Twitcher’s Ton #3 – Part 2: Over the mountain

[9:45am]

90 bird species seen or heard already. Cappuccinos and iced teas filling all available cup holders in the car. Multiple toasted ham and cheese croissants ready to be devoured. The coastal section of our birding Big Day was done and we were all set for stage 2 … inland and over the mountain. First stop, Kumbartcho Sanctuary.

[10:10am]

Three new ticks were added on the drive to the sanctuary.  Some Rock Doves (feral pigeons) were seen perched on street lights in the Brendale area. We slowed down along Drapers Rd, Eatons Hill, hoping to spot one of the local Common Bronzewings but they didn’t show themselves.  I hung a U-turn when I thought I saw a pair feeding down a side road but they turned out to be Crested Pigeons. Not a Bronzewing but still a new bird for the day. Then just before we turned down Bunya Pine Ct we saw (and heard) an Australian King-Parrots fly by. [93]

Kumbartcho is one of those places you can easily spend several hours wandering around with the birds. I’d pencilled in 35min. The key target here was the resident Australian Owlet-nightjar but there was a chance of almost anything (a friendly Painted Buttonquail and a pair of Noisy Pittas spent most of the winter here last year).

We headed straight for the ONJ tree. There were a few waterbirds on the pond (Moorhens and Pac Black Ducks) but nothing new. A Bar-shouldered Dove was heard and then seen. Something moved around knee-height in the shrubs ahead. It was quite dark but I got a half-decent photo of a Little Shrikethrush.

Approaching the ONJ tree I had my fingers crossed. Maybe it wouldn’t be there today. Or maybe it was asleep deep in the hollow and out of view. I peered around the branches … there it was. An Australian Owlet-Nightjar. Possibly the cutest little ball of feathers in the bird world.

Australian Owlet-Nightjar

With the main target acquired we spent the next half an hour walking up and down the bank of the South Pine River. I could hear a Whistler somewhere; almost certainly a Golden Whistler. A pair of Fan-tailed Cuckoos called from the far bank and the single high-pitched note of a Mistletoebird was repeated from high in the trees above us. While trying to get a sighting of the Mistletoebird, the Golden Whistler appeared, a female, but it was too high up in the dark foliage for a decent photo.

Steve then heard a parrot-like call and located a single white bird flying high over the river. Photos confirmed a Long-billed Corella, the only one we would see during the day.

Time was flying by but Kumbartcho was done. We could have been excused for thinking there was one more new species but the pale looking duck on the pond was likely some kind of Pacific Black Duck x Mallard hybrid. Whatever it was, it didn’t go on the list, and wasn’t needed to break the ton anyway. Tally now 100!

Kumbartcho Sanctuary birds

[11:20am]

A century on the board before lunch meant the drive up Mount Glorious was very relaxing despite a radar check showing that the weather was catching up to us again.

As we wound our way up into D’Aguilar National Park plenty of birds were heard calling but a single King-Parrot flying across the road was the only one seen. 

Out of the car at Maiala and the raincoats were put back on. We both heard a guttural wump-ooo and looked up to see a Wompoo Fruit-Dove perched directly above us. That was just too easy.

I’d allocated an hour for Maiala and expected a good haul of new birds here, being the only rainforest habitat on the itinerary.

No Satin Bowerbirds around the day-use area. Not ideal. Then a loud call was heard that Steve immediately identified as a Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo. Something was moving up in a nearby tree. There it was. Poor photo but nice find.

Into the Maiala Loop Walk and the light went from poor to atrocious.  ISOs were cranked right up and the hunt for the rainforest birds began in earnest. 

Brown Cuckoo-Doves and Green Catbirds were heard calling throughout the walk (although neither were seen) and plenty of Long-billed Scrubwrens bounced around the foliage.

Maiala Loop Walk birds

Pale-yellow Robins appeared out of the darkness and posed briefly in their characteristic side-of-vine/branch positions while Yellow-throated Scrubwrens and Eastern Whipbirds shifted around on the forest floor.

Three-quarters of the way around the track we bumped into Ged, a seriously gun Brisbane birder. He wasn’t doing a Big Day but he’d already seen plenty of great birds at Maiala that had eluded us … Paradise Riflebird, Australian Logrunner and Noisy Pitta. None of these made it onto our list. Can’t win them all.

Almost out of the loop and I could see a lot of activity way up in a sunny (yes, sunny) area of the treetops. A dozen or more very small birds were flitting around the branches. They sounded like Scarlet Honeyeaters but I wasn’t 100%. I finally got a photo for ID when Ged rounded the corner and confirmed Scarlets. There was also one other larger bird up with them that looked like a Yellow-faced Honeyeater … confirmed with a poor record photo later on.

Maiala Loop Walk birds

The brief sunlight didn’t last long and as we walked out of the rainforest the misty rain started to fall again. A last dash around the picnic area failed to reveal a Satin Bowerbird, although I managed to get an improved Golden Whistler photo compared to the one at Kumbartcho.

Golden Whistler

Not a huge haul from this stop but 9 new ticks sure made it worthwhile. Tally now 109.

[12:30pm]

Past midday now and the clouds sank down over the mountain as we headed to Wivenhoe Outlook.

Raining now. And very thick fog. With visibility so poor the expectations for The Outlook were thrown out the window and we cut the search time here down to 10min. We just couldn’t see. Luckily you didn’t need sight to know the Bell Miner colony was there. The incessant ping!‘ing never stops. The only other addition here was a pair of Brown Thornbills that thankfully got close enough to ID in the dark fog.

Wivenhoe Outlook birds

Too wet. Too foggy. Two added to the list. 

Time to get off the mountain and finish this birding Big Day around Lake Wivenhoe and the Lockyer Valley. [111]

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