"Crispin Marsh" <>
Fri, 27 Oct 2006 15:49:26 +1000
Many thanks to those who e-mailed me in response to my request for information
on birding in Brisbane. In particular a big thank you to David Taylor who
initially reported the square tailed kites nesting at Daisy Hill and who was
kind enough to provide very complete details in response to an e-mail.
On Wednesday morning I drove straight from the airport to Daisy Hill Forest
Reserve arriving at 10:45. I parked in the first car park beside the Koala
Centre and walked up into the staff carpark. The nest is in a tall pink
eucalypt on the right about 30 m up from the car park. I found that by walking
up a 4WD track about 150m I had uninterrupted scope views of the nest. The
birds seemed totally unconcerned with my presence. I then had an hour and a
half of one of the best birding experiences of my life.
An adult (female?) was sitting on the side of the nest in perfect view showing
the white face and neck. Longish head feathers white at the base and tipped
with black were blowing up in the wind forming a crest. The sharp hooked beak
was black at the tip but a pale pink at the base with a bright yellow eye with
a black pupil. Brown feathers with pale edges covered the back and the
underside of the bird that I could see was reddish on the breast fading to
white. There seemed to be movement in the nest below the adult bird but I could
not see what was causing this. After about 20 minutes the other adult (male?)
swept in and almost instantaneously left. The male was being buzzed by a magpie
or currawong throughout this procedure (difficult to see as it all happened in
an instant!). As the male flew away it was possible to see the long square tail
and the white patches on the underside of the wing.
As this was happening the female turned and moved closer to the edge of the
nest revealing two well grown juvenile STKs. The juveniles were even more
attractive than the parent. Only slightly white in the face they were a much
richer red that the adults with extremely fine vertical stripes in the breast.
Their eyes are black (or very dark brown) at this stage. One of the juveniles
was holding a featherless chick in its beak that had obviously been delivered
by the male. The first juvenile was shaking the chick around but not doing a
great deal with it. The female took the chick and passed it to the other
juvenile which promptly tried to swallow it. It spent some time with t he chick
jammed down its throat with the chicks two bright yellow legs sticking out of
its beak desperately trying to complete the swallow. Eventually (as I started
to wonder if it was going to choke) it regurgitated the partly swallowed chick.
The female then took one side of the chick in its beak and the two of them
pulled it into pieces which the second juvenile swallowed.
Interestingly there was no protest from the first STK juvenile at having the
chick taken from it. The two juveniles then stepped onto the edge of the nest
and started vigorously flapping their wings. They are obviously very near to
fledging so anyone wanting to see them would be well advised to go quite soon
though Hollands in Eagles, Hawks and Falcons of Australia suggests that young
STKs hang around the nest for a little lime after they fledge. The juveniles
wings do not yet project beyond their tails as is seen in the adults however
otherwise the juveniles looked to be at least 80% of the size of the adults
After another 20 minutes the male returned and stayed just as briefly as before
but this time chased by both a currawong and a noisy miner. I did not see what
it had dropped off but presume it was an adult bird that it had killed. I did
observe the female down in the nest tearing small pieces from a birds carcass
and feeding the bits alternately to the two juveniles. Again there seemed to be
no disputation or competition between the juvenile STKs over this feeding
Once the feeding was over the juvenile started preening themselves. The female
leaned towards the closer chick and I thought that she would start to join in
preening it but it just rubbed its neck against the juvenile with a touching
sense of tenderness. The juveniles then retreated into the depth of the nest
and the female moved onto a branch beside the nest where she started to be
harassed by a currawong.
The vision I enjoyed is much like that shown in the Hollands' book referred to
above except that the juveniles where very similar to the fledged young shown
in that book.
A pair of tawny frogmouths are also nesting in a tree in the staff carpark and
are showing well. Two (possibly 3) juveniles are snuggled into the breast
feathers of one of the adults. The other adult in a couple of branches away
giving that impression at least of being soundly asleep.
After actually doing a little work on Wednesday afternoon I was back at it on
Thursday morning arriving at Sherwood Arboretum at 6:00. As had been suggested
to me by David Taylor, I parked in the carpark and walked towards the nearer
pond and looked at the island directly ahead of me. Most of the bank of the
island is overhung with vegetation but there is one spot (opposite an Araucaria
tree) where the bank is visible. I set up my scope and was just getting myself
organised when a realised there was something moving in that clear space. The
binoculars swung up as a bush hen walked calmly out of the clearing and
disappeared - a short but very clear and unmistakable sighting!
I continued birding at Sherwood, visited Oxley Creek Common briefly and went to
the Wynnum wader roost. In all I saw 63 species in the two mornings including
the two new species, STK and Bush Hen.
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