Belated Trip Report - Southern Qld

To: Birding-Aus Aus <>
Subject: Belated Trip Report - Southern Qld
From: John Tongue <>
Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2013 19:11:53 +1000
Hi all,
Sorry this has taken so long to get round to posting - and sorry in advance 
that it's a little long.

For most of July, the family and I head north to escape the cold and wet in 
Tassie, and pick up some species we were still searching for in southern Qld.  
As always, we did not find all our targets, but were happy with what we did 
find, and will just need to come back again.  Thanks to ALL those who offered 
advice, met us and took us places, got us to change our plans, and we just 
generally so helpful.  THIS COMMUNITY IS GREAT!

We flew to Brisbane on the evening of July 5, just for an overnight stop.  Next 
morning, it was straight on to Mackay, mostly to look for Eungella Honeyeater.  
We hired a car in Mackay, and drove through lots of cane fields (many being 
harvested) up to the beautiful village of Eungella, about 80km west of Mackay.  
It's not very far, but leave plenty of time, as there are lots of little 
villages, the cain trains hold you up a bit, and the final road up the 
escarpment is very windy and narrow! Found a good spot on the way for Cotton 
Pygmy-goose (which the kids needed) and hundreds of Plumed Whistling Ducks.

After settling into our very comfortable accommodation (Mountain Edge Escape), 
checking out some local birds, and getting lunch, we headed out for the 
Honeyeaters. We had gen on a few spots, but got onto them easily at the 
Chelman's Rd. site.  Much louder call, and bolder than we'd expected.  Also had 
the local White-throated Treecreepers, Yellow Robins, Wompoo Fruit-doves, and 
even Russet-tailed Thrush by the side of the road getting there.  Heading back 
to Eungella, we had cracking views of Grey morph Grey Goshawk (we'd only seen 
the white before).  Explored the area a bit, had a nice dinner at the Chalet, 
and then headed back to our accommodation in THICK fog.

Next morning, fog was still thick, but we crept back down the mountain, and 
then headed for Lake Kinchant, to pick up the "feral" population of Helmeted 
Guineafowl, plus a few other birds around the lake and other areas before 
heading back for a brief explore around the beaches north of Mackay.  We were 
really hoping to chance a Great-billed Heron, but no such luck, despite a few 
good birds, including Mangrove Gerygone (had only had them in WA before), and a 
few Raptors.  But we had to get back to the airport, for our plane back to 
Brisbane - 1 night in such a beautiful spot!!

Back in Brisbane, we picked up another hire car, and headed straight for Binna 
Burra, in Lamington NP, for some of the rainforest specials. The accommodation 
wasn't quite what we were expecting - didn't realise the Safari Tents don't 
really lend themselves to self-catering (especially when we had no cooking or 
eating gear), but we managed.  Two nights at Binna Burra, and we managed to 
pick up Paradise Riflebird, White-headed Pigeon, Australian Logrunner, a new 
race of Varied Sitella, and HEARD Albert's Lyrebird on many occasions.  We 
planned to walk the Coomera Falls circuit, but the track is closed, so we did a 
few other walks.  We even managed to track down - and SEE - a Lyrebird one 
morning, but the canopy was too dense, the lighting too dim, and the bird too 
fast, to allow any photos.  

After two nights at Binna Burra, we headed down the mountain, and then back UP 
again, to O'Reilley's, for another two nights.  This place is REALLY touristy!  
Very nice, but very expensive.  We did see lots of birds - largely because 
they're so tame, being regularly fed!  The kids needed Wonga Pigeon and Regent 
Bowerbird, both of which we had "in spades".  We had more Logrunners, a few 
sorts of Scrubwrens, and managed another view of Albert's Lyrebird, including 
about half a second of grainy video.  We tried both nights for Sooty Owl and 
Marbled Frogmouth, but didn't even hear any!  And we couldn't get onto any 
Green Catbirds, either, which the kids also needed.

