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Jun 17: The dove from above
 

I had planned to wake up at 3am to go looking for Barking Owl, but I must have unconsciously turned my alarm off and eventually woke with a start 4.30. I decided to head out anyway to check a few spots for the owl. Matt Wright had recommended trying the Kenmore Hills area, so I listened at a few roadside locations along Bielby Road and surrounding area (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), but it was all a bit half-hearted because there wasn’t really enough dark time to do anything really meaningful. Needless to say, I didn’t hear any owls, although I had a couple of Bush Stone-curlews calling.

As the rays of dawn began to penetrate the darkness I headed to Gold Creek Reservoir. Since it was a half-hearted sort of morning so far, I thought I’d continue that and have a half-hearted search for Black Bittern along the creek near the spillway, with a predictable result. Checking the reservoir itself, there were four heron species feeding together in the far SE corner (2 White-necked, 2 White-faced, and Intermediate and Great Egrets). A bunch of waterfowl was also associated with this feeding frenzy (30+ Australasian Grebes and several Hardheads, Pacific Black Ducks and Eurasian Coots) – I couldn’t see what they were feeding on, but I guess there must have been some sort of emergence of tadpoles or fish or something.

After not too long, and as the light became strong enough to see birds in the woodland, I wandered down to the picnic area in search of my real quarry for the day – Emerald Dove. Patient searching revealed nothing there, so I moved on to the nursery area. Annoyingly a gaggle of five dogs was rushing about off leash (illegal in Brisbane) and barking, which didn’t bode well for connecting with an elusive ground-dwelling dove. Yet in the end it was a dove from above, a clatter of wings of something flying in through the canopy and landing on an exposed branch not far from me – a cracking Emerald Dove!!

Although there are records of this species in many of the wetter woodlands just beyond the western suburbs, it is not common, and Gold Creek Reservoir is by far the best location to reliably connect with this species around Brisbane. I was pleased to have it finally in the bag, and headed off more or less straight away to Priors Pocket. Mat Gilfedder and I had been discussing the comparatively tame behaviour of the Oxley Creek Common Diamond Dove compared to the recent Priors Pocket birds, and I was keen to see the latter for “insurance purposes”. Yet it wasn’t to be – I put in a decently intensive search at Priors Pocket but just couldn’t turn any up. A quick look at Moggill Wetlands rounded off the morning, and I headed home. Moggill Wetlands looks like a great little site, and it has indeed turned up some good birds over the years. It was the first time I’d been there, but I’ll certainly have to go back again soon.

With one year tick today (Pacific Emerald Dove), my year list rose to 283 species. I spent 4 hours 13 minutes birding, walked 4.622 km and drove 110.7 km. My chronological year list is here.

Pacific Emerald Dove at Gold Creek Reservoir this morning – what a beauty!