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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
See 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!
On the main road near Ballandean.
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.
The back roads around Amiens are a great place to spot Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos and Turquoise Parrots.
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.
Since 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!
Keep an eye out for birds while having breakfast!
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.
You 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!
Elizabeth Taylor would have been jealous of these eyes! The Satin Bowerbird (Ptilonorhynchus violaceus) is a bowerbird endemic to eastern Australia.
Female Satin Bowerbird
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!
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.
Now 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.
Even 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!
Hanging around the picnic area looking to steal food.
Girraween is well sign-posted and has several educational signs about the trails and wildlife.
Sorry, please turn head to the left!
There’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!
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!
A lovely Red-Wattlebird
Crimson Rosellas were everywhere!
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.
One of the birds you are most likely to see in Australia is also one of the most beautiful. The galahEolophus 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?
The Eastern Rosella was named by George Shaw in 1792 and in my opinion is one of Australia’s most beautiful birds.
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.
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.
Superb 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.