Friday, 19 June 2020


Speckled Warbler

HELLO all, I was hoping for a favour.... 

As some of you may know 2020 was going to be the year when myself and Steve Grainger started our birdwatching tours under the name Australian Birding Safaris. Sadly the pandemic put a quick stop to that. We are hopefull that 2021 will be a great birding year and we are hopeful that some of our birding friends will consider touring with us.

In the meantime however we plan to be out and about a little more in the next six months seeing our wonderful country and its birdlife and we also hope to be posting reports, pictures and videos of our travels on our blog and website.

FINALLY, can I ask you to visit our site and FOLLOW it please and perhaps share it with any and all birding friends?

Thankyou sincerely.


Check out the following page: Our 2021 Calendar of tours.

Check out the following post: Bring on Birding - more joys

Saturday, 13 June 2020


2020, it is fair to say, has been an atypical year.

Very few outings.

Limited travel.

Limited Socialising.

But people have been out and about getting or [in my case] missing some great birds.

Torresian Imperial Pigeon [Carolyn Scott]

The main highlight has been a few sightings of a Torresian Imperial Pigeon near Twin Waters. This is an exceptional find. The bird, as far as I know, was found by Paddy Colley on David Lowe Way on the 7 June. It was rediscovered a few days later by Lori Australis [the Southern Lory?] on the 11th June. And today it was re-found again by Carolyn Scott [14 June]  on the corner of Ocean Drive and Wattlebird Drive. According to locals it has been in that area for the past 12 months!

Kentish Plover [r] with Red capped Plover [Vince Lee]

Another obvious candidate for Bird of the Year - Kentish Plover  -continues to be seen in and around Noosa North Shore mouth. First found by Jane Cooksley early in 2020 this bird has excited more than a few to twitch. 

Kentish Plover [ Vince Lee] 

Yandina Creek Wetland, now fully protected with some of the area available for visitation produces some good species. Hans Erkin got a good view of Lewins Rail while many have seen the Black necked Storks, although not everybody got as good a picture as Gazndeb Quirk!

Black necked Stork [Gazndeb Quirk]

Also over the wetland and at nearby [as the raptor flies] Finland Road raptors have continued; both Harriers, Square tailed Kite [found by Greg Roberts, Kestrel, Hobby, Brown Falcons, White breasted Sea Eagles and Osprey - to name a few. Whistling and Black Kites continue to be common.

Finland Road continues to surprise; this time with Varied Sitella - surely an unexpected species at this location.
Varied Sitella [Brian Gatfield]

Toorbul has had some interesting waders over winter, most notably Terek Sandpiper plus a Ruddy Turnstone while nearby, near Donnybrook, a pair of Brolgas have been seen by several.

the Donnybrook Brolga [John Kooistra]

Yellow Thornbill has been seen near Charlie Moreland in the Conondales while a little further west at Yabba Road in the Jimna Ranges birders have been drifting west to get a good suite of species that  reside there; Yellow tufted and Fuscous Honeyeaters, Speckled Warblers, Brown Treecreepers, Dusky Woodswallows and Jacky Winters. As far as I know no-one has managed to get a Diamond Firetail there this year though.

Dusky Woodswallows at Yabba Road [Ken Cross]

Yellow Thornbill [this one photographed at Nanango by Greg Roberts]

Cotton Pygmy Geese have been showing well at Wappa Dam as well as at Parklakes in Bli Bli. Also at Parklakes there has been the occasional Scaly breasted Munia. 


BirdLife Australia Sunshine Coast is organising a pelagic trip off Mooloolaba on Sunday June 28. People who are not members of BLA are welcome to come along.

Please note that this is a separate trip to the Mooloolaba pelagic being organised by Richard Fuller for Sunday July 12. Because of the logistics involved and careful preparations surrounding Covid-19, people booked on that trip are unable to transfer their booking to the earlier trip.

