacana on any of the lily pads but this was compensated by the
Black-necked Stork that came plodding along slowly showing total disregard
for any of us. Another local name for this species is Policeman Bird due to
the deliberate walking method and wing position of the bird reminding people
of a Policeman walking on the beat with his hands behind his back. Both
Spoonbills observed the Yellow-billed is always a chance with the great
majority being Royal and how appropriate for her Birthday weekend.

On checking the time I decided to move everyone on to Mount Luce Station the
property on the other side of Kaili Swamp. Permission is required to enter
this property plus you always observe the golden rule, leave gates how you
found them. If they are closed always close them again once you have passed
We stopped at the causeway where I decided we would boil the billy and allow
everyone to get their gear out. Boy, us birdo's certainly have earned the
tag "birding technician" judging by the amount of technology displayed.

While enjoying a great cuppa from the "bad luck billy" (that's another
story) we were kept amused by a pair of Bustards up to their necks in grass.
An Australian Hobby perched in a dead tree, two Black necked Storks, a flock
of Cockatiels and the persistent call of the Striated Pardalote (black
headed form) kept us all alert. A male Red-winged Parrot flies through with
everyone emitting a collective sigh and commenting on the depth of colour.

With it fast approaching midday I had to be on my way to work once again,
but left a determined band of birdos at the causeway. Following a
performance of the "Pelican" song and dance I was off to get ready for my
next shift. Of course "Murphy's Law" comes into action and I witness a
superb view of a Spotted Harrier working the long paddock beside the North
Coast Rail line. What a spectacular bird in breeding plumage and a great way
to conclude a mornings birding.

Of course we did find the wild Goose they being Magpie Geese.

Birdlist to follow later with Mondays instalment.

Jon Wren

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