Present: Brandon Hewitt, Pamela De Zilva, Graham Castles, Nev Capell, Deane Lewis, Nerida Silke, Trevor Hewitt, Edwin Faint, Peter Tierney
Three determined birders, Pamela, Graham and I, travelled from Bundaberg and surrounds to Calliope River campground on Thursday Oct 7 and arrived at midday, Peter arriving not long later. The camper trailer was soon abandoned and we made tracks to Twelve Mile Creek and Port Alma for the Yellow Chat. As well as countless Black Kites and Whistling Kites, a couple of Brown Goshawks were seen along the way. Twelve Mile Creek was lined with Little Black Cormorants, Purple Swamphen, Eurasian Coot, Dusky Moorhen, Pacific Black Duck and Grey Teal. Once at the site, birds sighted immediately include Great Egret and Brown Honeyeater. Upon walking up and down the creek for an hour, keeping eyes and ears peeled for any small yellow birds, no chats were sighted and all cisticolas appeared to be Golden-headed. Other birds present there and in the bush behind include Black-necked Stork, Brown Songlark, Little Grassbird, Nankeen Kestrel, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, White-throated Honeyeater and Olive-backed Oriole. No chats here, it seemed, so it was off to the saltworks to try or luck there. Again, no chats showed themselves nor did the Zitting Cisticola. There were, however, plenty of Silver Gulls and Pied Stilts in the delta on the south side as well as some Common Greenshanks, Red-capped Plover and a lone Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. We then headed back to camp… Striated Heron and Brahminy Kite were seen from the causeway, heard Bush Stone-curlew calling after dinner, and Southern Boobook called distantly through the night.
Friday 3 October
In the early morning a pair of Barking Owls made their presence known and we were able to locate them close to the tents. With no luck seeking the chats on Thursday, we headed off early for another shot at the chat sites before going to Rockhampton. Twelve Mile Creek produced no chats yet again but Brown Falcon and Spangled Drongo was added to the list. Between the saltworks and Twelve Mile Creek were two Squatter Pigeons on the road. At the saltworks a Zitting Cisticola was heard and a small honeyeater-like bird shot past me, however despite high spirits both birds were not located. A young boy also after the chat claimed a Zitting Cisticola at Eight Mile Creek, so off we went… all cisticolas sighted were Golden-headed. Apart from that, Australian Reed-warbler was seen. Other surprising birds here were Pallid Cuckoo, Buff-banded Rail, Nankeen Night-Heron and Black Falcon. It was then time to meet Nev and Deane joining us at Rockhampton. From there it was to Emu Park, taking the scenic drive up the coast and meeting Edwin near Kinka Beach who recorded Blue-winged Kookaburra and numerous other birds while he waited. We stopped at a wader count site where Gull-billed Tern, Whimbrel and Eastern Curlew were seen. Next was Double Headland Point which provided spectacular views of nearby islands and Rosslyn Bay. New birds here were Sacred Kingfisher and Grey Shrike-thrush. After, it was straight to Byfield to set up camp… the rest of the evening was spent enjoying the Pied Currawongs, Pheasant Coucal and Noisy Friarbirds calling around the campsite. Azure Kingfishers also resided in the adjacent creek. Nerida and Trevor arrived later that evening, and while most went to bed Nev and Deane spotlighted a Squirrel Glider.
Saturday 4 October
Left camp at 0615 for a full day of activities. It was intended that we go to Corbett’s Landing, but upon turning the wrong way I improvised and pretended that I meant to go to Kelly’s Landing… luckily no one questioned about it. The first stop at a creek crossing was a good one with Spectacled Monarch, Little Shrike-thrush, Yellow-faced Honeyeater and Leaden Flycatcher being seen. Various roadside lagoons provided some waterfoul as well as Royal Spoonbill, Great Egret and Brown Quail. Stopping at the northern part of Iwasaki, scoping from the gate produced Brolga, Black-necked Stork, Glossy Ibis and Black-fronted Dotterel. After encountering some unappealing fishermen at Kelly’s Landing, we decided no birds were here and headed back down to an attractive lagoon for morning tea. Here, Bar-breasted Honeyeater was seen in the melaleuca. From there we travelled to Waterpark Creek where we were overwhelmed by the numbers of Rose-crowned Fruit-Doves. And amongst those were Emerald Dove, Topknot Pigeon and Large-billed Scrubwren. Burgers for lunch were enjoyed at the Byfield General Store all the while watching Olive-backed Sunbirds frolicking around the café. Corbett’s Landing produced no new birds so we headed back to camp before heading back to Waterpark Creek for a BBQ dinner, followed by spotlighting. Some people went back to camp while others continued to an area on Corbett’s Landing Road with plenty of hollows. Spotlighting produced a Bullrout in the creek, Eastern Dwarf Tree-frog, an unidentified gecko and a Tawny Frogmouth.
Sunday 5 October
We were to meet Birdlife Capricornia members at 0700. From there, the day commenced along Fishing Creek Road then onto Iwasaki Wetlands. At the viewing tower Rainbow Bee-eaters filled the air and almost every dead perch available. Also at the tower Magpie Geese, Cotton Pygmy-geese, Comb-crested Jacana, Caspian Tern and Whiskered Tern were observed. Also as we drove around the wetlands, Wandering Whistling-Ducks and Radjah Shelduck rested on the jetty. The freshwater and saltwater wetlands were divided by the track and in the mangroves were Mangrove Honeyeater, surprisingly enough! At the northern lagoon in the property, Tawny Grassbird was heard, all three ibis fed together and everyone was delighted by a pair of Brolgas dancing rather close. Then it was off to Sandy Point for lunch. Unfortunately, low tide meant people fishing and driving on the flats so birds here were scarce. New birds were Bar-tailed Godwit and Crested Tern. We visited Boyde’s Plain on the way back and produced Red-kneed Dotterel, Plumed Whistling-Duck and Yellow-billed Spoonbill. The day was concluded at Nursery Lagoon with afternoon tea hosted by Jenny. Back at camp, a lazy afternoon was had while I continued to search hopelessly for a Black Bittern along the creek. Bandicoots foraged around the campground at night and Bush Stone-curlews called from the other side of the creek. Spotlighting saw eels, freshwater turtles and a Wilcox’s Frog.
Monday 6 October
We casually headed off after packing up camp to Kinka Wetlands. Immediately after arriving Pied Oystercatcher was seen on the track and Brush Cuckoo was heard. White-necked Heron was in the freshwater marsh and Pale-headed Rosella inspected a hollow in the distance. We were promised waders by the Capricornia members but only added Red-necked Stint and Marsh Sandpiper… However, we were delighted by a female Red-capped Plover attending to her nest on the gravel track. Also tending to a nest were White-breasted Woodswallows. There were also up to eight Brolgas and a Black-necked Stork here also. A Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo made itself known and were able to get good views. Most people headed home after that and were going to check the saltworks again on the way. Trevor and I didn’t leave the Rockhampton until 1600 and stopped at the saltworks in the late afternoon and stayed for the sunset over the delta. Again, I managed to sight a cisticola but never re-sighted it nor did we see the Yellow Chat. We headed Home.