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.

IMG_9089a

SEQ Birding

IMG_8340a

LAKE COOLMUNDA/DURIKAI – 2 DAYS

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:

IMG_8530a

BOWRA STATION – 3 DAYS

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:

IMG_9049a

STANTHORPE/GIRRAWEEN – 2 DAYS

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.

IMG_1588a

BRISBANE & RAINBOW BEACH – 1 DAY

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!

Turquoise Parrot (Neophema pulchella)

The Turquoise Parrot (Neophema pulchella) is a species of parrot in the genus Neophema native to Eastern Australia, from southeastern Queensland, through New South Wales and into north-eastern Victoria.

I had to use a Wikipedia shot since the only one I could get was too far away.

turqSitting on a wire near Amiens, Stanthorpe area.

IMG_9187a IMG_9184bThey have a large range in eastern Australia mostly in NSW & Victoria with a smaller range in South-east QLD.  I have seen them near Amiens in the Stanthorpe area and a brief glimpse of a pair in Durikai National Forest.

turq rangeLEARN MORE ABOUT TURQUOISE PARROTS

Wikipedia

World Parrot Trust

Birdlife

Birdlife Australia

Birds in Backyards

VIDEO

Lovely close-ups of a lovely bird!  That bright turquoise face is spectacular!

Birding Stanthorpe Area Back Roads

Girraween may be the main draw to Stanthorpe but it’s not the only game in town.  Drive down virtually any back road and keep your eyes and ears open, you are bound to see lots of birds!

Girraween3See that yellow line – Pyramids Road?  Keep an eye out here for Eastern Rosellas, King Parrots and Red-browed Finches.   Notice the interesting colouration of the juvenile?  I though at first it was a hybrid!

IMG_9061a IMG_9067a IMG_9069a IMG_9072a IMG_9073a IMG_9084a IMG_9082a IMG_9089a IMG_9086a IMG_9076 IMG_9081 IMG_9094a IMG_9096a

On the main road near Ballandean.

IMG_9179 IMG_9178 IMG_9177 IMG_9170a

If you are staying at Banjo’s Retreat or any of it’s sister properties, you’re bound to see Crimson Rosellas, Superb Fairy-wrens, Red-browed Finches and Kookaburas.

IMG_9239a IMG_9243a IMG_9245a IMG_9274a IMG_9266a IMG_9262 IMG_9255a IMG_9277a IMG_9283a IMG_9285a IMG_9292The back roads around Amiens are a great place to spot Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos and Turquoise Parrots.

Hooters area IMG_9216a IMG_9215a IMG_9210a IMG_9218a IMG_9187a IMG_9184b IMG_9197

 

Lodge Review: Banjo’s Retreat, Amiens (Near Stanthorpe)

This was a departure from my usual eco-lodge style of traveling although at the end of the day it was much the same for birding purposes.  Cobb ‘n’ Co is a group of 4 privately owned cabins that are for rent and can accommodate families or small groups.  All 4 are beautifully situated in the bushland villages near Stanthorpe and convenient to Girraween and surrounding birding areas.

Girraween2Since I needed 3 private bedrooms, I went with Banjo’s Retreat.  All cabins are near each other and easy to find if you follow the directions provided.  The location is in gorgeous bushland with lots of birds about!

IMG_9228 IMG_9229 IMG_9001 IMG_8999

Keep an eye out for birds while having breakfast!

IMG_8998 IMG_8992 IMG_8995 IMG_8993

These interior shots require the usual WordPress neck exercise, sorry for that!  I don’t know how to make it stop turning the photos like that.

IMG_8996 IMG_8997 IMG_8994You need to book the cabin directly with the owner in advance, especially if you want a weekend or public holiday.  If it’s a slow season you may be able to negotiate a better rate if it’s midweek.  It’s worth it to have neighbors like these!

IMG_9292

Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus)

Elizabeth Taylor would have been jealous of these eyes!  The Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) is a bowerbird endemic to eastern Australia.

IMG_9159 IMG_9103aFemale Satin Bowerbird

IMG_9163a

You can find them in Eastern Australia, check with local birders and eBird as the bowers are usually well known.  Girraween (blue dot) has an easy-to-find bower near the toilet block.  If they are thirsty, they will let you know by sitting on the water fountain and looking at you expectantly.  Once you find a bower, don’t just tick your list and move on, these birds are very entertaining so sit down and watch them for awhile!

SB rangeLEARN MORE ABOUT SATIN BOWERBIRDS

Wikipedia

Birdlife

Birdlife Australia

Birds in Backyards

NSW Environment & Heritage

ABC Science

 

VIDEOS

Building a bower.

Robbing humans to woo his fair lady.  Not sure if it was the toothbrush, the car keys, the house, the tenner or his dance show but she finally gives in!

 

Stanthorpe & Girraween Area For Birders

Just a 3 hour drive from Brisbane, Stanthorpe and the nearby Girraween National Park are a popular weekend getaway for Brisbanites for the scenery and wineries.  The area is also rich in birdlife so it’s a great addition to a SE Queensland itinerary.

Girraween1Now let’s take a closer look at Girraween National Park.  I have highlighted some of the best birding trails.  The access road – Pyramids Road from Ballandean is a great place to look for birds too.

