John Oxley Reserve, Mar 2021

Summary: Good birds to be found in a short paved path and mangrove boardwalk loop

Date of visit: Mar 14, 2021

John Oxley Reserve lies on Brisbane’s northside and is basically a rectangle containing sports fields and bushland/mangroves bordering the North Pine River. It contains a very well-constructed path and a boardwalk circuit, and boasts a respectable eBird species count of 182 at the time of this writing (the 10th highest count in the Moreton Bay region, no mean feat considering that region contains such illustrious hotspots as Golds Scrub Lane and Buckley’s Hole).

We arrived on a quiet Sunday morning so there were plenty of empty spots in the spacious car parking bays along Ogg Road (an easy turn off Dohles Rocks Road). It might have been a different story with the parking on a sports event day.

On the other side of Ogg Road are some curious buildings, apparently being Fleet Air Arm Association Queensland and Pine Rivers Naval Association Sub Section (along with a nearby scout hall). No disrespect to this vaguely military heritage, but these building grounds contained some nice trees which were attracting birds, which is what drew our attention.

One such tree was a Golden Penda, a rainforest species with showy yellow flowers that has become very popular as a street and garden plant, at least in Brisbane (trivia alert for the trivia buffs: it was also the theme plant for Expo 88). Lorikeets and honeyeaters sure do like it when they flower in autumn, that’s for sure.

A Blue-Faced Honeyeater rested (briefly!) nearby, as well as Pied and Grey Butcherbirds and a juvenile Magpie.

Behind the John Oxley Reserve Hall is where the Carole Greene Walkway begins its descent into the denser bush, and we got great shots of a Pied Currawong and a Brushturkey here. Although I can’t say I’m as fond of Brushturkeys (a type of Megapode) as I am of Currawongs, I do respect their ability to assemble a giant nesting mound to incubate the 16 to 24 eggs they lay in it. I mean, that just seems like a lot of eggs. Apparently the “clutch-volume” (egg volume multiplied by number laid) for Megapodes “far exceeds that of any other birds”. Even crazier, the baby birds can fly as soon as their wings dry; no parental supervision necessary. Like I said, respect.

A Whipbird was heard as we walked down the paved track, noting also Lewin’s Honeyeaters, but more excitingly, a Varied Triller.

Once we got right down into the thick of the bush the track split off to a boardwalk loop that goes right out to the river’s edge. It’s a pretty neat and very civilised way to explore this dense and mangrove-studded habitat. There’s only a couple of such mangrove-exploration boardwalks in the Brisbane area which come to mind… Wynnum Boardwalk and Boondall Wetland/Nudgee Beach for example, though they are much longer than this one.

A few kookas were being quite rowdy (at one point we saw three on adjoining branches), and Grey Shrikethrush and some Variegated Fairywrens and two Rainbow Bee-Eaters were seen here too.

We lingered for a bit staring into the trees in the centre of the boardwalk loop, waiting for the Rufous Whistler pair and a Sacred Kingfisher to pose for photos. This isn’t a bad spot for birds at all (and with barely any other people about, one can start to get those tingly nature-meditation vibes), but unfortunately it was also a terrific spot for mosquitoes (which did somewhat ruin those tingly nature-meditation vibes).

On the walk back up a Lewin’s Honeyeater was foraging at rapid speed in a berry bush (though they do tend to do everything at rapid speed, these birds!) Light was still pretty low here and the photos at ISO-2000 (with a Nikon D500) gave a correspondingly grainy look. Still, any time I get a half-decent photo of a Lewin’s Honeyeater I’m happy!

We also saw a mouse of some kind, which might have been a native Antechinus going by the long-ish tail and white-ish rings of fur around the eyes (I’m no expert). No such trouble ID’ing a couple of Bar-Shouldered Doves that were polite enough to visit us near the path.

A Noisy Miner provided the last photographic interest for our short visit here until we set off for nearby Dohles Rocks and the Osprey House Environmental Centre… but that’s a blog post for another time.

We were pleasantly surprised by John Oxley Reserve, though we were unpleasantly surprised by the number of mosquitoes we had to fend off. That’s probably the main negative, though note mosquito numbers do tend to fluctuate with rain and Council spraying etc, so your experience may be different. A paved path and well-maintained boardwalk make for easy exploration of the area, and there are a few side-trails (that we didn’t pursue) should you want to travel further. We counted 27 bird species in the 90 minutes we were there and had an enjoyable enough time that we’d probably return again sometime.

Hotspot for this location: John Oxley Reserve–Murrumba Downs (182 species)
Checklist for this visit: Mar 14,2021 (27 species)

Pluses and minuses:
+ Well-paved path and mangrove boardwalk
+ Good mix of birds and habitats for a relatively small area
– Mosquitoes
– Boardwalk loop is quite short

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