Anderson Park, Townsville Aug 2020

Summary: Pleasant park in Townsville with many ducks and a few other birds too.

Date of visit: Aug 27, 2020

Anderson Park is a 20 hectare park right in Townsville city, which has a bit of a botanic gardens feel to it. A paved road does a big loop inside the park grounds with several car parks along its length, so you can get there and start birding straight away. There are lots of open grassy areas and bench seats to sit on in the shade of trees.

The first bird I saw here was a Great Bowerbird, which I hadn’t yet had a good encounter with in my four day Townsville trip, so it was nice to watch this bird forage on the ground and in the trees and snap some photos. A couple of Bush Stone-Curlew stood around too; I know they’re supposed to be common in Brisbane, but I don’t see them very often there, so this was moderately exciting.

I then saw some movement over on a bare-branched tree and was surprised to find a couple of Rainbow Bee-Eaters. So they hang out in the city areas too, huh? I must have still been in my in-love-with-Rainbow-Bee-Eaters phase because I found myself entranced – this was in the open in a suburban park, after all – because I couldn’t stop taking photos and admiring their aerial swooping.

Although a non-native (like me) might find Townsville a tad too hot for comfort, you can’t complain about the light – it’s very strong, which makes for easier photography even in the shade.

Further into the park are a couple of ponds which were abundant with water birds, particularly Plumed Whistling Ducks, of which I counted over 100! A Little Pied Cormorant, a few Hardheads, Pacific Black Ducks, plenty of White Ibis (of course) and a half-dozen Magpie Geese rounded out one pond, while a stately-looking Great Egret waded alone in another pond.

Above, I then saw a Brahminy Kite circling, which was subsequently hassled by a Magpie. I have noticed a few times now raptors being chased away by smaller birds – it always seems like an interesting interaction. I don’t think you’d see a Brahminy Kite above a suburban park in Brisbane.

A Brown Honeyeater and a regular old Laughing Kookaburra – who sat in a tree right above me – provided a few more photos.

Anderson Park provided a nice birding/nature diversion and I couldn’t complain about the quality and closeness of the encounters (though I had by that point spent nearly two days exploring Townsville Common, so I was a bit spoilt!)

Before the end of the day I stopped briefly at Soroptimist Park and the Rowes Bay esplanade on the north end of Townsville, where I saw a few more birds especially along the mangrove fringe. I was trying to nab a sharp shot of a Brown Honeyeater and noticed a lot of screeching and movement in the dark mangroves, but they weren’t birds – they were bats! Yikes. Across the road a bird that I dismissed as a Yellow-Faced Honeyeter sat on a powerline, but it is only now (months later) going through these photos that I actually see it is more obviously a Varied Honeyeater (which eBird records as moderately frequent in Townsville). Just goes to show you shouldn’t assume too much, though in fairness at the time I didn’t even know that Mangrove or Varied Honeyeaters existed!

Shortly after that I saw a Helmeted Friarbird, adding to the intriguing little tally of “Birds I have only ever seen in Townsville suburbs”, those being Great Bowerbird, Varied Honeyeater, Helmeted Friarbird. And overall, my Townsville visit added 30 Lifers to my life list – not that I am obsessed by listing – it’s the quality of the encounters that count – but it’s always nice to see new species of birds.

eBird checklist for the Anderson Park visit.

eBird hotspots
Anderson Park (Townsville) – 125 species

Nearby hotspots: Palmetum Gardens (see my post here) and various riverside parks and walks.

Memorable encounters:

  • Great Bowerbird
  • Bush Stone-Curlew
  • Rainbow Bee-Eater
  • Plumed Whistling Duck
  • Great Egret
  • Brahminy Kite

Pluses and minuses
+ Pleasant parkland to while away an hour or two
+ Possibility of good close encounters
– Fairly small area
– More bird diversity elsewhere, e.g. the Common 🙂

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