More about Plumheads & Square-tailed Kites

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: More about Plumheads & Square-tailed Kites
From: "Bill Jolly" <>
Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2002 12:48:51 +1000
I took a couple of visitors out for a general introduction to the Lockyer
Valley yesterday (Tuesday), and we spent the first 45 minutes just down the
road from our gate.

Somewhere between 200 & 300 Plum-headed Finches are continuing to use a few
roadside lantana bushes there as their base throughout the day, as well as
roosting there at night. Parking just across the road from the bushes we
watched waves of Plumheads coming and going incessantly from the lantana
into the fields adjacent, or across the road to explore a patch of verge
evidently full of interesting foodstuff, or to-ing and fro-ing from other
nearby bushes back into the lantana with nesting material.

The other thing they did a lot was to pop up onto adjacent powerlines. One
well-coloured male with a twig in his beak began bobbing energetically up
and down alongside a female, culminating after only a few seconds in
copulation. Several other males on the wires were also carrying material in
their beaks and bobbing up and down for females, but I didn't observe any
other physical mating.

We saw two Square-tailed Kites low overhead at Gatton, at around 10.30am,
and I'm told there was one at nearby Forest Hill at around 1.30pm. The kites
are certainly regular at Gatton, and there are several reports coming from
Forest Hill lately - which is about 8 km away. It could be the same birds,
but the two locations are separated by open agricultural land. I haven't
formed an opinion yet about whether there are two birds or four around in
the valley just now. The relevant variable might just be the number and
location of birders, rather than the number and location of the birds!

As to the rest of the day, I'll just mention a few of the other specials:
Australian Spotted Crake at Lake Galletly, where the low waterline brought
him out onto the muddy margin; Black-tailed Native-hen; Red-necked Avocets
in their hundreds at a few locations; the lone Banded Stilt still at Lake
Clarendon; several Banded Lapwings in their regular breeding paddocks; 3
Pied Cormorants at Lake Atkinson, a very unusual bird 'on the ground' in the
valley - usually only seen passing high overhead in large en-route skeins;
Peregrine Falcon; adult and immature White-bellied Sea-eagles; Little Eagle;
Wedge-tailed Eagle - regularly seen, but just too magnificent not to
mention; approx. 26 Red-tailed Black Cockatoos in total from four different
locations; a pair of Ground Cuckoo-shrikes close to last year's nesting

The whole day was one long highlight!  Trying to convince our two Dutch
visitors that this was mid-winter was an ongoing amusement throughout the
day as we shed our early-morning pullovers, only to roll up our sleeves
later, and eventually to convert trousers into shorts. But it is cold at
night just now, as I stubbornly insisted on telling them. Then, this-morning
as I shivered in my warmest clothes, they turned up equally stubbornly
refusing to display any awareness of how really cold I know it is.

Bill Jolly

Lockyer Valley, Queensland.

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