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Birds Of Nudgee

Nudgee Beach Winter Round-up

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This is my second Winter of focused birding at Nudgee, and perhaps my first with my eyes truly open. The last week or two have seen bird activity rise, though the number of birds just visiting the area has dropped markedly, including fly-overs. The resident birds are still in full attendance as they were last Winter, and it seems to me that the same number of adult pairs per resident species hasn't changed from what I observed last year. I have met a fer birders recently who tell me there are no birds around and they are going to try somewhere else. I had no real trouble finding birds on those same days, but their comments certainly reflect the fact that bird numbers are down in Winter.

Mangrove Honey-eater - Gavicalis fasciogularis - last week at Nudgee Beach Reserve.
One surprise from my Winter observations is the absence of the Eastern Osprey, which was so prolific throughout the warmer months that it was rare not to see one of these birds on any given day. Perhaps the need to hunt is reduced in the colder months? There is still plenty of fish around, so there is no apparent reason not to visit, except that you don't need the food. On a side note, the Brahminy Kite (pair) have been much less active, but no less present during the colder months. Ditto for the Sea Eagles. I have observed the Brahminys carrying nesting material just last week. They seem to have chosen an inaccessable area for humans to observe them, which is a good thing - but thankfully they also seem to be nesting close-by, so I should get a decent chance to observe the fledging of another young Kite later this year, or early next year.

Rufous Whistler - Pachycephala rufiventris at Nudgee Beach Reserve last week.
Audibly, things are changing at this time of year as Brown Honey-eater, Collared Kingfisher, Rufous Whistler, Australasian Figbird, Black-Faced Cuckoo Shrike, Mangrove Gerygone, Grey Fantail and Red-backed Fairy Wren become more active in anticipation of the coming Spring - which has more or less already begun here in Brisbane. The scent of the Reserve is changing too as certain plants begin to flower. Mangrove Honey-eaters and Striped Honey-eaters have been present this Winter, with the former being a regular sight on several of my morning visits. Noisy flocks of Blue-faced Honey-eater which I observed heading North just two months ago, seem to be now heading South again. Last week I could swear I heard Rainbow Bee-eater in the distance and today I confirmed their return. Last year I was lucky to discover a Nesting site of these beautiful creatures and was able to observe the birds from mere metres away for the several months of their Nudgee tenure. This morning as I sat in the early sunlight I gazed at the very twig that last year's Bee-eaters used when overseeing their nesting site and remembered fondly my time with them. As if on cue the two birds arrived and landed right on the very twig and turned to look at me. Amazing! Was this the actual moment of their return that I was lucky to witness? I'll never know for sure, but they're back. I took a few shots from about ten metres away. Three dogs without leashes came careening up the path and frightened the birds away. Their selfish owners could be heard in the far distance lamely calling their dogs back as I launched a stream of unprintable profanity in their general direction. As it turns out, sound carries quite nicely through the early morning Nudgee air.
It took twenty minutes for the Rainbow Bee-eaters to return and I crept a few steps closer and took a few more shots. Reluctantly I moved away from them so as not to risk scaring them off just as they have returned create their burrow for the breeding season. I'll check in on them in a few days and see if they have made their burrow. Last year I got many great shots armed only with my 55-250, but now I have the 400L I hope I can get some cracker pictures of this pair.

Rainbow Bee-eater - Merops ornatus - return to Nudgee nesting site this morning.

Rainbow Bee-eater nest from last season.
Shorebird numbers dwindled from the many thousand per day down to a handful of Great Knot, an occasional Whimbrel, and a cluster of young Bar-tailed Godwit. These birds seem about half the size of the ones that left our shores for the Northern Hemisphere recently. The resident Pied Oystercatcher pair have been present and relatively approachable on the Nudgee mudflats (I got within 20 metres on three occasions recently). Several flavours of Tern have been regular visitors but numbers are down on warmer months.

A resident Striated Heron continues to amuse, often landing right next to me (three metres or so) and proceeding to go about his hunting regardless of my presence. On some days it's the resident birds that make the trip worthwhile. The resident family of Red-backed Fairy Wren have provided some great opportunities to photograph them and observe their behaviour as a group, and a Collared Kingfisher at dawn usually photographs well. The pair of Brahminy Kites have been perching in accessable locations near dawn and maintain a no-go zone of about sixty metres, less if there is a body of water between them and you. Several sightings of immature White-bellied Sea Eagles have made the Winter visits more interesting too, and the weather has been gorgeous on most visits.
Red-backed Fairy-Wren - Malurus melanocephalus - recently at Nudgee Beach Reserve.

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Updated 25-08-2014 at 12:28 PM by Matt Dunn



  1. Louis Backstrom's Avatar
    Nice work Matt, I can agree with most of your statements in terms of bird activity. I hope I can find a Bee-eater nest this year, it would be great to get some good shots.
  2. Matt Dunn's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Louis B
    Nice work Matt, I can agree with most of your statements in terms of bird activity. I hope I can find a Bee-eater nest this year, it would be great to get some good shots.
    I can show you where the site is, Louis. This pair are quite approachable.
  3. Louis Backstrom's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Dunn
    I can show you where the site is, Louis. This pair are quite approachable.
    Awesome Matt. I'd love to get a great nest shot or something along those lines. I should be out their this weekend sometime... fingers crossed.
  4. Matt Dunn's Avatar
    The rain has finally arrived and may defeat your efforts this weekend. But it's rain we need
  5. Louis Backstrom's Avatar
    I think I'll leave it for this weekend Matt... it's a bit too wet. Though hopefully that will give some life to some of the plants and birds in the area.
  6. Matt Dunn's Avatar
    A pair of Pied Oystercatcher - (Haematopus longirostris) - being very tolerant of me as I crouched out in the open. The Black-winged Stilts (background) appeared more nervous. Nudgee Beach, out on the sandflats near dawn 02-08-2014.

  7. Matt Dunn's Avatar
    I was at the reserve yesterday morning and can confirm that the Bee-eaters have not made a burrow at the site. I did hear their calls on the other side of the creek though. A blustery wind kept the shorebirds away from the sandflats. Not many birds to be seen but plenty to be heard in the mangrove forest and heath. Collared Kingfisher are getting very active along with the Brown Honey-eater and Mangrove Gerygone. Magpie territory wars are in full swing.
  8. Matt Dunn's Avatar
    The pair of Rainbow Bee-eaters are still at the site but no burrow yet.
    Updated 23-08-2014 at 02:01 PM by Matt Dunn
  9. Matt Dunn's Avatar
    And finally: the return of the Osprey, one week before the offical end of Winter! This one was fishing about 100m out from the car park this morning at 10AM. I saw it take the plunge a few times but it was unsuccessful.

    Updated 25-08-2014 at 11:45 AM by Matt Dunn
  10. Louis Backstrom's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Dunn
    The pair of Rainbow Bee-eaters are still at the site but no burrow yet.
    I believe I saw the pair this morning Matt. They were over near the bend in the creek where the seat is. Still no sign of a burrow though.
  11. Matt Dunn's Avatar
    OK, the Bee-eaters have begun to burrow. I didn't hang around to take photos because I didn't want to spook them. Once they have laid their eggs they will be easier to approach. Once I get some decent shots and info I will blog my findings.