Unexpected visitors – Magpie Geese and Black Cockatoos

I have been keeping a running tally of birds visiting our Mundingburra garden on this page and it is going well (about 30 species since May 2019) but two lots of recent visitors deserve more attention, so here we are.

Magpie Geese

I noted ten days ago that we had been hearing and occasionally spotting Magpie Geese, Anseranas semipalmata, in the early morning, perhaps on their flight path from wherever they spend the night (presumably somewhere further up Ross River) and where they spend the day feeding (perhaps Anderson Park). We are now seeing them quite often in the middle of the day as well, and last Thursday a group of them settled in the top of a neighbour’s tall gum tree.

Magpie Geese
Magpie Geese in a gum tree

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Wet-season visitors – PIPs and Koels

Torres Strait Pigeons, aka Pied Imperial-Pigeons (i.e. PIPs) and Koels, aka Stormbirds or Rainbirds, are Wet-season visitors to the Townsville region. As I write, the Wet hasn’t arrived but the visitors have been with us for months.

The PIPs are often to be seen high in the tallest trees; their call is a baritone “Coo”, as befits their size, and we tend to smile when we hear them. The Koels, on the other hand, are rarely seen but the males’ incessant calling – a frantic rising wockawockwocka! – can wear out its welcome. The females are far quieter, which is probably a good thing.

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The joy of sprinklers

The Dry Season continues, and the birds are more and more grateful for our bird baths and lawn sprinklers – well, they seem to be, but who knows what’s going on in their little minds? All we can say for sure is that they come to fly through the spray or sit where the water is falling.

Spangled Drongo on mock orange
Sprinkled Spangled Drongo

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Dollarbird

Oriental Dollarbird Eurystomus orientalis
Dollarbird

The Dollarbird (Eurystomus orientalis) is the latest addition to my list of species seen in or from my (new) Mundingburra garden. This was one of two perched on power-lines across the street this morning; we had seen them on similar vantage points closer to Ross River in the last week or two, so we weren’t surprised when they came to us.

I wrote about the species five years ago after photographing one near Ross Dam, and all I have to add now is that the prolonged dry spell (5 mm of rain in four months, and still waiting) probably drew them into the suburb via the Ross River parkland corridor.

Ollera Creek and the beach

I have known for some time about a Mahogany Glider (Petaurus gracilis) research project undertaken by the good people of Wildlife Queensland, but that’s almost all I knew until they scheduled a visit to the site last Sunday as one of their regular monthly walks.

Their monitoring site straddles Ollera Creek an hour North of Townsville, between the highway and the coast. We gathered at the Paluma turn-off before driving in convoy through well-timbered grazing land to the beach near the mouth of Ollera Creek.

Ollera Creek
Looking along the beach towards Ollera Creek

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