Dry Town Common – with birds

Townsville’s Town Common Conservation Park is a world-famous (amongst birders, at least) wetland and bird refuge but it is not at its best now, six dry months after the second of two consecutive failed Wet seasons. My first three photos were all taken from the lookout above Tegoora Rock a week ago, looking towards the city, then turning right to look along the inland face of the Many Peaks Range, then (for completeness and variety) right again to look into the scrub on the ridge behind me.

town common dry season
View from the Tegoora Rock lookout towards the city – Castle Hill is just to the left of the picture

town common dry season
View from the Tegoora lookout along the inland flank of Many Peaks Range
town common dry season
The beginning of the track from the lookout to Mt Marlow

The first two shots are enough to show how little open water there was; I did find some later, beside the road from the park entrance to the Freshwater Lagoon bird hide, but very few birds were taking advantage of it. That was a little surprising (as well as disappointing) since I’m told there are “thousands” of water birds on the Cromarty Wetlands now.

town common dry season
Open water at the Melaleuca viewing point

That’s not to say, however, that there were no birds to be seen on the Common. In my amble from the Pallarenda entrance to Tegoora Rock and back via the Wetland Walk, plus a very quick visit to Freshwater Lagoon, I saw more Rainbow Bee-eaters than I’ve ever seen in one day before (our local population is presently boosted by winter migrants), plus …
peewits (lots),
scrub turkeys,
brown honeyeaters (heard more often than seen, as usual),
peaceful doves (lots);
several distant flights of brolgas,
one egret in flight and
one lone distant jabiru;
a drab brown wren,
jacanas and
a darter at the Melaleuca view point; and
straw-necked ibis,
a white-faced heron and
plovers at Freshwater Lagoon Mud-patch; and
a drongo,
a cuckoo-shrike and
a kookaburra near the council depot.

The Kookaburra was my photo of the day but two Varied Trillers (Lalage leucomela), one on the hillside above Tegoora Rock and one at Freshwater, were a little more special because I so rarely see the species.

On the beach near the Quarantine Station I enjoyed a good view of a Brahminy Kite eating a fish at the water’s edge. It flew off when I got too close, leaving not much more than the skeleton behind. A Black Kite stooped down on it soon afterwards and in one swift movement took it away.

laughing kookaburra on Town Common
Laughing Kookaburra, Wetlands Walk track, Town Common

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