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Birds of Queensland - #8 – St. George (QLD) to Lightning Ridge (NSW) (31 August 2018)

contributed by cougar15
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Birds of Queensland - #1 - Brisbane Region Whistling Kite, Oxley Creek Common, Rocklea, QLD

We left Mooloolaba this morning with our St. George destination keyed into my vehicle’s GPS but somehow it took us through Brisbane instead of the more direct route – through Kilcoy. With all the new roads in Brisbane my GPS kept losing contact and failed to recognise the new infrastructure. The ultimate outcome was a journey well over an hour longer than we had planned.

Birds of Queensland - #8 – St. George (QLD) to Lightning Ridge (NSW) White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Balonne River Reserve, St. George, QLD

As a consequence, we had to drive pretty much without stopping to visit any potential birding sites on the way to our accommodation – the Balonne River Motor Inn, St. George.

Having said that, it most likely would have been a waste of time to stop and look for any birdlife given that we drove through a fairly serious dust-storm and periods of much needed rainfall.

Birds of Queensland - #3 - Bli Bli Brown Thornbill, Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary, Bli Bli, QLD

However, within the gardens of our motel, there were a number of flowering native shrubs / trees that hosted – Little Friarbird, Brown / Yellow-throated and Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater.

Not a bad collection and only 40 mtrs from our unit.

Addendum – 1 September 2018

Birds of Queensland - #2 - Mooloolaba Region Scarlet Honeyeater, Mooloolah River Walk, Mooloolah Valley, QLD

We awoke this morning to the sound of many different bird calls. And, with the Balonne River only a short distance from our motel unit, I headed off for an early morning birding session along the nearest bank of the river reserve.

Birds of Queensland - #4 - Noosa Region Noisy Friarbird, Mt. Coolum, QLD

Across the road from our motel there was a home with a mature callistemon in its front garden. This tree was laden with bright red flowers that attracted dozens of Noisy Friarbirds and Yellow-throated Honeyeaters to feast on their nectar.

So, that was my first close-range photo opportunity of the session. However, the challenge was to capture some good images as the two species were constantly chasing each other away from the scene.

Birds of Queensland - #2 - Mooloolaba Region Australian Pelican, Mooloolaba, QLD

Down along the river reserve I came across numerous species, namely – Crested Pigeon, Red-rumped Parrot, Peaceful Dove, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Olive-backed Oriole, Pale-headed Rosella, White-plumed / Yellow-throated / Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, Australian Raven, House Sparrow, Welcome Swallow, Little Friarbird, Mallee Ringneck, Whistling Kite, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Darter, Domestic Muscovy / Pink-eared Duck, Grey Teal, Grey-crowned Babbler, Australian Magpie, Magpie-lark, Willie Wagtail, Straw-necked Ibis and ‘life first’ – Little Woodswallow.

It really was a fantastic start to our 3 night stay in the area.

Addendum – 2 September 2018

We visited the Beardmore Dam (Lake Kajarabie) today - a half hour drive, North-East, from our motel.

Birds of Queensland - #2 - Mooloolaba Region Australian Pelican, Mooloolaba, QLD

I was pleased to see there was sufficient water in that section of the Balonne River, downstream of the dam’s wall to maintain local bird populations. During the time we were in the area, I saw – Australian Raven, Willie Wagtail, Magpie-lark, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Whistling Kite, Galah, Australian Magpie, Pale-headed Rosella, Peaceful Dove, Great Egret, Royal Spoonbill, White-necked Heron, Mallee Ringneck, Pied Butcherbird, Yellow-throated Miner, Pied Currawong, White-winged Chough, Crested Pigeon and Superb Fairy-wren.

Birds of Queensland - #3 - Bli Bli Little Egret, Maroochy River, Bli Bli, QLD

On the way back to our motel, we stopped at the Balonne River reserve where I saw most of the species recorded during yesterday’s session plus a Rufous (Nankeen) Night-heron.

All round, it was another very good day’s birding.

