Grand Australia Part II Oct 15—Nov 01, 2017
Posted by Dion Hobcroft
Our Grand Australia Part II tour began as we bade farewell to two participants and engaged a new couple. After a comfortable night in Brisbane, we transferred to the O’Reilly’s Guesthouse in Lamington National Park on the border of Queensland and New South Wales. Birding with friend Duncan, we made several stops along the way. At our first stop in suburban Brisbane we spent more than an hour scouring the Eucalypts and became lucky when we spotted a female Koala with an adorable joey riding on her back. Koalas are in big conservation trouble throughout much of their range and have become very difficult to find on this tour. While searching for Koalas we spotted a few birds like Variegated Fairywren, Spangled Drongo, and Pied Butcherbird. Strong winds and showers were not making life comfortable, but they gradually relented as the day progressed. Latham’s Snipe and Tawny Grassbird were, though, both reveling in the rain. At our final stop we had superb views of Speckled Warbler, Varied Sittella, Black-chinned and Fuscous honeyeaters, Little Bronze-cuckoo, a pair of perched primordial Channel-billed Cuckoos, Comb-crested Jacana, and White-throated Gerygone. As we wound up the mountains on the road extensively damaged by “Cyclone Debbie” in March, we found Pretty-faced Wallabies. We settled into the comfortable guesthouse.
As usual, our pre-breakfast walks were amazingly productive, as a great diversity of colorful and unusual Australian birds strolled under our feet or landed on our heads too close to focus on. Pompous Wonga Pigeons paraded the lawns while Crimson Rosella, Australian King-parrot, Satin and Regent bowerbirds, Eastern Yellow Robin, Eastern Spinebill, Lewin’s Honeyeater, and White-browed Scrubwrens all fed about us. Further into the rainforest we had great looks at Australian Logrunner, Yellow-throated Scrubwren, Russet-tailed and Bassian thrushes, Large-billed Scrubwren, Golden Whistler, and Rose Robin. Our first Albert’s Lyrebird was shy and gave most people the runaround. Fortunately, after breakfast one of the more relaxed individuals, a fine male, was spotted, and everybody was rounded up for a very good look at this range restricted and often difficult to see species. We enjoyed a particularly profitable session of birding after this with my friend Glen when we got on a definite roll—first with a cracking male Paradise Riflebird, followed by a trio of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, which then led us to a responsive Noisy Pitta that led us to a rare sighting of a White-eared Monarch right under our noses! Bell Miner finished the session, and it was time for lunch. The afternoon proved much more difficult with strong winds and some drizzle, but after a patient search we located a Red-browed Treecreeper. White-naped Honeyeater and Tawny Frogmouth were two more handy sightings. The rain had the frogs out, and we had great looks at four species: Red-backed Toadlet, Red-eyed Tree Frog, Revealed Tree Frog, and the elusive Fletcher’s Frog. We watched a Sugar Glider volpane across the back of the carpark and had good looks at two more marsupials—the Mountain Brushtail and Common Ringtail.
Read Dion’s full report in his Field List.