Trip report Adelaide - Tannum Sands and request for help on Button Quail

Subject: Trip report Adelaide - Tannum Sands and request for help on Button Quail ID
From: "Nicholas Talbot" <>
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 2004 22:14:21 +1100
I recently completed a long road trip for the Christmas-New year period. It
involved driving from Adelaide to Tannum Sands (near Gladstone in Central
QLD) then down to Newcastle and back to Adelaide.
Most of the birdwatching during the trip was done from a moving car (not
when I?m driving I might add) but I did manage some actual birdwatching
trips. These included a farm near Gin Gin in Queensland, Lady Elliot Island
(off Bundaberg), several forays into Canoe Point at Tannum Sands, a boating
trip around Awoonga Dam near Tannum, a drive up to Kroombit Tops (west of
Tannum) and a visit to Kooragang Island (Newcastle). The total for the trip
was 176 birds (including 12 birds of prey and 16 parrots). The driving total
ended up at 5,860 kilometres. I have a full list of the birds seen on the
trip that I can send on request.

The birds I didn?t see in Central QLD that I have before were Comb-crested
Jacana and Blue-winged Kookaburra. On the way home I was hoping to find
Superb Parrot but the conditions were awful.

The birding highlights on the way up to Tannum Sands were a Spotted
Bowerbird on a stinking hot day near Emmadale Roadhouse in NSW, lots of
Apostlebirds (a total of 28 seen from the car in 46 kilometres) as well as
Cockatiel on the road-sides around Nyngan and Warren. After staying at
Warren and Toowoomba we headed up to a farm owned by some friends near Gin
Gin. On the way I found my first Australian Bustard in a field near Ban Ban
Springs and some groups of Grey-crowned Babblers in two farm front yards. At
the farm I took the opportunity to try out my new spotlight and found a
Tawny Frogmouth. I briefly checked the same area in the morning (a vegetated
creek gully surrounded by paddocks of long grass) and found 19 species
including Singing Bushlark, Forest Kingfisher, King Parrot and Little
The trip to Lady Elliot Island was my Christmas present and I had a ball
snorkelling and birdwatching. I found 20 species of bird on the island
including Red-tailed Tropic-bird and Roseate Tern and, as with Lady Musgrave
last year, I was amazed at the number of sea-birds there. I also had my best
views ever of both Frigatebirds. On the non-birding front I also saw a
turtle and lots of big reef sharks. I can thoroughly recommend a trip to
Lady Elliot although I missed most of the waders, possibly because I went in
late December.
At Tannum Sands I went for a boat trip around the newly enlarged Awoonga
Dam. With such a huge increase in water height the dam has lost most of its
reeds, lily pads and many of its nest trees. On the plus side it had a large
number of Cormorants (particularly Pied), hundreds of Great Crested Grebe,
White-bellied Sea-eagles and a Darter on a nest.
In Tannum itself I visited Canoe Point several times. This patch of bushland
and mangrove always seems to yield surprises and includes some big eucalypts
and scrub (some of this will be lost when a new school is built on the site
in the near future.. it was full of survey pegs this time), paperbarks,
mangroves, she-oaks and a high-tide roost for waders. The highlight this
time was a brief view of a Square-tailed Kite gliding through the gums,
Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo every day, Striated Heron (1 adult and 1
immature), a Collared Kingfisher nest in a termite nest up a tree at Oaks
Road and lots of Grey-tailed Tattler at the high tide roost.
I also managed a 4WD expedition up to Kroombit Tops which yielded two
Red-winged Parrots flying along the road on the way and two Squatter Pigeons
on the way back. In the Kroombit Tops forest reserve itself I found lots of
honeyeaters including Yellow-tufted. I called them in by pishing and started
hearing a sound like knocking on a door in the wet forest gully below me. I
searched about with the bins and found a very dark wallaby standing on a
fallen hollow log which spanned the creek. Each time I pished the wallaby
jumped up and down on the log making a loud knocking sound. It was also
staring at me in an intimidating manner.
The birding highlight of this trip was a wander through a piece of grassland
near a creek on the way back. I had been listening to the Button-quail calls
on the BOCA CD in the car and then heard one of the calls as I was driving
past a swampy paddock full of tall grass. I walked through the grass and
flushed four quail, three flew across the creek and one went straight ahead
a short way and flopped onto the grass. It then struggled about on the
ground like a broken wing display. When I approached it ran off and did the
same thing again twice in different spots before flying off across the
creek. When I went back to where I flushed them, the others flew off from
their hiding places across the creek. I think these Button-quail were
working to an escape plan and I fell for it. The decoy bird had a thin beak,
yellow eye, and bold markings of rust, cream and black on its back. I
couldn?t see its breast. When I checked Pizzey it looked most like a
Red-backed Button-quail and the call sounded right as well. The ?fly in the
ointment? for this identification was that the legs looked pink/orange in
colour whereas Pizzey has the Red-backed with yellow legs. I haven?t seen
Red-backed or Red-chested Button-quail before, so if anyone has any advice
for me on this I would appreciate it.
In Newcastle (prompted by the Birding-aus posting about Broad-billed
Sandpiper) I went over to the wader roost on Kooragang Island during high
tide in the afternoon of New Year?s Day and saw lots of good birds but
couldn?t tick a Broad-billed among all the Curlew Sandpipers.

Hot chart ringtones and polyphonics. Go to

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