Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii)

The Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii) also known as Banksian- or Banks’ Black Cockatoo, is a large black cockatoo native to Australia.

Five subspecies are recognised.

C. b. banksii is found in Queensland and, rarely, in far northern New South Wales
C. b. graptogyne, (Endangered) known as the south-eastern red-tailed black cockatoo, is found in southwestern Victoria and southeastern South Australia in an area bordered by Mount Gambier to the west, Portland to the south, Horsham to the northeast and Bordertown to the north
C. b. macrorhynchus, given the name great-billed cockatoo by Mathews; is found across northern Australia.

C. b. naso (Near Threatened) is known as the forest red-tailed black cockatoo and is found in the southwest corner of Western Australia between Perth and Albany.

C. b. samueli exists in four scattered populations: in central coastal Western Australia from the Pilbara south to the northern Wheatbelt in the vicinity of Northam, and inland river courses in Central Australia, southwestern Queensland and the upper Darling River system in Western New South Wales. Birds of this subspecies are generally smaller with smaller bills than the nominate banksii.

Good places to spot this gregarious and cheeky cockatoo are:  Along the coast of Western Australia, the Northern Territory south of Darwin, most parks in South-east Queensland.




World Parrot Trust


Recovery Project


Beautiful close-ups of cockatoos foraging and pair bonding.


Filmed at Paradise Park, this slo-mo clip shows the bird in flight.

Flock roosting near Cairns



The Jetstar Experience

I’ve mentioned that Jetstar has some amazing sales throughout the year so it’s always worth looking at these before redeeming miles on Qantas or Virgin.

I took these screenshots a couple days ago and they are pretty much what I had bought the year before at around this time for travel in September.


Typical of the low-cost carriers, they will try to upsell you to various bundles.  I knew that we would have already had dinner by this time and just want to sleep on this flight, plus I also knew we would have carry-on backpacks only.  So I just kept the original fare with no added extras.Jetstar2

Jetstar will still try to upsell you features one by one.  This time I went for the pre-booked seat, as far forward as possible but still in the $7 zone.


Jetstar flies an Airbus A320 on this sector all economy in a 3 x 3 configuration.  Nothing to get excited about but it’s always nice to get on and off as quickly as possible.

I did the online check-in and we took our carry-on backpacks to the gate.  Much to my surprise (this being my first flight on Jetstar), the ground crew were weighing the carry-ons!  Even the small ones like ours which were well under the maximum measurements but we did have the camera gear and the Pizzey-Knight field guide.  They have scales at the kiosks where you can check in if you haven’t done so online and they were strictly enforcing the 7kg weight limit.  Thankfully they weren’t familiar with Scottevests and Ina and I quickly shoved some books and a camera in our pockets, then presented the backpacks for weighing.  They passed and were tagged as carry-ons.

The weight thing is probably the most frustrating thing to birders as it’s fairly easy to pack light but the camera gear, especially those 400mm lenses can weigh 2kg all by themselves!  I didn’t bring the Canon gear for this trip but even the Nikon P900 was still heavy compared to a normal tourist camera.

The other shocker is that sometimes they don’t even give you water on the plane!  This time they did in small plastic cups which was enough to survive the flight.  One way around this would be to bring a small empty water bottle and refill it after security.  We were prepared for the return trip and did this.

Anyway, Jetstar has its place as a cheap way to get from A to B with no frills.  Be prepared and keep your eye on the prize – the birds that await at the end of the journey!

How To See 25 Australian Parrot Species In Whirlwind 8 Days From Brisbane

If you have been following this blog for the last couple months you’ve seen how I saw all kinds of parrot species in South-East Queensland. So now let’s string it together and tally up the possible parrots.  Remember, this itinerary only gets you into the habitat where the birds are commonly seen.  There is never a guarantee with wild birds but if you plan well and do your homework on eBird’s Species Maps, you have a very good chance to get them all!

This is sort of the Amazing Race of Birding and designed for people with limited time.  If you can, add one day to each location and a final day in Brisbane before your flight out.  It’s easy to get to Australia with airline miles, then just rent a car and take off!  This trip must be done while Bowra Station is open between the months of March to September.


SEQ Birding



Start in Brisbane.  Pick up your rental car at the airport and drive to Lake Coolmunda.  Stop at the Durikai Watering Hole on the way.  Possible Parrots:



This will be about 7 hours drive so start as early as possible.  Here you can find Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Red-winged Parrots, Blue Bonnet Parrots, Red-rumps, Cockatiels & Little Corellas (already mentioned).  Then add new species:



Make an early start for about 7 hours drive to Stanthorpe.  Here you have a 2nd chance at Turquoise Parrots, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets, Scaly-breasted Lorikeets.  There are several good reserves in this area so I would check eBird first to see where the birds have been seen most recently.



