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.

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SEQ Birding

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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!

Birding Inskip Point, Queensland

We had an inauspicious start to the day with the credit card hacking but tried to pull it together to enjoy the last birding excursion to Inskip Point.  Two locations were planned – Bullock Point & Inskip Point.

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At Bullock Point, a magnificent Brahminy Kite showed off his fishing skills.

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Then a short walk up the access road revealed some Honey-eaters, Trillers and a Drongo.

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I was still feeling uneasy about the hacking and didn’t want to leave the key in a box accessable by anyone so we had to be back before 10am to check out.  We took a brief drive to Inskip Point which is where you get ferries to Fraser Island.  It is also a very popular camping area as seen by all the people there.  You can’t go all the way in a small car, it’s very sandy and 4×4 track only so we didn’t spend much time before turning back.

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The roads here are in much better condition than the one yesterday.

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Coming back, we saw several cute Rainbow Bee-eaters hanging out on the phone wires – doing their job and actually eating bees!

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Here’s a snapshot of the small town at Rainbow Beach – a few stores, hotels and pubs.  Typical holiday town!

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This is where we stopped for breakfast, just a short walk from the beach. A Magpie-lark was hanging around hoping to score some leftovers.

IMG_1654 IMG_1650 IMG_1649 IMG_1651 IMG_1653The Crested Pigeon blended in so well we almost didn’t see him!  Under better circumstances, we would have hung around longer for more birding but I just wanted to get back and make sure my accounts were OK (no more hackings) so we drove back to Brisbane.  It was good to get an early start on a Sunday anyways to avoid traffic.

 

Noisy Friarbird (Philemon corniculatus)

The Noisy Friarbird (Philemon corniculatus) is a passerine bird of the honeyeater family Meliphagidae native to southern New Guinea and eastern Australia. It is one of several species known as friarbirds whose heads are bare of feathers. It is brown-grey in colour, with a prominent knob on its bare black-skinned head. It feeds on insects and nectar. I took these photos of an adult and juvenile Noisy Friarbird near Rainbow Beach, Queensland.

IMG_1563a IMG_1556a It is pretty easy to find them in Eastern Australia.  Within Queensland, I have seen them at Lake Coolmunda, Mosquito Creek Road, Durukai area and Tin Can Bay area.  They can also be seen in most reserves and forest areas around Brisbane.

Noisy FBLEARN MORE ABOUT THIS BIRD

Wikipedia

Birdlife

Birdlife Australia

Birds in Backyards

Australian Bush Birds

VIDEOS

Tree foraging action

Defending their nest

 

Searching For Eastern Ground Parrots – Queensland Edition

Some readers may remember our adventures in Strahan & Melaleuca, Tasmania where I was able to flush a couple of Eastern Ground Parrots.  This time, we were trying to at least hear their dusk chorus and see them if we were lucky.  Ground Parrots will flush if you walk close to them so usually they have to be pretty close to the road.  Then it’s just a blur as they fly up and over around 20 meters and back into the bush.

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I was eager to try to see their cousins in Queensland so that was my main reason to join the Birds Queensland camp last week.  The location of the Eastern Ground Parrots is pretty hard to find if you haven’t been there before.  It’s between Rainbow Beach and Tin Can Bay and you have to watch for a little side road about 16 km from Rainbow Beach.

Brisbane - Rainbow2It’s the red blotch below “29 min 39.3 km”.

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I went back the next day to get a shot of the sign while parked on the side road facing Rainbow Beach Road.

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The road looks deceptively good for about 300 metres……………….

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…………….then it all goes to hell!  I drive a Ford Fiesta and BARELY made it as did the other small cars in our group.  Some people had 4x4s so they had no trouble at all.  You need high clearance to avoid scraping the underside of your car.  The rocks are large gravel size, going up to softball size.

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You drive for about 2.5 km, then turn left when you see this structure and go about another 2.5 km.  The road gets even worse!  Do NOT drive this road alone if you are not in a 4×4 as if anything goes wrong you would have to walk back to the Rainbow Beach Road to get decent cell phone signal.

