Brisbane Birding

To: "Crispin Marsh" <>
Subject: Brisbane Birding
From: "Graham Etherington" <>
Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2006 15:01:15 +1000
Hi Peter and all,
Great gen! Headed off to Sherwood Arboretum this morning, then to Oxley
Common, and then to Daisy Hill.
Had Bush at exatly the same place (and time!), along with a pair of Varied
Trillers from the bank separating the two lakes, and quite a few Common
Koels singing.
Oxley Common (Pelican Island Lake) produced Baillon's Crake (walk to the
very end of the footpath and view the narrow strip of reed-frindged water -
the bird feeds on the mossy, marshy area), and 4 Glossy Ibis.
The Square-tailed Kites were still at Daisy Hill Forest Reserve. There was
an adult (pale face and forehead) with 2 juveniles (ginger face and
forehead) at the nest. One of the juvs had left the nest and was sat on a
branch next to it, whilst the other juv was moving around the nest,
frequently wing-flapping.
A great mornings birding!
Thanks for posting your info Peter.
All the best,
Graham Etherington

On 10/27/06, Crispin Marsh <> wrote:

Dear Birders,
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

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

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 procedure.

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.
Peter Marsh
Birchgrove NSW

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Dr. Graham Etherington
Queensland, Australia

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