• Jas Scotia
1 Jan: Hat trick on day one!

After agonising about which lingering rarities from 2017 to target first, I decided on the Plum-headed Finches that had recently been found at Oxley Creek Common. This species usually occurs to the west of Brisbane and is rare and erratic within the city boundary. Up to 8 birds had been seen feeding on thistle heads near Pelican Lagoon, and Rae Clark had very kindly provided me with details on exactly where to search. So, at 0347 on New Year’s Day I walked to the spot on Oxley Creek Common under cover of darkness and waited expectantly for dawn. A calling Horsfield’s Bronze-cuckoo was a good bird, not common in Brisbane, although Oxley is a reliable spot for them. Double-barred Finches and Chestnut-breasted Mannikins began to show in small groups. After about 40 minutes of searching at the known spot, a cracking Plum-headed Finch suddenly appeared on the track in front of me and gave brilliant views for about five minutes before disappearing. A great start to the new year with a very tricky species under the belt.

I decided not to dally, walked briskly back to the car, and drove to Priors Pocket Road, where both species of songlark had been long-staying. Both are from drier country to the west, and Brown Songlark is extremely rare in Brisbane. I was keen to see these two. At the farm dam, I heard a Brown Songlark singing almost straight away, although I couldn’t see it. On the dam itself were 6 Plumed Whistling-Ducks and 16 Pink-eared Ducks, both scarce species that were pleasing to connect with. Scanning the fence line beyond the dam, I was amazed to see a pair of Plum-headed Finches! They gave distant views at first from about 0740, them came quite a bit closer and eventually flew onto the power lines by the road, calling, and then flew off high SE at 0803. Always a thrill!

With no Rufous Songlark yet heard, I tried further down the road by the old quarry. After quite a bit of searching and waiting, I eventually heard the characteristic notes of a Rufous Songlark, and also briefly a Brown Songlark (probably the same individual as heard from the dam). I was delighted with this hat trick of difficult Brisbane rarities.

On to Anstead, where I tried for Oriental Cuckoo, unfortunately in vain, before retreating back home for the day. A good start to my Brisbane Biggish Year. I finished the day on 93 species. I spent 6 hours 12 minutes birding, walked 8.521 km and drove 85 km.

Oxley Creek Common – beautiful start to the year