Australia Diaries – Birding in Brisbane

We didn’t come all the way to Australia to do birding but of course we were hoping to sight birds. With that in mind, M had brought along her P900 and I have a 18mm – 300 mm lens fitted on my camera. The hope was that we were see some birds. And birds we saw, many in facts. Although most of them are common birds of Australia, much like our mynas and heron, still we were very happy at our haul from Brisbane and Sydney (more on Birding in Sydney in a later post).

Not surprisingly the first native birds we saw were at the Australia Zoo. Just like our Singapore Zoo has attracted many wild birds, so does the Australia Zoo. We first saw a Blue-faced Honeyeater and a Raven in the food court. Just like the mynas back in Singapore -hoping to grab some food off our plates! The next common bird was the White Ibis, a species which seems to be all over Brisbane. We saw them almost everywhere, at the Zoo, at the Botanic Garden and at any place with a big open field or near to some water source. Near to one of the many Koala enclosures, we came upon many Scarlet Honeyeater on a clump of flowering trees. At the Kangaroo and Wallaby enclosures, there were many Brush Turkeys. Not too sure whether these are wild or free ranging but they weren’t tagged so I think they must be wild although the number seem too many to be wild. And we saw the first of what was to become many sighting – the famous Australian bird – the Laughing Kookaburra. The star of this place was this beautiful Eastern Yellow Robin perched nicely on a fence.

Eastern Yellow Robin @ Australia Zoo

The next day at one of the street market, we saw more ravens, more White Ibis and Australian Magpie. At Mt Cootha, we came across some Rainbow Lorikeet and Scaly breasted Lorikeet. We also saw the first of what was to become very common, the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. Down at the base of Mt Cootha, more cockatoo, Kookaburra, Magpie and Noisy Miner, another common Honeyeater.

Nosiy Miner

At the Brisbane Botanic Garden, again the Blue-faced Honeyeater and White Ibis and many water fowl – ranging from the biggest Pacific Black Duck to the Masked Lapwing and the rarer Bush Stone Curlew. Other water birds were the White Eye Duck, the Purple Swamphen and the Eurasian Coot. Also saw more of the White Ibis (what else), Brush Turkey and Honeyeater and a new bird – Crested Pigeon.

Over at Lamington National Park, we heard many but due to the thick vegetation, we didn’t manage to see them. There was a Brush Turkey and that was it until the Birdbell Lookout where we saw a small brown bird. Think it is a White throated Treecreeper. Back at the parking lot, more magpie, brush turkey and raven but we got enough of them though.

We started our trip to North Stradbroke Island with a bird sighting at Toondah Harbour. A Bush Stone Curlew standing forlornly near a fence! While waiting for the ferry, we spotted a White Bellied Sea Eagle. Once on North Stradbroke Island, the very first we saw was naturally a gull. Silver sea gull on the beach. Walking the trail, we came across some small birds, too frisky to take any photos. Then on a open branch and staying perfectly still for us – our first sighting of a Pied Butcherbird. This was followed subsequently by 3 Masked Lapwing and a Noisy Friarbird. Also saw a brown bird. Think it is a Brown Honeyeater. We then saw a Brahminy Kite soaring over the sea and then to our delight, it perched on a tree barely metres away from us and we got this beautiful close up.

Brahminy Kite @ North Stradbroke Island

Other birds on the island, more Rainbow Lorikeet and Crested Pigeon and of course the Honeyeaters

Back in Brisbane City, other than the White Ibis, myna and sparrow, there wasn’t any interesting bird. We did come across a pair of black bird at the Brisbane River – look like Little Black Cormorants but with only our mobile phone on us, we couldn’t see close enough to id it.

That about sum up the birds we saw at Brisbane. All the photos in the following album.

Australia Diaries – North Stradbroke Island

Undoubtedly the highlight of the Brisbane leg of our Australia holiday and probably the best place to visit in Brisbane. North Stradbroke Island is a small little island off Brisbane which is accessible via ferry. We started our journey there by driving to the jetty where we elected to park our car there and take the passenger ferry over rather than drive over. Much cheaper and there is bus service on the island which covers the main highlight areas of the island.

We took the bus to Point Lookout, the main village. There is 2 other areas that are apparently must go but I slipped up in the homework and overlooked that and spent the whole day at Point Lookout. 

We started the day with a wonderful delicious brunch at the Blue Room. For those who wants local fresh bake, this is the go to place. Great food and coffee.

After that we took a stroll along the beach which stretch on and on one bay after another.

