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O’Reilly’s Birding Update February – May 2017

February

17th-WedgeTailed Eagles at helipad by Luke still a regular event lately. Owlet nightjars calling on gloworm tour. A couple of Figbirds were about the Cafe and turning circle.

18th-Riflebird around the top of the Wishing Tree Track top and the Elabana Falls turn on the Border Track. Many more Silvereyes passing through symbolising the subtle change of season. Luke had Peregrine Falcon, Grey Goshawk and Wedgetailed Eagle around the birdshow area in the morning. Grey Goshawk turned up again at Lukes Farm and Duck Creek Road. Swifts midday over the range.

21st-Paula Zoch scored a Noisy Pitta at the top of the Villa Track. It’s a surprise to get them so far up the top, we don’t see them on villa track much usually. Black Kites around Burleigh on the M1. Bellbirds still seem to be getting louder and further towards town in Canungra. 2 Pheasant Coucals, one a chick crossing the main road just out of Canungra, very slow and carefully, hopefully they stay well ahead of the speeding cars. Wedge Tailed Eagles above the main ridgeline again. West Cliffs had some busy patches with Red Browed Treecreeper, Variegated Fairy Wrens, Rose Robins, Grey Fantail, Striated Thornbills, Rufous Fantail. Two areas had Spectacled Monarchs, with a few old nests around. Later on in the evening there were Marbled Frogmouth and Sooty Owl calling.

22nd-Emerald Dove on the Red Road and later calling at the top of the Flying Fox. Common Bronzewing at the bottom of the Mountain main road. White Necked Heron again on the roadside small dam-First one seen since MAY last year. I was pretty sure it wasn’t seen in Birdweek last year either. Glen Threlfo had a Collared Sparrowhawk on the Lukes Bluff Bus Tour.

24th-Luke had Needletail Swifts and Tree Martin at Guesthouse. Craig had Peregrine Falcon over Moonlight Crag on the Sunset tour.

25th-Riflebird around the Border Track start. Pheasant Coucal at Pine Mountain flew straight up vertically to a tree branch-typically a more horizontal flight but more chance of missing cars going up quicker. More Thrushes around most areas just lately including some garden sightings. Grey Goshawk and Peregrine Falcon at Moonlight Crag during bus tour midday. Then a Wedgetail Eagle and Brown Goshawk over the Guesthouse. Grey Goshawk later over flying fox and a Wedgetail Eagle over Moonlight crag in the pm. White Necked Heron was at Pine Mountain roadside again.

March

1st-Needletail Swifts at Banora Point and Tugun area. Lyrebird behind O’Reilly’s Cafe

2nd-Crested Shrike Tit and DOUBLE Rose Robin feature at the stop sign near main carpark on morning birdwalk tour. Lyrebird behind cafe again. Noisy Pitta beyond the Alpaca stretch next to the roadside was a treat as the day was getting on a bit and light fading. Autmun Birdweek 2017 a selection of highlights;

A fairly good week with some last minute changes. Good work by Glen Threlfo doing the extra days required. Much thanks for Dave Stewart being there for the whole week, Professor Daryl Jones and Dr Rochelle Stevens for the wonderfully fascinating lectures (more than we usually have) in the Autumn program. Some lakes around Eagleby are a bit weedy and dry so affected some results down there with waterbirds also being inland still to return in good numbers. Of course the coin flipped to the opposite side by the end of March where we had too much water!

Some of the main highlights included:

  • Over 140 species encountered
  • Two Black Falcons and Spotted Harrier made for notable sightings.
  • Interestingly no Peregrine Falcon during week
  • Three Monarchs around Charlies waterhole which is good going considering the time of year and how quiet these have been lately.
  • The day before none of these were found at the same spot!
  • Lyrebird heard and was seen just but not much or often this time
  • Hearing of the Sooty Owl is good but the group also had some luck with the sighting of Marbled Frogmouth and
  • Tawny frogmouth (not as easy as they used to be)
  • Glossy Black Cockatoos have been found which was well done in a recent ‘hit and miss’ environment but there is still good fruiting in the upper sections of the main road eucalypt forest around the time
  • Reed Warblers were heard
  • Black Kite is always a bonus and certainly not a surety
  • Red Kneed Dotterel in the valley was a sighting not possible previously in the last 2 years with the inland inundation in the past year or so stealing them away. Good to have things back to normal

11th-Boobook Owls calling around Snake Ridge and Tawny Frogmouth seen on fence posts at Kamarun Lookout. Sooty Owl heard in Morans Falls area.

