Eagleby Wetlands, Aug 2020

Summary:

One of the premier birding spots in Brisbane: easy access, mix of bush and lake and river side, bird hides, great bird diversity. This author’s best birding experience thus far.

Date of visit: Aug 22, 2020 (plus revisit Sep 18, 2020)

Eagleby Wetlands will forever hold a place in this keen birder’s heart as one of THE great places to get up close and personal with our avian friends. More on why that is later!

I made the mistake of not entering via Logan Street, so had to walk right around the cricket pitch area, but no mind. I saw some Rainbow Lorikeets on the way in, and was momentarily entranced by a group of Red-Backed Fairywrens on the edge of the grassy lagoon-side too (hey, the golden early morning sun was behind them…)

Plunging deeper into the wetlands area along the Melaleuca Boardwalk there was some pretty attractive trees and vegetation, a lovely looking Glossy Ibis in the drier part of the lagoon area, and a side boardwalk out to a rather well constructed bird hide. Could be I am just no good at bird hides but I have rarely seen anything much at all from them, maybe I lack the patience? That was the case here…

Heading northwards I admired the beautifully scenic riverside shining in the morning sun, before being lured back towards the denser trees by a most entrancing trilling sound. As I crept closer, although not being able to spot the bird, the song kept getting more wonderfully intricate. Once I saw it, I knew was in the presence of a Varied Triller, and to this day I don’t think I’ve heard a more lovely birdsong. A Tawny Grassbird then provided a counterpoint, with its hissy squawk, then I spotted the iridescent yellow-green of (what I later identified as) a Shining Cuckoo. I’m wondering how this could get any better when a rather tame Mistletoebird came into close proximity, and even though it was in a dense tree, it stayed around long enough that when it did momentarily alight on an exposed branch, I was able to grab some photos. Later in the photo I spotted a leg band on the bird; apparently they do tag birds around here using nets, for research. I then spotted a Little Shrikethrush, a handsome bird indeed, which looked awesome in the camera’s viewfinder (though I was later to find those images, being in deep shade, came out quite dark… such is life with a DSLR). A Spangled Drongo also gave a squawk or two from a nearby tree.

By this time, I’m literally texting people about all the birds I was seeing in this one spot – I had been standing in the glade in awe for at least 25 minutes by then. But that wasn’t the end, for a huge white bird of prey landed in a tree only maybe 6 or 7 metres away, just above head height. Not knowing my Australian raptors from my nuclear reactors, I didn’t know at the time that it was a Grey Goshawk. It sat quietly in all its magnificent glory, and I was able to snap three or four photos as it glared around, until the Spangled Drongo got all territorial and hissed it away.

This is the stuff birding dreams are made of! Many of these birds were lifers* for me at the time.

Once all the bird action had settled down there I explored some of the other paths, trying out the other two bird hides (again, nothing!) and the Marsh Walk, which had a few smaller birds flitting around the trees on the side of the track – Silvereye and Scarlet Honeyeaters being the highlight. Taking a closer look at the lagoon and ponds again where there was access slightly off track showed Hardheads, Grebes, Coots and an Intermediate Egret. (I confess, I wasn’t particularly interested in water birds at the time…)

A second visit on Sep 18 yielded a similar list, 29 species, including a White-Bellied Sea-Eagle soaring overhead, but a few more Doves this time. The single Glossy Ibis was still present.

Eagleby Wetlands is a breeze to get around, there’s plenty of excellent (mostly dirt) paths, and as you can tell from the yellow heatmap areas on the map, most of it is good birding territory! You can’t get very lost, anyway, as the place sits in a big bend of the Albert River. I’ve returned more than a few times to this hotspot now, and though I’ve not had as quite a transcendental experience as this first time, I still picked up 30 to 40 species on those visits. Other birders have seen up to 80 species in single visit here.

eBird hotspots: Eagleby Wetlands

Nearby eBird hotspots: None that seem noteworthy.

Notable species/encounters this visit:

  • Glossy Ibis
  • Varied Triller
  • Shining Bronze-Cuckoo
  • Tawny Grassbird
  • Variegated and Red-Backed Fairywrens
  • Little Shrikethrush
  • Mistletoebird
  • Spangled Drongo
  • Grey Goshawk
  • Scarlet Honeyeater
  • Common species seen: Pacific Black Duck, Australasian Grebe, Hardhead, Intermediate Grebe, Silvereye, Rainbow Lorikeet, Little Corella, Brown Honeyeater, Lewin’s Honeyeater

Checklists for these visits: https://ebird.org/australia/checklist/S72719990, https://ebird.org/australia/checklist/S73728956

Pluses and minuses:

+ Incredible encounters possible (as evidenced by this visit!)
+ Good mix of water birds, bush birds, raptors
+ Nice environments, with marsh, lagoon, bush, river etc
+ Easy to get to (not far from the highway)
– Never saw much from any of the three bird hides
– Other hotspots are larger in size if you want more exploration
– Occasional pungent whiff from the Water Reclamation Facility
– Can get busy sometimes especially on weekends – go early!

* Lifer: the first ever sighting of a particular bird species.

One thought on “Eagleby Wetlands, Aug 2020

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