Thursday, 18 February 2016

2016 First Outing: Six Mile Creek / Lake Macdonald

Australian Pelican preening. Lake Macdonald. L. Muir.
On Sunday 19 January the Gympie & District Field Naturalists had their first outing of 2016 to the 6 Mile Creek headwaters now graced by Lake Macdonald, the Noosa Botanic Gardens, and a number of pleasant trails through revegetated and regrowth areas with a mostly rainforest ambiance. The weather tended to cool and a bit misty, but was pleasant for walking. As usual the birders started early and the combination of water and forest habitats contributed to the 73 species that were identified by the end of the day.
Fledging Channel-billed Cuckoo harassing its Magpie parents. G. Elphinstone.
Highlights, at least for your correspondent, included my first Spectacled Monarch and Whiskered Tern, and the rarely seen Comb-crested Jacana and Black-winged Stilt. Alas, I miss the Varied Triller and Latham's Snipe, which would have been nice additions to my embryonic life list, but I managed to enjoy good views of many of the other birds on display, even the Magpie Geese.
Magpie Geese on Lake Macdonald. L. Muir.
Farmers and graziers tend not to be appreciative of Magpie Geese, but for a naturalist they are a fascinating animal. The only living member of their family, the Anseranatidae, Magpie Geese may be more closely related to the South American Screamers (Anhimidae), three living species with partially webbed feet that inhabit grassy and marshy areas, than to ducks, geese and swans (Anatidae). Australasian Darters (aka Anhinga, Snakebird) were also on display, representing another unusual family of water birds that are thought to be closely related to the shags (cormorants).
Anhinga drying out while turtle and a pair of Wood Ducks go about their business. DEWalter.
A turtle with many names Emydura macquarii. L. Muir.
Much more than birds were available for out edification including a Short-necked Turtle. Also called Maquarie Turtle, Brisbane River Turtle, Cooper Creek Turtle, Fraser Island Turtle and more. This species has the largest distribution of the three species of Emydura known from Queensland. The taxonomy of the genus seems to be in a state of flux at the moment, and several subspecies are currently recognised by many turtle taxonomists, but in Steve Wilson's recent A Field Guide to Reptiles of Queensland 2nd Edition (2015), this specimens seems to be the nominate subspecies.
Native Raspberry (Rubus mollucanus), Worba Trail. L. Muir.
A pleasant surprise on the Worba Trail was a profusion of Native Raspberries bearing ripe fruit. The berries were pleasantly sweet and at the upper end of palatability for bush tucker. Several rainforest trees were also in fruit or in bloom with many assiduously attended by a variety of honeyeaters and Emerald and Rose-crowned Fruit Doves. A female Reagent Bowerbird also put in an appearance. The understory also had its delights.
A Scrambling Lily (Geitonoplesium cymosum) Worba Trail. DEWalter.
Flax Lily Dianella caerulea in fruit. L. Muir.
Although not the best day for butterflies, a few did float or dart by and a variety of dragonflies were able to bask in the few rays of sun and flutter around. The most striking was the Graphic Flutterer (Rhyothemis graphiptera) of patterned wings and descriptive flight. Its close relative, the Yellow-striped Flutterer (Rhyothemis phyllis) was also on view.
Yellow-striped Flutterer (Rhyothemis phyllis)

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