Sundown NP, Qld

Subject: Sundown NP, Qld
From: "Colin R" <>
Date: Wed, 23 Apr 2003 07:55:51 +1000
We deliberately left the drive west until Good Friday morning to avoid
the worst of the traffic. Leaving Brisbane around 10.30 we drove at a
leisurely pace, to frustrate the police radars, arriving at Sundown
National Park around 2.30.
Driving in from the main road I eagerly searched the surrounding fields
for anything ?different?. This was my first serious birding trip west of
the Main Range. I have been beyond Warwick before but not really focused
on birding - and that was 20 years ago. I had read and researched
everything I could find about Sundown and had heard some amazing tales of
Turks and Robins and was very keen to get started. My
non-birding-but-very-supportive partner, however, was keen too. Keen to
get the tent up, find out where the water was, how many toilets there
were, did the showers work? and all those mundane-but-very-necessary type
of things one has to do! So?. bins aside, but not very far away, we spent
the afternoon settling in.
A very still, quiet night broken only by the grunting, almost tiger like,
growls and grunts of rutting Fallow deer bucks chasing does around, Oh
and the moronic pair next to us who insisted on talking till midnight,
then waking at 3am to light a fire cause they were cold and slammed car
doors all night. If you?re out there, mate, no apologies, you need to
learn to camp in a crowded campsite, you have no idea how close to death
you came!!?????Sue was really pissed!
Daybreak on Saturday and I left my partner snuggled deep in her sleeping
bag and walked back along the track to the area I had been assured held
most of the birds in the park! Being a sceptical sort of person, I found
it hard to believe all these promised species could be in such a small
area, however, just in case?.. I decided I would prove them all wrong and
find birds everywhere?? well, they were right!
First up, JACKY WINTERs, flicking, landing, they seemed to be everywhere.
Over the weekend, in fact, it became a case of ?it?s just another Jacky
Winter? ? even the aforementioned n-b-b-v-s partner, Sue, relegated them
to the ?only? category. Next CRESTED SHRIKE TIT in the tree overhead,
then, what?s that? WHITE PLUMED HONEYEATER (tick) with it?s cute white
collar and pale green head, Very pretty, these, too, were ?everywhere?.
In the fields near the warden?s house (the promised land, so to speak!)
RICHARD?S PIPITs courted and fed, WELCOME SWALLOWs caught the eye while
YELLOW-RUMPED THORNBILLs hopped through the grass and then FAN-TAILED
CUCKOO, quickly followed by SPECKLED WARBLER in and around the trees near
the buildings. A COMMON BRONZEWING in the longer grass near the water
tanks, then a brief glimpse of a pair of WHITE-BROWED BABBLERS (tick) ?
didn?t worry too much, there?ll be plenty of them around?..wrong, they
were the only ones I saw. Typical isn?t it? However, no time to
worry??Check Everything, Assume Nothing? was my motto and searched every
flight, every call, every flicker. A pair of RED-RUMPED PARROTS gave a
bit of a heart lurch as they landed near the track, a couple of EASTERN
ROSELLAS, too, caused momentary consternation, then a STRIPED CHEEKED
HONEYEATER (tick) put in an appearance. Much bigger than I had imagined ?
easily distinguished by their pink ?lipstick? and smart markings. Working
back along the track a female HOODED ROBIN (tick) showed on a small twig
before flying off into the distance. ?I want a male, I want a male?, I
thought, but was still happy to see another new bird.
I returned to camp and breakfast, rapt in this start to the weekend, high
in anticipation of the next couple of days. As we finished eating and
prepared for a bush walk a WHITE-THROATED TREECREEPER flew through the
campsite and SILVEREYES and a RUFOUS WHISTLER foraged through the bush
We headed up the well worn track to the ?permanent waterhole? where the
track basically disappeared so we crossed the relatively, dry riverbed
and continued on over the rough rocky surface for a kilometre or so
before turning back. I was confident we could go on and would find our
way back, however, Sue did not share my enthusiasm, or have as much trust
in my sense of direction as I did, so we headed back. I was happy ? we
had seen a WHITE-EARED HONEYEATER and a ROSE ROBIN (female) (were there
any male robins around??) among other more common species ? WILLY
Striped Cheeked Honeyeaters. We also encountered a particularly sneaky
little cactus, which shed bits that stuck to our boots and, in some
cases, our legs, with nasty little hooks that pulled at the flesh as they
were removed.
Late afternoon and I was on my way back to the fields, accompanied this
time by the n-b-b-v-s partner. As we entered the area, brushing aside the
Jacky Winters, I noticed a wood-swallow high in a dead tree. Closer
inspection revealed a pair of DUSKY WOODSWALLOWS (tick) and as we watched
them swoop and glide Ruth and Bill from southside Brisbane wandered out
of the bush. They were staying with a group from the National Parks
Association. I had met them briefly a few weeks ago at MC Trotter reserve
and we had parted with a  ?see you at Sundown?  - as you do. Exchanging
further notes it appeared we had seen much the same so far ? but R & B
had seen a Red-capped Robin near their campsite at least twice and I
vowed to look for it the next morning. R & B headed off and Sue and I
made a couple more circuits of the field ? as we were about to leave a
RESTLESS FLYCATCHER (tick) zipped in, caught a fly and zipped out of
What a day!! 6 new birds plus 7 (what I consider) ?good? birds and all
within a few hundred metres. I know they?re not rare, most of you have
probably seen them all over and over, but it was bloody exciting!!
Heading back to camp for a shower and dinner I was well satisfied.