With recent weather in south-east Australia there is every reason to believe there could be some good birds out there.

The operators, Sunshine Coast Afloat, have gone to a great deal of trouble to ensure that seating and other arrangements on their large vessel are compliant with Queensland Health Covid-19 restrictions, as the company is legally obliged to do.

Cost will be $140 per person.

Please let Greg Roberts know if you want to put your name down. Email

Tuesday, 14 April 2020


Being able to identify male and female Topknot Pigeons usually rests with being able to see the longer crest and less streaking on the breast of the male. 

Whilst observing a pair of Topknots nesting, our Convenor, Judith Hoyle noted a marked difference in the size and patterning of the blue fleshy part above the bill in the male.  Further observations of males and females suggest that, at close range,  this is a consistent method of separating males from females in the field. This has not been referenced in the literature associated with this species.  It is not known if this is a feature only present in breeding birds. In addition, initial observations also suggest that the blue fleshy parts of males have subtle differences in the grooves and patterns associated with this facial feature.  If this can be demonstrated, it provides a mechanism to identify individual males in the field.

Clearly further work is required to determine both hypotheses.

 If you have good quality close photos of Topknot Pigeons,  we would be most grateful if you would share them via email to .
Topknot Pigeon

The date, or at least the month, the photo(s) were taken is important to determine whether the field mark is related to breeding males.

Permission to use of any photos in publications would be sought and appropriate citations would be included in any published papers.

Friday, 3 April 2020

Birding Stuff To do in a Lockdown

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Gull billed Tern and the Australian Tern

The bird in the foreground is an uncommon bird here in Australia and was a lifer for me today! [15/03/2020] It is a Gull billed Tern.

From WikipediaThe Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica), formerly Sterna nilotica, is a tern in the family Laridae. The genus name is from Ancient Greek gelao, "to laugh", and khelidon, "swallow". 

Specifically the bird pictured is of the Asian sub specie affinis which is found in Transbaikalia to Manchuria, Japan, south and east China through southeast Asia to the Philippines, Borneo, Sulawesi & Sumatra.

The Australian Tern (Gelochelidon macrotarsa), also pictured above but in the background, was previously considered a subspecies of the Gull billed.

The above picture shows both species in non breeding plumage so it is reasonable to compare the birds so as to emphasise the differences. The Australian Tern is beginning to moult into breeding plumage.

close up of affinis facial pattern

The Gull billed [affinis] is 
  • smaller, 
  • thinner [and straighter] billed, 
  • different face pattern - less black behind eye, 
  • overall dark patch is smaller and lighter in colour, 
  • dark patch is broken by a partial white eye 'ring' especially around the bottom of the eye, 
  • lores are much paler, 
  • legs seem a little paler [am i making that bit up???], 
  • back and wings seem a little greyer / darker than the Australian Tern,
  • shorter legged 

Monday, 9 March 2020


Ground Cuckoo Shrike - not on the ground
The Ipswich area generally and Ipswich specifically does not feature on most folk’s travel itineraries. However it was here that we visited for the purpose of birding for the weekend of the 7 and 8 March 2020. And I, for one, am glad we did.

A good mate of mine, Dr Mike Mathieson, who happens to be a zoologist and a botanist plus a damn fine birder agreed to show us around some of the birding sites in his [extended] patch.

The plan was simple. Saturday would be spent, more or less, south and south west of Ipswich in the Scenic Rim area, while Sunday would take us to Gatton and Lockyer Valley for the morning before a trip back home via one birding spot in eastern Brisbane; Sandy Camp Road.With this plan we managed to record some 139 species for the weekend. [Day 1 Ipswich, Boonah, Mt French NP, Cunningham Gap (117 birds) Day 2 Gatton, Lockyer Valley (86 birds) and Day 2 Sandy Camp Rd Wetlands (16 birds)] 

Black chinned Honeyeater

Black chinned Honeyeater

Black chinned Honeyeater

Saturday took us first to a little bushy patch on Raysourse Road. This place, I think it is fair to say, does not look much like a birding Mecca but it certainly provided the goods. Almost the first birds seen were a few Brown headed Honeyeaters and Black chinned Honeyeater – both uncommon birds at the best of times and certainly not common this far east. It was accompanied by a another 50 + species including Square tailed Kite, a great flock of Varied Sitella, Fuscous Honeyeaters, Cicadabird, Striped Honeyeater – to name a few.