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Eventually you come to heath grasslands like this.  This is the prime habitat of the Ground Parrots.  Walk along the main road or there’s a couple of side trails and you may flush one if you are lucky.  The birds call to each other at dawn and dusk.  I did hear them around 6pm (in December) but not as many as I had hoped.  My recording on my iPhone didn’t work out so try these ones on Xeno-canto.

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We got there way too early as it was summer with longer days.  Fair warning:  There are no toilets out here and no tall bushes to hide in.  I postponed my hydration until we got back to the camp.

While we were waiting, this cute little baby Noisy Friarbird was waiting for his parents to come back an feed him.  I was worried as he was left alone and would have had no defense against raptors.  Thankfully the parents came back!

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Way off in the distance, we could see a large flock of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos.  I stretched my zoom to the max and jokingly asked the other birders, “Maybe if we ask them nicely, they will come closer”?

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I think they heard us as 3 of them swooped directly overhead and were even kind enough to swoop on the other side so we could have the sun behind us!

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On the other side (away from the sun) was a smaller flock of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.  Not to be outdone by the Yellow-tails, one of them kindly flew overhead as well!

IMG_1589 IMG_1589a IMG_1591aIt made for an interesting but long day and I think if we ever go back on our own, we would do it in the shoulder season when the days are shorter – April, May, Sept, Oct.  With a 4×4, you could make a full day starting at this location for dawn chorus, then drive to Tin Can Bay for shorebirds and breakfast, take a siesta, then come back here for the dusk chorus.  Theoretically you could get back to Brisbane that same evening but you really need to spend the night before somewhere in the area to make the dawn chorus.  Someday I will have a 4×4 so a return visit is defintely on my list!

Bush Stone-curlew (Burhinus grallarius)

The Bush Stone-curlew or Bush Thick-knee (Burhinus grallarius, obsolete name Burhinus magnirostris) is a large (55–60 cm wingspan),  ground-dwelling bird endemic to Australia. Although it looks rather like a wader and is related to the oystercatchers, avocets and plovers, it is a terrestrial predator filling an ecological niche similar to that of the roadrunners of North America.

Bush Stone Curlew1 Bush Stone Curlew2They are readily seen near most coastal and some inland areas of Australia.  If you are staying at the Rainbow Waters Holiday Park, they can be seen near the tent area and the camp kitchen around dusk.  Listen for the high-pitched eerie scream (see video below).

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LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS BIRD

Wikipedia

Birdlife

Birdlife Australia

Birds in Backyards

Australian Wildlife Conservancy

 

VIDEOS

A good sample of the screaming sound they make.

This one is funny – the bird wandered into someone’s cabin and proceeded to audition for a role in “Scream Queens”!

 

 

Birding Tin Can Bay, Queensland

Tin Can Bay, Queensland is the gateway to Fraser Island (which is an adventure unto itself) but you don’t need to leave the mainland to find some good birding.  It’s a 3 hour drive from Brisbane so you should spend at least 1 night here to maximize birding time either in a holiday park/campground, hotel or backpacker lodge.

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We started the morning looking for Shorebirds at Cooloola Foreshores arriving around 7:30am.  We were greeted by a Whistling Kite in the car park at Mullen’s Creek.

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I’m the first to admit that Shorebirds are not my area of expertise but it was still interesting to look for them.  Some of them make huge journeys from Asia & North America to spend winter (Aussie summer) in the warmer climates.  More information can be found on Birds Queensland & Birdlife Australia.  My photos aren’t good enough to represent the individual species as the tide was out pretty far and I wasn’t up to wading out there.  We did get a repsectable bird list for the area with sightings of:  White-faced Heron (that’s the one near the boat), Whistling Kite, White-belied Sea-Eagle, Godwit, Pacific Golden Plover, Red-capped Plover, Greater & Lesser Sand Plover, Whimberel, Eastern Curlew, Red-necked Stint, Gull-bill Tern, Little Tern, Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, Leeuwin’s Honey-eater, Golden Whistler & Peaceful Dove.

