Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Upcoming Outings 2016

Saturday outing - 9 April 2016 -   Toorbul [and Bribie Island?] - Farewell to the Waders. Leader/ s – John Kooistra   **** Please note change of date!!

MORNING OUTING - Meet at 8am 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. Morning High tide is at approx. 11 am. Possible extension to Bribie Island following bird call.


Wednesday Outing – 20 April 2016
Meet at Mapleton Lilyponds carpark at 8am. The walk will visit Mapleton Falls National Park for a walk through the variety of forest types. Leader – Burnie Collins

Please check out the following articles on our blog [and consider subscribing to it by entering your email address in the place provided].
http://scbab.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/a-madagascar-adventure-by-steve-carol.html   - a report on a birding tour to Madagascar by two members; Steve and Carol Popple

http://scbab.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/spain-birding-report-2015.html  - a report on a Spain birding tour by Ken Cross

http://scbab.blogspot.com.au/2016/03/lockyer-valley-weekend-away.html - a report on our recent weekend away to the Lockyer Valley for Birdlife Sunshine coast members.

Please consider our outing / camp out  in May  - Saturday outing – 14 [ and 15] May 2016 - Charlie Moreland, Conondales.
NB – Note different date for this outing in May!!

Meet at 8am 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 responsible for booking a camp spot at the following web address;  http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/imbil/camping.html#charlie_moreland_camping_area
Leader – Ken Cross

Also remember that we are having a Birdlife Australia display at the Maleny Wood Expo on the Labour Day long weekend, Saturday 30th April, Sunday 1st and Monday 2nd of May and we need volunteers to talk birds, birding and Birdlife Australia.
Please signal your willingness to help by emailing Robyn at robyn.combes62@gmail.com

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Spain Birding Report 2015

Spain Birding Report
Ken Cross

I had heard from many that the place to go birding in Europe was Spain. There were many bird species, a great range of habitats, surprising scenery, good food and, compared with UK to the north at least, a warm climate. Armed with this information [and content that I had seen a few European birds already in the UK] I organised a birding tour to Spain May 2015, to enjoy their Spring season and birds. I’m happy to say that Spain as a destination for birders was everything folks had claimed it to be and, if anything, it surpassed my expectations.
strange people....

Our trip took us from the streets of their capital Madrid west to the plains of Spain, north to high mountains – the Picos de Europa and the Pyrenees , south again to the Steppes [literally the steps to the mountains] and then east to the Ebros Delta before finishing in the charming city of Barcelona.  Now before I go any further let me state the obvious; a trip does like this does not happen without insider knowledge. That knowledge and expertise was supplied by Steve West, a British born birder and now proud Catalan man, who runs a company – Birding in Spain.

Ben Kingsley 
After a long email correspondence I met Steve in Madrid. He arrived in a van with a Chaffinch stuck in the grill of his rented van; what a good sign! This was a man who took seriously his pledge to bring the birds to us. Jokes aside, Steve turned out to be an excellent guide, even if he did look a little like Ben Kingsley in the bird-watching-related film, “A Birder’s Guide to Everything”.

The real Steve West
We arrived a few days in Madrid before the arrival of Steve such that we could enjoy a city tour of Madrid and also to ‘get our eye in’ on urban birds in several of the city’s parks. Needless to say we enjoyed Common Swifts, House Martins, Barn Swallows, both House and Tree Sparrows and tits – Great, Blue, Coal and Long-tailed. Eurasian Magpies and the large Wood Pigeons were common and we saw our first endemic – Spotless Starling.

Not long after arriving one of our party noticed a van speeding past with the words, ‘Bimbo’ on it. Amused at the prospect of a van full of Bimbos he asked Steve for the real explanation. Turned out that Bimbo was a brand of bread, however, Steve added, Bimbo also meant something for Spanish birders; Bimbo meant lifer. Here was a Spanish word other than cervesa that we could use. For the following two weeks a day would not pass without the excited cry of ‘Bimbo!’
Bimbo - Spanish endemic - Spotless Starling
Stock Dove
Olivaceous Warbler

So after a few lovely Bimbos [Serin and Short-toed Treecreeper] in Madrid and some great views of tits we left the fair city for the plains in Spain.

