Monday, 29 December 2014

Top Ten Wildlife Locations of 2014

Having a car and a Driver's license this year greatly increased my scope for potential wildlife locations around South-east Queensland. How ironic then that my number one spot ended up being a tiny reserve near the main road of a busy suburb! Nature always finds a way to surprise me, no matter how well I think I've become acquainted with it. Thank you to each and every one of you who read this blog and/or follow the 'Wild BNE' Facebook page - I've loved sharing my adventures with you this year and look forward to a 'Wild' 2015!

1. Chelsea Street Environmental Reserve, Kippa-Ring.
Resident Tawny Frogmouths (Podargus strigoides) become active in the reserve shortly after sunset.
How beautiful that among the swiftly expanding suburbs of the Redcliffe Peninsula, Chelsea Street Environmental Reserve remains to preserve so much iconic Australian wildlife. Moreton Bay shire residents would do well to ensure that the
Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus), Eastern Grey Kangaroos (Macropus giganteus), Squirrel Gliders (Petaurus norfolcensis) and Frill-necked Lizards (Chlamydosaurus kingii) found here retain healthy populations for future generations to acquaint themselves with also. The Moreton Bay railway line currently undergoing construction through the centre of the reserve means that this wonderful place needs to be carefully monitored and managed. A humble network of rudimentary tracks is all the infrastructure that exists for recreation here, but strolling along them at night with a flashlight offers plenty of rewards!

The exposed location of Buckley's Hole can make it prone
to severe weather; in April 2014, several
tornadic waterspouts made landfall on its shores.
2. Buckley's Hole Conservation Park, Bongaree.
Buckley's Hole has been a favourite place of mine ever since I was introduced to it at age 15 by the Sandgate IBIS Bird Observers Club. This year I have been fortunate enough to spend plenty of time here and each occasion has offered up new perspectives on its superb environmental value. Located on the southern tip of Bribie Island, the merging of a variety of habitats within the Conservation Park allows for a range of interesting species to be sighted with ease. Buckley's Hole itself is a freshwater lagoon where birds like Nankeen Night-Herons (Nycticorax caledonicus) and Comb-crested Jacanas (Irediparra gallinacea) can be viewed from the well-placed birdhide, while the tidal sandflats on the western edge of the park are home to vast Soldier Crab (Mictyris longicarpus) armies. The park also encompasses Red Beach and the dune woodland behind it, where huge Coastal Banksia (Banksia integrifolia) trees thrive.

3. Lake Somerset.
Lake Somerset has a catchment area of over a thousand square kilometers.
Created by the construction of a dam across the Stanley River in 1935, Lake Somerset is one of the Esk shire's most popular attractions. Used by campers, boaters and recreational fishers alike, the impoundment is also a prime wildlife-viewing location. Around its shores, beautiful creatures like Lively Rainbow-Skinks (Carlia vivax) and Lesser Wanderers (Danaus plexippus) are common, while the water itself teems with native fish. For birders, the lakeside stretches of Neurum Road in Villeneuve offers species such as Whiskered Terns (Chlidonias hybrida), Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) and Little Black Cormorants (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris), the latter of which are found in enormous flocks through the area.

4. Raysource Road, Haigslea.
Native Cherry (Exocarpos cupressiformis) and Prickly Pine (Bursaria spinosa) bushes line the trackways in the area.
Though the majority of wildlife habitat along Raysource Road falls on private property, the unusual vegetation communities found here makes it worth a closer look. Gum-topped Box (Eucalyptus moluccana) is the dominant eucalypt throughout the area; in these woodlands, animals like the Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), Bush Orb-Weaver (Araneus eburnus) and Painted Button-Quail (Coturnix varius) can be seen. The track that shows up on Google Maps as 'Kamp Road' is a particularly exciting place for bird-watching, but other kinds of wildlife surveys are likely to be just as fruitful.

5. Policeman Spur Road, Harper Creek.
Dense fog can blanket the valley before dawn, leaving the landscape with a dewy finish as the sun rises.
With places like Mary Cairncross Reserve and the Conondale National Park nearby, there's already a lot of environmental treasure in the Maleny area. This year I discovered another - this quiet little country road! I parked at the junction of Aherns Road and walked up into the hills, where good views of Bell Miners (Manorina melanophrys) and Crested Shrike-Tits (Falcunculus frontatus) were had in the wet eucalypt forest.

