The Pitta of Christmas Present

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: The Pitta of Christmas Present
From: Laurie Knight <>
Date: Wed, 26 Dec 2012 13:33:22 +1000
Christmas is best spent by a rainforest creek, and this year my companion and I went for a stroll up Northbrook Creek (it runs from the Mt Glorious area down to Lake Wivenhoe, SEQ). Being Christmas day, there were fewer cars than normal on the Northbrook Parkway, so there were plenty of goannas and robins on the road to avoid.

We have had a dry spring and early summer, so the creek was very low (generally less than shin deep). There was a stash of hives by the road near the bridge over the creek, and we walked passed numerous congregations of bees collecting water from the damp margins. There were also hundreds of dragonflies zipping about, lots of frogs (adults and tadpoles) and a butterfly landing zone (do butterflies have leks?).

There were the usual Lewins HEs, Rufous Fantails, Red-browed Firetails, King Parrots, Spangled Drongos and Bellbirds (BMs), and before long we started to hear a Noisy Pitta calling. As luck would have it, we soon came across a pitta that gave us good views from a log. Interestingly, we flushed a WF Heron while passing through a rainforest section and we could hear an excitable cuckoo calling.

We wandered up to our lunch/bathing spot near the bottom of the lower gorge. First an Azure Kingfisher zoomed through, then we had a female Koel evicting a wompoo from a smallish fig tree.

As we started to return back to the car, I noticed a barred bird near the fig tree - a female Cicadabird. Not long after we came across the Azure Kingfisher perched on a boulder, giving us nice views of its legs and ear patch. Further along, we came across a Spectacled Monarch, some Scarlet HEs, an Olive-backed Oriole and another Wompoo. We could hear both White-headed Pigeons and Rose-crowned Fruit-Doves calling.

The final birding highlight came at a drinking hole where a fallen tree provided a handy staging point for the passerines. First we noticed a juvenile Eastern Whipbird fossicking about on the creekbed - you don't normally see whipbirds that much out in the open. The whipbird seemed to have a fully developed crest, but it lacked the white cheek and was almost uniformly chocolate coloured.

Other birds coming into drink/bathe there (while we had a cup of tea) included Eastern Yellow Robins (half a dozen came in together), Large- billed Scrubwrens, White-naped HEs (nominate race), Yellow-faced HEs (these are more of a winter species in SEQ), Scarlet HEs, Brown Cuckoo- Doves and a Grey Shrike-Thush.

All up it was a very pleasant Christmas perambulation.

Now, while I think of it, I had the pleasure of watching a Brown Cuckoo-Dove having a drink in a creek at Mary Cairncross Park (at Maleny) a couple of days ago. Because the bird was in a patch of sunshine and it was down on the ground, I could see the iridescent green on the back of its neck (similar to the shining green on the bronze cuckoos) indicating that it was a male. I don't recall seeing that green plumage before (I guess you only notice it under the right conditions). It's an interesting field mark.

Regards, Laurie.

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