Overview South West Rocks weekend outing: Friday 15th to Sunday 17th February Inclusive

The club opted to stay at the Ingenia caravan Park which is ideally situated adjacent to South West Rocks Creek and hopefully an ideal birding location. Unfortunately there were not many birds recorded at the park for the weekend but this may have been more due to lack of excursions around the park rather than the birds not being present. A couple of special sightings were a Tawney Frogmouth and a Spectacled Monarch.

Day 1:

The first day started slowly at Back Creek Bridge and although the tide was right there were very few shorebirds. Several Little Black Cormorants, Australian White Ibis and a lone White-faced heron were seen and the odd Crested Tern and Silver Gull flew past. We moved on to Monument point and while observing a pair of fine Sooty Oystercatchers an Australian Reef Egret, dark morph popped up from among the rock pools very close to the members. This is the closest view I have ever had of this species and all the photographers got some great shots. We also spotted Great and Pied Cormorants as well as an Osprey.

On the way to Smoky Cape we stopped at the roadside to look into the rainforest and spotted a Spectacled Monarch and a family of Variegated Fairy-Wren in spectacular colour. Walking along the long coastal Track, a female Golden Whistler with two juveniles, a Grey Shrike-thrush and two juvenile Grey Butcher birds were observed. While we were watching the Pacific Black Ducks at the Old Gaol water supply dam, a stunning Grey Goshawk crossed the small pond and landed in clear view on a tree limb and sat there for several minutes. The ducks were totally disinterested. Also in the pond area we saw an Olive-backed Oriole, a Sea –Eagle fly over high up, several stunningly coloured Jungle Fowl, an Osprey and a Dollar bird. What started as a very slow day ended up being a very rewarding one after all.  42 species identified.

Day 2:

An early start to arrive at Boyter’s lane and after a short excursion on the Southern end of the road we moved on to the Bird Hide. The wetlands were a great venue although the hide was not designed for short people with the viewing ports set just too high. There were a large number of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Black-winged Stilts and a variety of ducks including Hardhead, Pacific Black and Wood Duck and the most Chestnut Teal, probably hundreds, that I have ever seen at one location. In the bordering grassy areas we spotted Tawny Grassbird, Red-browed Finch, Yellow-faced and Lewin’s Honeyeaters and Golden-headed Cisticolas. A drive along Boyter’s Lane gave the opportunity to see Grey Teal, Red-kneed and Black-fronted Dotterel and a Wedge-tailed Eagle soaring high. We decided to skip the trip to Hat Head, preferring to drive along Plummer’s Lane and then Rainbow Beach road and it was a good move as we got great views of a pair of Brolgas grazing the farm paddocks. 72 species identified.

Day 3:

An even earlier start today and it was worth the effort to get to Barnett’s Lagoon as the birding here was fantastic. Barnett’s lagoon is about 2 Klm south of Gladstone and there is only room for parking on the western side of SW Rocks Road. A confirmed sighting of an Intermediate Egret perched quite close on a post was a great start and this was followed by Hardhead Duck, Wood Duck, Pacific Black Duck, Grey and Chestnut Teal, Australian Grebes, Black Swan and a host of other water birds. We identified several Latham Snipe and a Swamp Harrier burst from the long grasses and slowly meandered along the Lagoon. On the opposite side of the road we could see a Whistling Kite at its nest and lots of grazing Straw-necked Ibis. The next adventure was a drive along Belmore River West Bank Road, a meandering drive as it follows the river with good sightings but unfortunately when we arrived at the point where Seale Road started the wetlands were dry. Despite this we saw Buff-banded Rail, lots of White-breasted Woodswallow and several excellent sightings of Swamp Harrier. Continuing along Seale Road brought us to Crescent Head Road however at Crescent head, being Sunday, tourist and day trippers were about in huge numbers which was not conducive to good birdwatching. On the way back to SW Rocks via Belmore River South Bank Road a Black Necked Stork was spotted in a paddock. A fine ending to a great birding weekend with 83 species identified