Saturday, December 28, 2013


While birding along Allen Road may have been a little disappointing during November, this was far from the case for the South Burnett in general.  It wasn’t the highest monthly tally for the year to date – that honour goes to the 126 species recorded in August- but at 125 it comes a close second.  Further, November 2013 has seen the best monthly tally since the inception of regular records in 2001; there remains the November 1996 aberration from the days before our move to the region but it involves only the one visit to the Palms National Park with a humble tally of fourteen [14] species.

As an aside, that was in fact our second incursion into the South Burnett during 1996; we had ventured here in March of that year, to Yarraman State Forest [in search of Black-breasted Button-quail].

The only comparable November tally was last year’s 113 species, recorded from sixteen [16] separate sites across the South Burnett region.  As a matter of coincidence, that was the exact number of locations visited during November 2013.   Nine of those overlapped both 2012 and 2013; six sites surveyed in 2012 were omitted in 2013 and conversely, seven sites covered in 2013 had not been surveyed the previous year.

There were of course all the regular species one comes to expect and where would we be without them!  No one wants to venture down the road of the unfortunate North American Passenger Pigeon Ectopistes migratorius or the humble British Tree Sparrow Passer montanus.  As one of my former birding mentors once quipped, “We’re all too busy chasing the uncommon species; it’s the common birds you no longer see that should concern you.”

There was no shortage of Australian Wood Duck Chenonetta jubata nor of the Pacific Black Duck Anas superciliosa; both the Crested Pigeon Ocyphaps lophotes and Bar-shouldered Dove Geopelia humeralis maintained their strong showing; Rainbow Lorikeets Trichoglossus haematodus, Galahs Eolophus roseicapilla and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos Cacatua galerita turned up in almost every location surveyed.  Among other regular birds of the region, the Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala continued to dominate checklists, as did the Australian Magpie Cracticus tibicen and Torresian Crow Corvus orru.

It was however the one-offs, those birds appearing only once during November that really established the month’s credentials; its character.  Even during the first week, three species,
Brown Quail Coturnix ypsilophora, Tawny Grassbird Megalurus timoriensis [both showing well on the 4th] and the Australian Brush-turkey Alectura lathami [7th] that started the ball rolling.  Another four species appeared as one-offs during the second week – all on the 13th: Varied Sittella Daphoenositta chrysoptera, White-headed Pigeon Columba leucomela, Crested Shrike-tit Falcunculus frontatus and Rufous Fantail Rhipidura rufifrons.

November hit the jackpot in the third week when, as part of the Birds Queensland planned outing to Blackbutt, we visited Din Din Road, Yarraman Weir and the Gibson State Forest - it had become our habit to join BQ on a number of their weekend campouts as Saturday morning visitors only.  What an avian Mecca!  In the space of an hour or so we tallied thirteen [13] species. 
Along Din Din Road we recorded:  Rainbow Bee-eater Merops ornatus; White-throated Treecreeper Cormobates leucophaea; White-throated Honeyeater Melithreptus albogularis; Dusky Woodswallow Artamus cyanopterus [first South Burnett sighting since December 2011]; Jacky Winter Microeca fascinans [first sighting in the South Burnett since August 2011], Rufous Songlark Cincloramphus mathewsi [a first ever record for the South Burnett and the first Queensland sighting since September 2000] and Double-barred Finch Taeniopygia bichenovii.
During a morning tea break at the Yarraman Weir we added Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo and then, post tea break, in the Gibson State Forest a last minute flurry gave us: Superb Fairy-wren Malurus cyaneus; Brown Thornbill Acanthiza pusilla; Varied Triller Lalage leucomela; Australian Raven Corvus coronoides and Red-browed Finch Neochmia temporalis.
Three days later [19th] we added the Red-winged Parrot Aprosmictus erythropterus to the monthly tally.

                                                                 The best shot I could get in the circumstances.

The last days of the month would have been hard pressed to maintain the flow of one-off species experienced during the previous week but nevertheless it was not a total failure.  Far from it; the 22nd saw our only Black Swan Cygnus atratus for the month while two days later, the 24th witnessed the sole sightings of Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus, Yellow-billed Spoonbill Platalea flavipes and White-throated Needletail .  Four Scaly-breasted Lorikeets Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus presented themselves for viewing on the 28th and the last day of the month, at the local Refuse Transfer Plant Sewage Plant, brought Black Kite Milvus migrans [much reduced in numbers since earlier days]; the Grey Street Sewage Treatment Plant provided good views of Intermediate Egret Ardea intermedia and one Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus.

