Monday, February 7, 2011

Chippendale Road Birding

The main "escape" route to Brisbane closed to traffic
Back in early January, Fay and I had considered ourselves lucky to have found a small window of opportunity, sneaking off in between rain squalls to survey our local national park, culminating with breakfast at the former Maidenwell Post Office [see previous post]. This last weekend we decided it would be fairly safe to venture forth into the wider South Burnett in our continuing [continuous] pursuit of birds.

Only last Tuesday, on the way to work via Berlin Road, I had a fleeting glimpse of a crake-like bird scurrying across the road from the small dam on the right into pastures on the other side. It had been only the briefest of glimpses, I was negotiating a slight bend in the road, but my best guess at the time would have been the Spotless Crake Porzana tabuensis. Sadly, a careful check through a number of field guides [between us Fay and I own perhaps a dozen, some admittedly a little dated now] brought up the very distinct possibility of juvenile Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa.

It was Fay who suggested we try Chippendale Road for the crake/rail. She reasoned that if I had seen one scurrying across Berlin Road [a reasonably well used bitumen road] then there would probably be even better prospects of seeing the species along Chippendale Road, a less used grass and dirt track, especially near the small dam some 150m inside the Berlin Road gate end.

Barker Creek flooded, no way through to Kingaroy
For those unfamiliar with the local geography [and/or don’t have access to Google Earth] from Allen Road, Chippendale Road is readily reached via Berlin Road: right out of our property, a right at the T-junction onto the Nanango Maidenwell Road, heading towards Tarong Power Station, a left just before the bridge over Meandu Creek and right a little after the dogleg at the old museum. There is a gate warning off trespassers but both Fay and I have security passes [and permission] to enter Tarong Energy property for the purposes of birdwatching.

The small dam, where we had hopes off perhaps emulating my experiences of the previous Tuesday lay about 150m further along. We managed 145m. The dam had burst its wall and water was flowing across the dirt road. A week or more of this had clearly damaged the road, making crossing a rather precarious matter. We decided that discretion was the better part of valour [have you ever tried digging out a bogged 4-wheel drive miles from the nearest point of help or where there are no suitable hitching posts for a winch?]. Besides, we had good views of most of the dam while sitting in the vehicle and it provided the added bonus of serving as a very adequate hide.

A few years back our son had presented me with an I-pod for Christmas, thought it was time I joined the 21st century. Australia is poor in modern technological birding aids [no BirdGuides here] but we do have a 10-disc series of Australian bird song, ranging from the Ostrich Struthio camelus to the Australian Raven Corvus coronoides. Along with Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto [in A Major, K.622] I had copied these songs onto aforesaid I-pod. Last Christmas I treated myself to one of those gadgets that enables you to play your I-pod tunes earplug free; that is, a modern old-fashioned tape for attracting birds!

Unsure as to exactly which crake or rail I had seen that Tuesday we played all the possible Rallidae. All to no avail, not a single crake or rail so much as stuck out a beak from among the tall grasses around us.

Not that the outing to Chippendale Road went without some compensations. The female Leaden Flycatcher Myiagra rubecula was a gem. The Eastern Yellow Robin Eopsaltria australis, while welcome, continues to frustrate. As the crow flies we are a mere few miles from Chippendale Road and yet have never recorded the robin along Allen Road. Birding friends of ours, Robert & Colleen Fingland, live more or less the same distance from Chippendale Road, albeit in a different direction, and yet they have recorded both the Eastern Yellow and Red-capped Petroica goodenovii Robins on their property.

From Chippendale Road we ventured further along Berlin Road, towards its junction with the D’Aguilar Highway to where I had spotted that crake-like bird on Tuesday but that will have to wait for a subsequent post.

Today’s Tally: Eastern Whipbird, Pied Butcherbird, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Willie Wagtail [a flycatcher by any other name], Magpie-lark [the perennial taxonomic shifter], Australian Magpie, Torresian Crow, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Pale-headed Rosella, Silvereye, Grey Shrike-thrush, Crested Pigeon, Sriped Honeyeater, Laughing Kookaburra, Eastern Yellow Robin, Bar-shouldered Dove, Leaden Flycatcher, Noisy Friarbird, Little friarbird and Sacred Kingfisher.

Another South Burnett road cut off.

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