May 15th-17th - Fly to Brisbane via Singapore. The dreaded flight really wasn’t half as bad as I had expected with 12 hrs to Singapore then 6hrs onto Brisbane. We had a four hour break in Singapore, arriving at dusk I could only manage Cattle Egret and Common Mynah from the terminal. We did take the opportunity to shower at the airport with tea and biscuits afterwards for about £4 all in.
May 17th - Finally arrive and are through customs by approx 0830. Pick up car and drive on the correct side of the road too our first accommodation in Samford, a little village on the west side of Brisbane suburbs with the forests of Mount Glorious as a backdrop. Concentration broke only twice from directions for first new birds Australian White Ibis and Australian Magpie Lark. On arrival at our excellent B&B, The Valley, there are birds everywhere with calls that I’d only heard on TV before! Immediately around the garden we pick up Rainbow Lorikeet, Spotted Turtle-dove, Straw-necked Ibis, Australian Wood Duck, Australian Magpie, Crested Pigeon, Bar-shouldered Dove, Welcome Swallow, Masked Plover, Willie Wagtail, Lewin’s Honey-eater and Long billed Corella , the later invading and near destroying the bird table! After dispatching cases and bags,, and sorting out who was having which bedroom, I managed a more controlled assessment of the local bird life from the front garden, looking on too a meadow, and added Grey Butcherbird, Noisy Miner and fly over Yellow-billed Spoonbill and Sulphar -crested Cockatoo.
Suffering from itchy feet we decided to take a short drive up to Mount Glorious as we didn't feel too bad after our marathon flight, but as soon as we got out of the car at the other end the jet lag suddenly hit and we were all feeling a bit light headed and a tad tetchy! On the up side we had a pale morph Grey Goshwk fly over Mount Glorious Road and on the way back found a couple of very confiding Bush Thick-knee just yards from our accommodation. As the family were in chillin mode I took the opportunity to visit Samford Golf Course which was virtually over the road and a short 500yd walk. Here on the course ponds were single Little Pied and Little Black Cormorants, 8 Purple Swamphen, a dozen Pacific Black Duck, 4 Hardhead, an Australasian Grebe and several Dusky Moorhen. We decided to dine in this evening with a Chinese from Samford Village. 1st Aus tip- The variety isn't great but the portions are huge!
May 18th - Up at about 3am awaiting dawn! First hint of daylight and its over to the golf course again. Just as I walk across the B&B drive a pair of sombre- flying Glossy Black Cockatoos fly over the house!( only ones of the trip). Back on the golf course the ponds held pretty much the same as yesterday but the rough ground around the course proved more interesting with 2 Rainbow Bee-eater,2 Eastern Rosella (pale headed) 2 Striated Paradalote, several Pied Butcherbird , a Blue-faced Honey-eater and a huge Laughing Kookaburra. After breakfast we take our first touristy trip to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. A great family trip, you get to feed all types of roos and wallaby's, and there are Koalas and other Aussie endemics all over the place. Birds here too with lots of 'wild' Australian Brush Turkey, several Scaley-breasted Lorikeets in trees in Roo enclosure, a single Masked Wood-swallow overhead and a pair of Australian Pelican on the river. After an enjoyable few hours here we head back to Samford for abit more RnR to recover from the flight were I took the opportunity to do abit more 'local' birding by taking a drive up Mount O'Reilly Rd that leads to House Mountain, directly opposite our B&B (not to be confused with O'Reilly's Lamington!). At the the top of a steep climb the road opens out to look over the next valley along whilst you are surrounded by tall gum trees with thick scrub undergrowth. Birds noted here included stunning views of Kookaburra, Yellow-faced Honey-eater, Silvereye, Red-capped Robin, Grey Fantail, Grey Shrike-Thrush and a pair of Pied Currawong. Also noted here whilst scanning the hills for Roo's were a Brown Hare, some camels and a couple of Ostriches! In the evening we ate at the Ferny Grove Tavern (kids eat free mid week) where we endured a long wait for our food, but it was good when it came (courtesy of a scouse chef!)
