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

Ospreys at Caloundra, Queensland

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

I recently took a coastal walk along Kings Beach at Caloundra, Queensland, searching for a pair of ospreys which I had been told were resident in the area.  After a couple of hours searching, they presented themselves and I was able to get some nice pics of these majestic birds passing overhead.

Their diet is mainly fish, and it’s a photography goal of mine to get a picture of an osprey catching a fish from the water.  I didn’t get that particular shot this time, but I noticed that one of them had in fact caught a fish and was flying with it, still in its talons.

Osprey with fish

As it happened, the osprey wasn’t the only fish-catching bird I encountered on this walk.  I also saw this cormorant, who had successfully caught a fish for lunch.  I’ve not been able to identify the type of fish it’s holding, so I welcome any suggestions in the comments.

Little Black Cormorant

After the osprey-spotting outing, I managed one final shot of a beautiful blue faced honey-eater.

Blue Faced Honey-eater

I’m very pleased to see that the coastal ecology here remains healthy enough to sustain such wonderful birdlife.

Bunya Mountains National Park

View from the Burtons Well lookout, facing west towards Chinchilla

Approximately 200km northwest of Brisbane is the beautiful Bunya Mountains National Park.  This park has spectacular views from an elevation of 1,100 metres.  The Bunya Mountains were and are culturally significant to Indigenous Australians, who gathered to feast on the bountiful nuts of the bunya pine.  1902 was the final known gathering. The traditional owners have continued cultural and spiritual connections to the Bunya Mountains to this day.  We visited the park in November 2020.

The park has a glorious abundance of bird species.  We were visited by currawongs, parrots, bower birds, kookaburras, honey-eaters, wrens and galahs – all without leaving our holiday cabin.

Currawong
Male King Parrot
Female King Parrot
Galahs
Satin Bower Bird (male)
White Cheeked Honey-eater
Superb Blue Fairy Wren
Kookaburra

As well seeing as the satin bower bird, I was especially delighted to see the striking yellow and black regent bower bird.  This was the first time I’d seen, let alone photograph, one of these beautiful birds.

Regent Bower Bird

The lawns around the holiday houses and cabins make perfect grazing sites for hundreds of wallabies and paddymelons which, while slightly shy, are accustomed to the presence of people.  There were many young joeys, some still in the pouch, so I assumed we’d arrived at the end of the breeding season.

There are many fine walking trails throughout the park, with sweeping views east and west, and a chance to see some of the other wildlife found in the region.

Cherry Plain Lookout
View to the west, and prickly pear
Lace Monitor (goanna)
Scarlet Honey-eater
Red Browed Finch
Golden Whistler
Eastern Yellow Robin

There’s a lot to explore in this wonderful national park.  I’m keen to visit again soon.

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.