Trip Report - Duraki, Coolmunda dam, Sundown NP, SE Qld

To: "birds" <>
Subject: Trip Report - Duraki, Coolmunda dam, Sundown NP, SE Qld
From: "Colin R" <>
Date: Tue, 09 Jun 2009 15:17:06 +1000
Duraki, Coolmunda, Sundown NP, SE Qld

6 – 8.6.09

6.6.09 One time we are glad to still belong to the Queen of England –
its her birthday and a long weekend as a result - so Saturday morning
4.30am and we’re having coffee in the dark. 15 minutes later and we are
heading west – into the fog. The drive out past Ipswich and across the
Lockyer valley was daunting – a heavy fog reduced visibility to about 50
meters and with trucks on the highway the Barn Owl that slid over the
top of the car had to remain a fleeting glimpse – I wasn’t stopping to
risk being run over!
Once we cleared the range the sky cleared, although patches of mist
lingered in the lower parts of the surrounding fields as we reached
Warwick to fill up with fuel – petrol and MacD’s – before heading
further west to Duraki.
Very quiet - nothing of real note. The resident (?) Yellow-tufted
Honeyeaters were in evidence along with Spotted Pardalote, Weebills,
White-throated and Brown Treecreeper (1 each), 1 Yellow-faced Honeyeater
and, at one stage, a wave of 6 Eastern Yellow Robins chased each other
around the pond. We gave it 2 hours then took off again towards
Mosquito Creek rd was our first stop in the Coolmunda Dam area (unsealed
road, turn right just after the Coobah Da Manna camping area turnoff).
We drove slowly up the road until we spotted some parrots flying ahead
from the trees and then walked for a while.
Ultimately 3 X 2 BLUE BONNETS (S) gave themselves up and we had good
views through the ‘scope. Eastern Rosellas, Noisy Miners, Striated
Pardalote, Grey-crowned Babblers and Crested Pigeons also showed and,
approx 300 meters from the main road, we identified S’s first YELLOW
–THROATED MINERS (S). In the field 7 Emu ran in the opposite direction
like animated feather dusters and as we approached a dam on the right 6
Squatter Pigeons walked quietly under the trees. White-necked Heron,
Black Duck and Grey Teal were in and around the water. We returned to
the car, scoping a Nankeen Kestrel on a nearby tree, and 2 COCKATIELS
(S) flew overhead for a brief sighting.
Lunch time and over to the Coobah Da Manna peninsula for a view of the
water while we ate. The lake was very low and most of the birds very far
away. The usual assortment of ducks, egrets, cormorants and waders
present, the highlights were probably the 30 or so Yellow-billed
Spoonbills and 60+ Pink-eared Ducks out on an ‘island’. 2 Whistling
Kites flew over as we finished then it was into the search for our
target bird at this spot.
Walking through the rough knee high brush on the peninsula we found them
– we estimated 30 WHITE-WINGED FAIRY WRENS (S) all either female or
males in eclipse plumage, unfortunately, but good views were had of them
as they flitted from bush to bush.
Moving on we drove back to Gore and turned right onto Cement Mills Rd.
Opposite the actual turn off for the cement mill (!) we turned left onto
an unsealed road and parked beside the dry river bed of the McIntyre
Brook. Wandering around the immediate area we had 10 Yellow-rumped
Thornbills, 2 Jacky Winters, 2 Eastern Rosellas and 4 more White-winged
We headed ‘across country’ along Cement Mills Rd to Sundown NP.
(Brilliant in-car views of an immature (very dark) Brown Falcon on the
way). We collected firewood along the road, as there is none supplied at
the campsite in Sundown anymore, and, arriving at 17.00, we filled up
with water at the taps beside the warden’s house. As we did S spotted
his first HOODED ROBIN (S) flitting around the famous field. We made
camp, lit our fire and had dinner, crashed around 22.00.
7.6.09 An electrical storm passed over the valley during the night
dumping an hour’s worth of rain, the morning was damp and dull so we had
coffee around 7.00 – the birds were only starting to become active.
Much to my pleasure the river was in full flood! I have been to Sundown
on several occasions over the years and never seen the river run before.
It had obviously been even higher in recent times, branches and logs
jumbled and jammed and trees and bushes uprooted or bent almost
horizontal. The rock strewn riverbed was completely full and water could
be heard running over the rapids further down from the warden’s house.
We walked down to the field and past the house into the trees beyond,
