Summary: Troublesome to explore, rarely visited, swampy location with some decent birds and maddening mosquitoes
Date of visit: Sep 20, 2020
Another well-off-the-beaten-track birding area today, Pimpana River Conservation Park, which lies at the northern end of the city of the Gold Coast.
‘Twas a rainy, gloomy day. A friend and I drove to Kerkin Road North in Pimpana and parked by the entrance gate. A long gravel road presented itself, dotted with rain-filled pot-holes. We walked along for a while, noting the glistening casuarinas on one side and the creepy brown swamp on the other.
First quality encounter of the day was a gorgeous male Leaden Flycatcher. This was just about Photo of the Day right there, and it wasn’t even 6:30am yet!
We also managed to see Mangrove Honeyeater and Bar-Shouldered Dove; then a Brown Honeyeater, Rufous Whistler and White-Cheeked Honeyeater and a brief, tantalising glimpse of a Little Wattlebird as we continued, turning left onto the long straight track that heads to the north-east into the heart of the park.
It was here where it opens out into a large grassed area, and we were able to spot Rainbow Bee-Eaters, a couple of Little Corella and a few Red-Browed Finch. The sun was coming out, too!
Even with a map, though, it wasn’t clear where the trails actually were from there, to be honest the whole place is a bit confusing. And dead flat – no hills anywhere. We ended up heading into what turned out to be a very swampy area, pretty much boggy and unpleasant, despite having a good encounter with a Mangrove Gerygone. We backtracked and ended up exploring the (again, long and straight) tracks through wet paperbark trees, seeing not much and getting increasingly set upon by mosquitoes.
As we returned to the open grassed areas we heard some intriguing calls and were fortunate enough to have another, much longer encounter with a couple of Little Wattlebirds. We tried to stay still to get shots of the playful Red-Backed Fairywrens too, but at this point the mozzies were getting very fierce, biting me through my clothes.
A Pipit patrolled the grassy area as we hurriedly tried to outrun the bugs, and Mistletoebird, Rufous Fantail and another Brown Honeyeater were all good sightings but by that point we’d had enough, we were heading back and no mistake.
We did do a tiny detour down to the creek on the way out, seeing a vocal Brown Honeyeater but no water birds. ‘Twas not the loveliest looking creek in the world.
Pimpana River Conservation Area is not too hard to get to from Brisbane or the Gold Coast. There definitely seemed to be some quality birds, though only bush birds, no water birds and we only saw one raptor. Overall I can’t recommend this location except perhaps for those looking for somewhere new to go birding – there are no facilities, and no drawcards for any reason to visit except birds. The trails are all flat, no hills, which I suppose is cool. And maybe the mosquitoes aren’t always in plague proportions, but I won’t be hurrying back there to find out.
Checklist for this visit (30 species)
Nomenclature note: The proper name for this location is “Pimpana River Conservation Area”. There is also a much smaller nearby area called “Pimpana Conservation Park” which is not an eBird hotspot. The eBird hotspot for “Pimpana River Conservation Area” is therefore mis-named and mis-leading.
Pimpana Conservation Area (144 species)
Nearby: Billabong Ponds Park (Coomera) (150 species)
Pluses and minuses:
+ Large, rarely-frequented area to explore with a few habitat types
+ Some good bird encounters possible
– Strange layout, hard to navigate
– Very swampy in places
– No facilities
Credit for base image of map to http://www.markroberts.id.au/Wordpress/category/birdwatching/