6. Denmark Hill Conservation Park, Ipswich.
The water tower on Deebing Street offers fantastic views over the reserve and the Ipswich region.
This place earned a special place in my heart this year, as it was where I first tried my hand at plant and tree identification. The well maintained network of trails through Pink Bloodwood (Corymbia intermedia) and Grey Gum (Eucalyptus propinqua) forest offers the chance to sight birds like White-throated Honeyeaters (Melithreptus albogularis) and Spotted Pardalotes (Pardalotus punctatus), all within walking distance of the Ipswich CBD. 

7. Tingalpa Creek Reserve, Chandler.
The still waters of Tingalpa Creek offer excellent kayaking opportunities.
For a small reserve, this patch of bush holds some great surprises. I was excited to see my first Little Eagle (Hieraaetus morphnoides) here in July, and later in the year I discovered a stand of endangered Swamp Tea-Trees (Melaleuca irbyana) surviving on the creek flats.

A clearing in the centre of Melaleuca Environmental Park can be used
for sporting pursuits or for watching the superb sunsets there.
8. Melaleuca Environmental Park, Lota.
This bayside reserve is small and bordered on all sides by suburbia and busy roads, but don't underestimate its capacity for wildlife sightings. Besides containing one of Brisbane's friendliest Magpie (Cracticus tibicen) flocks, Melaleuca Environmental Park is an excellent place to see intriguing animals like Goliath Stick-Insects (Eurycnema goliath) and Yellow-faced Whip-Snakes (Demansia psammophis). 

9. Buhot Creek Reserve, Burbank/Sheldon.
Right out on the very edge of the Brisbane city limits lies a network of bush reserves designed to protect Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) habitat and offer horse-riding trails. I particularly enjoyed the peace and solitude found in this part of the reserve chain, entered at Longton Court. 

10. Karragarra Island, Moreton Bay.
Excellent views of North Stradbroke and other islands can be had from the shores of Karragarra.
Just a short ferry ride out from Redland Bay lies the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, including this little gem. Small enough to traverse on foot, Karragarra is an excellent place for birdwatching, and there's a swimming beach to cool off at after! Keep an eye out for the stately Bush Stone-Curlews (Burhinus grallarius) that thrive on the island.


  1. Happy New Year - we have loved reading your posts this year and look forward to seeing where 2015 takes your next adventures to. We look forward to visiting some of the areas that you have highlighted also - keep up the great work. Judi & Brendon

    1. Happy New Year to you too Judith and thanks for the kind words! Glad I've found your blog too and look forward to all the wonderful wildlife updates and photos I'll see on it in 2015 :)

  2. Hi. It is a pleasure reading and viewing your blog and this one is no exception. All your. Photos are stunning. Many thanks for giving us the Top 10 birding location. They all look marvellous. May I wish you a happy birding New year for 2015

    1. Thanks Margaret, that's very kind of you to say. Happy New Year to you too and I look forward to more of your photos and stories from Ireland and Malawi!

  3. It's great to have so many fascinating and rewarding spots to visit, Christian. Keep on doing it and reporting back to us. All the best for 2015.

    1. Thanks David, I look forward to updates from Ontario also! :)

  4. You certainly have a very diverse selection of places to bird, bug and botanise Christian. I alwys enjoy reading your well informed posts. Keep up the good work for 2015.

    By the way, at least one of our common warblers, the Chifchaff is known to sip nectar. I saw them doing so in Egypt on Cactus plants. But not here in England where in the spring and summer there are lots of insects for them.

    1. Thanks Phil, yes there's enough nature around here to keep me busy, that's for sure!

      Thinking back on my UK time, I can't recall any birds getting stuck into the flowers actually, but yes, maybe they do so in warmer climes when they migrate.

  5. Thanks for a great year of posts Christian! I have loved every post of these ten wonderful sites, many I enjoy as well. Although, some of them I haven't visited and will hopefully be able to visit next year. Thank you for sharing these great sites.

    1. Thanks Ben, have enjoyed your posts this year as well! I drove past the entrance road to Mount Byron when I was heading out to Somerset Dam and I remembered all the amazing wildlife you'd seen there - that's definitely on my list! :)

  6. Your birding locations are all wonderful, each in its own way! We can find many treasures in the smallest of spots if we only care to look. Great photos. Happy birding (and wildlife watching) in 2015!

    1. Thanks Marie, I wish you good health, happiness and plenty of birds in 2015 also! :)