Capalaba Regional Park, Oct 2020

Summary: Surprisingly good suburban spot for water birds (and Corellas)

Date of visit: Oct 13, 2020

Capalaba Regional Park is a sizable suburban park in Redlands, east of Brisbane, set between a curve of Tingalpa Creek and a couple of main roads. There’s a ton of facilities here: barbecues, shelters, toilets, a large play structure with slides and tunnels, a timber fort for younger children and a flying fox for older ones. There’s also a Liberty Swing (wheelchair accessible), large climbing net, totem maze, musical forest. But is it any good for birding?

Short answer: better than you might expect. Long answer: read on!

On my visit I parked in the car park behind Bunnings, located off Pittwin Rd N. This provided immediate access to the park. I wandered to the first (and smallest) of two lagoons, where I saw a Swamphen, Pacific Black Duck and a Little Egret, as well as a Magpie-Lark having a drink. Then a little group of Australian Wood Ducks glided across the water. It didn’t strike me as the most picturesque pond in the world, but at least there were a few birds.

I then wandered around the southern half of the park for a while. Being a suburban park, it’s quite open with only scattered trees except around the creekline.

Noisy Miners definitely dominated – I counted 24 in total, but I also saw a Magpie and a friendly Kookaburra too. It was just after midday so I didn’t expect to see too much.

So it was a lovely surprise to find corellas here, foraging on the ground. And on closer inspection, they were Long-Billed Corellas! It was my first (and actually still the only) sighting I have of these birds. Their bills are definitely longer than the Little Corellas, which was easily ascertained because some Little Corellas accompanied them too! There were also some more Australian Wood Ducks on the same patch of grass.

By this time I was at the larger lagoon, which was almost dried up – I suspect it is usually much fuller of water than when I saw it. Even so, there were a host of water birds around – a Great Egret (confusingly appearing to have a dark-coloured bill, but it was coated in mud!), and some White Ibis – one of which was splashily bathing.

In the middle of the lagoon’s curve (almost an island, I suppose) I could see a group of 16 mostly sleepy Royal Spoonbill, with some Magpies watching on from a fallen log. Near to them a Little Corella kept another large group of Wood Ducks company.

I continued around the concrete pathway that skirts the lagoon, and came across a little family of Wood Ducks. The babies were utterly adorable! I hoped they had enough water, because it was soooo dry – further round there’s a circular rock-edged area that I’m sure would normally form a nice pond, but it was bone dry.

On the way back, not far from the creek, I was stopped short by a most unusual sight: a Grey Butcherbird was lying motionless on a pile of dry leaves in the sun. It was seemingly unconscicous of its surroundings – I’ve since found out that this is a common behaviour for some birds – to “sun” themselves, though apparently the reason for it isn’t completely clear. This bird did eventually get up and wander off, to my relief.

Another educational moment arose from today’s visit, too. After observing what I thought had been a Great Egret (quite large, very long snaking neck, but dark-looking bill), a friend later pointed out that the best identifying characteristic for these birds is the “commisural line” which is a greenish stripe that runs underneath the eye. If that line extends behind the eye, you’ve got yourself a Great Egret. A good diagnostic to know for future birding!

I took some more photos of the Corellas on the grass on the way out of the park (after noting a White-Bellied Sea Eagle sail overhead!), as they were the definite highlight of the visit. Seems the Long-Billed ones haven’t been seen there since (as I write this, 7 months later…), but then again this park doesn’t get a lot of eBird checklist action.

Lots of facilities and easily navigable concrete pathways make this spot a very accessible one, and despite the dominance of Noisy Miners, I had a decent time here.

Checklist for this visit (19 species)
Hotspot: Capalaba Regional Park (94 species)
Nearby: Tingalpa Creek Reserve incl JC Trotter Memorial Park (184 species), Mookin-Bah Reserve (154 species)

Pluses and minuses:
+ Surprising number of water birds
+ Both Little and Long-Billed Corellas!
+ Amazing facilities and play areas
– Noisy Miners dominate
– Near busy roads and commerce
– A suburban park, not a large/diverse birding site

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