Girraween3Even just having breakfast at the picnic tables can be very entertaining.  I had a Kookaburra snatch half a croissant right out of my hand while I was chatting to some fellow birders!

IMG_9097 IMG_9013 IMG_9008

Hanging around the picnic area looking to steal food.

IMG_9057 IMG_9026a IMG_9056 IMG_9055Girraween is well sign-posted and has several educational signs about the trails and wildlife.

IMG_9003 IMG_9004 IMG_9014 IMG_9015 IMG_9016 IMG_9018 IMG_9020

Sorry, please turn head to the left!

IMG_9007 IMG_9012There’s a Satin Bowerbird bower near the toilet block.  The Bowerbirds and some of their neighbours have learned that if they sit near the water fountain, eventually a friendly human will come and turn it on so they can grab a drink!  Love those purple eyes!

IMG_9142 IMG_9144 IMG_9159 IMG_9135 IMG_9103a

I have no idea why these photos aren’t loading right ways up, that’s how they are on my computer but WordPress is turning them for some reason.  Sorry, please turn head to the left again.  Bringing blue bottle caps will make a Bowerbird very happy – free home decor!

IMG_9108a IMG_9110a IMG_9116 IMG_9118

A lovely Red-Wattlebird

IMG_9119 IMG_9124 IMG_9134 IMG_9163a

Crimson Rosellas were everywhere!

IMG_9049a IMG_9060a

WHERE TO STAY NEAR GIRRAWEEN

There’s all kinds of accommodation in the surrounding towns of Stanthorpe, Ballandean, Amiens and Storm King – everything from camping sites to pricey romantic cottages.  We ended up renting a 3 bedroom house as we had other people with us.  More about that in the next post.  The usual booking engines – Pointshound, Wotif and Cobb ‘n Co have some good options.

Girraween2

Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla)

One of the birds you are most likely to see in Australia is also one of the most beautiful.  The galah Eolophus roseicapilla, also known as the rose-breasted cockatoo, galah cockatoo, roseate cockatoo or pink and grey, is one of the most common and widespread cockatoos, and it can be found in open country in almost all parts of mainland Australia.

Notice how this first Galah’s crest (Nallan Station) is pinker than the other ones?

IMG_5883a

IMG_5900 IMG_6526a

IMG_0161Galahs are known for their silly, playful nature.  If an Aussie calls you a “galah”, they usually don’t mean it as a compliment!

You won’t have to try to hard to find them as they are pretty much all over Australia.  I’ve seen them around Perth, Nallan Station, Stirling Range, Tasmania, Melbourne, Brisbane, Bowra Station, Coolmunda, Karara, Girraween just to name a few.  They frequent the park a couple blocks from my house and I can usually hear them as they fly overhead in the morning to forage for breakfast.

Galah rangeLEARN MORE ABOUT GALAHS

Wikipedia

World Parrot Trust

Birdlife

Birds in Backyards

The Australian Galah

VIDEOS

Wild Galahs in  action – playing and foraging.

 

 

 

Eastern Rosella (Platycercus eximius)

The Eastern Rosella was named by George Shaw in 1792 and in my opinion is one of Australia’s most beautiful birds.

IMG_8179 - Copy IMG_8181a - Copy IMG_7165a IMG_7160a IMG_7146a IMG_7138a

Three subspecies of Eastern Rosella are recognised:

  • P. e. eximius, Victoria and southern New South Wales. Black feathers on the back have green margins. Rump is pale green.
  • P. e. elecica, northeast New South Wales and southeast Queensland. In the male the black feathers on the back have golden-yellow margins, and greenish-yellow in the female. The rump is bluish-green. This subspecies is also called the Golden-mantled Rosella.
  • P. e. diemenensis, eastern Tasmania. White cheek patches are larger and the red on the head is darker.

My photos above are the Tasmanian subspecies.  We saw them easily around Hobart in the Botanical Gardens and near the Travelodge Airport Hotel.  I have also seen the 2nd subspecies around the Girraween area in South-east Queensland.

.

LEARN MORE ABOUT EASTERN ROSELLAS

Wikipedia

World Parrot Trust

Birdlife

Birds in Backyards

Tasmanian Parks & Wildlife

VIDEO

Don’t be fooled, these are wild birds who set up housekeeping in someone’s backyard!

Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus)

The Superb Fairy-wren (Malurus cyaneus), also known as the superb blue-wren or colloquially as the blue wren, is a passerine bird of the family Maluridae, common and familiar across southeastern Australia.  They were recently voted as Australia’s favourite bird.  Two subspecies groups are recognized: the larger and darker Tasmanian form cyaneus and the smaller and paler mainland form cyanochlamys.

.

IMG_7594a IMG_7644a IMG_7642aSuperb Fairy-wrens have a large range in eastern Australia and Tasmania.  I’ve personally seen them in the Captain Cook Caravan Park in Bruny Island, Strahan, around Hobart and near Girraween National Park in Queensland.

.

LEARN MORE ABOUT SUPERB FAIRY-WRENS

Wikipedia

Birdlife

Birds in Backyards

Beauty of Birds

Tasmania Parks & Wildlife

VIDEO

Beautiful close up footage from Chris Rishworth on YouTube.