Mound-builder at work

black bird on mound of leaves
Male Scrub Turkey on his mound

I thought that the Scrub Turkeys I saw at Pallarenda and mentioned so cursorily in my previous post deserved a little more attention because one of them was working so hard.

He (and it was he, not she, since the males build the mounds) was well into the construction of a nesting mound on the edge of the little park just before the gate to the Conservation Park and old Quarantine Station. He already had a mound two or three metres across and kept on working in spite of people and cars moving around nearby.

I saw two or three more Scrub Turkeys in the uncleared area in the background, just across the road (presumably at least one will have been a female), but I didn’t see any on the Town Common proper although there may well have been some.

black bird kicking leaves higher on the mound
Mound-builder in action

Birds in Eungella National Park

grey bird
Grey Shrike-thrush, Colluricincla harmonica, posing for his portrait on the end of the picnic table

One of the delights of my visit to Eungella National Park was the bird-watching – there were so many birds, and so many of them were new to me.

yellow-breasted bird
Eastern Yellow Robin, Eopsaltria australis, in the picnic ground

Yellow Robins were always in sight around the picnic grounds and other open spaces. They are a little smaller than the Shrike-thrush.


A few more photos of these two species – click on the thumbnails, as usual, for larger versions.

grey bird with large spider
Grey Shrike-thrush, Colluricincla harmonica, with a huntsman it had just plucked from the rafters of the picnic shelter
grey bird at picnic table
Grey Shrike-thrush raiding my plate for crumbs
grey and yellow bird
Eastern Yellow Robin in characteristic pose, perched sideways on a tree-trunk

close-up of bird with red face and yellow neck
Scrub Turkey, Alectura lathami, on my picnic table

It’s one thing to have a mynah-sized Shrike-thrush timidly approach the picnic table for a few crumbs. It’s quite another to have such a big, bulky bird as a Scrub Turkey strut into the shelter to hop onto the seat opposite me and then onto the table itself with the clear intention of making off with anything that took its fancy, but it did give me some fine close-ups.

black and white bird on log with wings spread
Little Pied Cormorant, Phalacrocorax melanoleucos, drying off after fishing in the river
blue and buff bird on log in river
Azure Kingfisher, Alcedo azurea, on the same log as the cormorant, highlighting the gorgeous bird’s diminutive stature

Yellow Robins and Kookaburras liked the trees along the river banks but these two are genuine water birds. The Azure Kingfisher, a little smaller than Forest or Sacred, was my first; Slater’s Field Guide describes the species as an “uncommon resident along creeks, rivers and mangroves” in northern and eastern Australia.

small grey bird on twig
This tiny bird (10cm, wren-size) is a thornbill, most likely a Buff-rumped Thornbill, Acanthiza reguloides

With this little bird I move into the “unknowns” – birds not seen clearly enough for a good photo or even proper identification. There were honeyeaters in the bottlebrush trees around the camping ground, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos in the distance, a swamp-hen or one of its relations on the river, a dove or pigeon that I only saw as a silhouette against the sky, and half-sightings of birds in the rainforest gloom. One of these may have been a Pale-yellow Robin, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher or another thornbill; another was probably a Spectacled Monarch.

I will take this opportunity to recommend an excellent resource for amateur bird-watchers (and that does include me!), the Bird-finder on the Birds in Backyards site. Just go to http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/finder, click on a few characteristics such as approximate size, colour/s and overall shape, and the clever software will come up with a list of possibilities with thumbnail images and links to species pages. It’s particularly useful when you have no idea which family your bird may belong to, since sites like Ian Montgomery’s Birdway and field guide books like Slaters’ are organised, logically enough, by family and genus.

Alligator Creek

We took advantage of the Boxing Day holiday to drive down to the camping and picnic area at Alligator Creek. It is normally a popular spot but the long dry spell which only ended on Christmas Eve seems to have discouraged the campers and even the day-tripper numbers were down, so it was pleasantly quiet. We paddled in the shallows, swam in the deeper pools, clambered over the rocks and enjoyed a picnic lunch. All of us are enthusiastic about wildlife and all of us had cameras so my photographic haul for the day is only about a quarter of the total.

We all took photos of the scrub turkeys, Alectura lathami. There were plenty of them around and they were absolutely comfortable with human society – even to the point of shopping at Supré, apparently:

scrub turkey with shopping bag over one shoulder
Scrub turkey returning from its shopping trip
scrub turkey with head in shopping bag
Did I remember to buy the bread?
turkey head-down in the dust
Crash landing? What crash landing?

They are large and somewhat clumsy birds but my third photo here is misleading: the bird did not crash-land at all but was enjoying an energetic dust-bath. A far more formal portrait is here, on my Flickr photostream.

The scrub turkeys were not the first creatures we noticed on arrival: the cicadas were. Their screaming drone is characteristic of the Australian bush in summer and dominated the picnic area. After a while we saw some of their cast-off shells (here and adjacent) clinging to tree-trunks and saplings but we never did see any of the adult insects; they must have been high in the trees.

I also brought home pictures of spiders – another ant-mimicking jumping spider, a tiny yellow spider which had somehow defeated a green-ant plus a couple of others – flies (1, 2), dragonflies, damselflies and a marvellously camouflaged mantis:

Brown Mantis 5822
Mantis? Where?

A post about an earlier visit to the same park shows the scenery and some more of the fauna, while this link will take you to a composite collection of my Flickr photos of the wildlife.