7. Goodbye, Australia

All good things have to come to an end and so did my second stay near Brisbane and as I waited to board the A380 for the 14 hour flight to Dubai, my mind wandered over the time with David and Florence. We have been friends for just over 50 years and much water has flowed under many bridges and as it does when going over things in the mind, it’s odd incidents which flash up on the memory screen and which are not in a camera either.
We had a lot of laughs, taking up from where we had left off last time we had seen each other some 18 years ago. There was, for example, the time that we were talking about superstitions and I made some comment about not walking under black cats, which greatly amused Florence. We has similar laughs at the King Parrots when we stopped for a drink at Jones Tearoom on the way up to Mount Nebo where with your drink you also get handful of sunflower seeds, and down from the trees come the parrots and argue over who gets what. 
Florence and King Parrots (or vice-versa)
 Brisbane has some wonderful birding within a relatively small radius. The city itself is remarkably green with lots of green areas. This is thanks to the city fathers of the past who wisely decreed that for so many hectares with building, a goodly percentage should be left green, which in turn benefits citizens and wildlife. 

Brisbane centre
I think that in the ornithological line, if I had to choose the memory of one unphotographable bird it would be a closely seen and hyperactive male Superb Fairy-wren, a brilliant feathered jewel. although I'm pretty sure that the Splendid Fairy-wren below is even better, but that we didn't see. My thanks to David for the photograph.
Splendid Fairy-wren (photo by David Redhead)

A couple of afternoons previously David and I had been out in the country, stopped at a wet area where several hundred waders, many of them Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, which suddenly exploded all over the sky in a manner which clearly said ‘bird of prey’ and something flashed through. We lost the bird behind the trees and then finally found cause, a lovely Black Falcon, sitting on the ground in plain view and obviously thinking about the meaning of life.
There was sitting out on the terrace with them one afternoon, listening to the very Noisy Miners and the occasional Common Myna, scanning the skies and overflying birds when we caught sight of some very high-flying White-throated Needletail Swifts, not that they are really supposed ot be there but they haven’t read the book. There were plenty of species to be seen and even more to be heard while the Torresian Crows were both seen and heard,  Rainbow Lorikeets overflew and species such as the spectacular  Blue-faced Honeyeater turned up in the garden, rather eclipsing the Lewin’s Honeyeater  which we saw elsewhere. Indeed, we saw no less than 6 species of this numerous family. 
Noisy Miner
Blue-faced Honeyeater
Lewin's Honeyeater
Torresian Crow
Arrival in a totally new birding environment leads to a mental overload for the first day or so (or is it old age?) I had suffered with American warblers during my first autumn in the Bahamas over 45 years ago and now I suffered it again, particularly with the black and white Australian Magpies and Magpie Larks.
Australian Magpie
In this respect, rainforest birding is totally different, one relies on sound, seldom on sight, and when one sees a bird the view is often fleeting and all that is visible is the tail. Also, it’s full of nasty things like leeches, one of which attached itself to Florence in no time flat.
looking for leeches
Even thick bush and scrub is hardly to my liking, although it was in a eucalyptus that we found a Topknot Pigeon and the delicately plumaged and oddly named Wonga Pigeon was on the ground, but fortunately the attractive little Crested Dove was much more common and sat out in the open.
Topknot Pigeon

Wonga Pigeon
Crested Pigeon
One morning we went off in search of Koalas, which are much scarcer than we in Europe are inclined to think. In the event we found three of these marsupials which spend some 20 hours a day in a soporific state from eating the poisonous eucalyptus leaves. 
It was that same morning that we saw 3 White-bellied Sea Eagles, rather distant but close enough  to see an adult, an immature and 1st year bird, and these were bettered by distant views of 2 Wedge-tailed Eagles whish steadfastly refused to approach us, making the view of the Black-shouldered Kite rather less impressive. We had already seen Osprey and on other days we saw Nankeen Kestrel, Whistling, Brahminy and Black Kites as well as reasonably frequent sightings of Swamp Harrier and  Spotted Harrier on a very dull afternoon, plus a Brown Falcon to add to the Black.
There was the superbly coloured male Brush Turkey which showed itself off, the two sightings of the introduced Jungle Fowl, as well as small but no less attractive passerines such as the Eastern Yellow Robin
Brush Turkey
Jungle Fowl
Eastern Yellow Robin
One of the most difficult species and also the last new one was seen on my last morning, when a friend of David and Florence rang to say that she had a Tawny Frogmouth roosting in a eucalyptus in her garden (2 photos below). In fact, it had been there on and off for several days, but by the time we got there it had moved.  However, a careful search by David, who knew what he was looking for, found this incredible nocturnal species which spends its days pretending to be a broken branch. A great find. 

And thus it was goodbye to David and Florence, to Brisbane and Australia after a brilliant trip and a huge number of new species, along with some 2.400 photographs and broken body of my DSLR Olympus 520 which did not survive hitting the deck of the boat off the bottom of New Zealand. But of that part in the next three and final blogs. 

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