Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Around Oz Part 21 – Karajina National Park, Pilbara

Karajina National Park
After leaving Cape Keraudren (see following post) we travelled south to the De Grey River, where we intended overnighting, but unseasonally heavy rain had turned the place into a quagmire.  A brief excursion turned up the distinctive buff-breasted Pilbara race of Blue-winged Kookaburra but not that of the Black-tailed Treecreeper.

Blue-winged Kookaburra - Pilbara race
We moved on to Karijina National Park - regarded as one of Australia’s finest reserves - in the Hamersley Range, for a three-night stay. We put up with a generator the first night as the only spot left was in a generator zone (this place is popular) but moved camp the next day to a generator-free area.  There are a series of camping areas, very nicely arranged and maintained.

Dale Gorge - Fortescue Falls
The change in weather over just 24 hours as we moved south and inland was quite radical. The balmy winter days of the tropics are over. We have returned to decidedly cold nights. 
After the rains, the desert woodland here, a mix of eucalypt and mulga with plenty of spinifex and tussock grass, is looking lush and vibrant - a stark contrast with the drought-stricken woodlands of western Queensland.
Karijina - good-looking woodlands
 Dale Gorge, near the camping ground, is typical of the marvellous gorges and escarpments that have given this national park its reputation. They are awe-inspiring; the pictures tell the story. We walked both the rim and bottom of the gorge.

Dale Gorge

Dale Gorge - pool reflections

Dale Gorge - Circular Pool

Dale Gorge
Dale Gorge - Fern Pool
 A small colony of Little Red Flying-Foxes was roosting in the gorge at the Fern Pool. Among them were a couple of Black Flying-Foxes.

Black Flying-Fox
With so many shrubs in flower, it is surprising there are not more nomadic desert honeyeaters about; just plenty of Singing, Spiny-cheeked and Brown Honeyeaters, and Yellow-throated Miners.

Singing Honeyeater
It was nice to find a group of Painted Finches on the Dale Gorge path. The red-bellied form of the Plumed Pigeon was also here.

Painted Finch

Plumed Pigeon (red-bellied race)
Other birds about include Western Gerygone, Western Bowerbird, Variegated Fairy-wren, Inland Thornbill and Red-capped Robin.

Red-capped Robin
A small dragon was found in the spinifex, to be identified at a later date.


A bit of night-time dinner-making in the night bush.  

Monday, 21 July 2014

Around Oz Part 20 – East Pilbara: Cape Keraudren

White-breasted Whistler
After leaving  Broome (see next post) and the Kimberley, we headed south through the East Pilbara for a two-night stay at Cape Keraudren, a costal reserve at the southern end of Eighty-Mile Beach where a beachside camping ground is run by the local council. Leaving this region was farewelling the small, red-bellied race of Grey-crowned Babbler, which was numerous in the north.

Grey-crowned Babbler

Cape Keraudren, looking north 
From our camper van, we had sweeping views north across reef flats to a sandy beach stretching to the distant horizon.

Cape Keraudren, looking south
To the south was a rugged, jagged coastline of ancient coral and limestone. The overall effect was quite stunning. This is an extraordinary spot with great beauty. From our camper van, our view was nothing to complain about.
Campsite Cape Keraudren

White-breasted Whistler
In the mangroves, White-breasted Whistler and Mangrove Golden Whistler appeared to be quite numerous, along with Yellow White-eye and Mangrove Fantail. The mangrove birds were seen on occasion to leave the mangroves to forage in more open habitat.  Horsfield’s Bushlark was common in the grassland, where a Swamp Harrier was also seen. 

Mangrove Golden Whistler
On the coral cliffs was a mixed nesting colony of Lesser Crested Terns and Crested Terns, with both species appearing to have recently fledged young.

Crested Tern at rookery

Lesser Crested Tern at rookery
Lesser Crested & Crested Tern
The two tern species were often at roost together. Plenty of waders were about, including resident Beach Stone-Curlew and Sooty and Pied Oystercatchers.

Beach Stone-Curlew

Sooty Oystercatcher

Other birds included both phases of Eastern Reef-Egret,and Striated Herons that appeared to be unusually orange in colour.

Striated Heron

Migratory waders included Large Sand Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Red-necked Stint, Grey-tailed Tattler, Ruddy Turnstone and Whimbrel.

Large Sand-Plover
Long term residents of the camping ground and built nesting boxes for the Zebra Finches.