Square tailed Kite
Folks collecting mud

Vince and Susan

Next down to the town of Boonah for coffees before a trip to the summit of Mount French. While birding was a little slow the views and the butterflies – many of them hill-topping more than made up for it.

Russell and the view from Mt French

Burnside bus on safari

Xanthorrhoea flower spike with Blue Tigers in attendance

said Xanthorrhoea flower spike with Blue Tigers in attendance

Tailed Emperor
Dragonfly sp
Add caption

The afternoon involved travelling from wetland to wetland slowly growing our list to its peak of over 100 species. Good numbers of Swan and other waterfowl including Australian Shoveler were recorded.

roadside wetland panarama

Black Swan
Last stop was a short rainforest loop at Cunningham’s gap where we added a few rainforest species to our daily tally. Most notable was an Albert’s Lyrebird however not everyone was lucky enough to get a view. Black faced Monarchs, Golden Whistlers, Southern Logrunners Green Catbirds and Satin Bowerbirds had to placate those who had missed it….

Dinner at the Boonah Pub – Ken’s Kitchen no less – was good and worth recommending.

The birds of the day were a tie between Brown headed / Black chinned Honeyeater and Square-tailed Kite. Other notables included the Albert’s Lyrebird, Australian Shoveler and Southern Logrunner.      

Sunday at Gatton and Lockyer Valley also produced some excellent birds. The day, it could be argued, got off to an ordinary start with a visit to Gatton Campus of the university of Queensland. The drought had not been kind and the wetlands had dried out. Recent rains had merely encouraged weed growth rather than the filling of the wetlands so what was once a must-stop-location for a great range and number of waterfowl was pretty poor.

male shoveler
Apex Wetlands, just west of Gatton, had only faired marginally better; sporting a variety of waterfowl including the usual suspects plus Shoveler.

birders in 'action'
Our next stop rocked….Cross Road. Almost straight away we got good views of raptors; Black Falcon [best among them] but also Black Kite, Whistling Kite, Kestrel, Wedge tailed Eagles. Red rumped Parrots, missing at the Ag College appeared here with a few Cockatiels as well as the standard Pale headed Rosellas. Grey headed Babblers appeared briefly. A little further down the road near a wetland we got Weebill, White throated Gerygone, Peaceful Dove, Rufous Whistler, and Speckled Warblers.

White throated Gerygone
Australian Kestrel

Black Kite
The road to Atkinson Dam produced simply wonderful views of Ground Cuckoo shrikes before a good spread of species at the lake itself while folk lunched.

Ground Cuckoo Shrike
Ground Cuckoo Shrike
You can see these birds walking, flying or perched...... [Slaters] - Picture by Cecile Espigole.
And then the road home with the last stop of the weekend was at Sandy Camp Road. This well-known site was largely ignored as we got our twitch on. Sandy Camp had been home to two White fronted Honeyeaters for a few weeks. These birds are a long way from home as they should be expected about a 1000 km inland. After a few trying minutes [and then some] finally one was found that read our script to sit still long enough for all to get pretty reasonable views. The bird was certainly a lifer for some and a new SE Queensland bird for practically all.

White fronted Honeyeater
White fronted Honeyeater

White fronted Honeyeater
All up a pretty reasonable weekend of birding and socialising even if as I write now I remain write tired…..     

Thanks to all the participants and, especially Mike Mathieson, for being a wonderful guide / navigator.

