[A stop on the West Queensland Trip Jul-Aug 2021 trip].
Goondiwindi Botanic Gardens is a 25 hectare, flat park in Goondiwindi, about 4 hours drive west of Brisbane. It makes for a pleasant hour or two of birding with a reasonable chance of seeing some good birds.
The entrance to the gardens is on Brennans Road on the western edge of Goondiwindi, and there’s plenty of parking and some facilities such as a toilet block.
The first birds me and my birding friend saw here were – perhaps unsurprisingly – Little Corellas, munching in the trees near the car parking area. We then set off on an anti-clockwise circuit around the lake, which initially wasn’t very fruitful for birds – some Apostlebirds scattered quickly and we saw some rather more obliging Kangaroos and what was probably a Whiptail Wallaby – so it wasn’t until nearing the northern end of the gardens that the birding started to pick up.
A female Red-Winged Parrot was a highlight, as was following a Striated Pardalote who seemed to be in nest-collecting mode. The occasional Double-Barred Finch and Superb Fairywren kept their distance in the “Waterhole” area, though I did nab a shot of a White-Plumed Honeyeater.
The main lagoon housed a few ducks (Pacific Blacks and Australian Wood Ducks), a Pelican and a Great Egret, so there were a few water birds too.
A Forest Kingfisher and a Red-Rumped Parrot both provided fleeting looks, and we lingered a long time at the north-eastern section of the gardens, picking up a Little Friarbird, Spiny-Cheeked Honeyeater, more White-Plumed Honeyeaters, and got a couple of in-flight snaps of a Whistling Kite. Honestly it didn’t seem like there should be this many birds here, there is only a modest tree line between the lagoon and the Barron Highway… but there you go.
Coming round to the eastern side of the gardens, a Spotted Dove was, ahem, spotted in full sunshine, soon after by a lifer bird – a Spotted Bowerbird!
The Spotted Bowerbird wasn’t close and quickly flew even further away and hence my photographic souvenir of the encounter was poor; however these birds are fairly common in the central/west so I was pretty confident of seeing one again. Next bird was a Grey Shrikethrush, then I spent a few minutes pursuing a Spiny-Cheeked Honeyeater who was hopping through some foliage, finally nabbing a shot I was super happy with. Helps that this is one of my favourite honeyeaters too!
There followed a period of meandering around the more grassy area in the south-east of the gardens – it was 10am by now and the sun was starting to warm things up. We’d seen a few Noisy Miners so far, and were on the lookout for a Yellow-Throated Miner, and a couple turned up. The grassed area and a few lingering puddles of water seemed quite attractive to a large group of Double-Barred Finches, so we spent more time observing them, also spying some Plum-Headed Finches in there too.
Goondiwindi Botanic Gardens provided a couple of hours of reasonable birding. It isn’t a massive area, but does have some variation with lagoons, bushland, and wide grassy sections. Most of the nearly 40 bird species I’d seen many times before, but I was incredibly happy to come away with an amazing Spiny-Cheeked Honeyeater photo from here, and for that at least it will hold a special meaning for me.
Checklist for this visit (39 species)
Hotspot: Goondiwindi Botanic Gardens (153 species)
Nearby: MacIntyre River (hotspot at Apex Park but decent birding all along the riverside)
Pluses and minuses:
+ Pleasant location that is easy to wander around
+ Decent birds including water birds and raptors
– Relatively small area to explore
– Not as photography-friendly as other botanic gardens can be