Summer Birding, Qld: CIRCULAR Page ONE.

Subject: Summer Birding, Qld: CIRCULAR Page ONE.
Date: Fri, 25 Feb 2005 10:41:00 +1000

DATES: 6->11 Jan 05,
        &  6->12 Feb 05
SITES: Sunshine Beach & Noosa River; 'Fraser Coast', south inland via Wide Bay/Burnett;
        & O'Reilly's (Lamington Plateau).

        To visit so many different habitats in such a condensed period is educational. Though some birds appeared in different settings, some others were seen only once. These included the Grey-crowned Babbler, Olive-backed Oriole, Noisy Pitta, & Paradise Riflebird. Fairy-wren varieties differed from place to place, as did the pigeons/doves. Mistletoebirds were wonderfully visible, and I've highlighted some of the birds in the sightings lists that follow which were especially enjoyable. Other special moments have been:--
        - The puzzle of looking at Silvereyes - there seemed to be both familiaris and lateralis along the coast, but it's the wrong time of year for the Tasmanian form, so I guess there's quite a bit of variety, especially with the juveniles/immatures around...?
        - Osprey nests seen in a couple of places along the coast, one on a purpose-built platform.
        - Rainbow Bee-eater mass roosting:  This might have been my most fortuitous birding moment of the summer. Almost dusk, and I was crouched in the mangroves of a small town along the Hervey Bay coast, looking alternately across the dimming water, and above me at the imponderable behaviour of a group of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos who seemed to have the surrounding scrub under their collective thumb, and one of whom I'd observed carry something over the water and drop it in...
        So I was crouched there as the tide rose close to high, when several small delicate birds flew overhead, burring as they went, petal-shaped wings looking so ill-suited to a water-crossing that I wondered how they'd make it to the other side. In the burring and translucent delicacy of the birds I understood them to be Rainbow Bee-eaters, and could not comprehend why they'd be flying out across the Strait like this. Soon after the birds appeared to fade into the dusk, I realised I was still hearing the burring call -- that in fact it seemed to be growing. Thought I was having some kind of aural disfunction! I swept the binoculars across the water in front of me, and as the view passed over some mangrove 'islands' outcropping the tide, I saw -- the sudden Vs of birds shooting out of and back in to the foliage there! Swung back the binoculars quickly and -- sure enough -- I was not imagining the burring: this was a build-up of roosting birds. Only minutes were left until the light was too dusky to gather across that distance, and I kept watching as a few last stragglers arrived into the almost-seething mangrove.
        Still, until I got back here and checked with the books and Birding-aus, I just could not believe my eyes.
        - The elation of driving for miles with WTNs soaring and diving over the road.
        - Mt Goonaneman SF / Woowonga:  Somewhere on the road south, travelling Gin Gin-Biggenden-Gympie (incredibly, I can't find this place on the map now!), a very old sign points the way to this site. Driving in, you're on dirt road for ?several kilometres. Finally, you'll roll up at a cattle-fenced picnic site, small but complete with water tank and shelter. It looks to be privately maintained (?). Within minutes of approaching the tank, I saw most of the birds in the list which follows. The kookaburra was especially good to watch, as it was feeding young in a tree hollow.
        A little way along a cattle track, you come to a fenced entrance to the State Forest. This upward climbing track then enters ?rainforest -- I did not go in, as the path was festooned with cobwebs and overhung with growth, so that the feeling was that the inexperienced could get lost here and no one'd know! Tantalising, because I could hear forest/fruit birds calling in the green darkness there...
        Any way, the point here is that this feels like one of those special birding places -- So if anyone else can have a longer look, it'd be worth hearing what it's like in there.
        - Moving on to Lamington Plateau...  Finally seeing just how much more long-legged the Yellow-throated Scrubwren is than the White-browed... Those long pink legs make to bird appear skinny. And then there was the really beautiful warbling among the family groups (a sound the White-browed never comes close to).
        - The scurry of the Noisy Pitta - the mind doesn't have time to process what brilliance the eyes are seeing before the bird has shot away. Later in my stay at O'Reilly's I read that this bird has been called the 'Jewel Thrush' - so right. And I've since seen it noted as the Dragoon Bird and the Anvil Bird.
        - The way the Eastern Yellow Robins were everywhere in the forest after rain.
        - The hypnotic gorgeousness of the Wonga Pigeon foraging up close.
        - The unbelievable quality of the male Regent Bowerbird - Doesn't matter how often you see this bird, even looking at it, especially its head, it's inconceivable.
        - The bowerbirds at the feeder outside O'Reilly's dining-room window, one of which looked v.strange to me, though the locals said it was simply moulting... Something I've surprisingly never seen -- perhaps this is what our bowerbirds at home are doing when they disappear for 4-6 weeks in mid-summer.
        - Ground-Thrushes. Days of puzzling over them. Re-reading the books. Finally, the one that forages directly outside O'Reilly's dining-room window showed a good long streak of white at the edge of the tail! - the Russet-tailed, then: 'more common by far', says Lloyd Nielsen; a seasonal habitat migrant, he thinks, and this was mid-summer, so - yes... And the ones in the forest? - just as Lloyd Nielsen says of the Bassian, these were 'often seen on a pathway', 'along the main Border Track' not far into the forest, where they 'will run ahead of an observer', in the middle-distance... I still wonder, though, have I really seen both?
        - Driving away from O'Reilly's thinking that I'd not seen a Lyrebird this time... just as the car in front of me bowled a round brown Albert's clean off the road.
        - An unidentified small bird still haunts me - rufous-vented, at mid-storey, in a garden right between rainforest and farmland up at the Kamarun Lookout (on the way to O'Reilly's).
        - All the birds with question marks (in the Lists which follow) - if ONLY I could better identify them!


Judith L-A
S-E Qld
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