G'day Chatters from down-under,
Just thought you might like a trip report from our weekend at Sundown National Park, near Stanthorpe, Queensland. We spent 3 days at an almost empty campsite over the 'Australia Day' long-weekend.
The park is quite large (14000 hectares) and the majority of the area 4 wheel-drive only, however the campsites are situated at the western corner, and are accessible by 2 wheel-drive vehicles... here the fauna and flora of the park is rather different to the rest and appears richer, more representative of western Queensland and New South Wales (whose boundary runs along that of the parks)
On Saturday we spent most of the morning setting up camp and drove up to the nearby Glenlyon Dam to get ice and near the park entrance saw Southern Whiteface, Red-winged Parrot, Rufous Songlark, White-winged Triller and some White-browed Woodswallow, unusual in that there were only small numbers as in other areas they normally flock in thousands.
We decided to go on a short walk in the early afternoon, we had only just set off when we saw a party of our target birds, the White-browed Babbler, a rare bird in Queensland which I last saw there nearly 10 years ago! Young Dusky Woodswallows and Jacky-Winter were everywhere and another uncommon bird in South-East Queensland, the Red-capped Robin was abundant but none appeared in the beautiful male plumage. Small birds such as Speckled Warbler, Weebill and Yellow-rumped Thornbill were easily 'pished' into view. During the evening we sat round the camp-fire and enjoyed a meal and a glass of Port and listened to Boobook Owl, White-throated and Owlet-Nightjar calling while parties of Eastern Grey Kangaroo grazed nearby.
An early start the following morning took us to a large area of Silver-leaved Ironbark in search of Painted Button-Quail which were known to be fairly common, but usually difficult to see (a 'lifer' for half of the group of six). We flushed up to 5 in different locations but the views were pretty fleeting. However we also managed to get the handsome Turquoise Parrot (a park speciality) Diamond Firetail and Fuscous Honeyeater (uncommon in SE Queensland).
After a heavy shower in the afternoon we walked up to the permanent waterhole, where several people indulged in a swim, whilst I stayed dry and continued birding, seeing the handsome Azure Kingfisher, similar to the Common Kingfisher of Eurasia but a more vivid royal-blue on the upperparts. The following morning brought four of the party back to the same area of Ironbark to search for button-quail which they saw again... disappearing into the distance!
At the same time I decided to see if I could do some photography and managed to get some nice shots of a pretty Nobby Dragon (an agamid lizard). On return I was almost upon the campsite when I found what may have been the bird of the trip, a female Spotted Quail-Thrush, much sought after by overseas birders and possibly not recorded before in the park. Shortly after there was another heavy shower and we decided to leave and return to Brisbane. Stopping at the park entrance, which often seemed to produce interesting birds we were watching a Little Eagle being mobbed when I noticed small numbers of the rare White-backed Swallow... this was a great ending to an excellent weekend and the final species count ended on 113 (not bad when most species were 'bush' and very few water birds)
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