 Our first birding stop was a nearby wetland that had our first Swamphen, Coot, Gadwall, Little Bittern, Grey and Purple Herons on or near the water while Barn and Red-rumped Swallows plus a flotilla of Sand Martins sped around. Raptors were everywhere; Eurasian Griffon Vultures, Marsh and Montague’s Harriers, Black and Red Kites, Booted Eagle plus four Lesser Kestrels flew over us. White Storks were conspicuous while, closer to the ground Crested Lark and Zitting Cisticolas gave us something to look at while Cetti’s Warbler and various Reed Warblers sang invisibly.

Driving and raptors continued; Black Vulture, Short-toed Eagle and, when we stopped, Bonelli’s Eagle. This stop yielded Nightingales, Nightingales and more Nightingales plus warblers; Melodious, Sardinian but we missed an Orphean that had been singing also. Before calling it a day we had one last stop for Thekla Lark, Corn Bunting and yet another warbler, Dartford Warbler. I had missed Dartford Warbler in the UK, over twenty years previously, and was delighted to get good views of this bird among this Spanish vegetation, rich as it was with beautiful wild Lavender.

The following day we had great views of some classic birds of the Plains; Montagu’s Harrier, Calandra Larks, Little Owl, the amazing Hoopoe, European Roller [many taking advantage of the huge numbers of nest boxes that adorned many, many power poles that crossed the grasslands] and two bustards – one little the other great!
The Corn Bunting
Little Bustard

Montague's Harrier

White Storks
Great Bustards
After lunch as per the itinerary we visited the ‘picturesque Trujillo with its large breeding colony of Lesser Kestrels and perhaps a Pallid Swift or two.’ Trujillo is best described by stealing a chunk of text from Wikipedia; 'The old town contains many medieval and renaissance buildings. Many of these were built or enriched by the conquistadors born in the city. These include, the conquerors of Peru, Francisco Pizarro and his brothers, Francisco de Orellana and Hernando de Alarcón. Pizarro's equestrian statue stands in the main square, the Plaza Mayor. The most important monuments are the castle (old Arab fortress), the church of Santa María (thirteenth century), and the church of San Francisco'.

Beautiful White Cranes were nesting on many of the taller buildings and both Common and Pallid Swifts streaked around the square. Lesser Kestrels, too, were floating over the centre of town although we saw them better when we visited the Trujillo Bull fighting Ring where they were nesting.
Lesser Kestrels

Monfrague National Park, our next main site, is an area of dramatic scenery, and is regarded by raptor watchers as one of the most outstanding sites to see birds of prey in Europe.  It is also an excellent place to see not only raptor watchers but birders generally. Nowhere that I have travelled to in the world has had such a high concentration of birders. At our hotel there were several groups and everywhere we stopped in the park there were birders and their accompaniments; binoculars, scopes, huge lenses and the occasional spouse. There were birders from Spain, yes, but there many from England, Holland, USA, and judging from the sandals and socks, other European nations.
Alpine Acciter

Snow Finch

Steve West of the Mountains
Monfrague National Park is justly famous for its vultures. Huge Eurasian Griffon Vultures in huge numbers  circle each rock pinnacle and nest within the folded and faulted rocks. Rock Buntings and Blue Rock Thrushes were other specials here. I should mention other raptors. Perhaps obviously the bird that many were here to see was a breeding Spanish endemic, The Spanish Imperial Eagle. We saw the birds flying, quite distant but close enough to see their diagnostic features. We also found their nest and a moving pale blob within that was their chick. Booted Eagle, Black Kites, Black Vultures, Common Buzzard plus Falcons, Peregrine and Common Kestrel were seen soaring also.
And then on to the next destination the Picos de Europa. These European Peaks were so named because from the perspective of the earliest sailors returning from the new world these peaks, emerging over a watery horizon, were the first sign of their European home. A cable car ride to the snow line allowed us to enjoy Red-billed and Alpine Choughs, Snow Finch, Alpine Accentor and Lammergeier!
Blue Rock Thrush

Griffon Vulture

Mountains followed Mountains and we travelled next to the Pyrenees. Here we learned that whoever said that the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain was, pretty much, a bloody liar because here the heavens opened up! The weather allowed a little birding however we lost opportunities for a few sought after species, for example, Black Woodpecker. We did see Red-backed Shrike, Citril and Dipper! After dipping on dippers earlier it was a great Bimbo to get.