14th-Alberts Lyrebird at start of Wishing Tree Track again.

17th-Guests reported Lyrebird in Morans Valley near flying fox

18th-2 Lyrebirds on villa track

20th-Leaden Flycatcher, White Throated Needletail Swift and Rufous Fantail still in Brisbane suburbs

22nd-Mark Watson had a bizarre encounter opposite the front door/ reception with a Purple Swamphen getting around the place during the night after completing his Gloworm Tour. Now that is something else and certainly not really much of a possibility even 7km away at Pine Mountain

25th-Luke had Chestnut Breasted Mannikins flying towards the Retreat plunge pool whilst setting up the bird show on morning. I was pretty sure they may not be on the Park List but do move through long enough to be seen sometimes

April

2nd-Black Kites along the M1 Burleigh section

11th-Regent Bowerbirds spotted opposite Guesthouse, Treetop Walk and Red Road

12th-Needletail Swifts around Tweed Heads Banora, Rufous Fantails coastal still

13th-Magpie Geese M3 and Robina near the Mudgeeraba Creek and Golf Course area. A regular routine hangout place here returned to in recent times

15th-Eagleby post flood report, amazing scenes around the district not just here of course. The scars of the flooding were obvious in many places. Eagleby wetland had at least 3 metres of water thorough everything courtesy of the quiet angry Albert River which under the Pac Motorway was a churning maelstrom which is remarkable considering it is a flat flood plain, tidal with little elevational change. There are large areas of forest draped with grass debris stripped off the dirt closer to the banks and from other places with various debris; wood, plastic of every sort, double glass fridges-anything. Water level went up to the fences of the surrounding houses near the reserve but well over some places elsewhere nearby. All lakes and grass lands have been under water. Quality of the water is a bit dubious and will need time to settle. No birds on the lakes near the boardwalk but at least they got water. Some bush birds around with the fairly wrens and honeyeaters busy given the paperbark flowering. On a whole though fairly quiet. The Boardwalk most should be familiar with had probably 2 metres of water over it. A hide closest to the treatment plant had a log sticking out a window-thick as a telephone pole, but most hides in good shape. Fantails including Rufous were down closer to the river and a bit busier here. Thornbills present but mozzies too oppressive to care for birds just now.
18th-Guests had Lyrebird at Corroborree area near Boardwalk. Again later in the upper Wishing Tree Track. Pair of Grey Goshawks around the Bird of Prey show are perched up in trees. Paradise Riflebirds and Crested Shrike Tits at start of the Treetop Walk

21st-Luke had immature White Breasted Sea Eagle over the valley during the Bird of Prey Show. Guest sightings book stated 8 Riflebirds were seen along Booyong Walk. Grey Goshawk near cafe. Crested Shrike tit along Border Track somewhere. Lyrebird also reported along Morans Falls Track

22nd-Luke had Lyrebird on morning birdwalk seeing it as a fully plumed male which is always much sought after. Mark C reported a Square Tailed Kite and four Galahs over the Wildlife Encounters Show in the past week! This is at least the 3rd report of the Square Tailed Kite now in Lamington National Park so is a substantial report however it’s likely to have been missed on the park list due to transitory occurrences as opposed to not using the vast terrain of the park area over the past few million years

23rd-Male and female Riflebird for Luke on Birdwalk today, down quite low. Yellow Faced Honeyeaters reported by Luke behind the Birdshow area areas in wattle trees. Female Lyrebird found near Villa 5

24th-Grey Goshawk seen around the helipad and bird of prey sheds on a regular basis

