Lake Samsonvale Birdlife

Lake Samsonvale, also known as the North Pine Dam, is a reservoir that covers over 2,000 hectares and supplies water to north Brisbane and the Moreton Bay region. In this post, I’d like to share some of the photos I’ve taken of the many species of birds than can be seen on, and around the lake.

Sacred Kingfisher
Great Egret
Scarlet Honeyeater (male)
Rainbow Bee-eater

These birds where photographed over the past 12 months, more or less, and can be seen at most times throughout the year. I assume this means they are non-migratory, although I welcome any information about this in the comments section.

White-faced Heron
Little Pied Cormorant
Pale-headed Rosella
Scarlet Honeyeater (female)

The site ebird.org lists Lake Samsonvale as having 257 different bird species observed, at the time of writing. So this collection is only a very small sample of the diverse birds to be seen.

Whistling Kite
Spangled Drongo
Golden Whistler
Rufous Whistler

There are a few hiking trails near the lake. They are relatively flat, with easy terrain to cover. Early mornings and late afternoons are usually the best times for bird-spotting, although many birds can be seen throughout the day. I have encountered red-bellied black snakes and pythons along the trails, so it pays to be cautious and remain aware of your surroundings.

Grey Fantail
Red-backed Fairy-wren (male)
Olive-backed Oriole
Little Black Cormorants
Brown Quail
Red-browed Finch
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Great Crested Grebe

Girraween National Park

Bald Rock Creek, in drought.

Girraween National Park is an area of the Granite Belt in the Darling Downs region of Queensland, Australia reserved as a national park. Girraween is known for its spectacular flowers, dramatic landscapes and unique wildlife.  At the time of this visit (October 2020), this area had been in a prolonged drought, with the nearby town of Stanthorpe having completely run out of water for almost a year.  Sadly, this has continued into 2021.

Despite this, there were still many opportunities to enjoy the wildlife and scenery.  The terrain in Girraween in drastically different to the coastal region where I live, with its huge expanses of exposed granite, and weather-carved boulders.

The Pyramid

Balancing Rock

The number of birds and mammals was fewer than expected, but this was likely due to the dry conditions, as they may have moved elsewhere in search of water.  Nevertheless, there were still many species to be seen.

Yellow Faced Honeyeater

Golden Whistler

Eastern Grey Kangaroo with joey

Satin Bowerbird (female)

Grey Shrike Thrush

Eastern Water Dragon

Blue Cheeked Rosella

Dusky Woodswallow

The park’s reptiles of course, have less opportunity to move on in search of water, and mostly just have to make do as best they can in the dry conditions.  Bald Rock Creek, which runs through the park, is home to the Bald Rock Creek Turtle, also called the Short Necked Turtle.  This turtle is rare and its conservation status is Vulnerable.  It is found only in stretches of Bald Rock Creek. Very little is known about these turtles, some have had their back legs tagged as part of an ongoing research project.  I was lucky enough to photograph one sunning itself in a shallow part of the creek.

Bald Rock Creek Turtle

Girraween National Park is a strikingly beautiful place, and one I hope to visit again once the drought has ended.  I expect the wildlife will quickly return to its former abundance when the rains finally come.

The author, with boulder.

Exploring Tunbubudla, Glasshouse Mountains

The Glasshouse Mountains region is a superb area for hiking, cycling and climbing. So with a clear, crisp mid-winter day to spend, we took our bikes on the train to Beerburrum to enjoy a ride through the forest and to see if we could make it to the top of Mt Tunbubudla. Tunbubudla West to be precise. One of a pair also known as ‘The Twins’. They are part of the 11 hills of the Glasshouse Mountains and lie to the west of Beerburrum.

Heading along the track to 'The Twins'.
Heading along the track to ‘The Twins’.

On the way to Beerburrum I realised that having a fancy schmancy DSLR camera is of little use when you leave it behind on the kitchen table! So the photos you see were taken with my phone camera. Not as effective but on the bright side it was one less item to lug up the mountain.

As soon as we left the train we could smell the clean and invigorating country air. It’s a great pleasure to leave the city sometimes and enjoy some open spaces. The road heading west through the forest was a little boggy in parts. But KJ was on the new fat bike and was almost unstoppable, no matter how gooey the trail became. I did my best to keep up on my hybrid bike.

KJ blitzes the trail on the fat bike
KJ blitzes the trail on the fat bike

After a short ride through the pine plantation, we came to the national park area surrounding the Tunbubudlas. The trail here is not a forestry road, but merely a track which is very eroded in places. Not at all suitable for 4WDs but a plain old bicycle can go just about anywhere. If you’re prepared to get off and push it every now and again. But as we got closer to the base of T-West, we decide to leave the bikes and continue on foot.

Heading up the trail
Heading up the trail

The west twin is 293m high and the east is 312m. There may be a track heading up the east mountain but we didn’t see one. The climb is moderate at first, leading up to an area between the two peaks called ‘The Saddle’. From there the climb becomes very steep, and there is a lot of loose rock underfoot.

Climbing from 'The Saddle', the eastern twin in the background.
Climbing from ‘The Saddle’, the eastern twin in the background.

As we approached the top, we came across an almost vertical rock face that might be 20 metres high to the summit. It may be higher – I’m not so great at estimating distances, especially when craning my neck upwards.  To scale this last section would require actual rock climbing expertise and equipment. Neither of which we possess. So after unsuccessfully searching left and right for a track that went around this cliff, we were satisfied that this was as high as we could go.

The steep ascent on Tunbubudla West
The steep ascent on Tunbubudla West

The cliff face near the summit
The cliff face near the summit

There are excellent views from this not-quite-the-top vantage point, although there are lots of trees to peer through. It’s not like a lookout with 360 degree views. But we could see right across to Pumicestone Passage, and had good views of Mount Coonowrin (Crookneck) and the western side of Tibrogargan.

View of Tibrogargan from the west
View of Tibrogargan from the west

Mount Coonowrin
Mount Coonowrin

We cautiously made our way back down to the Saddle, enjoyed our packed lunch and regretted not bringing a thermos of tea.  Back to the bikes, back through the forestry to Beerburrum and back home on the train. In the words of Wallace and Gromit, a grand day out.

postscript – when checking some facts and figures on the Glasshouse Mountains, I stumbled across an extraordinary story from 1912, about three intrepid sisters who cycled from Brisbane to Mount Coonowrin (Crookneck), climbed the mountain in their ‘voluminous gym clothes’ and then cycled all the way back to Brisbane. The story and some photos can be seen here. Definitely worth a look.