The bird lists below; [Thanks to Cecile]
Day 1 Ipswich, Boonah, Mt French NP, Cunningham Gap (116 birds)
  1. Eastern Koel
  2. Laughing Kookaburra
  3. Australian Pelican
  4. Great Cormorant
  5. Little black cormorant 
  6. Little Pied Cormorant
  7. Black-winged Stilt
  8. Black-fronted dotterel
  9. Masked lapwing
  10. Comb-crested Jacana
  11. Black Swan
  12. Plumed Whistling-duck
  13. Australian Wood Duck
  14. Australasian Shoveler
  15. Grey Teal
  16. Hardhead
  17. Pacific Black duck
  18. Australasian Grebe
  19. White-faced Heron
  20. White-necked Heron
  21. Cattle egret 
  22. Great egret
  23. Australian White Ibis
  24. Royal Spoonbill
  25. Straw-necked Ibis
  26. Yellow-billed Spoonbill
  27. Purple swamphen
  28. Dusky Moorhen
  29. Eurasian Coot
  30. White-bellied Sea-Eagle
  31. Wedge-tailed eagle
  32. Black Kite
  33. Whistling kite
  34. Square-tailed kite
  35. Nankeen Kestrel
  36. Peregrine Falcon
  37. Galah
  38. Long-billed Corella
  39. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
  40. Rainbow Lorikeet
  41. Scaly-breasted lorikeet
  42. Little Lorikeet
  43. Australian King-Parrot
  44. Pale-headed rosella
  45. Spotted Turtle-dove
  46. White-headed Pigeon
  47. Common Bronzewing
  48. Crested Pigeon
  49. Bar-shouldered Dove
  50. Peaceful dove
  51. Brush Cuckoo
  52. Fan-tailed Cuckoo
  53. Pheasant coucal 
  54. Sacred kingfisher
  55. Dollarbird
  56. Rainbow Bee-eater 
  57. White-throated Needletail
  58. Welcome swallow
  59. Albert's Lyrebird
  60. Australian Logrunner 
  61. White-browed Scrubwren
  62. Yellow-throated Scrubwren
  63. Large-billed scrub wren
  64. Brown thornbill
  65. Yellow-rumped Thornbill
  66. White-throated Gerygone 
  67. Spotted Pardalote
  68. Striated Pardalote
  69. Superb Fairy-wren
  70. Red-backed Fairywren
  71. Fuscous Honeyeater
  72. Brown-headed Honeyeater
  73. Black chinned Honeyeater
  74. White-naped Honeyeater
  75. White-throated Honeyeater
  76. Lewin’s Honeyeater 
  77. Yellow-faced Honeyeater
  78. Scarlet Honeyeater
  79. Striped Honeyeater
  80. Bell Miner
  81. Noisy miner
  82. Noisy Friarbird
  83. Eastern Whipbird
  84. Varied sittella
  85. White-throated treecreeper
  86. Cicadabird 
  87. Black-faced Cuckooshrike 
  88. Dusky Woodswallow
  89. White-breasted Woodswallow
  90. Pied currawong
  91. Grey Butcherbird
  92. Pied butcherbird 
  93. Australian Magpie
  94. Torresian Crow
  95. Satin Bowerbird
  96. Australian Figbird
  97. Olive-backed Oriole
  98. Spangled Drongo
  99. Peewee
  100. Leaden flycatcher
  101. Black-faced Monarch
  102. Spectacled monarch
  103. Grey Fantail
  104. Rufous fantail
  105. Willie-wagtail
  106. Eastern Yellow Robin
  107. Rufous Whistler
  108. Golden Whistler
  109. Little Shrike-thrush 
  110. Grey Shrike-Thrush
  111. Mistletoebird
  112. Silvereye
  113. Australian Pipit
  114. Common Myna
  115. Double-barred Finch
  116. Red-browed Finch
  117. House Sparrow

