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.

Walking in the Paluma rainforest

Paluma Dam track
The walking track

A recent trip to Paluma Dam with the good people of Wildlife Queensland was enjoyable for the wildlife and just being in the rainforest but was far from strenuous. We walked across the dam wall and along a vehicular track to the west of the dam, took a side track to down to the dam shore, and returned the same way before lunching at the camping ground. Birds were constantly audible but frustratingly invisible, so most of my photos are of invertebrates.

Paluma Dam forest
Looking into the forest below the dam wall
Paluma Dam
Looking across Paluma Dam

These two butterfly species were the commonest on the day but are unfamiliar around Townsville. Braby notes that both are ‘common but local’ in their territory, the Wet Tropics. The upper wing surfaces of the Grey Albatross are white and pale grey with darker wingtips, so both shone out brightly in the shadows of the forest.

‘Puddling’ is the proper term for butterflies’ habit of landing on wet sand (as here) or beside shallow puddles (as here) to suck up some water.

These two spiders were both found in the camping ground, one on our picnic table and the other on the brim of a hat. The brown one is certainly Tetragnatha sp. but even the new Field Guide to Spiders of Australia calls it ‘unidentified’.  The green one? I suspect it may be a Mesida, in which case it belongs to the same family, but I’m not at all sure.

A miscellany.

Robber flies are aerial predators like dragonflies – note the huge flight muscles – but are ‘real’ flies unlike dragonflies or butterflies.

The hopper, a sap-sucker (Hemiptera) only about 5mm long, looks like it’s standing on something coarse and wiry but that’s only because of the magnification. In real life, the leaves are beautifully velvety.

leaves at Paluma Dam
Soft new foliage – gorgeous!

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.

Aviary

My aviary is my garden, and a familiar bush block at Hervey’s Range, and anywhere else in the bush with birds. Who needs bars?

More seriously, this post is a collection of recent bird photos that I was pleased with but haven’t attached themselves to any particular story. The first shows a Drongo in my suburban garden and the rest were taken on two separate visits to Hervey’s Range.

Clicking on the images will, as usual bring them up full-size in a light-box and reveal extended captions.

Mundingburra

Spangled Drongo, Dicrurus bracteatus
Spangled Drongo

Hervey’s Range

A Jabiru beside Jerona Road

This Jabiru was our bird of the day, without any doubt, on our trip with Wildlife Queensland to Jerona, in spite of stiff competition from raptors including numerous Black Kites, a Brahminy Kite, a Sea Eagle and a Wedge-tailed Eagle.

The Jabiru is Australia’s only stork and one of our tallest birds. It is very much the same size as the far more common Brolga but is heavier in the body and (very obviously) beak. I have seen them occasionally on the Town Common and elsewhere but never so close as this one, which was foraging in a water channel about 50 metres from the road.

It didn’t mind us taking photos from the car but took off when I walked, ever so quietly, towards it. Continue reading “A Jabiru beside Jerona Road”