The last major area visited was the Spanish Steppes. This location was like being on multiple spaghetti western sets. Here were larks, sandgrouse, wheatears and others. It was great fun playing spot the lark, as they sang high in the sky, rising invisibly against the blue.
Pin tailed Sandgrouse

Common or Eurasian Kingfisher

Finally we went to the coast – the Ebros Delta for a fix of waterbirds, sea gulls and waders. It, too, was an excellent birding location. We even allowed time for a circa 100km excursion to the north where we went for a little pelagic trip for a few shearwaters, gulls and even a Storm-petrel! Out two week [or so] tour ended in Barcelona. We allowed ourselves another half day tour which included the [seriously must visit]  Basillica de la Sagrada Familia.
Great Flamingoes at the Ebros Delta

Red footed Falcon
Zitting Cisticola
If you would like to be informed about my occasional birding adventures or to join one please contact me on
friarbird43@bigpond.com for more details.

Ken Cross

Wednesday, 23 March 2016


Jacanas and chicks at Sandy Camp Road


Mike et el
A full bus left Nambour, as predicted, by 5-30 and drove directly to Ipswich for a two night stay.
The plan was to spend a day birding with Ipswich birder, zoologist, botanist and all-round good guy, Mike Mathieson in the Lockyer Valley.

First stop planned was the Purga Nature Reserve; a small reserve some twenty minutes out of Ipswich. Few birds were recorded but it was a nice 600 metre stroll through pretty habitat of remnant melaleuca [ ]. Best ‘bird’ was probably sightings of red-necked Wallaby. Mammals continued with many Eastern Grey Kangaroos between the reserve and the main road.
Fan-tailed Cuckoo

 Before long we stopped at a piece of remnant scrub for some good bush birding. Here Little Lorikeets were heard immediately, Yellow faced Honeyeaters were flying by calling, Fantailed Cuckoo was seen along with a usual suite of birds. Fuscous Honeyeaters were a target here and they responded well to pishing. Speckled Warblers were heard by Mike but refused to play ball.
Enroute to Gatton to our delight we got excellent views [well excellent while driving at our top speed of 90km per hour..] of a dashing Black Falcon!
Blue-billed Duck

Gatton Agricultural College has been a well known stop-over for birders for a few decades at least and it did not disappoint. Within the great numbers of Magpie Geese and Plumed Whistling Ducks, all three egrets, the sundry Pacific Blacks, Hardheads, Maned Ducks and Grey Teals was a solitary Blue Billed Duck – a stunning male providing no doubt to his identity! Soon a second individual was seen. Good stuff. Above the ponds we had a nice sub-adult Spotted Harrier and a sub adult White bellied Sea Eagle.
Spotted Harrier - sub adult

Lunch stop was at the Apex Ponds near Gatton and some good birds kept coming. Over lunch the usual group of waterfowl was seen plus excellent fly-bys of courting Wedge-tailed Eagles, Darter, Dollarbird, Whistling Kites and a Square-tailed Kite.
Whistling Kite

A few more wetland after lunch presented still more birds; both spoonbills, all three ibis, good numbers of shoveller and another Black Falcon flyover!
Black Falcon

Lake Clarendon had us dipping on a Freckled Duck however it did produce more Blue-bills, all three grebes, Brown Quail plus a cockatiel fly by.

Sunday saw us visit two main sites; Oxley Common – which was a nice site with a pleasing variety of birds and then Sandy Camp Road Wetlands which also produced good variety wit ha good view of Little Bittern to finish with.
Little [or Black-backed] Bittern
Rufous Night Heron
Striped Honeyeater

The drive from Nambour to Ipswich, on Friday night produced a Hobby, the drive back to Nambour produced a trio of Baza plus a nice perched Grey Goshawk.
Magpie Geese

All in all a great weekend’s birding!!