Once we left O'Reilley's, we headed back down the mountain, and skirted up 
round Brisbane (with some shopping stops and a brief call in at Mt. Coot-tha, 
and a couple of other reserves) before heading for Samford.  Through 
Birding-Aus, I'd made connection with Roger McNeill, and he told us about their 
"Birders Cottage".  We planned to stay one night there (we were mostly wanting 
to try around Samsonvale Cemetery for King Quail), before heading on to Rainbow 
Beach.  Roger and Megan's place was great - very comfortable cottage 
overlooking the block that Roger is doing of lots of work to restore to its 
former rainforest habitat.  There is actually quite a variety of habitat - and 
lots of birds - on their small acreage, and the setting is stunning.  Roger had 
also emailed me prior to our trip detailed maps and notes of local birding 
hotspots, including an area near Brisbane airport, where he reckoned we'd have 
much more success with King Quail than Samsonvale.  The night we got th
 ere, he gave us some pointers for Sooty Owl and Marbled Frogmouth at nearby 
Mt. Glorious, so after dinner, we headed out to try our luck.  We heard a 
number of Froggies, but couldn't see any, and didn't see or hear the Owl.  Next 
morning, after showing us around and finding us our first White-eared Monarch, 
Roger assured us we wouldn't need two nights at Rainbow Beach for 
Black-breasted Button-quail, and that we should stay an extra night there, and 
he'd take us out spotlighting that night - so we did. We headed back up Mt. 
Glorious in the morning, and found the Green Catbirds for the kids that we were 
assured we would.  During the day, we met up with Tom Tarrant, who very 
generously gave us of his time, and showed us some great local birding spots, 
and we even tried for the King Quail at Samsonvale Cemetery - but no luck.  
Tom's knowledge of the local birds is terrific, and he has his own block that 
he's turned into a bird haven, not far from Dayboro.  That night, Roger and
  Megan took us BACK up Mt. Glorious (how many times was that?), and after 
trying in a number of spots, we got onto a nice pair of Marbled Frogmouths (but 
no Sooty Owl).  In the excitedment, I left some of Roger's gear in the bush, 
but thankfully we managed to find it easily when we went back.

After our second night at the McNeill's, we headed off next morning for Rainbow 
Beach.  We did try the Cemetery one more time, but still no King Quail.  We 
arrived at Rainbow Beach in time for lunch, and then headed out to Inskip Pint 
to try for BBBQ.  We walked one of the tracks, slowly, searching in under all 
the bushes, and so on, for about an hour.  There seemed to be platelets, but no 
birds.  Shirley and the kids also needed Mangrove Honeyeater, and thought 
they'd seen some around the car-park, so left me at a spot with a view along a 
number of tracks while they headed back for the HE (which they got, easily).  
While they were away, I got bored, and started roaming the tracks again.  after 
about another half hour, I disturbed a nice female Black-breasted Button-quail, 
which skirted a clearing, giving me cracking views, and one reasonable photo.  
That dealt with, I sent the others a text to get back, quick smart, but of 
course, it had gone!  We continued searching for ano
 ther half hour, until it was getting too dark, and so we headed back to 
Rainbow Beach.  Before thinking about dinner, we drove out to "Caloola Way", on 
the off chance of Grass Owl.  The track was really wet and rough, so we didn't 
go far, but just as we were getting back to the main road, Kimberley picked up 
eye-shine on the road from the car headlights.  It was a Large-tailed Nightjar, 
which we watched hawking insects for some time.  Then it was back to town for a 
counter meal, and early night, to get an early start back at Inskip Pt.  We 
were there soon after first light, but despite searching for as long as we 
could give (we had flights to catch, back in Brisbane), the other three still 
missed the BBBQ - Not happy!!

We headed back to Brisbane, with enough time to have a brief look for King 
Quail at Roger's site (didn't find any), before Peter had to fly back to 
Hobart, and we flew to Longreach!