Sunday morning and we were off again at daybreak. Meeting R & B again in
the field we moved through the fields together checking everything ?
then, while watching STRIPED PARDALOTES and Thornbills in a tree, Ruth
spotted a DIAMOND FIRETAIL (tick). Sitting right at the top of the tree
preening the sleep from his feathers we all managed to get a great view
of this beautiful bird. Unreal. One I had REALLY wanted to see! Still
pushing Jackie Winters, Will Wagtails, R Pipits, Striped Cheeked Hes,
YELLOW ROBIN, Yellow-rumped Thornbills ect ect out of the way we headed
back to R & B?s for coffee and robins, red-capped, please. Coffee was
great, but no Robins, although a pair of BROWN TREECREEPERS (tick) were
excellent substitutes.
Getting back to camp Sue chose to have a little rest so I headed down
into the bush directly opposite the campsite. Didn?t see anything new but
and White-plumed Hes, Brown Treecreepers, Fan-tailed Cuckoos, Restless
Flycatchers, Golden & Rufous Whistlers, more Jacky Winters and 1 BROWN
THORNBILL. Also watched a male Fallow deer chase two does around grunting
and roaring at their perceived behaviour.  Returned to camp to a bit of a
relax myself (with Pizzey, of course) when Peter the warden dropped in. I
had mentioned when I booked the site that I intended to bird and he
turned up to say hello. A really genuine guy and  a keen birder himself,
he volunteered directions for the Turks in the area and some other
general hints too. Great to find a warden so interested and enthusiastic
in his job.
Deciding we wanted to get ?something to drink with dinner? we chose to
spend the afternoon driving to Texas via Glenlyon Dam wall and the
Pinnacle Road. It was a very interesting drive I must add, with some
lovely scenery and some great birds along the way??
Not much on the way there,      WHITE-WINGED CHOUGHS as well as a couple
on a Sunday afternoon either! On the way back the first flock of
APOSTLEBIRDS appeared beside the road. (I hasten to add they were seen in
the park, but not by me) I persuaded Sue to stop beside one of the small
creeks while I walked along it for the length of a cigarette only
flushing a WHITE-FACED HERON, a  few NOISY MINERS and Wren sp..
Starting off again we had gone a couple of kilometres when two parrots
flashed overhead and into the trees. No clear id seen, but they had been
blue and green? we hastily pulled over and advanced on the tree line bins
in hands. There, up there, just flashing off, was it? Not sure, where did
it go? Over there, Oh it?s gone down?. there it?s up again?is it? ?.
YES?. TURQUOISE PARROT (tick) Smaller than I had thought, beautiful, blue
head, green wing with red ?shoulder?, almost budgie like. Soooo cute.
Then ? they were gone. But we were triumphant!! Walking back to the car
smiling, glowing with success when a bird flew off the ground. It?s a
??..RUFOUS SONGLARK, very nice, let?s get a better look at it?.more
birds, moving on the ground?..Brown Treecreepers again, cool, then what?s
that, a small Pied Butcherbird??? No way - a male Hooded Robin. Wow!! It
all happens at once sometimes!! We had (as the man said) Crippling
views!! Absolute magic. This had been another really, really, really
wanted one. You know the way some birds ? you just WANT to see THEM?? To
finish off a couple of BLUE-FACED HONEYEATERS flew over towards the creek
for a wash and a drink. The location of this spot? Two kilometres after
the start of the unsealed section going from Glenlyon dam toward the
Pinnacles there is a grid, there is also a white gate on the left. The
?creek? is just beyond and to the right of the gate.
We got back to camp with our $17 bottle of nine dollar wine??had dinner
and a quiet night. The morons had been replaced by a family of four who
were all asleep by 8. WE were probably the noisy ones crawling into bed
at 10!!
Last morning and determined to make it worthwhile. Up at 5.45, had some
toast and coffee to sustain us for a few hours and back to the fields
again, Turquoise Parrots (or Turks) our target species this morning ? I
really wanted to see them in the park too. We checked through the fields
again, the usual species flitting and flying ? although numbers seemed a
little lower this morning. Then into the trees behind Peter?s house and
moving slowly through towards the riverbank as he had described. Two
green and blue parrots flew through the bush calling with a thin soft
type of screech. When they landed we had a not very good view, but I
couldn?t see any blue face or red shoulder. I did see a faint orange on
the yellow belly on one and concluded they were Red-rumped Parrots.
Another group of birders appeared out of the trees opposite and assured
us they were Turks ? immature birds. We all moved together towards an
open grassy paddock and there on the ground, not 30 metres away, were
two, more adult, Turks in the sun, blue faces shining, red wing bar
showing on one. They fed happily for a few minutes walking around like
little animated toys before taking to the air so quickly one didn?t
really see it, they were there then they were flying. Seemed to be no in
between. We walked out into the field and pointed out WHITE-NAPED
HONEYEATER, a distant Diamond Firetail briefly atop a dead tree and Dusky
Wood-swallows. The Parrots flew past a couple of times with that soft
screech but Sue and I decided to head for an appointment with a Robin.
Called into see R & B to get the latest update ? 2 Red-caps now, same
spot, both males, in the sun. Righto, last expected possible tick for the
weekend. Cheerio.
Forty five minutes later Sue dragged me off kicking and screaming ? yes,
she?s right, I?m never happy. I consoled myself that I had to leave
SOMETHING to come back to!! 
We stopped at the entrance to the park on the way out for a quick look.
There had been Plum headed Finches seen there the day before. We didn?t
see any but did finish off the weekend with 3 GROUND CUCKOO SHRIKES, more
White Plumed Hes, Yellow Robins and NOISY FRIARBIRDS, another female
Hooded Robin and Rufous Songlark.
A terrific weekend, we will return.
  Colin Reid
So many birds, so little time......

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