A stroll up Mount Marlow

Perfect winter weather enticed fifteen walkers to join the Wildlife Queensland monthly excursion on the Sunday just past. The group met at the Freshwater bird hide (see Town Common map (pdf) if you’re not familiar with the park) at 9.00 and ambled along the causeway (someone called it a “dam wall”) to the foot of Many Peaks range near Bald Rock, then up to the top of Mount Marlow, the highest point of the range. I walked down it a year ago and commented that “I would rather go down it than up” but really, going up wasn’t too demanding. Continue reading “A stroll up Mount Marlow”

Birds on the Town Common

birds on small pond
Waterfowl on the Common: Pelicans with Black Duck (heads down), Royal Spoonbill and White and Straw-necked Ibis on the far bank of the lagoon

Early on Monday morning I made another of my periodic visits to the Town Common. Nearing the end of the dry season as we are now, I expected a good number of water birds congregating on the relatively small areas of open water and I wasn’t disappointed. What I hadn’t really expected was to find so many birds in the grasslands, reed beds and forest. My final list comprised nearly 40 species and the split between water birds and the rest was almost equal:

Waterfowl, roughly in order of size:

black and white bird in bulrushes
Jabiru (Black-necked Stork) Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus

Birds of the grasslands, reed-beds and scrub, again in size order:

brown bird perching on grass stem
Brown-backed Honeyeater, Ramsayornis modestus

As well as the above there were three species of small wading birds, probably sandpipers or dotterels but not quite identifiable; a blue-grey flash across the road which might have been a Leaden Flycatcher; the unmistakeable call of the Pheasant Coucal but not a sight of one; and a flock of small birds which I think were Spice Finches. There are far too many species to show them all here so I have linked some to previous posts about them or to my own photos of them on Flickr. Beyond that, you may have to indulge or assuage your curiosity at Birds in Backyards or Birdway.

brown bird on grass stem
Just because she’s cute … a tiny Golden-headed Cisticola

Just by way of a footnote: I was pleased with my 40-ish species, for one short morning’s visit, but the total recorded for the Common is over 300! As always, there’s lots more to do and see.

The Town Common in the Dry Season

lagoon, reed bed, mountain
Looking from the Pandanus viewing point towards Many Peaks Range

The Town Common Conservation Park is very close to Townsville and I try to get down there every few months (some previous visits are documented here). It is renowned, nationally and even internationally, for the bird life it attracts in the dry season so I seized an opportunity for an early-morning visit on Friday. Continue reading “The Town Common in the Dry Season”

Ross River waterbirds

A bike ride from home to the Palmetum yesterday rewarded me with sightings of many waterbirds and photos of some species I don’t see very often.

Magpie goose in flight
Magpie Goose in flight

The Magpie Goose, Anseranus semipalmata, is one of the largest of our waterbirds – not as big as the Pelican but bigger than our ducks and ibis and much heavier than our egrets. They seem to be coming  to the coast now as the inland dries out, like many other birds; certainly, I don’t usually see them along our Ross River parklands but there were lots yesterday.

Bird on waterlily leaves
Comb-crested Jacana on waterlily leaves

The Comb-crested Jacana,  Irediparra gallinacea, is a smallish bird with a chicken-like comb and the most extraordinary feet. Its lower legs are disproportionately heavy, and each of its toes is nearly as big as its shinbone, an adaptation which allows it to forage on floating vegetation in rivers and lagoons by spreading the weight over a large area. It is Australia’s only Jacana, although an Asian relative has been sighted in WA.

Dark birds perched on a branch
Fishing mates: Australian Darter (left) and Little Black Cormorant

The Australian Darter, Anhinga melanogaster, and Little Black Cormorant, Phalacrocorax sulcirostris, are relatively common along Ross River. These two, perched on a branch over the water, were obviously on the lookout for lunch.