Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Bring on Birding.

My name is Ken Cross and I’m a birder.

I wanted to get that confession out of the way early. Not that I’m embarrassed about it but I know some who are.

It’s strange that some are ashamed of their hobby but in Australia, and perhaps everywhere, to claim that you are a birdwatcher is to lose some serious credibility. Explaining that you are a birder or a bird watcher is not going to open too many doors socially. Even I would admit that walking around with binoculars is not cool. Birding is not something that many aspire to, like say, watching televised motor sports. And all of that is quite sad.  

Because Birding is not only defence-able, it is sellable. It is a great hobby and interest that one can rationally defend.

First, before I explain its appeals, I need to quickly describe what it is. Birdwatching, I’m sure many would surmise, is watching birds. Birding is something different, something more. Birding involves actively seeking birds, identifying them by sight and song, savouring them, recording them, listing them, enjoying them and their habitats and then later, learning, reading and perhaps writing about them.

The way I see it there are seven joys of birding. And I admit being impressed by the explanation of these seven by New York City birder, Chris Cooper.

The first joy is the beauty of the birds.

Think of common beautiful birds; the pink and grey Galah, impossibly coloured and well named Rainbow Lorikeets, Scarlet Honeyeaters – the males appearing as if they’d just been dipped head first in bright red paint. Imagine the less seen but no less attractive Emerald Dove, a small jade ground loving pigeon with a faded pink head and chest. Picture, if you can, a silently sitting male Regent Bowerbird, an impressive mix of black and orange and, as it takes flight, another explosion of colour through its orange wings. Even the abundant Magpie, when studied, is a handsome bird decorated traditionally in its black and white.  Birders tap in commonly to these common beauties that many, sadly, walk blindly past.

The second joy is the pleasure of being in natural places. As a recent advertisement implored, “Get outside, Get outside, Get outside”. To a birder, at least, this is good advice, for to see the birds you have to see the country. And in Australia generally and the Sunshine Coast, in particular, we have some sublime country to see.
The third pleasure is hunting, albeit without the bloodshed.  To see birds well, patience, stealth and alert senses are needed. These are the skills of good hunters and these are the skills of good birders. We share, too, the satisfaction of claiming our targeted prize. Where we differ is that we leave our quarry alive and in peace; the hunt rather than the kill the source of satisfaction.

Joy number four is the pleasure of collecting. Perhaps the ultimate aim for an Australian birder is to sight and record that sighting of every bird species within our continent. There are some in Australia who have a list of over 800 bird species, seen within Australia and its island territories and the seas between. My collection is more modest; some 650 species.  You can also collect lists for your yard - a yard list, this year – your year list, or your entire life – naturally a life list.

Stick with me – Joy number five is the pleasure of problem solving. The main aim for a birder is to identify every species that they see. To answer the obvious question, “What is that?” Now some birds don’t cooperate. They hide among the leaves and the foliage such that you only see part of them at any one time – demanding that a mental game of jigsaw puzzle. Still other birds are very similar to other birds, that is, the differences between them are, to say the least, subtle. Like any puzzles arriving at the correct solution is a pleasure.

Joy number six is the satisfaction of making scientific discovery. There are lots of birds and very few scientists and subsequently many, many unanswered questions. Every birder, at least, can contribute to helping answer the basic question of “Where are the birds?” Information about bird distribution and numbers is, of course, essential for conservation science.

Lastly, joy number seven, what I call the Lifer Effect. This pleasure needs a little explaining.  When you begin birding you read the bird books and see pictures of birds. The picture creates the idea of a bird which is very different from the real thing. One day though you see the real bird – the myth suddenly becomes reality and you are having an experience that you know that you have never had in your life before. You have just seen a Life bird, and experienced the Lifer Effect and it is thrilling. [For a non-birder try to imagine the pleasure that could be gained by seeing a wild tiger in the wild, knowing that this experience may never happen again and has never happened before.]

So there are the seven joys but there are other reasons. It is cheap – one pair of binoculars and one field guide [an illustrated book describing all of the birds of Australia] and you are ready to go. It is inclusive - birding can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone of every generation and it is a hobby that can last a lifetime. Further it can be done at almost every single place on our planet.

So try birding. Many of you will be glad that you did.

For more information see Birdlife Australia’s website.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Proposed Outings for 2014

BirdLife Sunshine Coast   -- Proposed Outings for 2014.

