AUSTRALIA ~ Southeast Queensland with Avocet Tours. October 8 to 27, 2016

Day 1 – This was the first day of a two and a half week birding and natural history tour in Australia, concentrating on areas in south east Queensland. Our first day was a non-birding day and I met my fellow birders, Richard and Moya Stokes at their friends’ fine house and property near Maleny in the sunshine coast hinterland. To introduce ourselves and to discuss the tour we travelled to the nearby town of Maleny where we had pre dinner drinks at the Maleny Hotel before having dinner at an Indian restaurant in the main street.
Day 2 – Our first day on tour was cool and overcast; for south east Queensland at least it was jumper weather! After picking up Richard and Moya we travelled together, first to a dairy farm near Maleny, to experience some of the commoner species. Masked Lapwing, Willie Wagtail, Australian Magpie [Magpie], Laughing Kookaburra [Kookaburra] were quickly added to our list. As was a less common species – Magpie Geese. This strange goose has been increasing in numbers over the last decade in south east Queensland but is still uncommon and local. The farm also provided views of Purple Swamphen [Swamphen] and, among the cattle, Cattle Egrets. A Spangled Drongo also did a flyby.

Soon we were entering our first ‘real’ birding destination – Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve. This Sunshine Coast hinterland park protects a small area of upland rainforest. Here in the forest we immediately started seeing some quality birds. A Noisy Pitta quietly hopped by and luckily Moya pointed it out. This rainforest gem was later voted Bird of the Day! We saw expected species such as Yellow-throated, Large-billed and White-browed scrubwrens, Gray and Rufous Fantails, Lewin’s Honeyeater and the wonderful Megapode, the Brush Turkey. Another highlight was to enjoy watching the huge fruit doves – the Wompoos – belting out their name across the forest. Southern Logrunners, a shy forest floor specialist were seen well as were Red-legged Pademelons – a small rainforest kangaroo species. Green Catbirds were heard before they were seen as usual and Crimson Rosellas, a fantastically bright red and blue parrot, were seen well. Two Flying Foxes – Black and Grey-headed – were seen and smelled – in their noisy camp within the rainforest reserve.
After quickly enjoying the view of the Glasshouse Mountains; a series of large volcanic plugs that rise spectacularly from the flood plain, we were on the road east to the village of Toorbul. This small village overlooks the Pumicestone Passage, a small channel of water separating Bribie Island from the mainland, and is an excellent birding location. As is basic birding procedure we stopped at a small lagoon enroute however there was little save Australian Pipits and Cattle Egrets. We also made a quick stop near mangroves where we enjoyed a soaring White-bellied Sea-Eagle. The stop allowed us to search nearby, where an Azure Kingfisher was found perched and fishing. Above us a Dollarbird did a display flight showing us clearly the ‘silver dollars’ in its wings which its name salutes. Toorbul is best known as a wader roost; however, visiting birders must first give notice to the resident Eastern Grey Kangaroos. The wader roost supplied a good mix of waders; both Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, many Whimbrel and Far Eastern Curlew, both Red and Great Knots, Curlew Sandpiper and Greenshanks. Other shorebirds – Egrets, Black-winged Stilts – were seen as was a good flock of Black Swans in the passage. Whistling Kites and Osprey soared above us while we enjoyed some three Kingfisher species – Collared [also known here in Australia as Mangrove], Forest and Sacred. Mangrove Gerygone, a small warbler, was seen and then, soon after, we saw a Striped Honeyeater, definitely an uncommon bird in south east Queensland. Lunch was soon called for and it was Australian burgers all round – proper made burgers with beetroot!
We left for a nearby Beach – Godwin Beach – sadly, perhaps because of the strong breeze that had sprung up the tide hadn’t fallen far so there were few waders however there was a nice flock of Royal Spoonbills. Another White- bellied Sea Eagle flew past and there was a good group of parrots – Little Corellas, Galahs and Rainbow Lorikeets to keep us entertained. With the wind strengthening and becoming cold we called it a day at about 4-30pm and then traveled to the Stokes’ accommodation – The Avocado B&B at the hinterland village of Flaxton.

Day 3 – Our third birding day on our Avocet tour had us visit a wide variety of sites in and around the Mapleton and Nambour area on the Sunshine Coast. We began the day at Mapleton National Park, specifically the Mapleton Falls section. This, happily, is a short walk from my house and is an area that I know quite well. Lewin’s, White-naped Honeyeaters were seen as were Bell Miners – another species of honeyeater whose continuous bell like call is heard continuously around ‘my forest’. Other passerine species recorded here included the beautiful Spectacled Monarch, Leaden Flycatcher, Grey Shrike-thrush and the intimidating Pied Currawong. Sulphur-crested Cockatoos flew past as did a Peregrine Falcon.
Soon we returned to my place where I shared some of the fauna of my house and yard. Sadly I have a few Eastern Horseshoe bats inhabiting a storage area down stairs – I guess it is reasonable that they consider it a cave. Also in the cave was a stunning Pink-tonged Skink – a large lizard nearly a foot long. Nearby in my hot water cabinet resides a Robust Velvet Gecko. In the yard we saw a yet another reptile – the Common Goanna or Lace Monitor. Pale-headed Rosellas and Satin Bowerbirds were a couple of the birds seen. The iconic Kookaburra was also seen well.
Nearby in the Mapleton Lilyponds, a local park, we found some nesting birds. High in a eucalypt was a mud nest, made and occupied by a Magpie Lark. Out in the ponds, also on nest, was an Australasian Grebe. A pair of Restless Flycatchers was calling together as if nesting may have been on their mind as well. These black and white birds [Why are so many of Australia’s common birds black and white?] are easy to confuse with the abundant Willie Wagtail however their throat is white while the Willie’s is black.

Nearby we visited a significant site of ornithological interest where a male Satin Bowerbird had established his bower. This is not a nest but a special ‘love-shack’ which he constructs and decorates, in the case of the Satin Bowerbird with mostly blue bits, for the purpose of wooing a female. If all goes well they mate and she flies off and meets all of the responsibility of nest building and raising their brood while he remains to decorate, mate and dance – although not necessarily in that order.
Wappa Dam was next on the list and in the floating vegetation we found more than a few Comb-crested Jacanas. Highlights on the water proper included Australasian Darter as well as several Great-crested Grebes. Scarlet and Brown Honeyeaters were busily feeding in some Bottle brush trees near the water’s edge.
Driving from Yandina to Bli Bli we made a stop near long grass and were rewarded with good views of Chestnut-breasted Mannikins, Fairy Martins and a soaring Black Kite.
Upon arriving in Bli Bli we checked out a residential park area in a suburb named Park Lakes. This area remains a good birding site however it was until recently an excellent one. Sadly the owners of the estate had the lakes and wetlands drained. I’m hopeful the area will be returned to a good state again soon. The first critter of note was a Common Tree Snake. This is a beautiful and harmless species, much to the Stokes’ relief! A few good birds showed well at Park Lakes – White-breasted Woodswallow  and Black-fronted Dotterel among them.
Dinner was at my place tonight and we had Kangaroo steak [which I sadly over cooked] and Snapper – which Moya claimed was good. To make up for my culinary inadequacy I took Rick and Moya spotlighting and we scored Marbled Frogmouth – a rare nocturnal bird of the rainforest. A Common Ringtail Possum was seen as were a few frogs. After dropping the Stokes back to their B&B, as luck would have it, I got a good sighting of a Tawny Frogmouth on my drive home.

