Saturday, January 8, 2011

One South Burnett view.
I’ve no doubt that many, even beyond Australian shores, have by now heard of the BIG WET up here in Queensland. Some areas [e.g. Rockhampton] have been particularly severely affected – 9m of water must be an awesome [and frightening] sight to behold. Certain areas of the South Burnett have also done it the hard way but perhaps not as sorely as they have in, say, Condamine [15m of water]. Parts of the region have at times been cut off. It was difficult to reach Kingaroy from Nanango when the Embrey Bridge over Barker Creek went under . Fay was sent home early from work that afternoon, as sson as the imminent flooding become painfylly obvious.

The continuing wet conditions have put paid to our Tarong Power Station monitoring program. The only spot we could safely reach [in the knowledge that we could return home] is Nobby Smith Drive but then the rain appears to have driven off most, if not all, the waterbirds there. Matters were not helped when last Friday evening I managed to bog the Subaru 20m inside our front gate. We dug it out on Saturday morning but I’ve obviously done something to the wheel balance and that can’t be repaired until tomorrow [Monday] morning- always assuming the current continuous downpour stops. This [Sunday] morning we managed to bog Fay’s 4-wheel-drive.

Excuse the pun, it never rains but it pours!

Throughout the current deluge... images of Noah appearing in the overcast skies… we have managed two humble outings. The first, to Gordonbrook Dam, involved navigating a 90-degree bend with a rather largish hole washed out on the elbow of the turn. That tested the nerves. The second, around the Tarong National Park, was comparatively simple, ending with breakfast at the Maidenwell Post Office [cum rather impressive, for a small country community, cafĂ©]

Gordonbrook was comparatively bare of waterbirds; the odd Black Swan Cygnus atratus out on the distant bank of the dam, a couple of Grey Teal Anas gracilis, along with a pair of Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio and a similar number of Dusky Moorhen Gallinula tenebrosa . We fared far better with the associated land birds, the Red-rumped Parrots Psephotus hamatonotus being the pick of the sightings that morning.

On a previous trip here we had “discovered” birding joys at the junction of the D’Aguilar Highway, Recreation Drive [leading to the dam] and Oil Seed Road. Then we had picked up Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater Acanthagenys rufogularis and Leaden Flycatcher Myiagra rubecula among others. Pickings were a little more frugal on this occasion! The Eastern [Australian] Koel Eudynamys orientalis, a male, was perhaps the most interesting bird here.

All that had passed on the last day of 2010. For our first [and to date, only] 2011 birding trip we managed to sneak out between rain squalls to tour our local National Park, Tarong [a little more than 6km down the road]. We ended with a tally of 53 species. There was nothing out of the ordinary –other than actually being out there at all. The view of a youngish Wedge-tailed Eagle Aquila audax floating gently just above our heads was well worth the outing.

Start of the Tarong National Park circuit.
Tarong National Park is surrounded by a variiety of habitats and can usually be relied upon to provide a surprise or two. On a previous visit we had crippling views of Emeralde Dove Chalcophaps indica. On this trip, a male Indian Peafowl but sadly, as we are aware of a local famer breeding the species, it can't be counted.

Indian Peafowl, edge of Tarong National Park. As I complete these few words it continues to pour down. Everything, everywhere, is WET but let’s hope we can all get in a good 2011 birding year.