Needletails transiting with purpose through SEQ at 1000 metres ASL

G’day folks

The glorious autumn blue sky weather has finally arrived in SEQ. My son and i took advantage of the perfect bushwalking weather to do the Cordeaux section of the Cunningham’s Gap horseshoe.

Vegetative thickening following the fires of 2019 and several years of good rain meant that it was slow going up to and along the crest of ridge approaching Cordeaux from the west. A Grey Goshawk graced us with its presence as it sailed low overhead, calling as it floated past. It is easy to forget how pale the grey is on these chaps.

We moved on through an ecotone I have been visiting since 2000, notable for a population of multi-stemmed Cyathea Australis. You can view a study of these ferns in a 2012 edition of the Pteridologist 5(5) pp 336-339 in It takes a bit more effort to relocate some of the individuals nowadays.

We made our way through the rainforest to the graded track and headed north to our lunch spot on Bare Rock. It was nice to see that the leptospermums wiped out by the 2019 fire had returned. We came across a female Alberts Lyrebird on the track (sprung at a distance of 2 metres) that surprisingly didn’t scarper. It made me wonder if there was a chick near by.

There was a strong westerly wind blowing and at 12.20 pm, we had a dozen or so White-throated Needletails pass through at eye level. They were close enough to see their white rumps unaided. They weren’t feeding but were consistently gliding north. I don’t recall seeing any wing flaps during their transit.

It occurred to me that perhaps they had packed their primaries and had set sail for Japan.

It also raised another, possibly unanswerable question. Which species of bird has the capacity to glide the greatest horizontal distance between wing beats? Excluding birds riding thermals, how many kilometres can those species fly in approximately a straight line without wing beats?

(Do not try to answer this question if you are crossing the Bridge of Death in search of the Holy Grail.)

Regards, Laurie

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