Day 4 – An early morning pickup from the Avocado B&B saw us drive down to the southern end of the Sunshine Coast, specifically the sea-side town of Caloundra. The plan was to work our way from the southern end of the coast to the northern end at No

Golden-headed Cisticola. S.E. Queensland, Oct 2016. Ken Cross.

osa via several sites enroute. In Caloundra we started at a wave cut platform and even though it was still quite early the sun was shining through a cloudless sky and it was getting hot quickly. From the platform we saw passing Silver Gulls, Crested Terns and Pied Cormorants. On the platform itself we got quite reasonable views of a Wandering Tattler. A blue phase Eastern Reef Heron also appeared for us. Above the platform an Osprey nest held a couple of the birds. Unbelievably perhaps for a birding trip some time was spent watching [mere] invertebrates; crabs and a fine nudibranch that had to rescued and returned to a deeper pool.
Maroochy Sewerage Ponds yielded a few duck species including many Chestnut Teal. We got great views of Mistltoebird in the adjacent trees and there was a good view also of a nesting Noisy Friarbird. Fairy Martins were seen hawking over the ponds. Nearby on the Maroochy River a few waterbirds – White-faced Heron and Little Egret – and a few interesting crabs – Fiddlers and Soldiers – were observed.
Next stop was a well-known Sunshine Coast site, Finland Road. This is an area with a

Rainbow Bee-eater. Photo: Ken Cross

range of habitats, rank grass, old cane fields, wetlands, remnant Melaleuca Forest and consequentially a reasonable range of birds. Rainbow Bee-eaters were seen well on powerlines as were both Sacred and Forest Kingfishers. In the grass were Tawny Grassbird and Golden headed Cisticola. Great views of three Latham’s Snipe were had at the water’s edge where Comb crested Jacanas.
Lunch today was an Aussie classic to Rick’s approval – pies and a sausage roll!
Traveling north along the coast we stopped for a quick walk in and around Noosa National Park. The views, as usual, were stunning however the forest was a little quiet. Still we got good views of Spectacled Monarch, Figbirds, Grey Butcherbirds, Brush Turkeys and White-browed Scrub-wrens.
Next on the agenda was a stakeout for a seriously uncommon and spectacular bird, the Glossy Black Cockatoo. This was successful as we saw several birds fly in to a small creek for their evening drink. Dinner was had at a small Asian café on the Noosa strip.

Day 5 – Today was mild and overcast and as such a reasonable day to go birding a little inland. The plan was to visit two main sites; Sheep Station Creek Reserve near Caboolture and then a variety of sites in the grater Stanmore and Kilcoy region. Sheep Station Creek is a remnant area of dry eucalypt woodland that offers refuge for an interesting variety of species that are difficult to find elsewhere in south east Queensland. Galahs and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos were easy to hear and then spot in the woodland and it was quite clear that the Cockatoos were establishing nesting sites in the hollows. Olive-backed Orioles  were also found and then seen. And next White-bellied Cuckoo Shrikes, both light and dark phase birds – were seen. Fuscous Honeyeaters were then quite quickly found here. These birds are drab little honeyeaters distinguished by a yellow stripe boarded by black on

Little Corella. S.E. Queensland, AUS. Oct 2016. Ken Cross.

the side of the neck. A juvenile Brown Goshawk circled above us as we made our way out of the reserve. We had a quick stop at Centennial Lakes in Caboolture and added Coot to our growing list but we could not ignore the large flock of Little Corellas. Again a Brown Goshawk was seen. Lunch today was a picnic at the little village of Peachester and we were kept company buy both Noisy Miners and Pied Butcherbirds who were a little too keen to share the lunch.
At Stanmore we saw some raptors – Kestrel, Black-shouldered Kite, Wedge-tailed Eagle and Whistling Kite. Channel-billed Cuckoos, a recently arrived migrant flew past. Common grassland species like Tawny Grassbird, Golden-headed Cisticola, Red-backed Fairy-wren and Brown Quail were added. Both martins – Tree and Fairy – were seen on our drive. The highlight for me was the large number of Cotton Pygmy Goose observed in a series of farm dams. Good numbers of bushland birds – Whistlers, Pardalotes and honeyeaters were seen. We also saw some Ostrich but I assured Rick and Moya that these should not be counted.
Dams around Kilcoy were pretty dry and thus free of birds but the dammed water in the area of Villeneuve had plenty of cormorants of all four species plus the common duck species and many Australian Reed Warblers. A Peregrine Falcon did a fly by. On the way back we scored a good view of a Pheasant Coucal perched atop a fence post. This bird proved to be the bird of the day.
As the sun was setting we arrived back into Maleny. We did a quick search for Platypus. I saw one but by this time it was getting quite dark and I could not get anyone else to see it.

Day 6 – Today we were west of the Sunshine Coast, through the Mary Valley, via the town of Kenilworth to explore the forests of the Conondale Ranges. Just out of Kenilworth we had a brief stop, forced by road work. Here we got excellent views of White-headed Pigeons, a large fruit eating species, Noisy Friarbird and the ever-present Lorikeets. An Australian Hobby did a fly by. Enroute to Booloumba Creek we paused to view our first Red-necked Wallabies grazing near a farm house. We also stopped just past our first creek crossing for a suite of species; Variegated Fairy Wrens, both Satin and Regent Bowerbirds [although sadly only female birds of the latter species], King Parrot and Pheasant Coucal.
Stopping at the first camp ground we enjoyed some very game Willie Wagtails taking on Kookaburras, chiming and charming Bell Miners, Golden Whistlers, Yellow-throated and White-browed Scrub-wrens, and Russet-tailed Thrush. Down by the creek we scored good

Eastern Spinebill. Photo: Ken Cross.

views of an Azure Kingfisher and, returning to the campsite, two Fan-tailed Cuckoos. We drove away up into the hills, through drier Eucalypt forest until finally a left hand forest track led through some wet sclerophyll forest. Here we saw our only Crested Shrike-tits. Keeping them company were Eastern Spinebill, Spotted Pardalote, Lewins and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Yellow Robin and Brown Gerygones.
After our picnic lunch we moved a few kilometres to another campground area – Charlie Moreland. Here we saw strong evidence of Black-breasted Button Quails. There were platelets, many of them fresh. The bird stands in the leaf litter and begins scratching. It then spins a steady 360 degrees leaving a round bare patch of dirt – a platelet. Sadly we failed to see the birds themselves. A Paradise Riflebird, one of Australia’s four species of

Paradise Rifelbird. Photo: Ken Cross.

