A cast of two participated in an “away” outing in Brisbane, Australia on
Thursday (local time). We also lucked out on some beaut sightings. Two of us
car-pooled from South Bank at 7:30 am, with Brian chauffeuring. Driving was
a breeze as we headed west out of town to a secret destination. We arrived
at 7:45 am and walked up a wooded trail for ten minutes where we almost
immediately found copious amounts of splat in a dry creek that soon revealed
our target bird, a Powerful Owl, roosting in a shady tree (photos
forthcoming). Our party of two then left that woodland and headed further
west for about an hour, on a winding but empty road. Various common Aussie
birds were observed flying over, including Sulphur-crested Cockatoos,
Rainbow Lorikets, Striated Pardelotes, Willie Wagtail and Welcome Swallows.
A Satin Bowerbird was a bit of a surprise. Bell Miners called from the trees
– they are expanding their range and drive all other creatures nuts with
their weird and incessant calls. We arrived at our grassland destination
within an hour. Brian immediately spotted a Tawny Grassbird, one of several
observed. Australian Pipits (very similar to American Pipits; different
accent) were everywhere. Brightly-coloured male Red-backed Fairy-Wrens posed
on the fence posts while their grass-coloured females lurked on the ground.
Golden-headed Cisticolas were singing and posting too. Some distant fence
post birds drew us up the track and closer views revealed a number of
singing Horsfield’s Bushlarks.
Their plumage reminded me of longspurs but Brian told me they are totally
unrelated and he knows everything about bird taxonomy. We wanted
Black-breasted Button-Quail but our visit to the owl had put us an hour too
late and it was too sunny and bright. The button-quails were all hiding in
the long grass and staying quiet. We heard one call in the distance but that
was it. At 11:45 am, we headed back stopping at interesting places. A
wetland held about twenty species including Azure Kingfisher, White-necked
Heron, Australasian Grebes, Darter, Australian White Pelican, and the
usual Wood Ducks and Hardheads. A couple of Nankeen Kestrels were hanging
out and a Brown Falcon came by. A pull out park further up the road also had
a stream with water running in it, which attracted a lot of little birds.
The odd call of a Restless Flycatcher (also called Scissor Grinder) alerted
us to its presence and it was fun to watch as it fluttered around, calling
and catching bugs. A male Rainbow Bee-eater was perched on a tree, a small
flock of Chestnut-breasted Mannikins and two Double-barred Finches came to
drink at the water, and a beautiful male Rufous Whistler showed off its
plumage above us. Brian was excited to show me two Wedge-tailed Eagles
soaring overhead (wings in a
dihedral) as these are one of his regular garden birds. There were a bunch
of other birds here too. A Yellow-tailed Cockatoo was feeding on an
overhanging tree as we drove by looking for somewhere for a snack as it was
now 3 pm and we had had no lunch, both of us having forgotten to bring food
or drink. The few cafes along the quiet country road were all closed.
We reached Sampsondale (or Sampsonvale, or some such name) where Brian swore
there would be food. All the cafes except one had stopped serving lunch, but
we finally found a place that served us tea. I had an apple muffin and Brian
had a sort of Nanaimo bar dessert, but green inside not white, rather oddly
served with a side of ice cream that he had not requested but ate anyway.
Our server was a lad from Middlesborough (England; football team just been
relegated; much discussion). We then drove back to Brisbane through rather
heavy traffic. Species count about 56.