Steve Happ Photography Ramblings and dissertations

April 27, 2010

Caloundra Headland

Filed under: Birds — Tags: , — steve_happ @ 1:15 am

Birding at Caloundra Headland.

Yesterday morning I headed off along the headland at Caloundra, starting from Shelley Beach and ending up at Kings Beach and then back again. At first I spotted 3 Sooty Oystercatchers and quite a few Crested Tern. Up in the pandanus palms, a Spangled Drongo was looking for insects. A grey morph Eastern Reef Egret was trying to steal some bait from a fisherman’s bucket. He flew up into a pandanus palm. I could see that he had lost a foot. I later talked to a bird counter who said that someone had caught him and had amputated his foot because it had fishing line all caught around it and was hanging off, dead.

Eastern Reef Egret - grey morph
Eastern Reef Egret – grey morph(Egretta sacra)

These fisherman really ought to dispose of their fishing line properly. I have seen so many birds who have either lost legs or have line all tangled up around their feet. The grey morph was hanging about with a white morph Eastern Reef Egret, who was also roosting up on the pandanus palm. I had thought it was an Intermediate Egret, doh! Here is a nice close up so you can see the large bill.

Eastern Reef Egret - white morph
Eastern Reef Egret – white morph

The Eastern Reef Egret is found along the coastal regions of eastern and South-east Asia, New Guinea and the south-west Pacific. They feed on fish, marine crustaceans, molluscs and small land animals. The grey morph is more common south of Queensland, while the white morph is more common north of the Barrier Reef.

Eastern Reef Egret - white morph
Eastern Reef Egret – white morph

There were also a couple of Pied Cormorants who were roosting on the rocks just next to the ocean. I was able to get nice and close for this close-up/portrait shot.

Great Cormorant
Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius )

There were Ospreys everywhere. I spotted a few with fish and even saw one swoop in and catch what looked like a luderick. The Ospreys were eating on rocks just next to the ocean. This one was tearing into a yummy fish.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

This one is just hanging on to a very big fish. I think she is very near to the limits here. The fish looks like a trevally or similar. I think there may be a danger if a raptor catches a fish which is too large and they cannot unlatch their claws. They could drown if pulled down into the water.

Osprey with fish

This one was bringing a stick back to the nest which was on top of a very tall pine tree overlooking Kings Beach.

Osprey bringing a stick to the nest

And to top it all off, this very nice lady who was a bird counter told me that where the Wandering Tattlers had been seen, so I followed her down to the spot and lo and behold there were two of them. So that is a tick for me. woot!

Wandering Tattler
Wandering Tattler (Tringa incana)

Wandering Tattlers migrate to South-west Alaska and Siberia to breed and are most reliably distinguished from the Grey-tailed Tattler by its call. The Wandering Tattler is slightly larger, heavier and a darker grey, with extensive barring on all underparts.

Caloundra Headland bird list

Sooty Oystercatcher
Crested Tern
Spangled Drongo
Eastern Reef Egret – white and grey morphs
White-faced Heron
Spotted Turtle-dove
Silver Gull
Australian Magpie
Pied Cormorant
Australian Raven
Australian White Ibis
Wandering Tattler
Welcome Swallow
Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Noisy Miner


“Herons, Egrets and Bitterns” by Neil McKilligan, CSIRO Publishing, 2005


  1. Recommended Reading.

    “”Birds, Their Habits and Skills” by Gisela Kaplan and Lesley J. Rogers, Allen & Unwin, 2001.

    If you see anything by Professor Gisela Kaplan, grab it and read it. She is awesome. She has written books on Tawny Frogmouth and Magpies. Among others.

    “Shorebirds of Australia” by Andrew Geering, Lindsay Agnew and Sandra Harding, CSIRO Publishing, 2007.

    Comment by admin — April 27, 2010 @ 8:33 am

  2. Hello Steve,

    I love your photos!!!! I have recently moved into a suburb named Wongawallan, its in a valley, at the base of Mt Tamborine,Qld. I live on 2 acres, & we are surrounded by many different types of beautiful birds. The only problem is I have no idea what most of them are, except of course the Kookaburras. There are even birds of prey that circle above in the sky, crying their erry cry. How do you suggest I identify all of these wonderful birds.

    We also have enormous hares, bandicoots, foxes & lots of snakes

    kind regards

    Comment by Luisa — January 11, 2011 @ 9:03 pm

  3. Hello Luisa,
    Thanks for your kind comments. I was up Mount Tambourine last year. Gee, it is a steep climb. The old Hi-ace barely made it up there! 🙂

    Here are some good books that you might like to have a look at.

    Field Guide to the Birds of Australia by Simpson & Day

    The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia by Pizzey & Knight

    The Slater Field Guide to Australian Birds by Peter, Pat & Raoul Slater

    Field Guide to Australian Birds by Michael Morcombe

    I have got the Simpson and Day book. It is quite good in my opinion.

    There is also a good website for helping to identify Australian birds here:

    Best Wishes,

    Comment by admin — January 13, 2011 @ 12:34 am

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