In 2011, during a 'Gap-year', Peter went on a Dinosaur dig, and prep, at The 
Australian Age of Dinosaurs, near Winton.  To make sure he was clothed and fed, 
Shirley went for three weeks, too, and spent her time birding.  She came home 
raving about how good the birding was - she did get some very nice birds - and 
so we added Winton to our itinerary.  On landing in Longreach we picked up our 
hire-car, and then drove for about an hour and a half to the site at the AAOD 
"jump-up", arriving after dark.  We then had four nights there.  It was very 
interesting, and more 'relaxing' than much of the trip had been, but the 
birding did not live up to expectations, sadly.  Shirley and Peter had been 
there during a "good" year, and there were birds everywhere, in lots of 
variety.  We arrived during a "bad" year - lots of places were just a dust-bowl 
- and though we did get quite a few species, numbers were not great (except 
Black Kites, Galahs, and Little Corellas), and we didn't add any 
 lifers.  We birded around the "jump-up", Winton, and Bladensburg NP, which was 
all very interesting, but we would have like some ticks!

After our time in the Winton area, we drove back to Longreach, and flew back to 
Brisbane, arriving in time to go and stake out Roger's "airport" site to wait 
for dusk - and we had about 4 fly-bys of the resident Grass Owl.  Then, once 
we'd ticked the Grass Owl, we headed out to Beaudesert for the night.  Next 
morning it was up early, and out to an undisclosed area nearby for sunrise, and 
to look for the critically endangered Eastern Bristlebird.  We had cracking 
views of two, and a glimpse of a third.  Their calls are strident and 
distinctive, and after seeing Western Bristlebird some years ago, we thought 
hearing the call might be the best we'd get, but we were greatly blessed, and 
even managed some nice pictures.  Very happy, we headed back to Beaudesert for 
breakfast, and then BACK to the airport site, where we spent some hours roaming 
the tracks, looking for these King Quail.  With no luck, we went and got some 
lunch, and then came back to try again.  Kimberley had sore f
 eet, so said she'd sit by the gravelled trail, looking nown one of the grass 
tracks, and wait till she saw us come by.  We had good views of Osprey, 
Brahminy Kite, and Black-shouldered Kite, as well as a number of other birds, 
but no Quail.  Then we got a text from Kimberley to say she'd sen one - peeped 
out from the long grass, then scurried across the grass track!!  We hurried 
back to her, and staked out the area, but still to no avail.  It was getting 
dark, and we had to move on!

We headed back out of Brisbane, this time down to Southport, to get ready to 
join the Pelagic trip the next day.  We checked in to the motel, went and got 
some tea, and shopped for the next day, and then TRIED to get an early night.  
We'd had a 5:30am start, a FULL day, and were due for another early start.  
However, it was a "budget" motel, and the young people next door were sitting 
outside (so they could smoke), talking very loudly outside our room.  At 
10:20pm I asked them to talk inside, and despite apologising, they went on 
talking loudly until about 11:00, when the 'party' broke up so they could go to 
the club.  Sadly, they were back about 2:30am!!  Anyway, we were up in time to 
join Paul Walbridge and about a dozen other intrepid birders for the regular 
monthly Southport Pelagic.  I'm told it's sometimes 'jumping', but not this 
day!  Three and a half hours out to the shelf - through some squalls, and 
pretty rough seas - two hours at the shelf, and about three hours ba
 ck, for 6 species (none of which were new).  Ah well, hopefully "next time".  
And a couple of passengers were sick most of the day, and still had to pay for 
the privilege!

Once back on shore, we hopped back in our hire car and - you guessed it - back 
to the Airport site for one last try for King Quail.  Still no joy, with only 
Kimberly seeing one.  And so, to the airport motel for our last night in Qld.  
Next morning, it was drop off the car, fly to Melbourne, change of planes, fly 
to Launceston, have our friend bring us our car, and then drive back home!  I 
have no idea how many km were covered, but it was a pretty hectic - but 
enjoyable - time.  For the total trip, we saw 197 species, and heard 6 that we 
didn't see.  Kimberley added 16 lifers, and Peter 13.  Shirley added 10 lifers, 
and I had 11.  

All in all, it was a great trip, and many thanks again to so many who helped us 
out in so many ways!

John Tongue
Ulverstone, Tas.


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