25th-Scott had a Noisy Pitta a couple hundred metres along the Border Track

27th-Guests had Lyrebird at top of Wishing Tree Track

28th-Quite Impressive to see at least 14 Black Kites around Burleigh on the m1. Guests had low down views of Riflebird and Crested Shrike Tit, 1km along Border Track. Male Lyrebird seen 700m along Border Track

May

7th-Mark W had a Sooty Owl at the Cedar Tree on the gloworm tour

9th-Grey Goshawk Behind cafe scanning bird sheds from a sawn off tree top which it frequents latlely. Approachable to within 10 metres is much closer than most goshawks let us get.  O’Reillys Post Flood Birding-The main road in recovery mode after reopening after major roadwork repairs undertaken on what could be described as a disaster. Some birds may be affected somewhat with Striated Pardalotes being a likely victim, maybe short term where many of the steep road cuttings were slipped, undercut and later scraped/ smoothed off by machinery. Hopefully the birds will recolonise these features and Mary O’Reilly and I both already observed Striated Pardalotes zipping out of the banks drilling out new holes which is amazing they survived and are back in their usual regime hopefully to recover well. There are at least unlimited steep dirt slopes and embankments for them to choose.

Lower down several Eucalypt and Casuarina trees have been damaged as well as valley and gully vegetation. Some trees were slipped, bent over or undercut so may have been lopped if they posed a fall hazard (or not). Creeks were cleaned up which may suit some skulking water birds as vegetation is cleaned up. Duck Creek Road is closed, probably for a long time. Three Gates block the road in the top section! But O’Reilly’s does have access to their property (17V-Belsons, Kerry, Kurrajong and Shepard)which may make for more secluded birding conditions now! Below Shepards lookout the ‘road’ is said to not even exist and will require a full re-make! When guests see the main road they will understand that claim more fully. Rainforest areas lost a few trees but nothing unusual. Creek circuits West Canungra, Tooloona, Albert River will require months to get fixed so may be blocked for access a while but the rest of the park is fairly intact.

10th-Rufous Fantails still to be found in coastal areas

12th-Scot had Emerald Dove right between the rooms, walkway and Theatrette which was amazing but Mark J also mentioned they had been close around the staff village in recent months

13th-Lyrebird crossing red road near Hidden Gully late in the day, female. Varied Triller calling near the bus turning circle.

14th-Scot had Lyrebird a couple hundred metres down the Morans track on Morning Walk. Regent Bowerbirds were down in the Morans Valley in Pines quite easily seen and most days in all areas in small numbers. Recent tree and fruiting damage from weather perhaps favouring more appearances than in past years where abundant fruiting had them sparse till well into winter.

15th-Riflebird female in the Celerywood Trees at the turning circle had a great start to the morning birdwalk. Later on guests had 6! Riflebirds in this tree as the fruits must be just right. Also a first for the morning birdwalk as far as I know, where a near mature Whipbird came up to the feeder bowls and grabbed fruit from off the fence at the front door of the Guesthouse. The bird only took one load but was quite surprising how it looked all part of the show. Regents and Satin Bowerbirds were feeding too in good numbers compared to a notable absence this time in the last year or two where we had to wait longer. Lyrebird calling towards Wishing Tree Track. Several sightings and soundings of Yellow Faced Honeyeaters moving past the area during the day. B.O.P. Kestrel was mobbed during birdshow by the Welcome Swallows with a few roll flips feet up in retaliation. Was quite entertaining and semi comical.

From Morans Valley 4 Wedgetail Eagles were seen beyond the Moonlight Crag escarpment where it seemed 4 birds from 2 pairs formed, swarmed, soared along a bit and split again into 2 and went their separate ways. Later one patrolled solo closer to O’Reillys and headed west patrolling slowly and below eye level. Grey Goshawk around bird sheds in close trees hoping for food, quite reliable in mornings. Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoo working along main ridge in afternoon

18th May-Ian Gynther had a rewarding day on the crest of the range with a couple Rufous Scrub Birds heard, 4 Lyrebirds along the way and heard and saw the elusive Olive Whistler beyond Wanungra. A great outing. Rufous Fantail still on coast in the Byron Shire and likely to overwinter here again