Atlasing in the Qld Coalfields

Subject: Atlasing in the Qld Coalfields
From: Laurence and Leanne Knight <>
Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2000 17:31:36 +1000
I've spent the last week atlasing on the eastern side of the GDR - the
persistent rain flowing through from the previous week's Kimberley
cyclone meant that Expedition Nat Park [and a few other places] weren't
accessible.  Basically, the Eidsvold-Theodore Road via Cracow was OK for
my trusty old Subaru, but the Isla-Delusion Road had just too much
blacksoil - and I gave it away half a kay to the west of the Dawson
River [nice palm grove] when I saw a mile of churned up blacksoil ahead
of me [just managed to avoid getting bogged when turning around and
exciting times keeping the car on the road].

Theodore [on the banks of the Dawson River] proved to be a respectable
atlasing site, with 34 species within 500 metres of the pub.  That was
considerably more than the Roundstone Conservation Park [east of
Bauhinia] - though I did see a speckled warbler there.

>From there, it was on to Rolleston and the newly purchased Albinia
National Park [purchased for its bluegrass ecosystem].  The birdlife
wasn't so prolific there - saw only 38 species [including a few
indeterminate quails] in two 5 km surveys [and seven hours].  However,
this was the only point on the trip where I saw emus.  Bustards were
fairly common, and I saw a spotted harrier, a couple of groups of
plum-headed finches, and yellow-throated miners with newly fledged
offspring.  The farmer at Bottle Tree Downs reckoned he'd seen
nightjars, grass owls, thick-knees and spotted bowerbirds there.

There wasn't much movement on the tops of Minerva Hills NP [Springsure]
- most activity in the lower sections round the entrance to the park. 
The Lilyvale Waterhole [NE Emerald] was fairly productive with 32 spp
within 500 metres of the carpark, including a few striped honeyeaters. 
The sulphur crested cockatoos were a real nuisance though, as they made
a huge racked as they followed me about.

Capella proved to be an excellent site, with 43 spp [not including the
truly ugly helmeted guinea fowls {with a chick} roosting in a tree not
far from someone's back fence] within 500 metres of the caravan park
[excellent value - $30 for an ensuite cabin].  I saw an immature
horsfield's bronze cuckoo in the reeds beside a bridge - possibly raised
by red-backed fairy-wrens, and a hobby flashing round the industrial
section.  The species count was boosted considerably round the water
storages, with the associated waterfowl, including plumed whistling
ducks.  There were also cistacolas and reed warblers, and a large cloud
of plum-headed finches, somewhat outnumbering the chestnut-breasted

Oaky Ck had 34 spp in 500 metres round the Ed White Bridge, but German
Ck / Lake Bundoora [43 spp in 500 metres] proved more interesting with
great crested grebes, royal spoonbills, glossy ibis, green pygmy geese,
cotton pygmy geese [100+] and squatter pigeons.

The drive from Middlemount to Dingo was pretty depressing due to the
broadscale treeclearing - about 90% of vegetation nuked along the 130 km
of road.  The clearing was indescriminate - in 10-50 sq km blocks,
probably over 1000 sq km in total.

Taunton NP [scientific - bridle-tailed wallabies] was fairly productive
with 49 spp in a 5 km radius - particularly since there was no open
waters to boost the count.  There were a few plum-headed finches, 3-4
spotted bowerbirds happily feasting on the pale yellow berries of a
watercourse tree [bit like a small jacaranda/poinsetta], a palid cuckoo,
a female redcapped robin doing its wing fanning routine, a pair of
striated pardolotes doing a wing display routine under a bush, a pair of
squatter pigeons on the lawn beside the ranger station, and a red-backed
kingfisher at the front entrance to the park.

There was a dollarbird by the Don River near Rannes, and the odd rose
robin round Mt Perry.  There weren't a heck of a lot of birds round the
two Burnett River sites I visited, though I did see the odd dusky
honeyeater at one.

Overall, the black and white birds were ubiquitous, as were laughing
kookaburras, corvids, crested pigeons, white throated honeyeaters,
striated pardolotes, white throated warblers, pale-headed rosellas,
rainbow lorikeets, sulphur crested cockatoos and double-barred finches. 
I saw many nankeen kestrels, wedge-tailed eagles, whistling kites and
brown falcons.  There were plenty of rainbow bee-eaters in the greater
Burnett region, and yellow-throated miners and aus ravens in the western
parts of my itinery.

All up, an interesting trip with 21 atlas sheets for the Easter break.

Regards, Laurie.

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