Addendum – 3 September 2018

Birds of Queensland - #8 – St. George (QLD) to Lightning Ridge (NSW) Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, St. George, QLD

We headed off to Lightning Ridge, this morning and hadn’t gone far before we came across several Emu very close to the highway. At first, their presence was unsettling, as I didn’t see the three-stranded wire fence between them and the roadway. However, when I pulled over to take their photo, I noticed the fence and that allayed most of my concerns whenever we saw more wildlife further down the road.

Nevertheless, the considerable numbers of roadkill (kangaroo, wild pig and goat) as well as the frequent encounters of wildlife and livestock grazing along the roadside verges meant that the potential for collision with live animals was ever present throughout today’s journey of some 230 kms.

Birds of Queensland - #1 - Brisbane Region Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, Oxley Creek Common, Rocklea, QLD

We had a driving break about half-distance today, at the small township of Dirrabandi, where I walked the nearest bank of a sizeable creek that meanders in a number of directions on the edge of the town’s built-up area.

Birds of Queensland - #2 - Mooloolaba Region Black Swan Cygnets, Nelson Park, Alexandra Headland, QLD

During my 30 min. walk I came across – Whistling / Black Kite, Brown Treecreeper, Red-rumped Parrot, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Apostlebird, Welcome Swallow, Grey Shrike-thrush, Little Corella, White-necked Heron, Peaceful Dove and Crested Shrike-tit.

Birds of Queensland - #8 – St. George (QLD) to Lightning Ridge (NSW) Brown Treecreeper, Dirranbandi, QLD

On arrival in Lightning Ridge, we looked at a number of recommended birding sites on the outskirts and within the built- up areas. Unfortunately, the sites were pretty much devoid of birdlife as they were bone-dry following the current prolonged period of drought.

Birds of Queensland - #1 - Brisbane Region Australian Pelican, Sherwood Arboretum Park, Sherwood, QLD

Having said that, there is a small dam with water on the South side of Bill O’Brien Way, about 2 kms from its intersection with the Castlereagh Highway. I spent some time on the banks of that dam during which I observed – Yellow-throated Miner, Mallee Ringneck, Variegated Fairy-wren, Singing Honeyeater, Australian Raven, Australian Magpie, Magpie-lark, Red-rumped Parrot, Black-fronted Dotterel, Double-barred Finch, Crested Pigeon, Whistling Kite, Straw-necked Ibis, Galah, Little Corella, Noisy / Little Friarbird and another ‘lifer first’, Mulga Parrot.

Birds of Queensland - #8 – St. George (QLD) to Lightning Ridge (NSW) Noisy Friarbird, St. George, QLD

It was an unexpected joy to come across the dam, which is clearly visible from the main road into Lightning Ridge, and highly recommended for birding.

Later on we checked into our accommodation at ‘Sonya’s B & B’ in Butterfly Avenue. Sonya has converted part of her home into a number of self-contained units with all one needs for a comfortable stay.

Birds of Queensland - #2 - Mooloolaba Region Lesser Crested Tern, Golden Beach, QLD

In her rear garden, Sonya has two hanging bird-seed dishes which attract numerous species, including – Red-rumped / Red-winged Parrot, Mallee Ringneck, Crested Pigeon, Galah, House Sparrow and Variegated Fairy-wren.

Birds of Queensland - #2 - Mooloolaba Region Straw-necked Ibis, Mooloolaba, QLD

All one has to do to enjoy some very close-range photography is to sit quietly in Sonya’s garden and the birds will come to you.

Birds of Queensland - #8 – St. George (QLD) to Lightning Ridge (NSW) Crested Shrike-tit, Dirranbandi, QLD

Whilst the birdlife in Lightning Ridge is a compelling attraction, the general appearance of the township is bordering on a disgrace. Almost everywhere there are huge piles of opal-mining spoil and the make-shift ‘housing’ if that’s what some miners’ living quarters are called is a sight that could never be forgotten.

Sadly, I guess we have now seen Lightning Ridge twice – the first time and the last time.

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