A – Lockyer Valley    B – Oxley Common and / or Sandy Camp Road and / or enroute
1. Magpie Goose A
2. Plumed Whistling-Duck A
3. Black Swan A
4. Maned Duck A B
5. Pacific Black Duck AB
6. Australian Shoveler A
7. Gray Teal AB
8. White-eyed Duck A
Royal Spoonbill
9. Blue-billed Duck A – Lake Galletley at Gatton College and Lake Clarendon
10. Brown Quail AB
11. Australasian Grebe AB
12. Hoary-headed Grebe A - Lake Clarendon
13. Great Crested Grebe  A - Lake Clarendon
14. Black-necked Stork A
15. Little Black Cormorant AB
16. Little Pied Cormorant AB
17. Australasian Darter AB
18. Australian Pelican A
19. Black-backed Bittern B – Sandy Camp Road
20. Pacific Heron A
21. Great Egret AB
22. Intermediate Egret AB
Brown Falcon
23. White-faced Heron AB
24. Little Egret AB
25. Cattle Egret AB
26. Rufous Night-Heron B
27. Glossy Ibis A
28. Australian Ibis AB
29. Straw-necked Ibis AB
30. Royal Spoonbill AB
31. Yellow-billed Spoonbill A
32. Black shouldered Kite A
33. Square-tailed Kite A
34. Pacific Baza B
35. Wedge-tailed Eagle A
36. Swamp Harrier A
Common Bronzewing
37. Gray Goshawk B
38. Brown Goshawk A
39. Black Kite AB
40. Whistling Kite AB
41. White-bellied Sea-Eagle A
42. Australasian Swamphen AB
43. Dusky Moorhen AB
44. Eurasian Coot AB
45. Black winged Stilt A
46. Masked Lapwing AB
Sacred Kingfisher
47. Red-capped Dotterel A
48. Black-fronted Dotterel A
49. Comb-crested Jacana B
50. Sharp-tailed Sandpiper A
51. Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) AB
52. Spotted Dove AB
53. Common Bronzewing A
54. Crested Pigeon AB
55. Peaceful Dove A
56. Bar-shouldered Dove AB
57. Fan-tailed Cuckoo A
58. Shining Bronze-Cuckoo B
59. Pacific Koel (Australian) B
60. Pheasant Coucal AB
61. Laughing Kookaburra AB
62. Forest Kingfisher B
63. Sacred Kingfisher AB
64. Rainbow Bee-eater AB
65. Dollarbird A
66. Australian Kestrel A
Rainbow Bee-eaters
67. Brown Falcon A
68. Black Falcon A
69. Australian Hobby [seen Friday enroute to Brisbane]
70. Galah AB
71. Little Corella AB
72. Long-billed Corella [introduced ] A
73. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo AB
74. Australian King-Parrot AB
75. Pale-headed Rosella AB
76. Cockatiel A
77. Little Lorikeet A
78. Rainbow Lorikeet AB
79. Scaly-breasted Lorikeet AB
Striated Pardalote
80. Variegated Fairywren B
81. Red-backed Fairywren AB
82. Superb Blue Fairywren AB
83. Lewin's Honeyeater AB
84. Yellow-faced Honeyeater A
85. Noisy Miner AB
86. Mangrove Honeyeater B
87. Fuscous Honeyeater A
88. Scarlet Myzomela A
89. Brown Honeyeater AB
90. Blue-faced Honeyeater AB
91. White-throated Honeyeater AB
92. Striped Honeyeater A
93. Little Friarbird AB
Fuscous Honeyeaters
94. Noisy Friarbird AB
95. Striated Pardalote AB
96. White-browed Scrubwren B
97. White-throated Gerygone AB
98. Yellow-rumped Thornbill A
99. Eastern Whipbird AB
100. Gray Butcherbird AB
101. Pied Butcherbird AB
102. Australian Magpie AB
103. Pied Currawong AB
104. Black-faced Cuckooshrike AB
105. Varied Triller A
106. Little Shrikethrush B
107. Gray Shrikethrush AB
108. Golden Whistler A
Leaden Flycatcher
109. Rufous Whistler AB
110. Olive-backed Oriole B
111. Australasian Figbird AB
112. Spangled Drongo AB
113. Willie-wagtail AB
114. Rufous Fantail B
115. Gray Fantail B
116. Spectacled Monarch B
117. Magpie-lark AB
118. Leaden Flycatcher B
119. Torresian Crow AB
120. Eastern Yellow Robin A
121. Welcome Swallow AB
122. Fairy Martin B
Golden -headed Cicticola
123. Tree Martin B
124. Australian Reed-Warbler B
125. Tawny Grassbird B
126. Golden-headed Cisticola AB
127. Silvereye B
128. European Starling A
129. Common Myna AB
130. Mistletoebird AB
131. Australasian Pipit A
132. Red-browed Firetail B
133. Double-barred Finch AB
134. Chestnut-breasted Munia B

***** All photos by John Thompson
Soaring Wedge-tailed Eagle and Whistling Kite