If you haven’t seen King Parrots yet, have lunch at the small cafe near Jolly’s Lookout as King Parrots, Rainbow Lorkeets & Sulphur-crested Cockatoos hang out there.  Then make the 3 hour drive north to Rainbow Beach or Tin Can Bay.  Up here you have another chance at Yellow-tail Black Cockatoos, Rainbow Lorikeets, Galahs & Sulphur-crested Cockatooos.  But the main reason to come here is:

So there you have it – 25 parrot species all in South-east Queensland.  We do occasionally get Swift Parrots up this far as well but that’s a longshot.  They made it to Brisbane in 2014 but not this year.  I do recommend doing 3 days in Coolmunda, 4 in Bowra, 3 in Girraween, 1 or 2 in Tin Can Bay/Rainbow Beach and one final day in Brisbane so try to allow 2 weeks if you can for a more leisurely birding experience!

Pale-headed Rosella (Platycercus adscitus)

The Pale-headed Rosella (Platycercus adscitus), is a broad-tailed parrot of the genus Platycercus native to northeastern Australia.  This beautiful parrot is special for me as they sometimes come into our property.  Their visits are sporadic so I always feel honoured when they come around.

IMG_1232a IMG_1229a Pale-headed Rosellas have a large range extending from the far north of Queensland into New South Wales.  They are readily seen both in bushland and in suburbs of Brisbane (lucky me!) and prefer open forests.  They were very easy to see at Lake Coolmunda  and Mosquito Creek Road.



World Parrot Trust


Birdlife Australia

Birds in Backyards


Beautiful close up to appreciate the colours on this bird.

They not only sound sweet, they are great communicators!  Check out how this one chats to a Butcherbird!


Restaurant Review: The Polish Place, Tamborine, Queensland

I don’t often do restaurant reviews but the Polish Place in Tamborine, Queensland does also offer accommodation which I hope to try someday.  It’s kind of a surreal experience.  If you hadn’t just driven up from Brisbane or down from Lamington you could believe that you were in a quaint little Polish village in Europe.  Not even the hot, tropical Queensland climate interferes as you are high up enough for a pleasant, cool breeze.

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Whether you are staying in Brisbane or the Gold Coast, The Polish Place is just a short drive away.  We drove down from O’Reilly’s in time to have lunch here.  There’s plenty of birding in the area at Tamborine National Park.

Polish Place Polish Place2The gift shop is straight out of Poland with some beautiful arts and crafts.  I loved the doll collection!

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The waitresses wear traditional Polish costumes.

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The best seating is outside on the deck overlooking a spectacular view over teh Dividing Range.

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My photos of the menu didn’t come out well but you can see more about the cuisine here.  My pierogi were delicious and it was all I could do to finish the iced coffee before I was mobbed by Rainbow Lorikeets!

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This was the most fun I have had at a restaurant in ages!  The brilliant lorikeets put on a great show every time someone gets up from their meal to leave, hoping to steal the leftovers before the waitress can get to it.

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The cheeky little devils were all over my iced coffee.  I had to hide it under the table while I drank it as it really isn’t good for them.  I then put some water in the glass to dilute the leftovers.  They were undeterred and still tried to lick the glass clean!  Don’t worry, they didn’t get much – I took my photos quickly and gave the glass to the waitress!  Next time I’ll order some orange juice for them – unsweetened.

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Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis)

The Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) is endemic to eastern Australia found in humid and heavily forested upland regions of the eastern portion of the continent, including eucalyptus wooded areas in and directly adjacent to subtropical and temperate rainforest. They feed on fruits and seeds gathered from trees or on the ground.

The male has a bright red head and breast wheras the female is mostly green.  Although this female has a leg band, she is actually one of the wild parrots that hang around O’Reilly’s for a free meal.

IMG_3675 IMG_3829 IMG_3729King Parrots are easily found within their range as the males are very bright and conspicuous and the females stay close to their mates.  You are pretty much guaranteed to see them at O’Reilly’s and the small cafe near Jolly’s Lookout near Brisbane.



World Parrot Trust


Birdlife Australia

Birds in Backyards


There’s no shortage of King Parrot videos online.  This one is good for the close ups of the birds foraging and you can clearly see the difference between the male and female.

This little guy from the Blue Mountains in NSW has no trouble with accepting hand outs (literally)!

And here is a whole flock (mostly juveniles) that visit someone’s back yard.  Notice the pleasant sound they make!


O’Reilly’s, Lamington Park

O’Reilly’s is a great place to practice your bird photography skills as you can see several species very close and they are predictable.  If you start early, you can make this a day trip from Brisbane with a 2.5 hour drive.  It’s not really far but the road to the top of the mountain is very twisty.  Exact directions are on their website.  They also have some lovely eco-villas overlooking the rainforest and some good deals can be found mid-week outside of school holidays.  Every year, they have a Bird Week in November.

