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Southern Queensland BirdingAuthor: Carl from Pahrump (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: December 2006
On Dec 21st we went for a serene drive on Cannon Creek Road in the afternoon. The tall grass along side the road had become a virtual Red-backed Fairywren sanctuary. We saw three Pheasant Coucals up close. At the end of the drive we got a great picture of a Straw-necked Ibis in breeding plumage. Beautiful!
On Dec 22 we spent most of my B'day celebrating at the house. We ate some Hummingbird Cake we bought at the bakery; it was a cross between carrot cake and spice cake with a thick creamy icing. My wife fixed King Prawn Capsicum with veggies over Jasmine Rice for dinner. We got the prawns at the butcher shop and they were huge -- 11 prawns weighted 1 pound. We got garlic, mushrooms, onion, snow peas, asparagus, yellow baby squash, and zucchini from the organic veggie vendor. The final product was Beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
On Dec 23 we got to the Boonah biweekly flea market at 7:30am. We bought some homemade Turkish bread from a man who used to live in Cleveland (5 large round Turkish pones for $4US).
Later we drove up to Mt French (27.984S 152.622E) just outside Boonah. It was very dry and some parts had recently burnt. Nevertheless, we found a Fan-tailed Cuckoo perched in a tree by the lookout. Later we thought we heard the super high-pitched tiz of a Southern Emu-wren; a 3-inch bird with a 5-inch tail of finely filamented plumes. We tried to tease it out, but the bird wouldn't budge. Finally, a Red-backed Fairywren came to see what all the commotion was about.
On Dec 24 we got an early Christmas Present– a Brown Songlark was sitting on the barbwire fence by our cottage.
On our way to Cunningham Gap we spotted a tree full of Corellas. There must have been fifty or more of them grazing among the cows. As we pulled off the highway into the Bellbird rest stop we could hear and see hundreds of bellbirds. While we were watching a group of Red Browed Finches jumping around in the dry grass, several Crimson Rosellas decided to fly by with their noises squawks. At Cunningham Gap it appeared to be a clear, sunny morning so we headed off toward the lookout to try to get a few good photos. Of course, we had to stop several times to investigate birdcalls and by the time we arrived at the lookout the haze had already began to dull the sharpness of the image.
We headed down the Falls Gap Trail. It was a narrow path, often eroding on the edges. On the way back to the car, we saw the most people we had ever seen on any of the hikes.
At the parking lot, we noticed a Forest Raven on the opposite side of the road with a brownish looking snake about 18 inches long in its mouth. He kept tossing the snake around and pecking it behind the head, until the snake was damaged enough to eat.
We stopped in town to get a few tucker items about Noon. We had thought that the town was going to be crowded with last minute shoppers. Wrong!! A few stores were already closed and there was hardly anyone in the grocery store. The butcher shop reopened so we could get some ribs.
On Christmas Day we drove to Cunningham Gap for hiking in the (relatively) cool mountain air and shade. My favorite bird was the Spotted Pardalote. Back at the house the birds were going crazy. We saw Speckled Warblers, an Olive-backed Weebill, five White-headed Sittellas (pronounced su-Tell-a), and a beautiful Striped Honeyeater. The big draw was the birdbath. The Brown Honeyeaters and Red-backed Fairywrens (4 males and 2 females) couldn't get enough splashing.
We had Christmas dinner with our hosts, Bill and Doreen. We started with appetizers (chips, nuts, and crackers with salmon pate) on their wrap around veranda. A Red-necked Wallaby came by to get some of the grain they scatter on the ground (it is so dry the animals don't have much to eat).
Doreen fixed baked turkey with cranberry dressing and gravy; oven baked potatoes and sweet potatoes, and steamed green veggies. Beautiful. Doreen said the recipe called for fresh cranberries, but you can't get them in Australia -- so she substituted Craisins.
Boxing Day (Dec 26) is a legal holiday in most parts of the English Commonwealth: so called from the former custom of giving gift boxes to employees, mail carriers, etc. The stores in Boonah were closed.
Late in the afternoon we went for a walk down our hill to the main road. In just a few minutes we saw 20 birds including 2 Channel-billed Cuckoos, 3 circling Wedge-tailed Eagles, and a Pallid Cuckoo.
On Dec 27 we stopped by the Boonah Visitors Center (27.992S 152.682E). The Mother Dusky Moorhens were out showing off their newly hatched chicks.
On Dec 28 we left for Border Range NP about 8am. Immediately after turning onto the main road we saw a Letter-winged Kite. We traveled over the Running Creek Road and thru the Rabbit Proof Fence into New South Whales. At one stage we were driving on a paved cow path with a speed limit of 100Kmph (62.5mph). The Rainforest was seasonally alive with the constant tingling of Bell's Miners. There were flocks of small, hard to see, birds like Brown Gerygones, White-headed Sittellas and Southern Whitefaces. Sometimes birds like the Spectacled Monarches would appear -- they are so beautiful you stand in awe -- dumb founded - forgetting you have seen them before.
On the drive home we spotted a Little Buttonquail and chick running in the grass along side the road. Naturally we stopped to investigate, but they had vanished from the face of the Earth -- only flies and dairy cows remained.
On Dec 29 we were off at 6am to drive the waterfalls circuit thru the Main Range NP. In the first hour we drove 19Km. We saw 20 birds including close-ups of a Buff-banded Rail crossing the road, a Channel-billed Cuckoo glaring at us, and a flock of Chestnut-breasted Mannikins. Down the road we stopped at a roadside farm stand and bought some raw honey. We got a quart for $5US.
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