Greenup Meeting Place, Jan 2022

Summary: Superb location for birds with lake and creek frontage

Dates of visit: Jan 12 to 14, 2022

Greenup Meeting Place is a 10 acre private farmland property with a range of accommodation options on the south side of Lake Coolmunda. I had intended to stay just one night as I was en route between Girraween National Park and Mosquito Creek Road, but the birding was so good here I stayed two nights and thoroughly explored the acreage.

The accommodation allows for camping on the south side shore of Lake Coolmunda, or virtually anywhere along the banks of Bracker Creek which cuts through the property; there are also some school classrooms (the owners having lovingly restored these buildings) which have been converted to family rooms and dormitories, with shared toilet and shower facilities. There is a shop and cafe and I was served an excellent hot dinner both nights I stayed there. Talk about luxury!

I went out in the very late afternoon of Jan 12 to see what was around. Some storm clouds were brewing in the south that did not eventuate to anything, but served to make the general atmosphere rather moody.

Little Corellas and Galahs were raucously flying to and from the creek in both small and large groups. There were so many of them, and plenty of dead trees in the water where they were landing, that I could pick and choose flight shots or perched shots and happily fuss about light and composition.

Red-Rumped Parrots could also be seen in the gums and dead trees lining the creek.

The skies held more than just parrots, like this Spotted Dove doing a “rocket bird” impersonation, and a sharp-billed black bird that took me some time to reckon it as a Common Starling:

Aside from the clumps of forest and the tree-lined creek, there is a fair amount of grassy field crossed with occasional sections of dirt road. On one of these roads parallel to the creek I saw a Squatter Pigeon – actually only the second time I have seen one (the first occasion being on the road to Carnarvon Gorge). I also got a quick look at a Brown Treecreeper and some Grey-Crowned Babblers, but then became transfixed for a good 10 minutes by a peeping in the grass, just metres from where I was standing. Alas, the bird never came into view, but I suspect a quail of some sort.

The next morning I shelved my plan to go to Mosquito Creek Road, and I’m glad I did: I clocked 48 species in four hours and had a great time. Where you end up by following the road down to the creek from the main cabin and cafe area pops you out in one of the best spots for birds along the creek – too easy!

Superb Fairywrens were abundant in the understorey, the dead trees poking out of the water held host to Dollarbirds, Striated Pardalotes, Black-Faced Cuckooshrike and Blue-Faced Honeyeaters as well as the ubiquitous Galahs and Little Corellas, while Wood Ducks, Grey Teals and Dusky Moorhens could be seen on the water. There was a lot happening here!

A flash of orange and dark blue heralded an Azure Kingfisher, to go with the Sacred Kingfisher I’d also seen, while strolling a little further down along the creek revealed a male/female pair of Restless Flycatchers, soon scared off by a Little Friarbird with its morning catch.

The photographic moment of the morning happened when a White-Plumed Honeyeater landed on a branch right in front of me at eye level (yes, this sometimes happens when you bird for long enough..!), and I gathered enough composure to fire off a few shots. There’s nothing quite so satisfying as a small bird close enough to fill your camera’s viewfinder.

Wandering in the direction of the lake I came by the lone Squatter Pigeon again (I’m guessing it was the same bird as the previous day), and I tried the super-slow-creep-up approach and managed to get very near to the pigeon without startling it. A real treat!

A pair of Royal Spoonbills a couple of metres up in a mostly dead tree was a little unexpected, and then when I had a look at the creek bank here, I flushed what looked like a snipe (probably Latham’s Snipe), though it was off too quickly to gain a photo for identification. There was definitely plenty of reeds and fringing growth to hide skulking water birds like snipes and rails.

Up where the creek meets the lake, where some campers had recently departed, a group of half a dozen Grey-Crowned Babblers and some more Superb Fairywrens foraged, but I didn’t linger too long here because this area was the Corella epicentre – and they were seriously raucous!

