Birds in the ‘burbs – Mundingburra and Kelso

A few years ago I began compiling a list of all the birds I have seen at home in Mundingburra, posting it to the blog as a separate page and keeping it up to date as I saw new species. Ian Walters has been maintaining a similar list in Kelso, about three kilometres from the river and four from the Ross Dam wall, a long way up-river from me and a little further from the river, and I thought it would be interesting to compare observations.

In the table I have listed each family group in the sequence [only Mundingburra] – [both] – [only Kelso]. If you want to see photos, links in the species column will take you to my photos (mostly here on the blog) but you will need to visit Ian’s page at to see his.

What does the comparison show us?

A very quick look reveals that there are more species from Kelso than from Mundingburra – about 75:50 – but that we do have a lot in common.

Ian has far more finches and parrots than I have, as we might have expected because he is closer to open grassland (food source for both families) and has more mature tress which provide nesting hollows for the parrots. He also has more water-birds, partly because he is relatively close to the dam but also because he has a small creek running (after rain, at least) across the back of his property.

We both do well for honeyeaters, friarbirds, pigeons and doves but Ian has more of the small insectivores – flycatchers and fantails. That surprised me more than the other differences but on reflection I’m going to put it down to his open spaces, since I generally to see them on the edges of open spaces in (e.g.) parklands.

Species M’burra Kelso
Honeyeaters and Friarbirds    
White-gaped Honeyeater (post) (pic) (pic) (pic)
Brown Honeyeater (post) (pic) (pic)
Blue-faced Honeyeater (post) (pic pic – juveniles)
White-throated Honeyeater (pic – Town Common)
Yellow Honeyeater (post – Riverway) (pic)
Helmeted (Hornbill) Friarbird (post) (pic) (post)
Little Friarbird (post) (post) (pic) since Sept. 2015
Brown-backed Honey Eater
Golden-backed Honeyeater
Noisy Friarbird
Parrots and Cockatoos    
Rainbow Lorikeet (post) (post) (post) (pic) (pic)
Sulphur-crested cockatoo (post)
Black Cockatoos (post – Ross Creek)
Longbilled Corella
Little Corella
Pale Headed Rosella
Scaly Breasted Lorikeet
Red Winged (aka Crimson Wing) Parrot
Pigeons and Doves    
Torresian Pigeon aka Pied Imperial Pigeon (post) (post) (pic)
Wompoo Pigeon aka Wompoo Fruit-dove
Spotted Turtle-dove (post) (post)
Feral pigeon (pic – Ross Creek)
Peaceful Dove (post) (pic) (pic)
Topknot pigeon
Squatter Pigeon
Cuckoos and Coucals    
Common Koel aka Eastern Koel, Rain Bird or Indian Koel (post) (pic – female)
Channel-billed Cuckoo (post) (post)
Brush Cuckoo (post)
Coucal aka Pheasant Coucal (post) (pic)
Rufous-tailed bronze cuckoo
Kingfishers and Kookaburras    
Sacred Kingfisher (post) (pic)
Collared Kingfisher
Laughing Kookaburra and Blue-winged Kookaburra (see this post for both species)
Cuckoo-shrikes and Trillers – Campephagidae    
Varied Triller (post)
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike (post)
White Winged Triller
Flycatchers and Monarchs – Monarchidae    
Black-faced Monarch (post)
Leaden flycatcher (post – male) (pic – female)
Magpie-lark aka Pee-wit
White Ibis (pic) (pic)
Pelican  (pic)
Black Ibis
Pacific Black Duck
Grass Whistler Duck
Birds of Prey, Owls, Frogmouth    
Whistling Kite
Baza aka Crested Hawk (post)
Black Kite (post – Hervey’s Range)
Brown Goshawk (post)
Sea Eagle (post – Ross River parkland) seen high overhead (pic)
Brahminy kite
Mopoke Owl
Barking Owl – heard in both locations but never seen in either
Tawny Frogmouth (pic Kelso)
Rufous Owl
Other visitors
Common Myna aka Indian Mynah
House sparrow (post)
Spangled Drongo (pic) (pic) (pic)
Figbird (post) (post – Ross River parklands)
Great Bowerbird (pic – Airlie Beach)
Masked Lapwing aka Spurwing Plover
Curlew (post)
Scrub Turkey (post)
Rainbow Bee-eater (post) (pic) (pic)
Mistletoebird (post) 
Yellow-bellied Sunbird, aka Olive-backed Sunbird  (post) (post)
Spice Finch aka Nutmeg Finch (pic)
Double Barred Finch aka Owl Faced Finch
Chestnut-breasted Finch
Willie wagtail (post)
White-breasted Woodswallow
Black-faced Woodwallow
Oriole Olive Backed
Restless Fly Catcher
Brown Flycatcher Jacky Winter
Grey Fantail
Rufous Fantail
Rufous Whistler
Asian Dollarbird (post – Ross Dam)

Alva Beach

The trip which included the Ayr Nature Display was also my first visit to Alva Beach, Ayr’s local beach just a quarter of an hour from town. The township is much like others along this part of the coast (Jerona, for instance) in existing for holiday-makers and fishing enthusiasts. There isn’t even a shop, let alone a pub or a servo – just a cluster of houses, two blocks deep, between the beachfront dunes and the salt flats, swamps and cattle country of the hinterland.

The country is all very flat and a difference in elevation of a metre or two marks the difference between swamps, cattle country and canefields, as this (2014) photo shows.

Looking over the mouth of the Burdekin towards Alva Beach from the peak of Mt Inkerman

The beach itself is impressive for its huge expanses of sand, flushed down the nearby Burdekin River and deposited along the coast. The mid-distance horizon in the first photo below, in fact, is a sand-bar which extends for kilometres along the coast and is stabilised by low-growing vegetation. It may all change radically in the next cyclone but for now it’s a significant off-shore island, as this map shows.

Alva Beach
Looking south along Alva Beach towards the Burdekin
Alva Beach
Looking north along Alva Beach from the sandflats
Alva Beach saltpans
Saltpans just behind Alva Beach township
Magpie Geese
Magpie Geese beside a lagoon between Alva Beach and Ayr

Butterflies on display in Ayr

Ayr is a pleasant town in the canefields on the Townsville side of the Burdekin River. Townsville people generally know it only as a place on the way to somewhere further South, but every town has its attractions and the Ayr Nature Display is one which I should have found much sooner.

It is a family affair, created by Allan and Jess Ey in the 1960s and cared for by their daughter to this day.  As such, it’s a time capsule as well as a wildlife display, since both the “what” and the “how” of the display reflect attitudes towards collecting (and laws about collecting) which are very different from those of today.

Continue reading “Butterflies on display in Ayr”

Apostlebird portrait


Apostlebirds, Struthidea cinerea, are not common around Townsville so I was glad of this opportunity for a close-up portrait in spite of the unnatural background. Three apostlebirds had found their way into a fowl-run, looking for easy food. They were enjoying the plentiful food but apparently couldn’t find their way out and were quite agitated when anyone approached the enclosure.

I associate the species with the drier inland areas such as Charters Towers and Porcupine Gorge, but this encounter took place in the canefields of the lower Burdekin, specifically at Mio College, Claredale, where the birdlife was a bonus after a very pleasant lunch.