Zebra Finch at next-box
Extensive areas of mudflats are exposed at low tide. We watched a couple of Black-necked Storks try their luck at fishing.

Black-necked Stork
There were some macropods about, which looked a little odd but I assume were Red Kangaroo.

There were a couple of macropods about that turned out to be a red-coloured subspecies of Euro.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Around Oz Part 19: Broome - Mud Skippers and Sea Snakes to Asian Gull-billed Terns

Dusky Gerygone

After visiting Derby (see next post) we moved on to Broome, one of my favourite towns, for a five-day stay, booking in to the overcrowded Tarangau Caravan Park. We have travelled almost 8000km - about one-third of the way of our trip around Oz..Contrary to expectations, we have had no trouble so far finding a spot everywhere we have wanted to stay, although we booked ahead for Broome.

We met up with friends from Brisbane, Jeff and Joe, and visited some of the sites around town, including the lively CBD area and Chinatown, and awesome coastal scenery around Gantheaume Point and the port. Good numbers of Brown Boobies were seen offshore.

Gantheaume Point

Looking north towards Cable Beach
At the town sewerage ponds, birds included a few Pink-eared Ducks among many thousands of Plumed Whistling-Ducks, a Common Sandpiper and a few Whiskered Terns.

Pink-eared Duck

Whiskered Tern
In mangroves behind the Broome CBD, birds seen included White-breasted Whistler, Mangrove Golden Whistler, Red-headed Honeyeater, Yellow White-eye, Broad-billed Flycatcher, Mangrove Fantail and Dusky Gerygone.

Broad-billed Flycatcher

Dusky Gerygone

White-breasted Whistler
Cable Beach was delightful as always, including the camels on the beach late in the afternoon, but the area is becoming busier each time I see it. In the image below the camels are passing the beachfront mansion owned by Perth businessman Kerry Stokes.

Camels on Cable Beach, Broome 
I found an Olive-brown Sea Snake stranded on the beach, caught it and released it back into the sea. The snakes are highly venemous but essentially harmless as their fangs are set back and small.

Me with Olive-brown Sea-snake
We visited the Broome Bird Observatory, a 30-minute drive from town. The tide times were wrong for waders but I was able to clearly pick out two of the small Asian race of Gull-billed Tern - smaller size, greyer upperparts, whiter heads - among a larger flock of Australian race Gull-billed Terns and Caspian Terns. The terns were near the mouth of the mangrove creek 3km from the observatory. Common birds about the observatory included Singing Honeyeater and Double-barred Finch.

Roebuck Bay, Broome Bird Observatory
Double-barred Finch
It was a delight to watch hundreds of mud skippers of all sizes in the mud behind the mangroves at low tide. Also in the mangroves were White-breasted Whistler, Dusky Gerygone and Mangrove Fantail.

On the way out of the observatory we had nice views of a Black-breasted Buzzard.

Black-breasted Buzzard

Black-breasted Buzzard

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Around Oz Part 18 - Derby: Mangrove Birds and Aboriginal Heritage

Aboriginal artists - Derby
After Windjana Gorge (see next post), we headed north-west to the town of Derby for a one-night stay at the ordinary and overpriced (like just about everything up this way) Kimberley Lodge Caravan Park.

Role call of indigenous prisoners

Old Derby Gaol
We visited some cultural sites and were impressed particularly by the old prison, where hundreds of Aborigines were kept in chains for years in shocking conditions for the most trivial offences in times not so long gone. And the huge, ancient boab tree that also operated as a makeshift prison, often for Aborigines who were rounded for slave labor in the pearling industry further south at Broome.

Derby Boab Gaol Tree
More pleasing was the Aboriginal art gallery and museum, where indigenous people of all ages are scattered about, working on their distinctive dot art paintings and some nice landscape captures; they are seemingly not bothered by gawking tourists.

King Sound Mangroves

I checked out the mangroves near the Derby wharf on King Sound, seeing the Kimberley (“Brown-tailed”) race of Lemon-bellied Flycatcher, Dusky Gerygone, Yellow White-eye, White-breasted Whistler and Mangrove Golden Whistler.

White-breasted Whistler male

White-breasted Whistler
The next morning I returned to the mangroves, seeing in addition to the above, Broad-billed Flycatcher and a distant Great-billed Heron feeding on the tide-line.

Great-billed Heron

Mangrove Golden Whistler female
It was interesting to compare the female of this subspecies of Mangrove Golden Whistler to the one further east, which has much more yellow on the underparts.