Bird of Paradise and the only one possible on a tour of south east Queensland, started calling. I was scanning the canopy, straining to see the bird. Rick found a fully plumaged male Riflebird though perched under the canopy in the mid story on a horizontal branch. It sat there forever, calling occasionally, allowing truly excellent views of this difficult to see species. Rufous Fantail and Spectacled Monarch were also seen well here.
Kenilworth Sewage ponds were next on the agenda however the forest adjacent to them was the chief attraction. Varied Sitellas worked the trunks and branches of the gums while Red-backed and Variegated Fairy-wrens hopped around the open forest floor. Red-browed Finches, Grey Shrike-thrush, Leaden Flycatcher, Striated Pardalote, Rainbow Bee-eater and a good range of honeyeaters – New Holland, Brown, Yellow-faced, Lewins plus Noisy and Bell Miners were seen. The ponds themselves had Grey Teal and Australasian Grebe plus some Macquarie River Turtles.
After our dinner at the Kenilworth Pub we did a little spotlighting. The weather had turned windy though and no nocturnal birds were heard, let alone seen. We did see Common Brushtail Possum and Red-necked Pademelon and we did hear a calling Koala.

Day 7 -Today was fine and cool and I picked up the Stokes from Avocado B&B and brought them to my place to pack the car. Today we were leaving the Sunshine Coast to travel north to Tin Can Bay. First stop though was a return trip to Finland Road. Success was immediate with a beautiful Spotted Harrier flying through over the grassland. This species is perhaps Australia’s most beautiful raptor. A less spectacular Brown Falcon was also seen hunting over Cane Farms and an Osprey was also working over wetlands. Australian Pipits were seen well by the roadside and the wetlands held Royal spoonbill, Jacana and both Sacred and Forest Kingfishers. White-breasted Wood Swallows and Tree Martins flew overhead.
Next stop was a true highlight. I had received some information about a nesting Tawny Frogmouth near Mount Coolum and, as promised, it was easy to find. We got great photos and footage and had a few chats with some local walkers and bikers about the birds.

Tawny Frogmouth. Photo: Ken Cross.

Enroute to Tin Can Bay we stopped at a farm dam which held Comb-crested Jacana in addition to common ducks but had some interesting birds flying around it – Pacific Baza, White-breasted Sea Eagle and Brown Goshawk.

Lunch was a picnic of Zucchini slice and Salad [Thanks Megan!] at a picnic area within Tin Can Bay. Common species were in attendance; Noisy Miner and Blue-faced Honeyeaters, a small flock of Little Corellas and on the sand flats in the bay Whimbrel, Far Eastern Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwits and Gull-billed Terns.
After checking in to our hotel we departed for the nearby Golf Course to look for birdies. One target species was in mind though and that was the Bush Thick-knee which is also known as the Bush Stone-Curlew. After a brief search I found a pair of the birds and we had decent scoped views.
The afternoon took us out to the Cooloola Plains. This is a huge area of coastal heath vegetation which is home to the vulnerable Ground Parrot. It is also home to species that we could actually see such as White-cheeked Honeyeaters, Little Wattlebirds, Noisy Friarbird, Red-backed Wrens, Red-browed Finch and Brown Falcon. Needless to say the Ground Parrot didn’t show but the scene was beautiful as the sun set and we enjoyed watching Rainbow Bee-eaters flying around hawking.

Day 8 -Our day began in Tin Can Bay and in keeping with a theme the sun was shining as we made our way the short distance to the nearby point. Here we quickly found Mangrove Honeyeaters, Little Friarbirds, Whistling Kites, Pelicans and a range of Cormorants. We had come here though mainly for a mammal rather than a bird – Australian Humpback Dolphin. As a few of these animals do daily they had gathered for a morning’s feeding. Great views are easily obtained of this threatened animal because of the Dolphin feeding. Apparently, the stories go that Aborigines had been co-operating with this species for generations. The dolphins would herd fish towards the men’s nets and receive a percentage share of the catch. Now they are fed with no strings attached however some have worked out that if they bring in litter, cans or bottles from the estuary sea floor they will receive a fish as a reward. The Canadians were quick to get wet and take advantage of the opportunity to hand feed these animals. In fact in a controversial decision the Australian Humpback Dolphin was declared Bird of the Day!
Next stop was a placed named Snapper Creek. Here we got good views of Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Mistletoebird, Koel and, again, Mangrove Honeyeater. Carlos Blow was definitely worth a visit as we entered Rainbow Beach. Great views of the ocean and Double Island Point are available when you look east and the view west looks back over the Tin Can Bay area. The huge expanse of sand is awesome, to use a Canadian expression, and you soon realise that you can see it from miles around.

From Carlos Blow to Carlos Point where we saw a range of wader and mangrove species; Greenshank, Whimbrel, Curlew, Bar tailed Godwit, Collared and Sacred kingfisher, Leaden Flycatcher, Brown and Mangrove Honeyeater.
Inskipp Point, the last part of the mainland that you visit before sailing on the ferry to the nearby Fraser Island, is a great site for birds. It is best known for Black-breasted Button Quails but home to a range of other species as well. Sadly the Button quails remained invisible. In fact there were very few fresh platelets observable in the normal places.

Beach Stone Thicknee. Photo: Ken Cross.

Perhaps they have moved to other areas nearby. A few waders were observed – Red necked Stint, Red capped Plover and, most impressively, Beach stone Thicknee. A few bush birds, among them the new Little Shrike thrush and the expected honeyeaters, whistlers and wrens, were seen among the beach scrub. Some Terns flew past; Caspian, Common and Crested. We sighted what must have been an Australian Humpback Dolphin in the channel between Inskipp and Fraser Island. Another cool sighting was that of a rather confident Sand Goanna.
We had dinner at a small café at Rainbow Beach and then decided to try a little spotlighting back at Carlos Point. On the way there we saw Bush Thicknee and at the point itself, after a little walking around and listening, a rare bird for south east Queensland – Large-tailed Nightjar. A great way to finish a great day.