May 3rd               Mooloolah River Walk 
Meet at 7am. From Mooloolah Connection Road [accessable from the town of Mooloolah or Steve Irwin Way] turn north into South River Road. Park on roadside after c.50metres. The walk runs east following the Mooloolah River to Old Gympie Road. Walk returns on the same track. We expect a range of species in particular, Rose Robin and several cuckoo species.
Referdex Map 86 17 J
Approximate Mooloolah River Walk

June 7th              Ewan Maddock Dam – Kowald Road End
Meet at 8am. From Landsborough take road towards Maleny. Take Gympie street right from roundabout, past the school, over the railway lien and turn left into Tunnel Ridge Road. Turn right into Kowald Road. Follow this dirt road until it ends near the water. A good range of freshwater spp plus a range of forest spp. Keep eyes and ears peeled for Little Grassbird!
Referdex Map 96 11 Q
Map shows Koald Road but travel to the end of that road nearer the dam.

July 5th                Park Lakes Wetland near Bli Bli
Meet at 8am. A new site for the club!! From Bli Bli, turn north into Willis Rd, follow the main road [it changes into Thomas Road]. At the roundabout turn left into Park Lakes Drive. Follow this road through several roundabouts until the end. Near the end of the road there is a park on the right. We will meet here and begin our walk. A good mix of habitat and spp. Little Bitterns have recently bred here and a few crake spp have been regularly seen.
Referdex Map 57 9P
Map showing 49 Parklakes Drive - park across road in front of the park.

August 2nd          London Creek Environmental Park 
Meet at 8am. From Bald Knob Road [accessable from Peachester or the Maleny - Landsborough Road] turn east into MacDonalds Rd. Park here.
Referdex Map 94 12L
Park at marker

September 6th   Maroochydore Bushland Botanical Gardens
Meet at 7am. From Forest Glen drive past the Forest Glen Holiday Park and follow the signs to the Botanical Gardens. Road goes under the highway.
Referdex Map 77 18N
Directions from Forest Glen to Maroochy Bushland Botanic Garden

October 4th         Toorbul

AFTERNOON OUTING - Meet at 4pm at park opposite general store. [remember to visit the Lagoon on the way in for Brolgas and perhaps other waders. We may travel to the north end first for Mangrove Kingfisher, Mangrove Gerygone etc before heading to the southern end for the waders. High tide is c6pm so we should get good views of migratory waders as the tide rises with the light behind us. Please consider bringing food for a BBQ as there are Electric BBQ's at the northern end of the esplanade.  


November 1st     Charlie Moreland, Conondales. 
Meet at 7am at the Charlie Moreland Day Use area for an exploration of some of surrounding Conondale Forest. PLEASE stay for a camp out at the adjacent camping area. BYO food and drink. Enjoy more birding in the afternoon and some spotlighting after dinner for Owls, Nightjars, Frogmouths, Pademelons, Bandicoots, Possums and more. Each member is resonsible for booking a camp spot at the following web address;
Charlie Moreland from Kenilworth

December 6th       Mapleton area birding – meet at Mapleton Lily ponds at 7am. Turn west at the Mapleton Tavern and then take the next right. The Lily ponds can be seen on the right and there is a gravel road into a small car park. From here we will car pool down to Mapleton Falls NP and / or Gheerulla Falls Track. As this is our final birding outing for 2014 the suggestion is we bring a plate for a shared morning tea / brunch. Electric BBQ’s are available at the Lily ponds if anyone is interested in a more substantial brunch!
Mapleton Village, with the map centered on the Mapleton Lilyponds - entrance via Delicia Rd.

For more details please email Ken Cross -     or
 John Malings (

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Montville Public Meeting - update

Quite a good turn out to a public meeting - c100 people or so. The meeting had four public speakers. No one from the government came to present, despite being invited. 
The plan [such as it is] has the Qld government suggesting to private enterprise that someone should step up and establish a zipline within Kondalilla NP. The Qld government would lease the land and gain a small percentage of profits. The business would get the lion's share. 

Seemingly no one at the meeting is against the goodly business of ziplining however many were against the idea of establishing it in a Queensland National Park.

The reasons for objections are many but include;

The development would be against the cardinal principle of managing National Parks. From the Qld National Park's website - "The cardinal principle for managing national parks is to provide, to the greatest possible extent, for the permanent preservation of the area's natural condition and the protection of the area's cultural resources and values.Natural condition means protection from human interference - allowing natural processes to proceed.
The construction and continued maintenance of the zipline would affect flora and fauna [including threatened taxa].
Safety considerations may mean additional pressure to clear trees, branches etc, thus affecting the ecology further; for example, additional light reaching the forest floor could allow for and encourage greater weed growth.

National Park resources could be diverted to protect commercal assets rather than the core business of managing the area for protectng and maintaining biodiversity.

Doubt over the economic benefit of such a development to the National Park estate and concerns about, if the project failed, who would meet the cost of infrastructure removal?

Concern about tax payer funds sponsoring business which may lead to damaging the state's environmental assets.

