Date: Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Project: Eastern Australian Waterbird Survey

Observers: John Porter & Shannon Dundas

Pilot: Tim Dugan

We leave Charleville this morning as quickly as we can - weather alerts warn us of an approaching weather front and dust storms so we scramble and get in the air before conditions deteriorate. Most of the counting we do from Charleville east to Kingaroy is over small farm dams, small creek and drainage lines and small natural wetlands. As in previous days much of the landscape here is in the grip of severe drought – so many of the wetlands are dry or nearly dry and there are relatively few waterbirds to be counted. Lake Barambah northeast of Kingaroy is as dry as we have ever seen it - but there are still a few pelicans, cormorants, wood duck and grey teal to be counted.

A small farm dam west of Charleville. 

We pull up at Dalby to refuel and stretch our legs – it is almost 38 degrees and a hot gusty westerly wind meets us as we alight. Our pilot Tim has a tough job out on the baking tarmac to refuel and check the aircraft.

Dalby airport terminal

Tim Dugan, NPWS pilot, attending to the aircraft.

We depart Dalby flying into the hot gusty headwind – decidedly unpleasant flying conditions and it doesn’t take long before we encounter the predicted dust storms, which reduce visibility and hamper navigation. We head west past Goodiwindi and the Macintrye river – both the river and numerous large irrigation storages are dry or almost dry and there are few waterbirds on most of the storages.

We continue west and count along the Warrego river channels which are mostly dry and there are few waterbirds to be seen. As we continue the visibility improves and we count a number of canegrass claypans west of the Cunnamulla that are still holding water from isolated showers – they have low numbers of grey teal, pink eared ducks, black ducks, spoonbills, ibis and herons.

Claypan wetlands west of Cunnamulla.