Day 9 -Today was mainly a travel day but we still had plenty of time for birding as well. After a little lie in we met for breakfast again at the Dolphin Feeding Centre but were soon on the road north to Hervey Bay.
Our first stop was at a coastal village named Boonooroo. Like many sea side Australian towns it had the normal range of common species plus a mob of roos lazing under gum trees. Also lazing was a male Bearded Dragon trying for all the world to make the world think it was dead, even to the point of allowing many ants to traffic along its body. It froze while we took photos of it. We had seen another earlier in the day by the roadside but that one had sprinted as we stopped the car nearby. From the Dragon we looked into a small wetland seeing good numbers of Pelicans and Royal Spoonbills. The tide was high at Boonooroo and we found a good high tide roost with large numbers of birds present. There were large numbers of Bar-tailed Godwits, Far Eastern Curlews and Whimbrels. Grey Plovers [or some would say Black-bellied] were present in a variety of plumages as birds moulted from their full breeding attire. The birds were seen flying and their black axillaries were clearly noted. A single Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was located and both Knots were present. The identification of some of the juvenile knots caused some debate – differences between the juveniles shown differently in the variety of field guides we had with us. An aggressive red capped plover, minute against the other birds, attacked Oystercatchers and terns. Of the latter Gull-billed and Caspian were present. Nearby we had the drama of a Hobby mobbing a White-breasted Sea Eagle – another fight characterised by a huge mismatch of size and both Whistling and Brahminy Kites were present.

Maroom, another coastal village with a cool name, had waders in good numbers. There were clearly a few Black-tailed among the Bar tailed Godwits. Knots were present too. However the beginning of a shower prevented greater exploration and study! Besides it was time for lunch. Eventually we found a place in Maryborough for lunch overlooking the Mary River.
After checking on to our hotel in Hervey Bay we went, as one does, for a stroll along the pier in the suburb of Urangan. The walk out along the pier yielded good views of four or five Brown Boobies. Crested Terns, Silver Gulls, Brahminy Kites, Osprey and Pelican were also seen well. There were a few common wader species out on the sand flats.

Last site for the day was the Arkarra Lagoons. This was a good site with heaps of potential and produced a range of water and bush birds. Notable was god views of Long-billed Corella. This is an Australian species that has a few established feral populations along the southern Queensland coast. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the species is becoming more common. Returning to our hotel two Brolgas flew over the road in front of us – an unexpected new bird for our trip! We enjoyed a Thai dinner on the esplanade before calling it a day.

Day 10 -Today produced a small number of species but it was a case of quality rather than quantity. We had our Lady Elliot Island day trip. “Grand day out,” as Rick put it. And it was a fantastic day! Lady Elliot is a very small coral cay in the extreme southern parts of Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef and it has the attractions of Coral, Reef fish and seabirds in abundance. Getting there was half of the fun! The flight in a twenty seat plane was an adventure that had us flying up the western coast of Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island and now largely protected by both National Park and World Heritage status. The

Lady Elliot Island from the air. Oct 2016. Photo: Ken Cross.

flight allowed great aerial views of Humpback Whales and their calves. The pilot, upon seeing the whales, banked the aircraft into a turn to allow all an attempt to see these cetaceans. Even Sea Turtles, presumably Green, could be seen from the air. After arriving at Lady Elliot we received a quick orientation. It could be quick as the island is very small, perhaps a few hundred metres in diameter. It was difficult to concentrate on what was being said as there were birds everywhere and no matter which way you turned your head there was a bird flying through your line of sight. The most abundant bird [common is not really the right term] is the Black Noddy. These birds are everywhere, perched on every possible place, and when that fails arranged in small flocks on the ground. From Wikipedia – “The nests of these birds consist of a level platform, often created in the branches of trees by a series of dried leaves covered with bird droppings. One egg is laid each season,

Brown Noddy. Lady Elliot Island, Aus. Oct 2016. Ken Cross.

and nests are re-used in subsequent years. The trees used for this purpose are various but the Pisonia is most often used, and in large trees, there are often several nests.” Bridled Terns were also very common and were the first competitors for our photographic attention. On the sand there were a handful of other species running around, Ruddy Turnstones, Golden Plovers and Buff banded Rails. The latter birds have forgotten some of the golden rules about being rails – the ones that involve being timid and shy and retiring. These birds are like the worst of domestic hens

Red-tailed Tropicbird. Lady Elliot Island, Aus. Oct 2016. Ken Cross.

and think that they have a right to all food going. So we were warned at the orientation and so it proved when we had our lunch; the rails determinedly kept hopping on our table and marching towards our plates. It was only violence and not merely the threat of it that dissuaded them. While Rick and Moya re-familiarized themselves with snorkeling in the resort pool I quickly sped around to find my lifer – the Red tailed Tropicbird. Near the cabins there was a small group of birds and their chicks under the shade of trees. Unmissable and unmistakable.

Fresh from the quick snorkeling lesson we entered a glass bottom boat with Simmo as the skipper. He was, as we might say in Australia, a character and he boasted to be in the top 20 sexiest skippers in the Pacific with a mullet hairdo. No-one could seriously debate him. He did do a much better job than the other skipper in getting the boat off the beach and out into the waves, in what were choppy and windy conditions. The snorkeling was great! Muchos marine fish of too many species to count, darting in and around the reef. It was impossible not to plan my return to this island as I was diving in and around the reef. Rick and Moya needed a little coaxing into the water however I’m sure that they were happy that they did. From the boat we saw several Green Turtles and a tremendous Manta Ray pass; typically we were not in the water sadly. From the boat the birds continued to whiz pass. Both Black and Brown Noddies [the latter being larger, browner with a more subdued white cap], Brown Boobies and a pair of White-naped terns flew by. Sadly these birds remained unseen for the rest of the day and as a result did not make our trip list.
Enroute to our lunch and the fight with the Buff-banded Rails we got good views of Silvereyes. The birds here were distinctly larger than the mainland birds and were of the capricornia sub species. After lunch and the battle with the Buff-banded we all strolled around to the Red-tailed Tropics and after went for a walk around some of the circumference of the island. The first new bird seen was the Eastern Reef Heron; both colour phases of white and blue. A large flock of Crested Terns all neat in their breeding

Roseate Tern. Lady Elliot Island, Aus. Oct 2016. Photo: Ken Cross.

plumage were a contrast to the messier non breeding and juvenile terns seen earlier in the trip. Of some interest were the Roseate Terns. These birds clearly had the pink tones to the otherwise pale plumage, which allowed them to be so-named. Sooty Oystercatchers, until now invisible inhabitants of rocky headlands, showed themselves and their chick, as did their cousins the Pied Oystercatchers. There was a large flock of frigatebirds hanging above the island like kites and upon closer inspection both species – Greater and Lesser – were present. Additional passerines were seen, specifically the Tawny Grassbird and a familiar bird, House Sparrow. We flew back to Hervey Bay via Bundaberg and for the last leg I was given the opportunity to sit up the front of the plane as co-pilot. I was given strict instructions though not to touch any of the controls. Even when my pilot was texting and then filling out forms I was under no pressure to take to the controls. A good end to a truly grand day out.