As an ecotourism project it fails the test of definition. Definition from the Dept of National Parks etc - "Ecotourism encompasses a broad spectrum of environmentally responsible activities that increase visitor appreciation, develop a better understanding of the natural and cultural heritage, and are carefully managed to be ecologically, economically and socially sustainable." Exisiting zipline operations emphasise the 'wow' factor of ziplining rather than a 'better understanding of natural and cultural heritage'.

Further National Parks generally encourage all people to appreciate the park's natural virtues while Ziplines are targeted clearly at a younger demographic who have the money to pay for entry - at the exclusion of other groups.

For many the opposition can be summed up thus; 'Make a zipline but put it on private land and do not expect tax payer assistance!'

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Interesting Sightings

A single Square-tailed Kite seen over Nambour yesterday; specifically over Selangor Hospital area.

Any interesting sightings for the Sunshine Coast please email Ken Cross -

Monday, 7 April 2014

Macquarie Island declared pest free after 7-year eradication program

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Farewell the Shorebirds

Follow their journey 10 April - 10 May 2014. Check out -

Montville Public Meeting

Charlie Moreland in the Conondales

The first 'blog' outing was to Charlie Moreland Camping and Day use area in the Conondales. This is an area where there is a nice mix of tall Eucalypt forest and adjacent rainforest plus some riverine scrub next to the creek.

We had a good crowd  - some 28 people - get out of bed early as we met at 7am sharp-ish at the day use area. Three lorikeet species - Rainbow, Scaly-breasted and the expected Littles were buzzing around trying to drown out the incessant sounds of the Bell Miners and their cousins the aptly named Noisys. Strolling down the road, doing our best to ignore the occasional mammal [Red- necked Pademelon], we got some good views of some good birds; Russet-tailed Thrush, Rose Robin, Crested Shrike-Tit. A Regent Bowerbird male entertained a few while a couple of  female Regent Bowerbirds started a brief, 'What are you?' discussion. Many birders suffered birder's neck as they struggled to ID honeyeaters and pardalotes high in the canopy; Striated Pardalotes, Yellow-faced, White-naped and Scarlet Honeyeaters joined the far more common Lewin's Honeyeaters. A few birders were satisfied to get good views of the very vocal but difficult-to-see Bell Miners. Along the creek small flocks of Large-billed Scrub-wrens were keeping company with the brighter and more beautiful Silvereyes. A nice flock of Brown cuckoo-Doves were perched in good views and one birder scored her Bee-eater Lifer as a pair or so hawked high from casuarinas that lined the creek sides. Wompoo Fruit Doves and, perhaps most exciting, a brilliant male Paradise Riflebird caused a little excitement while I struggled to complete the bird call.

All in all 60species of bird were recorded in reasonably brief time.

The total list of birds seen and heard are as follows;  
 Australian Brush Turkey, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Wonga Pigeon,  Wompoo Fruit-Dove, Topknot Pigeon, Little Pied Cormorant, White-faced Heron, Dusky Moorhen, Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo,
 Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Rainbow Lorikeet, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Little Lorikeet, Australian King Parrot, Pale-headed Rosella, Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Laughing Kookaburra, Rainbow Bee-eater, White-throated Treecreeper, Green Catbird, Regent Bowerbird,
 Satin Bowerbird, Yellow-throated Scrubwren, White-browed Scrubwren, Large-billed Scrubwren,
 White-throated Gerygone, Brown Thornbill, Spotted Pardalote, Striated Pardalote, Lewin's Honeyeater, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Bell Miner, Noisy Miner, Scarlet Honeyeater, New Holland Honeyeater, White-naped Honeyeater, Eastern Whipbird, Crested Shrike-tit, Varied Triller, Golden Whistler, Little Shrike-thrush, Grey Shrike-thrush, Australasian Figbird, Grey Butcherbird,  Australian Magpie, Pied Currawong, Spangled Drongo, Rufous Fantail, Grey Fantail, Willie Wagtail
 Torresian Crow, White-eared Monarch, Paradise Riflebird, Rose Robin, Pale Yellow Robin, Eastern Yellow Robin, Silvereye, Welcome Swallow, Russet-tailed Thrush, Mistletoebird.
Russet-tailed Thrush  [Jenny Gursanscky]

Also two mammals - Both Red-legged and Red-necked Pademelon. Lace Monitors were also present.

Directions to the site: Coming from Kenilworth, follow the Maleny-Kenilworth Rd, turn right (well sign posted) just before the Little Yabba Creek bridge. Road soon becomes gravel. Park at 1st Day Use area. If coming via Maleny, pass through Conondale and turn left after crossing the Little Yabba Creek bridge.
Location of Charlie Moreland


Welcome to Birdlife Australia - Sunshine Coast Group's Blog. Here you will find posts related to our activities and outings  - and perhaps a range of bird related information.

If you would like to join our group please contact Ken Cross at and view the Birdlife Australia homepage at