Bird feeding is touristy but fun.  The area is open daily from 10:00am – 4:00pm (weather dependent) and costs $4.00 per tray (suits 2 people).  Get up close and personal with some of Lamington’s iconic birds, such as King Parrots, Crimson Rosellas, or you might be lucky enough to see our ‘mascot’, the Regent Bowerbird.

I’ve been there a few times, usually to take friends up or to practice photography.  Here’s a few scenes from the bird feeding.  They gather in the trees and come down when someone offers a tray of seed or drops seed on the ground.

IMG_9305a IMG_9307a IMG_9300 IMG_9299a IMG_9314 IMG_3655 IMG_3675 IMG_3689 IMG_3694 IMG_3701 IMG_3727 IMG_3729 IMG_3743 IMG_3746 IMG_3748 IMG_3765 IMG_3787 IMG_3807 IMG_3818 IMG_3829 IMG_3832 IMG_3841 IMG_3910 IMG_3912 IMG_3919 IMG_3920They also have a canopy walkway in the rainforest – get here early enough and you can have it all to yourself before the tourists arrive!

IMG_3925 IMG_3926 IMG_9359 IMG_9355 IMG_9351a IMG_9345a IMG_9339a IMG_9336a IMG_9335a IMG_9332 IMG_9328a IMG_9326a IMG_9324a IMG_9321They have a nice gift shop and restaurant with seats overlooking the spectacular view.  You can also see birds out here.  There are signs telling you not to feed the birds but the birds have discovered that sometimes they can beat the waiters to the leftovers before the scraps can be cleaned up.

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Scaly-breasted Lorikeet (Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus)

The Scaly-breasted Lorikeet (Trichoglossus chlorolepidotus) is an Australian lorikeet found in woodland in eastern Australia. The common name aptly describes this bird, which has yellow breast feathers broadly edged with green that look like scales.  Look for them on nectar-bearing plants such as bottlebrush and grevellia.

IMG_0208Next to the gaudy Rainbow Lorikeet, these more delicately hued birds are the easiest Lorikeet to see in Eastern Australia.  I’ve seen them in my neighborhood, in most local Brisbane reserves and parks and as far west as Coolmunda Dam where I took the above photo.



World Parrot Trust


Birds in Backyards



Nice close up at a feeder

Chattering flock

Little Corella (Cacatua sanguinea)

The Little Corella (Cacatua sanguinea), also known as the bare-eyed cockatoo, blood-stained cockatoo, short-billed corella, little cockatoo and blue-eyed cockatoo, is a white cockatoo native to Australia and southern New Guinea.  It was known as Birdirra among the Yindjibarndi people of the central and western Pilbara.

IMG_0257 IMG_8261a IMG_8802aLittle Corellas are seen just about everywhere, often flocking together with Galahs.  They frequent the park near my house, I can hear them flying overhead most mornings.  They have a huge range in Australia and are found in all capital cities so whichever gateway city you use, you are bound to see them even before you hit the bush!



World Parrot Trust


Birds in Backyards


Some amusing behavior by Little Corellas in this compilation.

Corellas of a feather floch together!


Birding Durikai State Forest – Near Karara

Durikai State Forest is better known for fossicking but those who look deeper can find some wonderful birds here.  Last year, someone even spotted a rare Regent Honey-eater although I was not so lucky this year!  It is located about 3 hours drive from Brisbane, 7 km from Karara and around 40 km from Warwick and you can access it from the Cunningham Highway.  On the right side of this map, the red line is a gravel road leading into the forest.  We were there around 2pm so there weren’t many birds around but the highlight was a lovely Mistletoe Bird.  The yellow splotch is across the road and a bit hard to find.

Karara DurikaiIMG_1081 IMG_1086 IMG_1089 IMG_1092 IMG_1094 IMG_1096To find the Durikai Watering Hole, you look on the left if coming from Warwick (around 44 km)  for this sign.  The turn-off to the watering hole is pretty well concealed but you can see a white Jeep coming out from it.

IMG_1369 IMG_1366If you are coming from Coolmunda or Karara, look on the right for these signs about 7 km past Karara.



This watering hole is a magical spot where you can set up a camp chair, chill out and watch beautiful little Yellow-tufted Honey-eaters, White-naped Honey-eaters, Noisy Friarbirds and Little Lorikeets frolic through the trees and come down to drink water.  I also got a glimpse of Turquoise Parrots shooting through but unfortunately they didn’t stop to pose for photos.  I was really lucky to get decent shots of the Little Lorikeets which had been eluding me in tree branches for ages!

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Meanwhile back at Karara apparently these Little Corellas missed their train!