Day 11 -After two nights at Hervey Bay we now had a drive to do today however there was time for birding at the nearby Gatakers Bay where there was a good mix of species; galahs, cockatoos, lorikeets and honeyeaters. Whimbrel, Wandering Tattler, Pied Cormorant, Silver Gull and Crested Terns were nearby on rock platforms. There was variety of birds within the coastal scrub including White throated , Mangrove, Brown and Lewins Honeyeaters, Varied Triller, Cicadabird, Black-faced Monarch and Leaden Flycatcher, Silvereye, Little Friarbird, both Scaly and Rainbow Lorikeets, Brown Thornbill, White-browed Scrubwren, Dollarbird and Rainbow Bee-eater. Eastern Grey Kangaroos, three mothers with pouched young bounded on through near where we were birding.
Breakfast was enjoyed at a little café on the esplanade before we decided to revisit the Arkarra Lagoons. Here we added some good trip birds such as Little Shrike thrush and surprisingly, Grey crowned Babblers. Usually these birds are found in drier areas however the habitat here, as the name suggests was lagoons, wetlands and paperbark swamp. Fairy Gerygone was heard but sadly not seen. Reluctantly we headed westward from Hervey Bay. After some time we stopped at a country town named Woolooga. Here was good noisy mix of birds; lorikeets, cockatoos, friarbirds, reed warblers and even Willie Wagtails getting in on the act. We stopped at the Wetlands at Wooroolin. Sadly, like many places the waterbirds had largely disappeared. My theory is that recent large scale rain events in western Queensland, South Australia and Victoria had ‘sucked’ the birds out to these places. Fairly common wetland species had disappeared such as White-necked Heron, Glossy Ibis, Wandering and Plumed Whistling Ducks, Australian Shoveler, Hardhead, Straw-necked Ibis, Yellow-billed Spoonbill were either not seen on tour or only seen once. How do they know that rain is falling, in some cases over 1000 kilometres distant?
As stated there was little on the water however the bush birding was excellent, adding many new species to our list. White-throated Gerygone, Striped and, more impressively, Spiny-cheeked Honeyeaters, Double-barred Finch, Red-winged Parrot were all seen well. Restless Flycatchers were nesting as were the ubiquitous Willie Wagtails. To Rick’s delight we found both Red-backed and Variegated Wrens.

A visit to the nearby Gordonbrook Dam continued the story of the disappearing waterfowl. Common species remained – Pacific Black and Maned Ducks, Grey Teal, Black Swan,

Male Superb Blue Wren. N.E. Queensland, Aus. Oct 2016. Photo: Ken Cross.

Cotton Pygmy Geese, both Great Crested and Australasian Grebes and Comb-crested Jacana. A pair of Peregrines was seen here, roosting in some dead trees across the dam’s waters. A new bird was added; a pair of Red-rumped Parrots. Brown Quail flushed as we made our way around the mowed paths of Gordonbrook and then, to complete the trifecta of Fairy wrens, we found Superb. Despite the many Little Friarbirds flying in and out of the Bottlebrush Rick could only concentrate on the dazzling blue of the male Superb Blue Wren. Tawny Grassbirds and White breasted Woodswallows added to our daily totals.
We also scored reasonable views of a flock of Apostlebirds on the way between Gordonbrook Dam and Kingaroy.

Day 12 – Today we left Kingaroy to travel to the agricultural town of Dalby. We traveled there via the beautiful Bunya Mountains. Before rising to the relative cool of the mountains we traveled across some plain country dominated by both cropping and grazing. We stopped upon seeing a small flock of Cockatiels. These are pretty birds and well known to many as they are popular cage and aviary birds. While looking for them we also encountered some attractive Golden-headed Cisticolas in breeding plumage. Double barred Finches were also seen to the relief of Moya who had missed them the previous day.
Like most days we saw Eastern Grey Kangaroos and soon we began to see the macropod that are abundant in the Bunyas; Red necked Wallabies.

In the Bunyas we hiked a beautiful four kilometer circuit track and encountered a wide variety of rainforest species such as Satin Bowerbird, Russet-tailed Thrush, Crimson

Crimson Rosella. S.E. Queensland, Aus. Oct 2016. Photo: Ken Cross.

Rosella, King Parrot, Brush Turkey, Pied Currawong, Brown Gerygone, Brown Thornbill, Green Catbird, Grey and Rufous Fantails, White-throated Treecreeper and Topknot Pigeon. We also got some nice views of Noisy Pitta. A too brief view of a male Regent Bowerbird flitting across a gap in the canopy above us was as pleasing as it was teasing. Near our picnic lunch we saw a well laid out bower of a Satin Bowerbird and the male was in attendance practicing his dancing skills.

King Parrot. S.E. Queensland, Aus. Oct 2016. Photo: Ken Cross.

A brief discussion in the accommodation office allowed us access to a key to go… Behind the gate! It was useful access to have as the majority of the Red-necked Wallabies graze in their hundreds within the accommodation compound as did another more secretive macropod specie; the Black-stripe Wallaby. This is a darker animal but needs a second glance to separate it from the abundant Red-necked. Birding here allowed us views of more Satin Bowerbirds

Satin Bowerbird. S.E. Queensland, Aus. Oct 2016. Photo: Ken Cross.

and Superb Blue Wrens and our first clear views of Australian Raven. Here, too, we got good views, albeit short, of a beautiful Rose Robin.

Leaving the Bunyas we descended towards Dalby and as we did our nature list was extended first by a view of a Dingo, our version of a wolf that has been part of the Australian fauna for the last five thousand years, and then an Eastern Brown Snake, one of the most venomous snakes in the world. We decided to stay in the car. Passing through a small town there was a single dead tree that held several pair of Red-rumped Parrots, a single kestrel and an avalanche of feral species; Common Myna, Rock Dove and Eurasian Starling.

Black-striped Wallaby. S.E. Queensland, Aus. Oct 2016. Photo: Ken Cross.

Day 13 -Today we had a good half a day planned, specifically a trip to the nearby Lake Broadwater area. This area is a lake not too far from Dalby however it is the variety of vegetation and the birds therein that were the attraction. As usual it was impossible to get to our destination without being interrupted by the sight or sounds of birds. So we stopped enroute on the main road to Lake Broadwater once we left the Moonie Highway.
Apostlebirds attracted my attention so we stopped to get a better view of these birds. Once they stopped calling Striated Pardalotes and a singing Weebill called to be noticed. The Weebill is a small thornbill type and the smallest bird in Australia. A Red-winged Parrot did a fly-by as did a pair of Red-rumped Parrots. Olive-backed Orioles allowed a good view and, as usual, we had the full suite of Cockatoos and Corella.
We stopped by a farm gate when I heard another familiar call. It was the postman’s whistle of a Singing Honeyeater. This was a bird I had not really expected but here it was nesting by the farmer’s fence line. Striped Honeyeaters were also seen here and another new bird for our trip list; Yellow-rumped Thornbills. Between the farm and the Lake we encountered another new species for our tour – a group of White-winged Choughs. These birds appear, at first, like long tailed crows but as they fly their name finally makes sense.
Adjacent to the Lake, in a bush camping area, we wandered about seeing a range of bush birds. More thornbills, this time Inland and Yellow, were seen. Speckled Warblers also allowed great views. Other species included some, by now, old friends, Eastern Yellow Robin, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Rainbow Bee-eater, Striped Honeyeater, Little Friarbird and Rufous Whistler. By the Lake there was little apart from Noisy Miner, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Bee-eaters, Noisy Friarbird, while on the water itself Black Duck, Grey Teal and Pelican. A large mob of grey kangaroos occupied the shade of the woodland. We completed the circuit drive and saw Spiny cheeked Honeyeater, Inland, Yellow, and Buff-rumped Thornbills, Speckled Warbler and a host of common passerines.

