Monday, November 22, 2010

Goshawks and new Venues

Grey Goshawk
image from:

The weekend proved to be quite an interesting interlude. It’s that time of the year in Queensland [neigh, Australian] educational circles. Tests, marking and reports! They come one after the other, at times they overlap and almost have you going backwards in awkward somersaults. By the end of the week sanity dictates that you leave the paperwork behind and seek escape and refuge elsewhere. For me that’s birding!

On Saturday [20 November] we decided to revisit a stretch of old vine scrub along the Neumgna Road, where on a previous visit we had found clear signs [fresh platelets] of the elusive Black-breasted Button-quail Turnix melanogaster. That had been several months before our recent trip to the U.K. Indeed, it may well have been an entire year since that last trip. The point of that footnote is that during the interim there has been an awful lot of rain in this neck of the woods. Vine scrubs loves rain. It eats it up and shoots upwards and outwards.

We started searching around the first patch of vine scrub [near the water tower for those who know the area or use Google earth] only to find that the vegetation was too dense for either of us to penetrate. Machette time on the very next outing to Neumgna Road!

On returning to the vehicle we poured ourselves a cup of coffee and broke open the bacon sarnies [sandwiches for the uninitiated] when Fay spotted a bird alight into a mid-distant tree. It was at this point that I discovered I’d left my binoculars behind – misunderstanding. I assumed Fay and packed both pairs into the back of the vehicle, she had assumed that I’d packed my own!

Fay confirmed the bird as a pale morph Grey Goshawk Accipiter novaehollandiae! I had to be satisfied with the barest glimpse as it eventually flew out and beyond our immediate ken! I may have uttered a few choice descriptives at this point.

It added to the two Allen Road raptors [see]

Nor did we find any signs of the Button-quail!

On Sunday [21 November] we tried our hand at a little pioneering work. We’d come across references to the McEuen State Forest, a little south of Wondai and west of the large Wondai State Forest. Neither of us had ever heard of this place in our extensive birding travels throughout the region and a quick trawl through Google revealed that either very few other people had come across this state forest or that it held some secret that no one was revealing to the general public.

Finding the place was easy enough given the paucity of available maps but the birding was, in all honesty, quite mediocre. The juvenile Jack Winter Microeca fascinans which seemed to take an inordinate interest in two birders looking through binoculars at an adult jacky Winter was worth a smile but otherwise there was nothing here that we couldn’t find much nearer home. Still, we will return at some future date to try elsewhere in the 440ha forest.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Pied Butcherbird @ Gordonbrokk Dam

It's taken a mite longer than I had hoped it would, three weeks to be more precise. Put it down to the trials and tribulations of the real world - work commitments, home chores and diabetes. However, here we are, the first South Burnett blog since our return from the UK [for which switch across to].

Gordonbrook Dam had been closed to the general public prior to our departure in September so we were pleased to learn, on our return to Australia, that it had been reopened. We couldn't go immediately, a trip to Noosa had already been scheduled into our diary, but this morning [Sunday 24 October] we finally managed a visit.

The first thing to hit us was the volume of water in the dam and a walk along the track soon revealed that at some stage in the past few weeks water levels had exceeded bank heights; the track was still soft underfoot. The next item of interest was the addition of a bird hide - and for those of you in the Western Palearctic reading this and wondering what's so special about a bird hide, please bear in mind that this is ... well more than Australia, more that just Queensland... this is country Queensland where the Greens, the environmentalists and assorted kith, can be akin to the devil himself.

Heartfelt congratulations to the South Burnett Regional Council on so ensightful a move. Our only suggestion would be that the entrance could be a little better disguised with simple wattle panels to conceal the approach of birders.

However, even before reaching the dam Fay and I took a moment to bird the corner of the Bunya Highway and Recreation Drive [leading to the dam]. We tallied 24 species, including a Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Rainbow Bee-eater, Leaden Flycatcher and a Red-rumped Parrot. Other "ticks" included:

Willie Wagtail
Torresian Crow
Rainbow Lorikeet
Pied butcherbird
Sacred Kingfisher
Channel-billed Cuckoo
Striped Honeyeater
Brown Honeyeater
Australian Magpie
Striated Pardalote
Pheasant Coucal
Laughing Kookaburra
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Common Myna
Superb Fairy-wren
Scaly-breasted Lorikeet

Australasian Grebe @ Gordonbrook Dam

At the dam itself we recorded 43 species, including crackers such as Cotton Pygmy-goose [on nest] and the unexpected Radjah Shelduck! Other birds:

Masked Lapwing
Willie Wagtail
Australian Magpie
Torresian Crow
Striped Honeyeater
Pied Burcherbird
Bar-shouldered Dove
Magpie Goose
Little Pied Cormorant
Great Cormorant
White-breasted Woodswallow [seemingly very interested in an old tree hollow]
Common Myna
Striated Pardalote
Noisy Friarbird
Common Bronzewing
Eastern Great Egret
Australian Wood Duck
Superb Fairy-wren
Common Starling
Collared Sparrowhawk
Plumed Whistling-Duck
Purple Swamphen
Red-backed Fairy-wren
Golden-headed Cisticola
Noisy Miner
Black Swan
Pheasant Coucal
Brown Honeyeater
Grey Teal [very pale morph]
Australasian Grebe
Dusky Moorhen
Australian Pelican
Comb-crested Jacana
Grey Fantail
Eurasian Coot
Australian White Ibis
Pacific Black Duck
Plum-headed Finch
Little Black Cormorant

When the website Birds & Birding the South Burnett is eventually fully active, Gordonbrook will certainly merit a 3--birds "birdability rating." I recommend it to any within striking distance to visit here.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Birding the South Burnett is temporarily offline until our return from the U.K.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Welcome to the South Burnett

I came to blogging as a rather reluctant convert. Fay and I were in the throes of planning our U.K. birding and, incidentally, visiting kith and kin trip for September 2010; we leave on Thursday 2 September. I came across the West Midlands birding blogs and joined in as “Staffordshire Stray” to help get a “feel” for our former stomping grounds. I haven’t been there since 1999; Fay managed a brief non-birding trip in 2005.

The ploy worked, albeit with a few reservations.

Yet, it always struck me as rather incongruous. There I was, on a U.K. West Midlands blog spot giving out odds and sods about my birding experiences in the South Burnett region of Queensland. No one appeared to object but I suspect that was more to do with the proposed return to the West Midlands than with the content of my blogs.

Nevertheless, one aspect of the West Midlands site that did appeal was the dissemination of local birding news – as Richard Powell so succinctly puts it on his blog, “Local Birding for local People.” It planted the germ of an idea, why not move across to blogging about my own local patch?

I remain a doubtful convert. I continue to develop my website, BIRDS & BIRDING IN THE SOUTH BURNETT and have, in the past, always enjoyed websites. Not that the two, the blog and the website, are totally incompatible. The respective foci differ.

Thus, here I will present the occasional post on the more informal aspects of our personal birding in the South Burnett area [no doubt with the sporadic reference to the local wines].