Naturally we had to explore some of the trails

And we were lucky to spot some birds like this Butcher Bird.

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Australia Diaries – Never Stop Exploring – Lamington National Park

Brisbane has a lot of national parks and reserve. And we were spoilt for choices. Finally we settle on Lamington National Park, one of the biggest in the area about 2 hours drive from Brisbane City. However, we took over 2 + hours to reach the place passing by the Gold Coast on the way! Consequently by the time we reached, it was almost noon.

We stopped at the Park Office to check out the trails and because we were left with only about 5 hours of walking time, and knowing our own propensity for taking our own sweet time for birding and taking photos, on the advice of the staff at the Park Office, we decided to just do a short hike that should take us about 3 hours max.

At the trail head, we came across this contraption – a device to sanitise our shoes! So that we don’t carry any unwanted things into the park. How about that. They think of everything. Apart from this minor excitement, the first part of the hike was among thick vegetation and with no view.

We did come across this tree which looks like a face.And can hear many birds but cannot see them.

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Australia Diaries – Brisbane Botanic Garden & Mt Cootha

Another must visit place on my oversea visits is the Botanic Garden in that county. Brisbane has 2 main botanic garden , the City Botanic Garden which is actually within walking distance of where we were staying but we choose the Brisbane Botanic Garden because it was on our way to Mt Cootha.

The Brisbane Botanic Garden is a 56 hectare garden opened in 1976 located in Toowong, a 15 minutes drive from the city. Upon entering the place, the main attraction seems to be a big pond where we sighted a few species of water birds like the Purple Swamp Hen, Pacific Black Duck and Euraisan Coots.

Like most garden world wide, it is divided into different theme areas like the Cactus House, Japanese Garden, Rainforest, etc

But because we came after in the afternoon after our trip to Mt Cootha, we had little time to look at the plants and instead spent the time “birding”. Apart from the water birds, we saw a flock of Bush Stone Curlew, a rare bird in all of Australia but doing well in urban Brisbane. We also has our first encounter of a Masked Lapwing which started to react fiercely when we approached. I think it has a nest somewhere. We also saw a Brush Turkey and of course many small garden birds.

A nice little place to while away the time and explore artificial nature if one is not so incline to go to the nature reserve.

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Australia Diaries – Australia Zoo

I make it a point to go to a zoo in every major city that I go to,  that is, if they have a zoo of note. And in Australia, none come as famous as the Australian Zoo so that was our first destination straight from the airport to kick off our Australia holiday.

The Australia Zoo is of course most famous not for its animal but for its founder – the late Steve Irwin, the famed Crocodile Hunter. The Australia Zoo is on the outskirt of Brisbane, about 1.5 hours drive away and as a testimony to the fame of Steve Irwin, the road leading to the Zoo has been named after him!

First thing we saw when we went in was this lizard lying in the open. And then we saw more and more of them. These are native Water Dragons and free roaming in the zoo.  Cute little fella ain’t it.

Of course our purpose in coming to the zoo or any foreign zoo is to see any animals that we might not be able to see in the wild or anywhere else and not some common reptiles. So we were looking forward to seeing some native Australian animals like the Playtus; Tasmanian Devil and of course Australia’s famous venomous snakes. But sadly the zoo has no Playtpus and we didn’t see any Tasmanian Devil in its enclosures. We did see the Dingo though.

There were plenty of Koalas and we can even touch them at one of the exhibits.

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Never Stop Exploring – Bulim Forest

The Bulim/Tengah forest will soon be gone – converted into another block and block of flats and condominium. So before it is gone forever, I went down with some friends to have one last look and also first look at the place.

First thing that strike me when I entered the place was its sheer size. From the main road, it looks just like any small patch of forest but once in, we were like Oh Wow! Just take a look at these photos:

As I understand, these place used to be a kampung before the villagers were resettled in the Chua Chu Kang and Bukit Batok areas and the SAF took over the place for the army training. Hence, the nice wide paths that criss cross the entire area.

There is supposed to be a small stream but we didn’t manage to locate it. Instead what we saw was this little longkang which I understood was a lifeline for the people there during the second world war.

This stream and all the mini waterways there eventually leads to this new longkang.

While we were there, we observed many birds including a large flock of Long tailed Parakeets and many other smaller forest birds. We also spotted Brahminy Kite and White Bellied Sea Eagle flying overhead.

A rather beautiful place to admire Mother Nature and admire its beauty. Sadly scene like these will disappear soon as the crazy Gahmen continues on its relentless quest to concrete the whole of Singapore.