Along the lake shore I saw Black Swans in numbers (I counted 24), with a few Grey Teals, some Grebes, and swarms of Welcome Swallows. A single Little Pied Cormorant also sat on an exposed branch sticking up from the water.

I am not sure how long people generally camp here – it probably ranges from overnight to a few days – but they had all cleared out by the time I was exploring the lake side (about 8am), so I had the place to myself.

Walking further down towards the western edge of the property – still near the lake’s edge – more “open country” birds became apparent. Magpies, both Common Myna and Noisy Miner, and the odd Pied Butcherbird were cases in point. Then, in just one patch of spindle-dry grass I counted 17 Magpie-Larks – crazy!

The trees along the main lake edge are not numerous but they are quite large, and I was startled when a Starling flock exploded out of the upper canopy at one point. I reckoned on at least 25 in the group.

In a stand of trees in the adjoining property to the west some Red-Rumped Parrots, Noisy Miners and Little Friarbirds were active, while a few Welcome Swallows sat placidly on the wire boundary fence that disappeared down into the lake water, until one of the Swallows took to the air and flew behind a Silver Gull for a while – for fun, I suppose, as it didn’t seem aggressive.

The morning was starting to get very warm and the sporadic breeze wasn’t really helping to cool things much, so I started to head back. On the way I stopped to see a Red-Rumped Parrot alight on the water’s edge for a drink, and soon after two White-Faced Herons leapt out of the shoreline weeds and into the air when they heard me pass by.

The final photo opps were the Grey Teals again, and a Little Friarbird which seemed to have built a nest hanging above the creek.

I had picked up 48 species (nearly 300 birds) in around four hours… plus a mystery snipe.

On my final morning at Greenup Meeting Place (Jan 14), I once again gave Mosquito Creek Road the flick, and headed back down to the creek. Many of the birds I saw were much as before, with the very notable exception of two Striped Honeyeaters high in one of the gum trees overhanging the water. They were too far up to see well but I enjoyed their constant vocalisations.

There were plenty of interactions between birds, with Pardalotes out in the open having a little conference, and a mean old Magpie-Lark chasing off a White-Plumed Honeyeater. I also saw a Little Friarbird give chase to the resident Azure Kingfisher. Territory wars, go figure!

I was again unable to resist taking photos of Superb Fairywrens, a group of which had now been seen in the same spot three times in a row now.

And of course the Galahs and Corellas were numerous and just as photogenic and full of personality as always.

However, the highlight of the morning belonged to a pair of Scaly-Breasted Lorikeets, who sat preening each other in the morning sun. I do love the Scalies, and this display was simply adorable.

All of the above photos from the last day of Jan 14 were taken along a 40 metre stretch of creek frontage over the course of an hour or so; really quite extraordinary to have so many birds and so many fantastic photo opportunities in such a small area. As an interesting aside, I only saw one raptor (a Whistling Kite) during my explorations.

In the less than 48 hours I spent at Greenup Meeting Place, I checklisted a total of 55 bird species (excluding a suspected quail, and some sort of snipe). It seemed like a pretty good count, and the location also proved conducive to some great photography possibilities. The lake level does fluctuate (as I observed in the Lake Coolmunda post), and when I visited it was full; I don’t know what the birding would be like at other times, but I suspect it would still be excellent. Couple the fine birding with comfortable accommodation provided by friendly hosts, and you have a winning combination.

eBird:
Greenup Meeting Place does not have its own dedicated hotspot; I used the Bracker Creek hotspot for my checklists.
Hotspot: Lake Coolmunda–Bracker Ck (141 species)
Nearby: Lake Coolmunda (184 species), Mosquito Creek Road (209 species)
Checklists for these visits: Jan 12 (26 species), Jan 13 (48 species), Jan 14 (36 species)

Pluses and minuses:
+ Fantastic bird life
+ Creek and lake frontage allows for many different species to be seen
+ Various accommodation options right on site
– Private property, not sure if you can day visit
– Campers can disrupt the birding (though their numbers fluctuate)

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