VS: Once more Down Under.1. Bargara Beach

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: VS: Once more Down Under.1. Bargara Beach
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2006 09:22:03 +0200
By an oversight I sent this out with an attachment, which was meant for private 
recivers. It is now sent out once more, without the offending attachment (by 
the way, my annotated bird list from the Australia trip). Sorry about the 
                                    Wim Vader


Fra: Wim Vader
Sendt: 18. september 2006 09:18
Til: birding-aus
Kopi: birdchat; ; Sabirdnet 
Emne: VS: Once more Down Under.1. Bargara Beach



This (southern) winter I have had once more the chance to visit Australia, a 
country that has fascinated me for a long time. This is my seventh visit 
already, including almost a whole year in Sydney in 1993. But the last time was 
five years ago and concerned mainly Tasmania and Victoria, so I have to learn 
many of the sights and especially sounds anew.

Riet and I arrive at Brisbane airport early in the morning of 26 July after the 
loooong flights from Europe, and have trouble keeping our eyes open. While 
waiting for the airtrain into town, the first  Australian bird we see is most 
appropriately the Welcome Swallow! A few others follow, here and from the 
comfortable Tilt train to Bundaberg, but we are nodding off repeatedly. Most 
noticeable were the very many Fairy Martins at the Roma street railway station 
in Brisbane, a tight flock of a few hundred Straw-necked Ibises, and most 
unexpected for me, a large Pheasant Coucal flopping away from the train near 

On arrival at Bundaberg station (I should have guessed that this would be 
Bundie locally in the abbreviation-loving land of Oz) daughter Anna with Kjetil 
and one year old Sigurd are there to fetch us. They had arrived a few days 
earlier on their 32 ft sailing yacht Ægir from New Caledonia. Through the good 
offices of Birding-ausser Jill Dening we have been able to rent a unit at 
Sandcastles-on-the beach in Bargara Beach, and this turned out to be an 
excellent choice: close to the beach, with a nice large porch and a view over 
the golf course across the road. Early in the morning (daylight comes 
surprisingly late here) I hear all sorts of bird calls, many easy enough to 
sort out even for me: the splintered screeches of Rainbow Lorikeets, feeding on 
the Grevilleas in neighbouring gardens, the intricate caroling of Australian 
Magpies, and the electronic beeps of Magpie-Larks. Noisy Miners live up to 
their name, and there is a very tame family of Pied Butcherbirds, my favourite 
Aussie songsters. On the golf course Masked Plovers shriek, and the roadside 
wires held many doves and even some Figbirds. On the beach, a nice sandy beach 
with some stony outcrops and a few mangroves even, small flocks of Silver Gulls 
and Crested Terns rest, while Great Cormorants pass by offshore.

Quite unexpectedly for me, a pair of Ospreys appears on 'our beach', one even 
picking up a stick. Are they nesting nearby? Probably, as we will see them 
daily. Another bird I somehow had not expected here is the Cockatiel, but they 
are here with a vengeance: a flock of at least 40 arrives and occupies the 
neighbour's lawn, not much bothered by the efforts of the Noisy Miners to chase 
them off. The cockatiels give the lawn a very thorough treatment; what do they 
find there?

This first day, still pretty jet-lagged, we walk a bit down the road to a small 
tree-lined lagoon, where we quickly discover a number of nice birds; Australia 
boast lots of interesting and colourful species. Rainbow Bee-eaters sally out 
over the lagoon, Sacred Kingfishers sit watchfully on bare branches, and there 
are also various herons: an active Little Egret, a somewhat more sedate Reef 
Egret, and a secretive Mangrove Heron. A few sacred Ibisies also poke round in 
the shallow water. A small island holds a few pelicans and a single Black Swan; 
Pacific Black Ducks, Grey Teal and coots swim, upend and dive, and in shallower 
parts there are Dusky Moorhens and the ever elegant Black-winged Stilts. 
Cormorants in the background; here mainly Little Black and Pied. All common 
birds , I know, but a wonderful introduction for newly arrived visitors anyway. 
In the trees around the lagoon Brown Honeyeaters are singing lustily, while a 
few other small birds manage to keep ut of sight of jet-lagged eyes. This first 
day the weather is perfect, partly cloudy and maybe 23*C.