When we left the lake we re-visited the farm thanks to the invitation of the farmer’s wife. Here we saw Zebra Finches for the first time and got brief views of Yellow-throated Miner as it mobbed a goanna up a gum tree! The goanna was, going from its size, most likely a Yellow spotted Monitor. This species is similar to but much larger than the Sand Goanna that we had seen previously. While on the farm we got better views of the Yellow rumped Thornbills. As we arrived back at our hotel in Dalby a rain storm hit which made our afternoon off seem more valid.

Day 14 -Another travel day today took us away from Dalby to the granite country near the border of Queensland and New South Wales, specifically the town of Stanthorpe. We took a route that avoided, for the most part, the most major roads. After arriving in Stanthorpe we spent the latter part of the day in the Storm King Dam area. Following the rain period yesterday I took the opportunity, once the rain had finished, to do a little scouting this afternoon. In driving around I discovered a Yellow-throated Miner by a roadside. Not long after I discovered its nest. As this was a specie that we had not seen well yet the nest became the first of the day’s targets. The Yellow-throated looks very similar to its sibling specie – the Noisy Miner but it is clear that they overlap and do not interbreed. Indeed the common bird around the streets of Dalby is the Noisy Miner. While checking out the miner Scaly-breasted Lorikeets were feeding in a close by Bottlebrush.
Leaving Dalby we soon found our way on to the Cecil Plains road and it was not far down this road when we were distracted by a flock of Cockatiels. This proved to be a fortuitous stop as soon after stopping a pair of Blue Bonnets, a specie of parrots landed in the same

Cockatiels. S.E. Queensland, Aus. Oct 2016. Photo: Ken Cross.

tree as the Cockatiels. This was not a specie that I expected on this itinerary; so a real bonus sighting. Another bonus was a pair of Plumed whistling Ducks adjacent to a farm dam directly over the main road. Yellow-throated Miners uncommon a few minutes back were common at this site. The drive continued and we called out the birds. “Cockatoos. Corellas. Galah. Raven. Cockatoos. Corellas. Galah, Magpie, Crested Pig, Myna. Cockatoos. Corellas. Galahs. Butcherbird. Cockatoos. Corellas. Galah, Crested Pig, Starling.” And so it would go.

The main idea when traveling long distances in outback Australia is to think a little like a bird and thus stop for water and blossom. So we did make a few quick stops at creek crossings. The first yielded both friarbirds, Brown and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Striated Pardalote, Superb Blue Wrens and Double barred Finch. The second after a drink stop was

Musk Lorikeets. Photo: Ken Cross.

perhaps more successful with good views of a couple of new species – nesting Dusky Woodswallow and White-plumed Honeyeaters. White bellied Cuckoo shrikes, again of both colour phases, allowed good looks. Again Superb Wrens were seen. In between times I rescued an Eastern long necked turtle whose slow road crossing could have easily ended in tears. We made the sizeable town of Warwick for lunch and as we entered the town we stopped at a dam for a good variety of waterfowl. From here we got pretty good views of our first Musk Lorikeets feeding, again on bottlebrush.
A subway lunch in a riverside Warwick park yielded more views of the Musks, and a few fly-bys of Little Lorikeets.  After arriving in Stanthorpe a visit to Storm King Dam was in order. Sadly the waterbird narrative continued here. We did get one juvenile Hardhead that proved to be the only sighting of this normally common specie all trip. Bush birding was better as we got good views of Dusky Woodswallow, both White-naped and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, both Tree and Fairy Martins, Eastern and Crimson rosellas, Yellow-rumped Thornbills and Red Wattlebird. Our first Little Eagle flew overhead and we also got Black-shouldered Kite and a Brown Goshawk. An Indian Dinner after a long wait in a very busy restaurant!

Day 15 -It was raining before we woke up. And as we walked out towards the car it was overcast and threatening. Soon it would rain a little and then it would rain a lot. And then it would rain some more. And it would keep raining all day long. Despite the atrocious weather we did get some good birding in for a couple of hours at least of the morning. The drive down to Giraween National Park is quite beautiful especially after you leave the main highway and the road winds between small farms and the granite boulders that dominate the countryside. In the farms Eastern Grey Kangaroos are seen grazing to constantly remind you that you are still in Australia. Once in the park the rain continued to fall but we took refuge under a shelter while we viewed a variety of honeyeaters in a flowering Eucalypt tree. Most were Yellow-faced with the occasional Eastern Spinebill. The Yellow-faced were there in numbers and they were occasionally driven out by angry Red Wattlebirds. The beautiful Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters were also seen well. To complete the scene Crimson Rosellas were ground feeding nearby. A stroll around the campground revealed Buff-rumped Thornbill and another Thornbill new for our list – Striated. Spotted Pardalote, usually invisibly calling from the canopy, descended in its search for nesting

Spotted Pardalote. S.Q. Queensland, Aus. Oct 2016. Photo: Ken Cross.

material and showed very well. A walk along the creek, linking the campground with the day use area revealed, among other things, Rick’s favourite, the Superb Blue Wren. The Day use area showed good views of White-throated Gerygone; another bird usually heard rather than seen. Pied Currawongs mobbed an escaping Brown Goshawk. Soon though we left the park and, despite the rain we stopped for White-winged Choughs. A Hot Chocolate was then called for. Nearby a pair of Pacific Baza was a highlight.
We had one more birding stop before calling it a day. A good mix of bush birds with Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters and Fan-tailed Cuckoo showing well. Lunch at the Ballandean Tavern and then the afternoon catching up on whatever.

