Anstead Bushland Reserve, Aug 2020

Good spot for bush bird diversity out west of Brisbane

Date of visit: Aug 20, 2020

At 80 hectares Anstead Bushland Reserve is quite sizable and boasts of being “the largest Brisbane City Council owned natural area on the Brisbane River”. Access is from a couple of points along Hawkesbury Road, though the access nearest the corner with Mt Crosby Road offers a proper carpark and some facilities – an open grassy area and a few tables etc. There’s also a big cafe nearby on that corner, if that’s your, ahem, cup of tea.

On my visit here I found the layout of trails a bit strange, probably that is due to the many uses this patch of land has had in the past, most notably as a quarry. There’s also – of course! – a set of powerlines which runs east-west through the middle. Having parked in the corner car park in the north-east, I started off down what I’ve dubbed the “Middle Path” on the map, and fairly soon came across a hive of small-bird activity: Silvereyes, Grey Fantails, Red-Backed Fairywrens and Double-Barred Finches. Full disclosure: this was the first time I’d ever seen these finches (being more used to the Red-Browed kind), so it was pretty interesting to watch them with their deep black eyes. The bushland here isn’t too dense, so photography was pretty easy too. I have since seen these species often together at various birding spots, so wonder if they commonly forage as a group.

Anyway, the drier forest further up the path yielded good sightings of Black-Faced Cuckooshrikes and Lewin’s Honeyeaters until I came to the more open powerline area, where I saw three Crows in hot pursuit of a Grey Goshawk. Was able to grab a couple of in-flight snaps, though a powerline managed to photobomb one of them (grrrr…). Then I arrived at the area I’ve marked on the map as the Quarry Overlook – it has a little rest area with some info on the history of quarrying, and a good outlook across Brisbane River, though there were not many birds around. The “open quarry area” that can be seen below I didn’t explore this trip, but have marked it in yellow as subsequent visits have yielded some good birds down in there (you have to access it via a steep loose path).

Instead I made a circuit, exploring the side-paths of the north-western section of the bushland, that – if you follow them to the end – look out across the river. Not much bird action on these paths, or much at all until I’d gone right round the northern edge and was almost back at the start; at this point there’s an area I’ve marked “Side grove” on the map and here I saw a Peaceful Dove, some more Double-Barred and Red-Browed Finches, and an Eastern Yellow Robin sitting on a nest! This area looks like it’s been deliberately planted with a distinct set of trees and shrubs, they certainly seemed to attract birds.

As you can see from the context photos below, which were taken (when I revisited) in Oct 2020 and Jan 2021, the level of green fluctuates a lot with the season and rain, and presumably there is some associated variation in bird numbers and species mix.

You’ll have to contend with occasional dog walkers and perhaps a few horse-riders at Anstead Bushland, and it’s a little bit rough round the edges, but there is proper car parking and minimal facilities and – most importantly – great birds here. A total of 197 species is quite respectable indeed, and the eBird frequency graphs show bird groups like the raptors are regular visitors. Good birders (better than me!) have seen 50 to 60 species here in one visit. And the nearby eBird hotspots are no slouch either – the SES Depot hotspot barely a few minutes down Hawkesbury Road is similar in flavour and equally as good (I’ll cover it in a later post!)

eBird hotspots:

Nearby hotspots:

Notable species/close encounters this visit:

  • Silvereye
  • Double-Barred and Red-Browed Finch
  • Grey Goshawk
  • Red-Backed and Variegated Fairywren
  • Peaceful Dove
  • Black-Faced Cuckooshrike
  • Lewin’s Honeyeater
  • Eastern Yellow Robin (nesting)

Pluses and minuses:

+ Dry but large reserve
+ Proximity to the Brisbane River
+ Good bush birds, you never know what you might see
– A bit far away (depending where you live)
– A bit unkempt (unpaved, uneven paths)

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