Birding on the Town Common

On Saturday I was lucky enough to visit the Town Common with a small group which included two keen, knowledgeable birders. Thanks to them, we ended up with a list of more than 50 species from Red-backed Wrens and Spice Finches (10 cm) to Jabirus and Brolgas  (130 cm). We were happy that we spotted so many in just a couple of hours but I should note, just for context, that about 280 have been recorded on the Common.

We drove in past the golf club, visiting Payet’s Tower and the two nominated viewing points on the way to Freshwater bird hide, with a few unscheduled stops as one or another of us spotted birds from the vehicle. There is still a fair bit of open water on the Common and we saw substantial numbers of Magpie Geese, including about 150 in a single flock near the Pandanus viewing point. We briefly visited the Pallarenda Conservation Park, too, adding the Orange-footed Scrub Fowl, Scrub Turkey and others to our list.

Here are some of my photographs from the morning.

Crimson Finch
Crimson Finch, Neochmia phaeton, female
Black-faced Cuckooshrike (Coracina novaehollandiae)
Black-faced Cuckooshrike, Coracina novaehollandiae
Osprey (Pandion cristatus)
Osprey (Pandion cristatus) on its amazingly bulky nest
Osprey (Pandion cristatus)
Osprey (Pandion cristatus) landing in a tree near Payet’s Tower
magpie goose
Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) coming in for an untidy landing on the lagoon
One of a pair of Brolgas, Grus rubicunda, seen browsing near the Pandanus viewing point

Blue-winged Kookaburras come to dinner

Neighbours have been welcoming a pair of Blue-winged Kookaburras (Dacelo leachii) to their garden recently and invited us over to say hello. Our feathered friends appeared on cue, “cue” being a few lumps of mince placed on the pool fence for them, and allowed me to take a few photos.

The most visible differences between the sexes is the colour of the tail feathers – blue for boys and red-brown for girls.

Blue-winged Kookaburra
Male Blue-winged Kookaburra

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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 below 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. Continue reading “Birds in the ‘burbs – Mundingburra and Kelso”

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

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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.

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