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.