Sunday, 14 July 2013

Town of Seventeen Seventy

From Rainbow Beach we moved north to the town of Seventeen Seventy (1770) travelling through Maryborough, Bundaberg and Agnes Water.
The caravan park at 1770 where we stayed.

1770 is named such because Captain James Cook made a landing here on the 24th of May 1770, the first landing for the Endeavor and her crew on the Queensland coast. During the brief landing Joseph Banks collected some 30 or so plant specimens and a Bustard was shot for the pot. This was possibly the first Australian native bird killed by a firearm in our history, at least by the English.
We stopped for lunch at a large park with extensive wetland ponds in the heart of Bundaberg where I ran into Nev Capell, President of BirdLife Bundaberg (BLB), who was undertaking a bird survey at the time. During a brief exchange of birding information Nev mentioned BLB were undertaking their winter survey across the region and asked if we could keep a list of the birds we saw while we were at 1770 and email them to him. I agreed to do this as collection of bird data is important and it gives an added incentive to be extra vigilant while out in the field.
At the Bundaberg ponds there were various wetland species, however of particular interest were about 6 Cotton Pygmy-geese, a species I have not seen before and according to Nev they are an uncommon visitor to Bundaberg. Nev also mentioned that Freckled Duck, which are very rare in this area, had turned up at the Bundaberg wetlands recently. This is a species I had long attempted to see and in spite of travelling over much of Australia, I had never managed to see one until earlier this year at Lake Guyatt at Sale, Victoria.
Over two days in and around 1770 and Agnes Water, including in Eurimbula and Deepwater National Parks and the Joseph Bank Conservation Park, we managed to see 58 species of birds. Not a great total and none were particularly exceptional except for about 50 Freckled Ducks found on a farm dam on the outskirts of Agnes Water. So a species of duck I have found very hard to see in the past, even in their main range, I now find outside their normal range at Agnes Water!
I was lucky to find this group of Freckled Ducks on a large dam near Agnes Water. When I moved closer for another photo this group took to the water and were then joined by another 40 birds.
The distinctive head and bill profile shape and grey brown freckled appearance make this an easy duck species to ID, at least when they are on the water.
The birding highlight at 1770 was watching a pair of male Leaden Flycatchers performing to win the attention of a female. The two males perched a short distance from each other and called loudly with their heads held high while maintaining an intense tail quiver.
One of two male Leaden Flycatchers we watched while they tried to impress a female.
Singing to impress with head feathers erect and, not captured in a still photo, the tail quivering.
Spangled Drongos are a common sight here however to date I have found they are not very approachable for photos. In Eurimbula National Park I managed to snap a couple of shots of a juvenile Spangled Drongo which has a brown eye and rather shabby appearance compared with the brilliant red eyed adults with their jet black plumage which has a glossy greenish blue metallic sheen depending on the light angle.
A juvenile Spangled Drongo - Eurimbula National Park.

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