My partner Tasman Carvolth and I spent a weekend birding recently at
Sundown NP, just SW of Stanthorpe, Qld. I had heard about the
exceptional bird diversity at Sundown, in particular there is a small
grassy plain near the 'Broadwater'campground at the southern end of the
park which apparently is considered THE spot for Turquoise Parrots, and
other great species. We weren't disappointed. We spotted 'turks' at all
times of the day, and early Saturday morning we stood quietly and
watched about 15 feeding in the grass in front of us, alongside a couple
of Eastern Rosellas. A very beautiful sight. Turquoise parrots are
simply stunning, especially the males when they fly, showing a contrast
of dark and brilliant bright blue on the underwing.
Other highlights included Speckled Warblers (4 sightings), White-browed
Babblers (2 sightings), a pair of Hooded Robins, a pair of Crested
Shrike-tit, lots of courting Grey Shrike-thrushes, and abundant juvenile
Fan-tailed cuckoos, which often flew to the ground near us to seize
hairy caterpillars. Great views of all were had in either the riparian
area, or in the cypress trees, bordering the grassy plain, less than
500m from our campsite. Noteworthy birds seen from the only formed
walking track (2km return to a permanent waterhole on the Severn
River...very cold swimming spot!) were Yellow Thornbill and Rose Robin.
We got few species of honeyeaters, although there are some 20 spp found
in the park including Painted and Regents. I can imagine when the
Eucalypts, Callistemon and Casuarinas are flowering it would be very
worthwhile visiting again.
Ron Dowling, who turned out to be our camping neighbour, said he had
watched 12 Speckled Warblers right at the edge of his campsite. He told
us about a site for Diamond Firetail and Southern Whiteface, at an old
shearing shed on the road out of the park, but we dipped on these. And
Australian Owlet-nightjars are apparently common in the cypress trees on
the slope by our campsite, but we heard only rutting deer at night (the
park is full of deer as well as goats and pigs).
We also met a lovely birding couple, Jeff and Marg Ellery, who had been
at Sundown almost a week, photographing, filming and recording birds.
They had seen a similar list of noteworthy birds, with the addition of a
Little Eagle, and Diamond Firetails just outside of the park.
On the whole the birding was very relaxed, with plenty of time for rock
scrambling and hiking up Ooline Ck (not conducive to bird watching),
goat wrangling, reading in the hammock, and relaxing by the fire.
A very worthwhile birding spot, and a lot quieter than other nearby
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