• SulphurCrestedCockatoo (Custom)
    • SunsetatScotia (Custom)
    • Jer Big Red
Jun 7: Bedraggled

Today the rain arrived from the northern edge of the giant low pressure system moving up the east coast of Australia. We had fairly continuous rain for a few hours today, which is relatively unusual at this time of year, and welcome after a prolonged dry spell. The wet conditions were accompanied by a stiff easterly breeze, and Elliot Leach had some excellent seawatching off Point Lookout, North Stradbroke Island (in Redland LGA – outside Brisbane), including lots of Fairy Prions, Common Noddy, Northern Giant-Petrel and a possible Southern Giant-Petrel – amazing stuff, although surprisingly no albatrosses.

This bodes well for our trip to Moreton Island tomorrow. Yesterday I booked a 4WD hire car from the Tangalooma Resort, and myself along with Elliot Leach, Louis Backstrom and Brad Woodworth are heading over for some seawatching tomorrow. The easterly winds will persist all day, although they are predicted to moderate and there won’t be significant rain. On the one hand it means easier birding, but on the other hand there might be a weaker passage of birds. We’ll have to wait and see, but I’m excited about making my third trip of the year to the glorious isle (see here and here for the first two trips). Aside from seabirds, the only species I need over there is Wandering Tattler, but of course there’s almost no chance of finding one at this time of year.

The brilliant Rae Clark found a Pallid Cuckoo yesterday at Oxley Creek Common, and I had considered heading down there first thing this morning. However, it seemed a bit unfair to desert the family two mornings in a row for birding, so I held off until after the school run, and then ducked down to the Common for a look. Ged Tranter had connected with the cuckoo early this morning, so it was with some stress and trepidation that I drove across to the site. This was a chance I simply could not afford to miss for the big year – Pallid Cuckoo is a rare visitor to Brisbane, although several previous individuals have proven long stayers. Birds have shown up throughout the year, although the most well-twitched birds have been in September and October. But I couldn’t take any risks and needed to see this thing right now, striking while the iron was hot rather than playing catch-up later. Unfortunately it was still raining pretty hard, and I had to don raincoat and umbrella to try and keep the camera gear dry. This cramped my birding style, and I didn’t see many species, just focusing on getting to the spot where the cuckoo had been seen.

Arriving at the turnoff to the track leading to Jabiru Swamp, I searched intensively for the cuckoo but couldn’t turn anything up. I did hear a funny call that sounded a bit like a Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater, but couldn’t locate the bird and then it went quiet. Ideally I would have spent more time searching for it, but I decided I needed to focus on the Pallid Cuckoo, since I knew that it was around somewhere close by. After 20 minutes of fruitless searching I was running out of time as I needed to leave for a dentist appointment. With only 5 minutes to go until I had to go, the Pallid Cuckoo suddenly flew into the big gum tree on the left hand side just before Jabiru Swamp – totally MEGA! This was actually a Brisbane lifer for me, as I’d not twitched any of the previous individuals, so I was double happy.

But the poor bird looked as bedraggled as I did. I reeled off a few photos through a rain-sodden viewfinder through which I could hardly see anything, and promptly exited stage left. No more birding today, just excited preparation for Moreton Island #3 tomorrow. Watch this space.

With one year tick today (Pallid Cuckoo), my year list incremented to 279 species. I spent 59 minutes birding, walked 3.905 km and drove 29.0 km. My chronological year list is here.