May 19th - Back up O'reilley's Road at dawn this morning with additional species of Spotted Paradalote (5) & White-throated Honey-eater (8). Today was my son's trip highlight, a visit to Australia Zoo. Enroute we saw our first Black Kites and Great Egrets. We had a great family day at the zoo, I managed to NOT take my binoculars but still saw a Restless Flycatcher and several wild Water Dragons. We even managed to see the late Steve Irwin in residence, with everyone of course oblivious of the bizarre twist of fate that was to occur later in the year that would take his life. On our way back we visited the Glass House Mountains which provided some superb views. In the evening we visited Samford Village for an Eagle Boys Pizza, a strange serving system but the food was tasty enough.
May 20th - Back up Mt O'Reilly Rd first thing this morning with views of new birds in the form of Golden Whistler and Olive-backed Oriole. Today we decided to visit the real O'reilly's, the one at Lamington NP. We really set off too late; it took nearly 3 hours to get here so it was around 1130 when we finally arrived. Enroute we saw Pheasant Coucal and on arrival the plentiful tourists were hand feeding the Crimson Rosella's and Australian King Parrots. We duly joined in but became a little more alert after a Red-bellied Snake crossed the path obviously on the lookout for a parrot lunch!
The amount of people here was getting a little too much but true to form, a 200yd walk along one of the non boarded trails ensured peace and quiet and more birds. As we walked through the rainforest we managed to pick up Yellow-throated and White-browed Scrub Wren, Brown Thornbill, Eastern Yellow Robin, Eastern Spinebill, Brown Cuckoo Dove and , best of all my target bird Logrunner (which was found and identified by my family, after I had described what I was looking for! Be rest assured I wasn't allowed to forget that fact whenever Log Runner was mentioned again!) In this same area the family also spotted a group of four Red-necked Padimelon in the undergrowth. I didn't see the hoped for Regent's Bowerbird or Magnificent Riflebird and my gen for Albert's Lyrebird were scratchy to say the least, a good excuse to come back another day! On the long drive home we did see our first wild Eastern Grey Kangaroos (2) in roadside fields. In the evening we visited the Thai Takeaway in Samford and had a huge and tasty Thai Green curry.
Crimson Rosella and King Parrots
May21st - Took a drive to Lake Samsonvale this morning, approx 1/2 hour NE of Samford Village and it was absolutely heaving with birds! Access was through a small cemetery, then there's a wide open space of grassland and scrub in front of you with a creek running through it. It was great for birds of prey here with the first birds seen being a pair of Australian Black-shouldered Kites. Just scanning across the grassland I managed to pick up Glossy Ibis 10, Royal Spoonbill 6, Pheasant Coucal, Golden-headed Cisticola 6, Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike 5, Swamp Harrier 2 and a Collared Sparrowhawk. Scanning along the horizon in a broad sweep I added Whistling Kite 10, White-bellied Sea-Eagle and my first Wedge-tailed Eagle. As I walked towards the rather distant lake a small group of as yet still unidentified Quail flew up from beneath my feet, while at least 6 Fairy Martin were picked out from a flock of c30 Welcome Swallow. 'Scoping the lake from distance more new birds became apparent with first sightings of wild Black Swan 6, Grey Teal 15, Silver Gull, Red-capped Plover 2, Black-fronted Dotterel 3 and White -faced Heron. Also on the lake were Hardhead c100, Pacific Black Duck 30, Great-crested Grebe 60, Black-winged Stilt 15, Australian Pelican 6 and a Little Egret. With time getting on a brisk walk back bagged further goodies in the shape of a Brown Falcon perched on a post in the grassland and then, a couple of posts down, an excellent Spotted Harrier sat in the open. Arriving back in Samford just in time for a cooked breakfast, we decided to have a drive up to Mount Glorious and take things easy. A walk around one of the rainforest tracks produced Yellow-throated Scrub-Wren and Eastern Yellow Robin but little else besides. Whilst here we decided that we had to have a cream tea from the famous Maliala Tea Rooms. This tea room is popular with Brisbane’s biking community, especially those known as 'Baby boomers', and especially at the weekend, as the road at the front is chocked full of bikes. We did smile as these burley, tattooed bikers in full leathers waited patiently and politely for their cream teas-top marks! Birds seen in the garden here included my only Wonga Pigeon of the trip and a White-throated Treecreeper. On our way back down into the valley we saw a pair of Wedge-tailed Eagles and heard several Bell Miners on stretches of the winding road that didn't allow for stops-typical!.
Lake Samsonvale...distant, far right
Australian Black-shouldered Kite