You may be interested in a report on a trip that Kay, my wife, and I made to
Australia in the last quarter of 2002, particularly since a number of you
kindly responded to my RFI last year. We had made
several visits to North America over the past 4 years so, it being our 25th
wedding anniversary treat, we decided to broaden our horizons to take in
Australasia for the first time. We also visited New Zealand and Hawaii. The
Australian part starts here. The report is essentially the same as one I'm
posting on Birdchat so apologies for any duplication.
Friday October 11th
We arrived at Sydney at 5.00 am after a 22 hour journey with British Airways
from London via
Bangkok and then caught an internal flight to Brisbane, where we were met by
Roy Sonnenburg. Roy and his wife, Helen, run Birding Services Brisbane. We
had arranged to stay with them at Nundah, near Brisbane, for three nights
and to go out with Roy on the Saturday and Sunday.
Needless to say we didn't go far that day, apart from a walk with Roy in the
local park. Nevertheless the trip from the airport, Roy and Helen's garden
and the park produced 34 lifers, mainly common birds. Highlights were a
Buff-banded Rail, 2 Tawny Frogmouths and 5+ Dollarbirds. We also saw the
bird that represents one of the characteristic sounds of Australia -
Saturday 12th October
Roy took us out to visit a number of sites around Brisbane - namely Sandgate
Lagoon, Bracken Ridge, Tinchi Tamba Wetlands, North Pine, Lake Samsonvale
(and adjacent cemetery) and Woodford. I can't possibly hope to do justice to
all the birds we saw that day in the space of an email. Suffice to say it
was one of my best days birding ever, with a day list of 126 species
(including two heard only) and 69 lifers. Highlights were Darter, four
species of Cormorant, Intermediate Egret, Striated Heron, 10 species of
raptor (including White-bellied Sea Eagle, Brown Goshawk, Collared
Sparrowhawk & Brown Falcon), Great Knot, Comb-crested Jacana, White-headed
Pigeon (30+ by the roadside at Mount Mee), Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo
(which may have been my 1000th world bird but I need to do some checking!),
Little Corella, Pallid Cuckoo, Australian Owlet-Nightjar, Superb, Variegated
& Red-backed Fairy Wrens, 9 species of Honeyeater (including Striped,
Blue-faced & Scarlet), Black-faced Monarch, Leaden & Satin Flycatchers,
Red-browed Finch (I can never tire of this little gem), Chestnut-breasted
Mannikin, Mistletoebird and Tawny Grassbird (at Lake Samsonvale). At North
Pine we also saw 2 Koalas (mother & baby) and at Woodford Red-necked and
Pretty-faced Wallabies and Eastern Grey Kangaroos.
Sunday 13th October
This day Roy was casting the net a bit wider for us. We were joined by
Frances, a birder from San Francisco who was working in Brisbane for a
while. We went to Kalbar Cemetery (funny how often these crop up!), Main
Range National Park, Forest Springs, the Lockyer Valley and Gatton College.
In terms of number of species we didn't quite match the previous day, though
111 (including 36 lifers) still represented a great day's birding.
Highlights were Hoary-headed Grebe, Plumed Whistling-Duck, Australian
Shoveler, Pink-eared Duck (an awesome bird and one of my favourite birds of
the trip - to see a flock turning circles on the water is quite something!),
White-necked Heron, Grey Goshawk (Main Range NP), Wedge-tailed Eagle, Black
Falcon (Forest Springs), Black-tailed Native-Hen (Gatton), Bush Thick-Knee
(a mother and two chicks in the grounds of the University of Queensland,
Brisbane), Cockatiel, Little Lorikeet, Red-rumped Parrot, Channel-billed
Cuckoo, Pheasant Coucal, Rainbow Bee-Eater, Yellow-rumped Thornbill (the
reason for visiting the cemetery!), Grey Shrike-Thrush, Satin Bowerbird
(Main Range NP), Zebra & Double-barred Finches and Golden-headed Cisticola.
We saw our first snake, a small Whip Tail, at Main Range NP.
Our two and a half days with Roy had produced 160 species - a great start to
our trip. Roy knows his birds well and is very good at birding by ear. I can
highly recommend him. He and Helen are very nice people who make you
feel at home. Their accommodation and tour rates represent good value.
Monday 14th October to Thursday 17th October
We sadly said our goodbyes to Roy and Helen. Roy dropped us at the Brisbane
Transit Centre from where we took the bus to O'Reilly's Rainforest
at Lamington National Park, south-west of Brisbane.
We spent three nights at O'Reillys. The food was great but it did mean you
needed to take full advantage of the walking opportunities in the forest!
One lunchtime we met two birders from Montgomery, Alabama, Larry and Andrea.
Lamington was good - we even managed to bump into Roy on our last day there
(taking a few fellow Brits on a tour)!
Highlights were Wonga and Topknot Pigeons, ridiculously tame Crimson
Rosellas and Australian King-Parrots, Noisy Pitta, Albert's Lyrebird (at
least four), Bassian & Russet-tailed Thrushes, Black-faced Monarch, Rose
Robin, Crested Shrike-Tit (unusual for the area), Logrunner (great,
charismatic birds), Eastern Whipbird (easy to see here), Yellow-throated &
Large-billed Scrubwrens, Eastern Spinebill, Paradise Riflebird, Green
Catbird and Regent & Satin Bowerbirds (easy at the feeders at the
Guesthouse). Kay, who doesn't like snakes, had a close encounter with a
large Red-bellied Black Snake that crossed the trail ahead of her!
Most of our walking was done on the Border Track and Python Rock Trail
(which was later closed due to fire risk). We made no attempt to find birds
such as Rufous Scrub-Bird - we would have needed to allot a couple more days
The dry conditions there (and in North Queensland later) meant
that some birds were more difficult to find, e.g just one Noisy Pitta for
the whole trip. Tim O'Reilly, the resident birder, was a great help. One day
he took us down to the river in a bus to look for Topknot Pigeons.
One night we went on a spotlighting walk and saw Ring-tailed and
Brush-tailed Opossums and a Southern Boobook. Red-necked Pademelons were
regular on the lawns after dark. On the bus trip back to Brisbane our driver
stopped to show us Koalas, Red-necked Wallabies and Eastern Grey-Kangaroos.
To be continued.
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