In October 2015 we camped for three nights at the Neurum Creek camp-site D'Aguilar NP in south-eastern QLD, in the mountain ranges just north of Brisbane.
It was a long weekend and the site proved to be crowded when we arrived there on Friday. To our dismay we suffered similar problems to those we had experienced during our Bunya Mountains stay, earlier in the year. It is very unfortunate that a small proportion of campers in national parks seem to use them as a cheap group holiday venue with drinking parties around the campfire lasting into the small hours of the morning.
It only takes one such noisy group to wreck the camping trip for a dozen or more others that have come for a chance to experience nature at first hand. On the third day, when the particular group in question moved out, to our relief, the birds began to come back into the camping area. The evening was blissfully peaceful and quiet.
Then, unbelievably, as in the Bunya Mountains NP, another group turned up in the early hours of the morning and moved around the camping ground shouting to each other as they tried to select a campsite and set up their tents. They moved out again before nine o'clock in the morning to avoid the rangers checking camping licences, in this camp-ground where pre-booking is mandatory.
Laura has now resolved not to use long weekends for camping trips.
But in spite of the human disturbance, there were a pleasing number of species in the vicinity of the campsite. The bottlebrushes were flowering in the creek attracting several species of honeyeater. Most common were the scarlet honeyeaters, and I spent quite a long time trying to take photos of them that might form a suitable basis for a painting. Although I have hundreds of photos, I am not sure that I have quite succeeded in finding the right one, just yet!
An occasional dusky honeyeater, a bit bigger and darker then the tiny scarlets, also came to feed in the callistemons. Other honeyeaters were spotted when they came down to the creek to bathe, including a white-naped honeyeater, a pair of yellow-faced honeyeaters, and the ubiquitous Lewin's honeyeater.
We always seem to hear the distinctive, repetitive calls of cuckoos before we see them. In this case it was a little Horsfield's bronze cuckoo. I was alerted to its presence down by the creek on the first afternoon, by the aggressive churring noises of nearby honeyeaters that were harassing it. Cuckoos are not popular with other species because they are nest parasites. This one seemed to have a regular pattern of foraging because it came down to the same place near the creek, again at the same time on the second afternoon and this time I was able to take better photos.
With such a magnificent creek flowing through the area forming rocky pools, it seemed inevitable that somewhere along it there would be a an azure kingfisher, so I went looking. When I first saw it, was quite a distance away, on a limb a couple of metres above the water. But I was luckier at a later time, when it flew onto a branch just in front of my camera while I was trying to take photos of honeyeaters bathing.
It was Joe who found the spotted pardalotes, nesting in the bank beside the road. They must have been feeding young because the male and female birds took turns to fly into the nest with beaks full of scale insects.
We went spot-lighting around the campsite, for the first time at D'Aguilar, and found two new (for us) species of frogs, Litoria wilcoxii and (I think) Litoria pearsoniana, down by the creek at night. We also heard the distinctive "wark wark" calls of the fabulous giant barred frog, Mixophyes fasciolatus, but were unable to locate a specimen to photograph. However the creek was heavily populated with their enormous tadpoles, along with plentiful fingerlings and shrimps. We also spotted an unidentified species of rat in a hole in the base of a tree, and ring-tailed possums high in the tree-tops.
Other species photographed around the campsite and in the adjacent creek area were white-browed scrub-wrens, spectacled monarchs, yellow robins, silvereyes, brown thornbills, golden whistlers and white-throated tree-creepers. White cockatoos and king parrots were seen in the tree-tops on the other side of the creek.
The photos of the wompoo pigeons and rufous fantail were taken on the Mill Rainforest Walk, which was further back along the road to the camp-site.
PHOTOS from D'Aguilar NP
Dusky honeyeaterWe saw birds of this species at Alligator Creek in the Bowling Green Bay NP south of Townsville and at Eungella, but they were always very elusive and difficult to photograph. They don't seem to be as common as their more colourful relatives, the white-naped, yellow-faced and scarlet honeyeaters.
Horsfield's bronze-cuckooI had to search the internet to try and find out if this was a Horsfield's or Little bronze-cuckoo. It turns out that the main visual distinguishing feature is the barring on the breast which continues up to the beak in the Little bronze-cuckoo. In Horsfield's bronze-cuckoo, the barring changes to speckling under the chin, as shown in this photo.
Red-legged pademelonThe white spotbelow the pademelon's ear in this photograph is an out-of-focus leaf. This species has reddish colouring on the front of its head and on its legs, unlike its close relative, the red-necked pademelon, which has russet on the back of its neck.
The pademelons could be seen in the early morning and at dusk, but were quite shy and not easy to photograph.
Litoria wilcoxii, maleIn this species the males and females are very different with the females being much larger and lacking the bright greenish-yellow colouring.
Ring-tailed possumNote this animal's tail stretched out behind it and tightly coiled around a branch.
Wompoo fruit-doveThis is only the second opportunity that I have had to photograph this species in the wild, the other being in the forest below Minyon Falls in northern NSW.
They are very large and impressive pigeons which forage for fruit all day high in the tree-tops in dense rainforest.
Yellow robin, juvenileYellow robins are very common birds and we see them in every place that we camp on the east coast, but, interestingly, this is the first time that I have ever seen one of these birds in its juvenile plumage.
How can that be?
White-throated tree-creeperThis is a female, showing the orange spot on her white throat.
Treecreepers are both easy and difficult to take photos of. It is easy to photograph their back view as they move in a predictable way up tree-trunks. But it is difficult focus on their side-view as the bulk of the tree-trunk is distracting for the autofocus mechanism of the camera. These days I use manual focus quite frequently.