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Next we moved on to the Tin Can Bay Foreshore Bird Walk.  It was getting hotter by now so I only visited a couple areas but still managed to see two lifers – Mangrove Honey-eater & Collared Kingfisher via a fellow birder’s scope.  There were also some more common species such as a Pelican being chased by a Whistling Kite, Masked Lapwings, Noisy Friarbirds.  Closer to the picnic area we found Galahs, Rainbow Lorikeets, Magpies and a very handsome Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike.

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Lodge Review: Rainbow Waters Holiday Park

Rainbow Waters Holiday Park is typical of most Australian holiday parks in offering all kinds of accommodation options from campsites for a tent to furnished cabins so there is something for everyone.  It’s located a couple km from the small town of Rainbow Beach next to the boat ramp in the the Great Sandy Straits.

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This is the cheapest option to get a roof over our head if you don’t have a caravan – a park cabin.  They have a mini-kitchen, a double bed and 2 bunks and use the common bath/toilet facilities in the yellow building you can see just behind it.

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This lovely little Crested Pigeon has some kind of injury.  He was hanging around one of the other cabins for our birding group.  I hope he’s OK, I always feel protective of birds like this.

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We walked down to the boat ramp area to see if there were any shorebirds about.  The restaurant wasn’t open so a good thing we brought our own food to BBQ!

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Sacred Kingfisher – I love the flash of blue when they fly!

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Masked Lapwings were everywhere.

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Woodswallows.

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Look closely to see the chicks of this Masked Lapwing.

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Walking back, here is the other side of the common building that houses the bathrooms & laundry room.

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The camp kitchen has 2 gas BBQs with flat cooking areas, not grills, a fridge, a pizza oven  and a couple burners.

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Bush Stone-Curlews hanging around the tent area.

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Parent Magpie teaches youngster how to steal chips from visitors!

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A bush turkey, confident with Thanksgiving being over forages very close to the kitchen.

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Showing the bush setting of the camp.  We also saw some Galahs, Sulphur Crested Cockatoos and a few birds I didn’t see clearly enough to id.

IMG_1432If you stay here, bring heavy duty mosquito repellent such as Bushman Plus 20% deet as the midges are a huge problem here.  They aren’t so active when there is a breeze about but the minute it dies down, they attack!  I advise bringing your own food – stock up in Gympie if you have to or better yet, Brisbane.  They don’t have wifi but you can get a reasonable cell phone signal, otherwise you have to drive to Rainbow Beach and visit a cafe.  It’s a good location if you want to bird in the general area of Cooloola Cove & Tin Can Bay.

Birding North Of The Sunshine Coast, Australia

This last weekend I joined a Birds Queensland weekend camp to Rainbow Beach which is located just north of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.  It’s an easy 3 hour drive north of Brisbane.  I recommend refueling in Gympie as prices are cheaper there.

Brisbane - Rainbow1We birded  3 main areas each with different specialty birds which I will be going into detail in separate posts.  They are marked in red on the map below.

  1.  Rainbow Waters Caravan Park (nice variety of birds in the grounds but beware of midges)!
  2. Tin Can Bay Foreshore (good for waders & shore birds)
  3. Noosa Plains ( Ground Parrot area near Cooloola Cove)
  4. Inskip Point (another shore bird area with some forest species)

Brisbane - Rainbow2I chose to join this camp because of the Eastern Ground Parrots.  Even though they are difficult to see unless you flush one out, you can still hear them calling at dusk and dawn.  Stand by for detailed posts on all these areas with photos!

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.

phr rangeLEARN MORE ABOUT PALE-HEADED ROSELLAS

Wikipedia

World Parrot Trust

Birdlife

Birdlife Australia

Birds in Backyards

VIDEOS

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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