• MajorMitchellCockatoo (Custom)
    • Jas Scotia3
12 Jul: Red Wattlebird!

Today was the last day of a lovely family holiday in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. We stayed in a small farm cottage in Witta, just outside Maleny, and had a wonderful week largely disconnected from the internet. I couldn’t resist regularly checking the Brisbane bird news of course, and no year ticks showed up during the course of the week. Gentle birding around the farm turned up some interesting species (Regent and Satin Bowerbird, Restless Flycatcher, White-headed Pigeon, Little Wattlebird, Emerald Dove etc – a number of species that are tricky around Brisbane seem fairly common up here). On the way back home to Brisbane, I checked my email and buried in an email discussion about something else a colleague in the Queensland State Government informed me he’d been seeing a couple of Red Wattlebirds at the Priors Pocket Road office of Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. He said the birds had been around since at least 25th June, and that they were still present today! Graciously he said he’d show me the birds in the afternoon.

I immediately put in place a plan to get over to Moggill as soon as we got back into Brisbane, and met with my colleague, who showed me the spot where he’d been seeing and hearing the birds. After an anxious wait of about 20 minutes, a glorious Red Wattlebird flew in silently to the tree next to us, and showed really well for about 5 minutes. Awesome!! Red Wattlebird is an extremely rare winter visitor to Brisbane, with only 9 previous records on eBird, all in June or July. Perhaps some kind of flowering pattern or failure leads to them pushing north into the Brisbane area. Normally they are a high altitude bird in SE Qld, being rather common in the Border Ranges and Toowoomba areas. But they are vanishingly rare in Brisbane and I was delighted to have connected (eBird checklist here).

Now the big challenge is access. The birds are on private land, and while I’ll try to arrange guided access next week, perhaps during a lunchtime if there is demand, the best way to see these birds is probably to look from the perimeter fence. I saw the bird about 110m inside the compound, at -27.577146, 152.875460, and they have also been seen around the koala hospital area at about -27.577403, 152.876300. The birds have been highly mobile and highly vocal, and there is every chance they’ll be viewable and audible at times from the compound entrance at -27.575777, 152.876526 or elsewhere around the perimeter, e.g. at -27.577032, 152.877287. I’m planning to head there early morning tomorrow (Friday) to take a look from the road.

With one year tick today (Red Wattlebird), my year list edged forward to 289 species. I spent 54 minutes birding in Brisbane, walked 1.049 km and drove 73.9 km. My chronological year list is here.

Red Wattlebird at the National Parks Wildlife Office, Moggill, this afternoon.