Coolmunda Dam and Duraki State Forest ? a Honeyeater weekend.
I set off from Mt Gravatt at 7.30 on Friday morning (30.7) heading 300
kms west of Brisbane to Coomunda Dam, near Inglewood. I had time in hand
so took backroads from Rathdowney up the range. Interesting driving and
beautiful scenery on, mainly unsealed, roads terminating at Queen Mary
Falls. Travelling through patches of rainforest Brown Cuckoo-doves,
Emerald Doves, Wonga Pigeons and Satin Bowerbirds, Red-browed Finches,
Crimson and Eastern Rosellas and 1 Fan-tailed Cuckoo flew from my path.
I stopped at QMF for coffee and had a short walk to the outlook ?
White-throated Treecreeper, Brown Thornbills, Lewin?s and White-naped
Honeyeaters and Variegated Wrens.
Driving on to Warwick I was treated to the stupendous sight of 3
Wedge-tailed Eagles standing in a field beside the road. What an awesome
sight of power and control.
Beyond Warwick I dropped into Duraki State Forest and quickly found
Yellow-tufted, Brown-headed, Yellow-faced, White-naped and Scarlet
Honeyeaters. Diamond Firetails shone in the sunlight and Double-barred
Finches completed the picture. I was just about to leave after about 40
minutes when a single bird alighted in a low bush and immediately
dropped to the dry mud at the edge of a pond to drink. I knew I had
never seen this one before and quickly noted details of a, basically,
plain brown/grey honeyeater, ?long? looking with a distinct yellow
triangle on the lower rear cheek area bordered by a black line. It drank
twice and left, flying high away over the treetops. Grabbing Pizzey I
identified it as a Grey-fronted Honeyeater, despite the map showing it
approx 200 kms further east than it should be.
Bouyed by this excitement I headed on towards the Dam. I had contacted
Bill Jolly during the week as an ?area expert? and, following, his
excellent directions, stopped first at the ?Peninsula?, my first view of
the Dam itself. Here I spotted various duck including a pair of Musk,
both species of Spoonbills, Australian Grebes and other common
waterbirds. No sign of the expected, and hoped for, White-winged
Fairy-wrens. I stopped at another location further along the road and
found the promised Blubonnets and Yellow-throated Miners (both new birds
After setting up camp on the lakeshore (no cost, no facilities, no
water, rubbish bins only ? and mostly empty as rubbish strewn around the
bins. There is a ?proper? (clean) toilet at the picnic area about 2.5
kms drive away..) I went for a walk in the immediate area. Red-rumped
Parrots feeding on the lakeshore along with Black-winged Stilts. In the
trees Weebills, Yellow Thornbills, White-plumed and Yellow-faced
Honeyeaters, Noisy Friarbirds and Miners along with 2 White-bellied
Cuckoo-shrikes and a pair of Restless Flycatchers.
Returning to camp for yet another coffee I was serenaded by a pair of
Magpies with a demanding immature in tow and a very inquisitive Pied
Butcherbird. Just before dusk a flock of 15 Apostlebirds tumbled in and
demanded I move from their feeding area! These guys are real characters,
hopping to within inches of my feet and aggressively challenging my
presence with their gruttal calls.
A quiet night finished at 6.30 and a walk along the lake (south or
right) and back along the road added Speckled Warbler, Blue-faced and
Striped Honeyeaters, Yellow-rumped Thornbill and Western Gerygone
(another lifer). After a second breakfast it was off again to see the
Bluebonnets and Y-T Miners. Close encounters with White-winged Choughs
and Grey-crowned Babblers kept the morning moving and an Inland
Thornbill added extra interest. The Bluebonnets numbered six and were
difficult to see except in flight. I did eventually get to see them
perched from a range of about 50 meters and noted their overall brown
upperparts and striking yellow and red belly ? actually prettier than I
thought they would look.
I moved on to the peninsula to try again for the WW Fairy-wrens, alas,
still no show. Heading off along the Stanthorpe road I eventually drove
around the outskirts of the Dam area stopping for Brown Falcon on a
fence post, Pallid Cuckoo on overhead wires, brown fairy wrens that
MIGHT have been W- winged, but not 100% sure and a single Jacky Winter.
I broke the drive/crawl at Nanny Creek crossing and immediately found a
White-plumed Honeyeater?s nest in partial construction. Watched Little
Lorikeets fly overhead and Dusky Woodswallow?s display flight.
I flushed 6 Brown Quail in dribs and drabs out of the roadside grass ?
(you know you think they?re all gone then ?whoosh? there goes another
one and you creep around for another 10 minutes to find they really have
all gone!) I also squeaked a White-browed Scrub-wren from a private
paddock ? I thought it was a little far west, judging from the maps.
Early afternoon and I decided to head for Tin Hut Rd ? about 20 kms
south of the dam on the Leyburn rd. I had read (Birds Qld website) that
a Chestnut-rumped Heath-wren had been seen at that location in May. It
wasn?t seen by me, but I did have White-throated Treecreeper,
Spiny-cheeked and Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters and on the way back,
Red-winged Parrot and 2 Emus in a paddock alongside the road. Later at
Bracker Creek bridge the only Brown Treecreepers of the weekend fed
close by while a Little Egret stalked the shallows.
Checked again for W-W F-Ws at the Peninsula???
Arrived back at camp late afternoon to find 12 tents and a tour bus had
materialised 50 meters from my quiet site. I expected a noisy night,
but, in fact, the fishing club members were much quieter than the
unmentionable with the generator 100 meters away. I went to bed and
covered my head at 8.30?.
Sunday morning and the plan? Pack up, take off, check for W-W F-W, then
head for Duraki again.
So it was and I reached Duraki still White-winged Fairy-wren-less, but
at least I have something to go back for. Setting up a comfortable spot
I waited and again all the Honeyeaters (except Grey-fronted, of course!)
turned up along with the Firetails. After about one and a half hours I
heard a harsh, scolding type of call/song and a naped honeyeater
appeared in a tree. I actually managed to ?scope it and discovered it to
be a Black-chinned Honeyeater!
Well pleased I headed home at 1.30 and, again, took the Queen Mary Falls
road down the range. My last really nice bird for the weekend (species
no 117) was an Albert?s Lyrebird, trailing a full tail, diving for
cover, as the Suzuki roared (?) by.
Nearly 800 kms, 3 days solid birding, 4 new ?ticks? and heaps of other
great birds, including a total of 16 honeyeater species (counting Miners
and Friarbirds) ? I came home happy!
Full lists available on request.
So many birds, so little time......
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