Day 2 Gatton, Lockyer Valley
  1. Eastern Koel
  2. Laughing Kookaburra
  3. Australian Pelican
  4. Great Cormorant
  5. Australasian Darter
  6. Little black cormorant 
  7. Little Pied Cormorant
  8. Black-fronted dotterel
  9. Masked lapwing
  10. Comb-crested Jacana
  11. Black Swan
  12. Magpie Goose
  13. Plumed Whistling-duck
  14. Australian Wood Duck
  15. Australasian Shoveler
  16. Grey Teal
  17. Hardhead
  18. Pacific Black duck
  19. Australasian Grebe
  20. White-faced Heron
  21. White-necked Heron
  22. Cattle egret 
  23. Great egret
  24. Australian White Ibis
  25. Glossy Ibis
  26. Royal Spoonbill
  27. Straw-necked Ibis
  28. Yellow-billed Spoonbill
  29. Purple swamphen
  30. Dusky Moorhen
  31. Eurasian Coot
  32. Brown Quail
  33. White-bellied Sea-Eagle
  34. Wedge-tailed eagle
  35. Black Kite
  36. Whistling kite
  37. Swamp Harrier
  38. Black Falcon 
  39. Nankeen Kestrel
  40. Cockatiel
  41. Galah
  42. Little Corella
  43. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
  44. Rainbow Lorikeet
  45. Scaly-breasted lorikeet
  46. Pale-headed rosella
  47. Red-rumped Parrot
  48. Crested Pigeon
  49. Peaceful dove
  50. Fan-tailed Cuckoo
  51. Pheasant coucal 
  52. Sacred kingfisher
  53. Dollarbird
  54. Rainbow Bee-eater 
  55. Welcome swallow
  56. Tree martin
  57. Speckled Warbler
  58. Weebill
  59. Yellow-rumped Thornbill
  60. White-throated Gerygone 
  61. Striated Pardalote
  62. Superb Fairy-wren
  63. Red-backed Fairywren
  64. White-throated Honeyeater
  65. Brown Honeyeater
  66. Blue-faced Honeyeater
  67. Noisy miner
  68. Little Friarbird
  69. Grey-crowned Babbler
  70. Black-faced Cuckooshrike 
  71. Ground Cuckoo-shrike
  72. Grey Butcherbird
  73. Australian Magpie
  74. Torresian Crow
  75. Olive-backed Oriole
  76. Peewee
  77. Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon 
  78. Willie-wagtail
  79. Rufous Whistler
  80. Golden-headed Cisticola 
  81. Australian Reed-warbler
  82. Tawny Grassbird
  83. Australian Pipit
  84. Common Myna
  85. Double-barred Finch
  86. House Sparrow

Day 2 Sandy Camp Rd Wetlands 
  1. Plumed Whistling-duck
  2. Pacific Black duck
  3. Rainbow Lorikeet
  4. Dollarbird
  5. Rainbow Bee-eater 
  6. Superb Fairy-wren
  7. White-throated Honeyeater
  8. Lewin’s Honeyeater 
  9. Brown Honeyeater
  10. White-fronted Honyeater
  11. Little Friarbird
  12. Grey Butcherbird
  13. Willie-wagtail
  14. Grey Shrike-Thrush
  15. Australian Reed-warbler
  16. Tawny Grassbird