then back by the upper side of the road and, eventually, onto the
‘western loop track’, which took us in a circuit up the top of the ridge
overlooking the valley and back down to the campsite. Most of the
‘usual’ species were present, although we did not see any Spiny-cheeked
or White-eared Honeyeaters and the number of White-plumed was minimal.
We saw only 1 flock of 13 TURQUOISE PARROTS (S) on the ground in the
lower paddock and a few other small groups flew overhead. We did have
White-plumed and Fuscous Honeyeaters (2), Yellow Robins, White-throated
and Brown Treecreepers, Speckled Warblers (heaps), Jacky Winters (8),
Crimson Rosellas and King Parrots, Yellow-rumped Thornbills, Common
Bronzewings (5) and 1 Collared Sparrowhawk among the more common
species. S got his first WHITE-BROWED BABBLERS (5 just beyond the house)
and RED-CAPPED ROBIN (the latter at the top of the ridge and my first
for the park). As we came down the track towards the camp site we came
across a wave of small birds – Grey Fantail and Fairy-wrens and 6 YELLOW
THORNBILLS (S) put in a spectacular performance at close range. We heard
a Fan-tailed Cuckoo calling nearby and a Wonga Pigeon echoed across the
valley all morning.
After a lazy brunch, and with the day brightening up, we took a stroll
up the river to the ‘permanent waterhole’ to see the flooding river,
then back down to the field again for a late afternoon visit.
The Hooded Robins were back and we spotted a Satin Bowerbird in the
warden’s garden. Persistence rewarded us with a pair of Southern
Whitefaces near the ‘road’ and we had excellent views as they perched in
the dead trees nearby.
Back to camp, dinner and wine beside the fire – a clear cold night.
8.6.09 Up at 6.30 and 2 Red-browed Finches at camp while having coffee.
A Wedge-tailed Eagle flew over camp and Crimson Rosellas fed nearby.
Out to the ‘field’ again, White-naped and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters on
the way. A few more White-plumed Honeyeaters around this morning, but
still in much lower numbers than usual. No Turks in the lower paddock,
but the Hooded Robin couple were still hammering the insects near the
house. An Olive-backed Oriole paused briefly, the Southern Whitefaces
and Yellow-rumped Thornbills put in an appearance and a couple of
Australian Pipits wagged nearby. 
We met Peter the warden and chatted for a while, then returned to the
campsite to pack up. A movement in a tree in front of the site and a
pair of INLAND THORNBILLS (S) increased to 4, accompanied by a Yellow
Thornbill stopped our progress for 10 minutes providing excellent views.
We left Sundown just before 12, stopping at the main road gate (mailbox)
to check out the immediate area. A pair of Red-rumped Parrots flew in,
but other than that it was quiet.
Arriving at Stanthorpe we opted for a coffee at the information bureau
overlooking the park and creek – being the Queen’s Birthday Public
Holiday everything else appeared closed. A pair of parrots landed in a
nearby tree as we waited for our brew and S got his 11th lifer for the
weekend – RED-WINGED PARROTS (S). It just goes on and on really!
After coffee (highly recommended) we drove the 30 or so kms to
Girraween, parked in the day use car park and headed down the Junction
track – we had a target bird in mind, but were, to be honest, less than
hopeful. An hour and a half later and we struck success! A 20 second
fully exposed sunlit view of CHESTNUT-RUMPED HEATHWREN! A lifer for both
of us! Brilliant!! (Location? Cross the two stone bridges and head along
the Junction track, just BEFORE the first step up, about 150 meters
maybe, face left off the track and it was in the thicket in front of
you.) Took us a long time to see it clearly, it moved very fast around
the area, but eventually it sat up in a bare tree above the undergrowth
and we got very pleasing views. We also saw Brown Thornbill, Silvereye
and White-eared Honeyeater to add to our weekend list.
We left the site at 15.30 and stopped off for a hot chocolate to
celebrate our success at the Heavenly Chocolate shop – a highly
recommended unique experience – the hot chocolate I’m talking about
here, almost as good as the heathwren!
The roads were relatively clear by the time we left Warwick having
re-fuelled - petrol and McD’s again - and we arrived home uneventfully
at 20.00.
  Colin Reid
So many birds, so little time......

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