Brown Quail

Picnic Hill

On one photo excursion during my stay at Killarney, I decided to try following the Killarney – Barlow’s Gate Road all the way to Barlow’s Gate, a crossing along the Queensland – New South Wales border. This road is almost all dirt, and some sections are impassible in wet conditions. This particular morning was dry, although melting frost made some hollows a little tricky for the 2WD Ford Ranger. Navigation was also a little tricky, but the rabbit fence (a fence built along the border to try, fruitlessly, to keep rabbits from crossing over!) was a pretty good marker for my relative position. Although there were a lot of kangaroos and wallabies along the track, there was not all that much birdlife. Wood Duck were perched up in the trees, Red-browed Finch and Double-barred Finch were feeding on the grass seeds, Superb Fairywren were feeding along the track itself and every now and then a pair of rosellas (Crimson, Eastern or Pale-headed), Red-rumped or Red-winged parrots would be flushed from feeding in fields next to the road. Passing one of the very few properties along this road, I stopped to photograph the grizzly sight of a dingo carcass hanging on a fence – obviously shot or poisoned and strung up as a warning to others that might be preying on livestock in the area.

 

After running along the border for a few kilometres, I climbed a hill to a magnificent summit that had almost 360 degree views across the countryside. I immediately thought that this would be great place to observe different bird species, and it seemed others had the same idea – I soon noticed a flock of Red-browed Finch and Double-barred Finch feeding on commercial bird seed spread under some trees beside some shrubs. As I was photographing the finches, a pair of Brown Quail came out of the undergrowth to start feeding as well! Not to be outdone, a flock of White-winged Chough arrived noisily and took over proceedings. A Grey Goshawk made a pass over the hilltop, causing a commotion among the smaller birds, although the White-winged Chough were not too perturbed by it all. So it was a very nice experience to sit there in the car and photograph several species at close range. After the goshawk flew past, I walked up to a sign that was posted in front of the gate to a small cabin. The location was named “Picnic Hill” – very apt for such a beautiful, albeit remote, spot. In the grounds of the cabin, there were quite a few birds feeding on the lawn, such as Superb Fairywren and White-browed Scrubwren, while flittering between the trees was a Rufous Fantail. In the trees, several species of honeyeater were busy feeding on the nectar of the few flowers that had already started blooming.

Flame Robin

Girraween NP

While in Australia I spent a very short time with the family one afternoon at Girraween National Park, just south of Stanthorpe. Famous for Turquoise Parrots which I had hoped to photograph, the national park is host to many rare and uncommon species of wildlife and also magnificent granite outcrops. While I didn’t get to observe any rarities, I did have nice encounters with a male Flame Robin and some other birds.

Australian Logrunner

Carabeen Nature Refuge

Spring Creek Road, which runs from Killarney over the range down to the Head, has some great spots for not only wildlife watching but also magnificent natural scenery. Along this road there are Brown’s Falls, Dagg’s Falls, Queen Mary Falls, Carr’s Lookout and Teviott Falls. But perhaps most importantly from a conservation viewpoint, there is the Carabeen Nature Refuge. This patch of rainforest between Queen Mary Falls and Carr’s Lookout is home to one of the rarest Australian birds, the Albert’s Lyrebird. That this strip of natural forest remains is the testimony of an environmentally aware property owner who recognised how important this piece of land on her property was. She protected it and then bequeathed in trust to the Queensland Government for conservation status, and any future owners of the land will need to bide by her arrangement. Surrounded by pastureland, this strip of rainforest is home to many uncommon and rare creatures. I have driven through it many times and seen the iconic Albert’s Lyrebirds and Red-necked Pademelons that are relatively common here. But lots of other hard-to-see species are also active here. So even though I wasn’t really equipped to photograph in this extremely dark environment, I rather optimistically set out before dawn and found a quiet piece of road where I could park the truck and get fairly unobstructed views in both directions. I managed to get very poor images of a female Albert’s Lyrebird, Australian Logrunner and Red-necked Pademelon……this is definitely territory for a 300/2.8, not a 70-300/4-5.6!

Fraser Coast

While most of my time in Australia was spent in the Killarney area, I did manage a few days with the family up on the Fraser Coast, where we spent two nights at Burrum Heads. We also spent a bit of time at Hervey Bay. I got to photograph most of the common species, along with a big surprise – a Loggerhead Turtle that swam along almost the entire length of the Urangan Jetty!