Trip List
  1. Eastern Koel
  2. Laughing Kookaburra
  3. Australian Pelican
  4. Great Cormorant
  5. Australasian Darter
  6. Little black cormorant 
  7. Little Pied Cormorant
  8. Black-winged Stilt
  9. Black-fronted dotterel
  10. Masked lapwing
  11. Comb-crested Jacana
  12. Black Swan
  13. Magpie Goose
  14. Plumed Whistling-duck
  15. Australian Wood Duck
  16. Australasian Shoveler
  17. Grey Teal
  18. Hardhead
  19. Pacific Black duck
  20. Australasian Grebe
  21. White-faced Heron
  22. White-necked Heron
  23. Cattle egret 
  24. Great egret
  25. Australian White Ibis
  26. Glossy Ibis
  27. Royal Spoonbill
  28. Straw-necked Ibis
  29. Yellow-billed Spoonbill
  30. Purple swamphen
  31. Dusky Moorhen
  32. Eurasian Coot
  33. Brown Quail
  34. White-bellied Sea-Eagle
  35. Wedge-tailed eagle
  36. Black Kite
  37. Whistling kite
  38. Square-tailed kite
  39. Swamp Harrier
  40. Black Falcon 
  41. Nankeen Kestrel
  42. Peregrine Falcon
  43. Cockatiel
  44. Galah
  45. Little Corella
  46. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
  47. Long-billed Corella
  48. Rainbow Lorikeet
  49. Scaly-breasted lorikeet
  50. Little Lorikeet
  51. Australian King-Parrot
  52. Pale-headed rosella
  53. Red-rumped Parrot
  54. Spotted Turtle-dove
  55. White-headed Pigeon
  56. Crested Pigeon
  57. Common Bronzewing
  58. Peaceful dove
  59. Bar-shouldered Dove
  60. Fan-tailed Cuckoo
  61. Brush Cuckoo
  62. Pheasant coucal 
  63. Sacred kingfisher
  64. Dollarbird
  65. Rainbow Bee-eater 
  66. White-throated Needletail
  67. Welcome swallow
  68. Tree martin
  69. Alebert's Lyrebird
  70. Australian Logrunner 
  71. Speckled Warbler
  72. White-browed Scrubwren
  73. Yellow-throated Scrubwren
  74. Large-billed scrub wren
  75. Weebill
  76. Brown thornbill
  77. Yellow-rumped Thornbill
  78. White-throated Gerygone 
  79. Striated Pardalote
  80. Spotted Pardalote
  81. Superb Fairy-wren
  82. Red-backed Fairywren
  83. Fuscous Honeyeater
  84. White-throated Honeyeater
  85. Brown-headed Honeyeater
  86. White-naped Honeyeater
  87. Lewin’s Honeyeater 
  88. Yellow-faced Honeyeater
  89. Brown Honeyeater
  90. Scarlet Honeyeater
  91. White-fronted Honyeater
  92. Blue-faced Honeyeater
  93. Striped Honeyeater
  94. Noisy miner
  95. Bell Miner
  96. Little Friarbird
  97. Noisy Friarbird
  98. Eastern Whipbird
  99. Grey-crowned Babbler
  100. Varied sittella
  101. White-throated treecreeper
  102. Cicadabird 
  103. Black-faced Cuckooshrike 
  104. Ground Cuckoo-shrike
  105. Dusky Woodswallow
  106. White-breasted Woodswallow
  107. Pied currawong
  108. Grey Butcherbird
  109. Pied butcherbird 
  110. Australian Magpie
  111. Torresian Crow
  112. Satin Bowerbird
  113. Olive-backed Oriole
  114. Australian Figbird
  115. Spangled Drongo
  116. Peewee
  117. Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon 
  118. Leaden flycatcher
  119. Black-faced Monarch
  120. Spectacled monarch
  121. Grey Fantail
  122. Willie-wagtail
  123. Rufous fantail
  124. Eastern Yellow Robin
  125. Rufous Whistler
  126. Golden Whistler
  127. Little Shrike-thrush 
  128. Grey Shrike-Thrush
  129. Mistletoebird
  130. Silvereye
  131. Golden-headed Cisticola 
  132. Australian Reed-warbler
  133. Tawny Grassbird
  134. Australian Pipit
  135. Common Myna
  136. Double-barred Finch
  137. Red-browed Finch
  138. House Sparrow
All photos by Ken Cross unless credited