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    • lab21
Jul 1: Woodworth’s secret forest

Today marks the half way point through the year. A lot has happened, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. And I’m way beyond what I thought was possible in terms of a year list total when I started the year. I was thinking 253 would be good, but at this half way point, my list stands on 286, with plenty of potential and time for further growth. I’m really enjoying the switch from pure twitching or visiting known sites, to exploring new sites and trying to find enigmatic species. Today’s non-existent mystics were Barking Owl and Black-breasted Buttonquail.

With the night being still and warm, I wanted to try looking for night birds again in D’Aguilar National Park, and having set the alarm for 0200, I picked up Brad Woodworth from his place in Dutton Park at 0225 and we then met Louis Backstrom in the Ferny Grove Tavern car park about 0250, before driving up to Lawton Road, Mount Glorious. Listening intently in the dark, we heard a couple of distant Southern Boobooks, but it was apparent fairly quickly that there wasn’t as much activity as last weekend. Pushing further down the track we eventually heard a couple of Marbled Frogmouths calling, and doing the classic bill-snapping noise, which was pretty neat – although we couldn’t see the birds. We hadn’t logged anything else by the time we’d got back to the car, so we set off down the hill and made a number of stops to listen for night birds (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8). We heard lots of Southern Boobooks, but little else – although we did hear a Sooty Owl outside the Brisbane LGA boundary. Despite our best efforts we coulnd’t find it in torchlight, and there was not a sniff of Barking Owl or Powerful Owl all morning.

Our last stop was the creek at Bellbird Grove, and dawn was beginning to break. We hurried down to Enoggera Reservoir, in a re-run of last Sunday’s itinerary. Birders mainly visit the Araucaria track along the northern shore of Enoggera Reservoir, but a few weeks ago the intrepid Brad Woodworth circumnavigated the Reservoir, and reckoned by far the best area for birding is the western end of the lake, where the Enoggera Creek feeds in. He made the point that there is such a broad range of habitats there from rainforest to reedbeds, that a large range of species can be seen in a small area. En route to the area, we had a couple of Spotless Crakes calling, and Brad managed to see one of them. Slightly further west, we had a another two Spotless Crakes calling, and an Australian Owlet-nightjar also called briefly.

Brad egged us on, assuring us it would be worth visiting the Enoggera Creek feed-in area. Soon after this, Louis noticed a bird feeding along the side of the grassy track – a magnificent Painted Buttonquail!! It posed for photos, and Louis pulled off a truly beautiful photo, gaining real dramatic effect and excellent background by crouching down low to get a good angle – I must try that next time I’m in a similar situation. Two birds were calling, and we suspect it was a pair wandering about together.

Just after this, I suddenly noticed a few dark-looking woodswallows flying over, and urged the others to get on them. I got a few rubbishy pics, and could just about tell they were Dusky Woodswallows, peering at the tiny screen on the back of the camera. All a bit unsatisfying. But eventually we found a subset of the birds perched in a long line high up in a tree – a wonderful party of Dusky Woodswallows, perhaps some of the same birds Ged Tranter and Steve Murray had had at Shelley Road Park yesterday. It was great to find such a scarce bird, and Brad’s secret forest was turning out to pretty darned productive!

It wasn’t going to end there, with a Lewin’s Rail calling from the grassy lakeside vegetation a bit further on, and a wonderful confiding White-eared Monarch giving repeated views, although difficult to photograph as ever. A cracking Noisy Pitta was close the track, and remained perched in trees as we peered at it, although we didn’t manage good pics. There is plenty of very good looking habitat for Black-breasted Buttonquail in this area, with little patches of rainforest, and plenty of weedy areas with a Lantana understorey. I think a careful search in this area would pay dividends. We turned around and headed back toward Payne Rd where we had parked the car, electing to take the circuit south to South Boundary Road to loop back. We had a party of Buff-rumped Thornbills on the way, which was nice. We arrived back at the car tired but very satisfied with a haul of good birds in the day we went to Woodworth’s secret forest. Excellent stuff – we will be back!

With no year ticks today, my year list remained on 286 species. I spent 7 hours 14 minutes birding, walked 11.004 km and drove 136.0 km. My chronological year list is here.

Female Painted Buttonquail strolling about on the Link Track near the western end of the south shore of Enoggera Reservoir – spellbinding stuff!

Part of a group of 17 Dusky Woodswallows in a similar area to the buttonquail. Terrible photo, taken into the light, but I was well happy with this find.