Day 16 -The bad weather had cleared this morning and it was cold – 6 degrees Celsius. To make matters worse we had to dine at the Stanthorpe McDonalds for the second morning in a row…. Still, at least it wasn’t raining as we drove again to Giraween National Park.
Before entering the park we encountered a new mammal for our trip – Common Wallaroos. These are sturdy marsupials; stouter than the abundant Eastern Greys and variable in appearance. This small mob was copybook – the animals ranging from blacks to greys to reds. A few birds also slowed our trip to the park, most notable Pacific Bazas and Pheasant Coucals.
After entering the park we decided to do the Junction Trail – a 4 km return walk. The walk was quite quiet with the main target specie – Chestnut-rumped Heathwren remaining invisible. There were quite a few other species present though including Brown, Striated and Buff-rumped Thornbills, Eastern Yellow Robin, Dusky Woodswallow, Yellow-faced and Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters, Black-faced Cuckoo Shrikes, Grey Shrike-thrushes and to Rick’s constant pleasure – Superb Blue Wrens. After the walk we enjoyed a picnic in the park while Red Wattlebirds flew around.

Following our picnic we left for a drive down the old Wallangara Road. Here we got a swag of typical bushland birds. We would drive a bit and then walk a bit and then drive a little more and then go for a stroll. Using this method we slowly added species to both our tour list and our day list. Brown Treecreeper and Jacky Winter were new birds that were seen

Jacky Winter. Photo: Ken Cross

well. Brown-headed Honeyeater was also seen well and added to White-naped, Yellow- faced, White-plumed, Fuscous, White eared, Yellow-tufted, Noisy Miner, Red Wattlebird and Eastern Spinebill for our day’s list of honeyeaters. Good views of Little Eagle were also gained. At the end of the road, before Wallangara, we had a quick visit to the Sewerage Ponds. They were excellent. Many Australian Reed Warblers were singing and showing nicely before the first pond revealed Coot. The next pond – Australasian Grebe and a few Grey Teal. The next – Black Ducks. And the next pond – the Bird of the Day – Pink-eared Ducks!
Reluctantly, [is there any other way to leave Sewerage Ponds?] we left the ponds to drive south into New South Wales, specifically to the town of Glen Innes. Enroute we saw a fine Brown Falcon, while Rick also saw a Red Fox. A quick detour around the streets of Tenterfield scored us a new trip bird – Eurasian Blackbird. Upon arriving in Glen Innes, as light was still available, we did a quick trip east of the town to the Beardy Dam. The dam was high in water and low in ducks. However it did have four Musk Ducks. We spent time scoping a constantly diving male bird. Also on the lake of note was Pelican, Black Swan and a range of Cormorants and Darter. For me at least a highlight was good views of a swimming Water Rat. Now it is not quite a Beaver nor a Capybara as Rick pointed out but it is a bloody big rat and it can swim! And it is the biggest rat in Australia and certainly bigger than anything in New Zealand! So it is impressive. After rejoicing over the rat and the Musk Ducks we booked into our hotel and went for a meal at a nearby Steakhouse.

Day 17 -We awoke early in Glen Innes to another chilly morning, had the simple breakfast of wheetbix and toast offered by the hotel, filled the car with fuel, grabbed a Mc Coffee from you-know-where and headed east. We didn’t get very far as we stopped again at Beard Dam. Sadly there was no water rat however the Musk Ducks again showed reasonably well. It was, as I said, chilly but the sun was shining and the day was glorious. A silvereye flew in and landed in a bush quite close. All of the birds recorded yesterday afternoon were seen again this morning. Driving further east we stopped in to the Beardy Woodlands. Here the usual suspects were calling; Superb Blue Wren, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Grey Shrike-thrush, Red Wattlebird, Rufous Whistler; however there was another call…Rising and plaintive. Horsefield’s Bronze Cuckoo! It took some finding but when we did it posed for quite a while allowing some photos to be taken. Another new bird appeared briefly that Moya identified as a Goldfinch of the European variety. Overhead a Little Eagle was being mobbed. Wedge-tailed Eagle was soon added while driving as was Australian Pipit and more-than-a-few Kestrels.

Next stop, some seventy kilometres east, was the Raspberry Lookout within the Gibraltar Range National Park. A few birds were seen, most noticeably Black-faced Monarch.
Washpool National Park was the next destination, deep into a northern valley, away from the highway and the escarpment. Here there was one major target – the Superb Lyrebird. And it is fair to say we saw it well. Both times we walked along the well named Lyrebird Track we saw birds scratching, with seemingly little concern of us. We watched and photographed and filmed and watched. The birds scratched. Annoyingly the birds’ constant movement and industry, added to the lack of light created by the tight canopy made for many blurry photos. The other star attraction in this area was the Bassian Thrush. First impressions were of a Thrush with constant colour down the back onto the

Bassian Thrush. S.E. Queensland, Aus. Oct 2016. Photo: Ken Cross.

rump and the rump feathers quite strongly bordered with black, suggesting Bassian. Closer examination of the photos taken seemed to confirm the Bassian ID. Many other typical birds of the rainforests of south east Queensland were noted; Golden Whistler, Yellow-throated Scrubwren, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Satin Bowerbird, Rufous Fantail etc etc. We also got reasonable views of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos as they noisily ripped a part some branches searching for wood grubs.

After our picnic lunch at Washpool we backtracked west a wee way to head into Mulligan’s Flat – a camping and Day use area within the Gibraltar Range National Park. Here we had a bit of an explore and saw Leaden’s Flycatcher, both Fantails, both Whistlers, White-throated Treecreeper, Black-faced Monarch and Brown and Striated Thornbills. Water Skink was seen sunning itself in between the creek’s boulders.
Soon we needed to leave for a rendezvous at the Maclean Hotel. A few interesting species were seen enroute. Chief among them was the sight of three Emu making their way across a recently harvested Sugar cane field. Black Kites were also in attendance. We met a birder mate of mine, Steve McBride, at the Maclean Hotel. The plan was that Steve would join us for a day’s birding around Broome’s Head and Ballina, his home town. After dinner we traveled the 20 kilometres to Broome’s Head on the coast where we had booked a couple of units near the beach.

