Bowerbirds at Paluma

We stopped at Birthday Creek on the way back from Paluma Dam (last-but-one post) to see if we could see two bowerbirds known to live there, and perhaps a platypus as well. We scored, I reckon, 1.5 out of 3 – no platypus, one abandoned bower, and one bowerbird in full song.

Birthday Creek
Birthday Creek from the bridge on the Paluma Dam road

We watched for platypus from the bridge but saw none although this stretch of Birthday Creek looked like platypus heaven.

Golden Bowerbird bower
Abandoned bower of Golden Bowerbird

We were not much luckier with the Golden Bowerbird, the one which some of us had hoped to visit a few months ago. We found the bower easily enough by walking fifty metres down a track from the Birthday Creek carpark, but it was collapsed, obviously abandoned.

Each species of bowerbird has its own style of bower. The Golden male makes towers of twigs around two adjacent tree trunks and links them with a branch from which he calls, and my photo show the larger of the two towers. This video from Marc Anderson shows what we missed.

Bowerbird on perch
Tooth-billed Bowerbird


Just a metre or two from the edge of the carpark we saw and heard the male of another bowerbird species, the Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Scenopoeetes dentirostris (aka Tooth-billed Catbird, Ailuroedus dentirostris).

His bower hardly deserved the name, being merely an ornamental carpet of fresh-cut leaves on a cleared patch of ground, but he was singing his heart out from his perch on a branch above it. (As Slaters’ Guide puts it, “Voice: most variable, vigorous and loud song at bower, making bowers easy to find.”) He was so oblivious of us that I got close enough to make a video, mainly for his song. Clicking on the photo above will take you to a brief excerpt from it.

Dove’s disappointment

ringneck pigeon in dry birdbath
Where’s my water?

We had a bit of rain a while ago but nothing but drizzle since then so our birdbath still gets a lot of use. This Spotted Dove, an early-morning visitor, looks quite put out at the low water level.

I, of course, blame the other birds, especially the Mynahs,  for splashing it all out. They, more fairly, blame me for not refilling it fast enough. Never mind – we do try, and I did top it up when I noticed the problem.

Incidentally, the bird has had a Latin name change: it is now Spilopelia chinensis rather than Streptopelia chinensis. Birds in Backyards still has it as Streptopelia, as do BirdLife Australia and my 2004 edition of Slaters’ Field Guide, but Birdway has been updated (it’s usually well up to date with name changes) and Wikipedia explains the change here.

It’s still a Spotted Dove or Spotted Turtle-dove, of course, since common names don’t change by decree, and it’s still a naturalised foreigner, introduced from China and South-east Asia as long ago as the 1860s.

Birds beside Rollingstone Creek

These bird photos were taken on a visit to Rollingstone Creek with Wildlife Queensland a month ago. That visit, like their other monthly expeditions, would normally be reported on the WQ branch blog but hasn’t appeared yet so I will give a little more detail than I usually do.

The location was Rollingstone Creek Bushy Park (Google Maps) and the broad, well vegetated creek bed beside it. Access to the park (part of which is a very quiet, pleasant camping ground) is from Balgal Beach Rd and the old low-level highway bridge, or from the Servo turn-off, north of the creek, and Rollingstone St.

We walked along the creek – very slowly, because there was so much to see – before returning for morning tea in the park. Most of the bird sightings were along the creek but the Bar-shouldered Dove, White-browed Robin and some others were seen in the park.

The dominant honeyeater in this well-watered strip of paperbark woodland was the Brown-backed, Ramsayornis modestus. It’s one I hardly see elsewhere, and I am gradually realising that each habitat favours one or two of our many (nearly thirty) honeyeater species above the rest: Lewin’s in the open woodland on Hervey’s Range, Blue-faced in my suburban garden, Brown in the mangroves of Sandy Crossing, Dusky along the rocky banks of Alligator Creek, and so on. Perhaps I should say ‘absorbing the fact’ rather than ‘realising’ because I’ve known it in theory for some years.

In addition to those pictured we saw a Striated Heron (Butorides striata), Yellow Honeyeater, Dusky Honeyeater, Peaceful Dove, Cuckoo-shrike (not sure which one), Forest Kingfisher, Mistletoebird, distant Pelicans and Crows, and many more; the full bird list was much longer than mine because I tend to forget about all the common birds as soon as I see them, unless they are doing something particularly noteworthy or pose for my camera.

Channel-billed Cuckoo in town

There was an extraordinary whooping commotion in our poplar gum just on dusk yesterday. It sounded like Friarbirds on steroids or half a dozen Blue-winged Kookaburras on helium – a huge sound!

I ducked outside straight away to see what on earth was going on and spotted two big grey-brown birds high in the tree (and there may have been more hidden amongst the leaves). They were Channel-billed Cuckoos, Scythrops novaehollandiaeContinue reading “Channel-billed Cuckoo in town”

Spice finches in Bali

One of my readers used the workaround ‘comment’ routine recently to ask me about some birds she sees on her side of Ross River:

I live on the river in Annandale and since moving here 18 months ago have developed a great love of birds – they are in my garden and on the river.  I manage to identify most of them but there is one little fellow I just can’t – I have googled, looked in the books and sites.
It is not a very pretty little bloke but I love them. They are, I would imagine, a finch, [with] the round little fat body, always in a flock of around 10 -15, fly very fast, love the seed in my lawn, love my bird bath as it’s very protected. He is a medium flat brown with a black mask across his eyes, has a short tail, easily frightened.
This little bird is too small for me to get a photo with my camera. Malcolm do you have any idea what it is, I would be grateful for your comments.

I was happy to help, especially as Lynne had provided such a good description that there was only one real candidate, the Spice Finches (Lonchura punctulata). As I told her, they are Asian birds, relatively recent arrivals in our region but now well established in our parklands, so older bird books might not describe them, or might not show them as living here.

I have already written about them here and, more recently, here but Lynne’s enquiry reminded me that I had intended to write about them again after my return from Bali in April (this link will lead you to earlier posts about the island). They are a native species there, so seeing them was no surprise. Seeing them feeding on a tidal rock platform, however, was quite unexpected.  Continue reading “Spice finches in Bali”