• lab13
    • Big Red
Dec 16: Brisbane Birding goes Bananas!

Yesterday afternoon Tina Rider messaged to say that her and Sean Nolan had found a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at the Port of Brisbane Shorebird Roost!! There was about 1.5 hours remaining until dark, but I was at South Bank with the family. I couldn’t, in all conscience, leave them to go dashing off twitching, despite the fact this was the second Brisbane record ever (although possibly the same bird as the first for Brisbane found by Ged Tranter on October 27th). I was crestfallen to say the least; a number of Brisbane’s keenest birders had managed to dash over there and connect with it before dark. I briefly contemplated racing over, but it had disappeared just before dusk so I called it off.

Awake on the alarm at 0345, I was at the Port roost by 0440 (eBird list here). I phoned Port security and they very kindly unlocked the gate to let me in – the staff are so friendly and helpful! Ex tropical cyclone Owen is tracking SSE across Queensland today, but so far the rain was largely holding off. I could see a few hundred Bar-tailed Godwits in the main roost, along with a number of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers foraging in the saltmarsh – it was with these that the Buff-breasted Sandpiper was associating last night. I carefully scanned all I could see, but couldn’t pick out buffy. Soon, a few other birds turned up – Todd Burrows, Ged Tranter and Chris Sanderson. By this time I had moved up to the second hide, and was scoping the area in front of it, where the bird had spent much time yesterday.

All of a sudden I was onto the handsome caramel-coloured cutie, with its beady eye in a plain buff head really standing out. I was delighted to claw back this mega after miserably missing out on the October bird while in Tasmania. I called the others over, and eventually a number of other birders turned up. The crowd reached 8 at one point – probably in the top ten ever crowds for Brisbane! A few Broad-billed Sandpipers added interest, but I missed the Asian Dowitcher because I was so engrossed in searching for, then watching, the Buff-breasted Sandpiper.

I had to leave fairly promptly to do a shorebird survey at Nudgee and Sandgate. On the way, I saw a Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo fly over the motorway at Nudgee Waterhole Reserve, which was a nice surprise. There were almost 1,000 Curlew Sandpipers foraging on the tidal flats at Nudgee Beach, along with a nice flock of Little Terns. With the wind and rain picking up, I was hoping for something rare, but it wasn’t to be. Pushing up through Sandgate, there were few shorebirds, and Ged texted to say him and Michael Daley had found a Long-toed Stint at GJ Fuller Oval Lagoon – another great find! But once I’d finished the shorebird survey, I wanted to try baywatching from Shorncliffe Pier, since the easterly wind was now blowing at about 20 knots. A trio of Wedge-tailed Shearwaters got my hopes up early on, but it was generally quiet. After about 45 minutes, a nice Common Tern appeared briefly among the numerous Whiskered Terns, but that was it. Very satisfied with the day’s events, I headed home.

With one year tick today, my year list ticked up to 305 species. I spent 5 hours 46 minutes birding, walked 1.458 km and drove 107.4 km. My chronological year list is here.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper at the Port of Brisbane.
Todd Burrows in action. That’s not a camera, this is a camera!