Day 18 -We awoke this morning at Broome’s head where we could hear the crash of surf against the nearby headland. We also could hear the calls of Grey Shrike-thrush, Brown and White-cheeked Honeyeaters. It was dawn and breakfast could wait as we had a cunning plan to visit the nearby heath of Yuraygir National Park for some birding.
We passed a large pole which had been purposefully placed for the nest of Ospreys and indeed an Osprey was perched atop. We didn’t stop. We saw a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles soaring around. So we stopped for a little while… We were interested in a trifecta of species.
1. Southern Emu-wren
2. Tawny-crowned Honeyeater
3. Ground Parrot
The first bird seen was the Tawny-crowned Honeyeater. This is a species whose most northern distribution is Broome’s Head. We found a nest being constructed and got good views of the bird who was occupying itself in nest construction. Later in the day we would see several of these birds and hear their strange song.
The second bird was not seen but heard. The Ground Parrot is a very difficult bird to see as it is crepuscular, a camouflaging green colour and has the habits of a quail. We decided to use a call on an app to illicit a response however we didn’t get a chance as the bird started calling before we had the chance. We had a walk through the heath nearby but the bird remained well hidden.
As we were walking through the heathland Steve spied our last target – Southern Emu wren. This is a skulking species found in small groups in the heath and is never easy to see well. This first little flock allowed our group to see some individual birds. While searching for the wrens I heard a Pallid Cuckoo – a rare species on the coast and one that we had not yet encountered on our travels. Despite it calling loudly we failed to locate it and eventually it shut up and was not seen nor heard again. Sadly this situation played out again – this time with a Brush Cuckoo. While viewing our second flock of Southern Emu-wrens it started calling. We could not get onto it. This was the first bird I had heard call this season. Having successfully got two out of our three targets we had a quick visit to the lookout from the Broome’s Head headland. Enroute we stopped for a quick view of the rock platform; Golden Plover, Ruddy Turnstone and a single Red-necked Stint competed for attention with Sooty Oystercatcher, Pelicans, and Silver Gulls and mating Crested Terns. From the headland we saw Skuas; sadly the birds were too distant to identify with confidence. We also saw the Australian species of Gannet. And, also a few cetaceans – both Humpback Whales and Bottlenose Dolphins. Further, I am convinced I saw a young fur-seal jump clear of the water but the animal was not seen again.
Breakfast followed and then a quick trip through Yulaygir NP down to the north shore of the river where we saw a few good species. Beach Stone Curlew literally came running towards us as we arrived on the sandy beach adjacent to the river. A few waders were about but all birds we had seen previously. A Striated Heron was seen briefly, another new bird for our tour. A few marine turtles in the estuary also attracted our attention for a while.

After a quick scenic drive around another part of the heathland just north of Broome’s Head that offered great views of this long sweep of coast [see what I did there? Broom. Sweep!?] we started our drive north towards Ballina. The drive west back towards Maclean yielded raptors – Brown Goshawk, Brown Falcon and Australian Hobby. Most impressively we got a good group of Coastal Emu – a rare population of this specie. In Maclean we had a quick stop to check out a huge flying fox colony that had two species; Black and Grey-headed.

Lunch, to Rick’s delight involved pies eaten near the river at the little township of Woodburn. A wetland near Ballina was our first stop and we got good views of a pair of Brolga grazing nearby. A quartering Swamp Harrier was also seen – our first for the trip. The wetland held ducks [mostly Black but a few Chestnut Teal], Swamphen and Moorhen and a few waders [Greenshank and a solitary Grey-tailed Tattler]. Flat Rock is a famous

Red-necked Stints and a Little Tern. S.E. Queensland, Aus. Oct 2016. Photo: Ken Cross.

birding site near Ballina and despite the tide being quite high and the surf roaring in swamping much of it the ‘rock’ displayed its potential. Little Terns hovering and fishing above the breakers were the first seen. Closer examination revealed that the Little Terns were a mix of non-breeding birds from Asia and a few local birds coloured up for breeding. Crested and Common Terns, Silver Gulls and waders [Red-necked Stint, a single Sanderling and a few Ruddy Turnstone] completed the set. Finally before we said farewell to Steve he showed us a special bird which necessitated a quick crossing of the highway to see. A single Black-necked Stork, a young bird who was exploring a wetland solo was well seen through a scope. Birding day done we drove through to the hinterland town of Canungra from where we would have a day trip to Lamington National Park.

Day 19 -Canungra, at the base of the road that leads to the O’Reilly section of Lamington National Park, is where we awoke. And the sun was shining brightly as we made our way to a nearby café for breakfast at 6-30am. The plan was to have the day at Lamington as our final full day’s birding. Before we could start the day trip however we had a birding tragedy. Walking back from the café I saw a bird fly into a fruiting fig just outside our hotel. I advised the Stokes that birding would now begin under this tree as soon as possible. I raced upstairs, grabbed the bins and hurried downstairs to get good views of Barred Cuckoo Shrike – an uncommon species and what would have been a first for the trip. Needless to say that before Richard and Moya could join me the bird flew off! Drat, etc… Driving up to Lamington we did score a new mammal – Whiptail Wallaby. This wallaby is also known as Pretty faced Wallaby and it is an attractive macropod. We saw several. After arriving at Lamington we quickly started seeing good birds. Near the car park there was a couple of brightly flowering bottlebrush with both Lewin’s Honeyeaters and Eastern Spinebill in attendance.

We walked the boardwalk down to the treetop walk and were amazed at how confiding many of the birds were. White-browed and Yellow-throated Scrubwrens, Eastern Yellow Robins, even Whipbirds allowed close contact. Southern Logrunners were easy to see and perhaps the highlight was a young male Rose Robin singing. The Treetop walk allowed good views into the canopy and the epiphyte gardens there and we had the soundtrack of Golden Whistler and Green Catbird to keep us company. We walked along the birder track for about an hour and then turned around and returned to the O’Reilly’s area. We saw

Regent Bowerbird. Photo: Ken Cross.

many of the usual rainforest species and annoyingly only heard Riflebird. Pittas, too, were heard often but kept their distance. We got reasonable views of Bassian Thrush and Satin Bowerbird. We returned to the picnic area and when we did we realised that none of the birds had read the ‘No Feeding’ signs and our tables were attacked by Crimson Rosellas, flocks of the difficult to see Regent Bowerbird, including the gorgeously coloured males, King Parrots and several Brush Turkeys also enquired into the possibility of getting a meal.
In the afternoon we re-walked the 1 ½ kilometre loop, including the board walk and re-saw many of the same rainforest species. We also got good views of Red-legged Pademelon.
A quick walk down part of Duck Creek Road yielded a few new day birds and again a few calling Riflebirds. We had a few brief stops on the way back to Canungra; the highlight being an impressive perched Wedge-tailed Eagle. We also saw an impressive buck Whiptail Wallaby. For our last night we enjoyed a meal in the Beer Garden at the Canungra Hotel.

Day 20 -Finally the final day and to celebrate a lie in! With little in the way of birding planned, a relaxed speed with breakfast and leaving the hotel was planned. We drove from Canungra to the Brisbane suburb of Daisy Hill to visit the Daisy Hill Koala centre. This is an educational display featuring captive and/or rehabilitated animals that have survived accidents such that residents and visitors can learn about koalas, their natural history and the different elements that threaten their survival. It is a small centre but quite well done and few could complain about the price of an entry ticket which is free. The centre is located within a protected estate of prime Koala habitat, mixed eucalypt forest, home to an estimated population of some 40 – 50 animals. The birding was limited to common species however we did see a female Cicadabird on a nest. Prior to this we had only seen males – a very different plumage type. Sadly we failed to find a legitimate wild Koala but we did put in a reasonable amount of time at each car park within the reserve scanning the tree tops for their presence.

The tour officially ended at the airport as Richard and Moya were traveling on to Sydney.

Written by tour leader: Ken Cross.


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