In and amidst all that, the last weeks of November were among the most hectic I’ve ever experienced in 43 years of teaching; besides the tests, marking and report cards I had to prepare my room for the new staff member replacing me in 2014 – can you imagine how much assorted litter and plain junk one rather obsessive middle-aged teacher can gather over a lifetime at the Chalk Front?

Friday, December 20, 2013


As I penned in the OCTOBER OFFERINGS blog for Allen Road [and with sincere apologies for those of you who came here via that posting]:
Given that it is now mid-December, some might well consider this monthly report a mite on the tardy side.  Yes.  However, going on the premise of better late than never, it is present here with an brief explanation as to why it has taken this long to emerge.  It was actually written by the end of the first week in November and awaited a few textual adjustments and the addition of the photographs.  Piece of cake; like falling off a log.  Then the enormity of the new Australian Curriculum dropped on me like the proverbial lead balloon.  Testing, marking and of course report writing.  Gone are the days when teachers could simply comment “worked well” or “could do better.”  November and early December [when the November report would normally be prepared] became lost in a mountain of schoolwork.  I drowned in a deluge of data that had to be prepared and transferred to various computer files – and then forwarded to various areas.

‘nough said.  I’m over the October delay.  The October report for the South Burnett is here.
In essence we recorded 111 species from 18 different locations which, oddly enough, coincides exactly with the 2012 October tally [111 species over 18 locations].  Together they continue to hold the record tally since the onset of South Burnett reports in 2001; only approached by the 110 in October 2010 and 109 in October 2009; all other years came in at below the century score.

However, October 2013 for us will always be the month of the Blue Bonnet Northiella haematogaster.  We had long considered that parts of the South Burnett would be favourable Blue Bonnet habitat but had never seen any in almost 3800 separate computer entries for the region dating back to January 1990.  The last recorded sighting we have of Blue Bonnet is in the St George area back in 2000- a 13-year gap.

It never really occurred to us that our first South Burnett sighting would literally be around in the corner.  On 7 October we were surveying the Rocky Creek Circuit which we had recently tweaked to include McGillevray Road.  It was as we were turning into this latter part of the circuit [a left out of Reeve Road] that Fay noted two parrot-like birds flit across the road a few metres ahead of us.  Time froze.  We knew its name but the words wouldn’t come out.  A moment later we simultaneously breathed out, “Blue Bonnet.”  The birds alighted in shrubbery on the right-hand side of the road.  We could almost touch them.  I eased the Subaru yards closer; Fay had her binoculars trained on the pair.  I stopped and took up my binoculars.  It was not a Lifer but after a 13-year drought it was a pleasant sensation to have them in sight again – and in the South Burnet to boot!
Purloined from

There were other notable South Burnett sightings during the month.  At the Broadwater Camping Reserve we saw only our third Cotton-Pygmy Goose Nettapus coromandelianus of the year; we had glorious views of a pair cruising along on Barker’s Creek.


The White-bellied Sea-eagle Haliaetus leucogaster over Meandu Creek Dam was the first since Chinchilla at the end of June 2013.  It showed for a second time during October at the Broadwater Camping Reserve in the third week of the month.

A number of birds managed only the one appearance during the month: Berlin Road [7th] provided the solitary Collared Sparrowhawk Accipiter cirrocephalus, Red-browed Finch Neochimia temporalis and the Australian Reed-Warbler Acrocephalus australis; Rocky Creek Circuit [also on 7th] came up with a single White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike Coracina papuensis and Golden-headed Cisticola Cisticola exilis; finally Broadwater scored well with the aforementioned Cotton Pygny-goose together with Little Corella Cacatua sanguinea, White-throated Honeyeater Melithreptus albogularis and Tree Martin Petrochelidon nigricans.
The tale of October cannot be allowed to slip by without mention of the magic moments when a Black-shouldered Kite Elanus axillaris came to perch in overhead wires a few metres from where Fay and I stood, albeit half-disguised as passing wind-blown litter.