But in the night it starts to rain and then pour, and this continues most of 
the day so that by the end of the second day there is water everywhere. The 
landscape around Bundaberg is almost completely flat and dominated by sugar 
cane fields. In the late afternoon the rain became a bit more intermittent, and 
we ventured out again, visiting Burnett Heads and Bundaberg Port near the river 
mouth. With all the water on the fields a lot of birds 'had come out of the 
woodworks', and the fields were full of herons and ibises, while there suddenly 
also were pairs of Maned Ducks galore. One of the puddles held the only 
Chestnut Teals of the entire trip.

At Burnett Heads the dripping wattle trees were full of birds: Lewin's and 
Dusky Honeyeaters, and surprisingly often Mistletoebirds. Welcome Swallows 
collected mud from the innumerable puddles and dapper Peaceful Doves tripped 
around them. Here we also saw our first Galahs and Pale-headed Rosellas.

On stones in the river there were hundreds of cormorants, mostly Pied and 
Little Black, and several beacons held statuesque Darters. Crested Terns and to 
my surprise also Brown Boobies plunge-dived in the marina harbour, and Brahminy 
Kites flapped lazily overhead. Few shorebirds as yet, but one muddy corner 
holds a few Greenshanks, a single Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, one each of Whimbrel 
and Far-eastern Curlew, as well as a few plovers, which I made out to be 
Double-banded Plovers. In the village we stopped at an inundated field full of 
Silver Gulls and Cattle Egrets (for once without cattle), and discover first a 
Grey-crowned Babbleron the ground, and later Spangled Drongos on the overhead 

The next day we sailed on the Ægir from Bundaberg to the river mouth and back, 
and thus got a good chance to see the river birds: Mangrove Herons and Nankeen 
Night Herons, Pied Oystercatchers, Whistling and Brahminy Kites and impressive 
While-belied Sea Eagles, and near the sea lots of cormorants, darters and 
boobies. All the beacons in the river had small colonies of Welcome Swallows, 
and every time we passed one, a few of the swallows came on board, sat on the 
railing and sang lustily! What can be the biological significance of that?

In the afternoon I walked back to the Money lagoon, only to find that all the 
birds were gone! Two ducks and five gulls was all that was left, the lagoon was 
full of muddy water, and a veritable river had broken through to the sea. So we 
had been just in time the day before!

The last day in Bundaberg we visited the local 'nature reserve', Baldwin swamp, 
a somewhat park-like wetland, full of birds and with a nice network of trails, 
as usually in this country. Here there are lots of wildfowl, Hardheads, Purple 
Swamphens, and the weird Magpie Geese, and I even find my first life bird of 
this trip, the Cotton Pygmy Goose. Another highlight is a family of Red-backed 
Wrens, so definitely among my favourite small birds in this country. There are 
both Rufous and Golden Whistlers here, Olive-backed Orioles, trillers, Jacky 
Winter, and of course the inevitable Silvereyes. It is good training for the 
weeks to come.

Ana and Kjetil drive us all the way back to Brisbane. On the way we take a 
random sideroad near Couron, and have a picnic along the road. Here the bird 
life is already a bit more southern, with magpies, Currawongs, and even Eastern 
Rosellas. Small flocks of  Scaly-breasted Lorikeets shriek past incessantly, 
the air is full of Torresian crows, and on the road-verge Red-browed Finches 
potter. And I am even so lucky as to see my second ever White-eared Monarch 
here, so intent on feeding that I can watch it at leisure.

A great week in so many respects!

                                                                     Wim Vader, 
Tromsø Museum

Tromsø, Norway


To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)
<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • VS: Once more Down Under.1. Bargara Beach, Wim Vader <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU