After such an awesome night seeing Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat and Spectacled Hare-wallabies anything after might have seemed a let down but we were off to try and see something almost as awesome. Rohan and I had permission to go to Taunton National Park and look for Bridled Nail-tailed Wallaby. This tiny wallaby had been thought extinct up until 1973 when a fencing contractor reported them on a property near Dingo in central Queensland. Although they once stretched from Victoria all the way up to Queensland they were a victim of change of land use and foxes. Taunton National Park is the only remaining wild population although they have been reintroduced to several areas including Scotia which now houses a couple of thousand animals. We arrived in Taunton NP in the evening with many macropods seen on the way in including large numbers of Black-striped Wallaby which I had only seen once before.
Right on 5pm we were given a brief induction by the ranger and were given a couple of hours to go and look for Bridleds. We also heard about the extensive work being done to protect the species with feral cats and drought being of particular concern. We were losing the night as we got into the right area and there amongst the hordes of Black-stripeds was a lovely little Bridled Nail-tailed Wallaby! Surely one of the best looking of macropods with a lovely bold pattern – some of the independent young animals were little bigger than a large rabbit! We saw quite a few during a brief drive around where we arrived on the edge of an excellent wetland right on dark. We had heard from the ranger that the Bridleds like to get right in the water to feed on lillies and other water plants so we split up in different directions to go and witness this behaviour. In addition to many Black-striped and Bridled Nail-tailed Wallabies there were a few Rufous Bettong which allowed close approach. Eventually we had to leave but a tiny little independent Bridled gave a great view on the way out. It is easy to see how they would be an easy snack for a cat or fox. Again we were very privileged to have the opportunity!
We decided to spend the night at nearby Blackdown Tablelands National Park where we did some further spotlighting and looking for large forest owls. Not much luck on that front with only a couple of Sugar Gliders and a Tawny Frogmouth of note. Up early and unfortunately it was time to head south. Greg Roberts had recently posted in his blog a site for Herbert’s Rock-wallaby near Eidsvold so we headed in that direction. I have mixed feelings about this species having dipped previously and nearly giving myself heatstroke at another site. We rolled into Eidsvold around lunchtime and we didn’t even make it to nearby Tolderodden Conservation Park before seeing a couple of Herbert’s Rock-wallabies on private land from the car. After lunch we went for a wander in the park seeing several more of this pretty little wallaby. Rohan also saw Pretty-faced Wallaby but I dipped on that. We spent some more time back on the road looking at the rock-wallabies on the nearby private property which seemed to know there was a fence between us.
The day was getting on so we decided to make a run for Lake Perseverance near Toowoomba where I had seen Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby a couple of years ago. We arrived after dark with the highlight being an Army Chinook making several low passes over the dam. We stayed the night at the nearby Cressbrook Dam camping area which had excellent facilities including warm showers. A Rufous Bettong and a few Brush-tailed Possums stalked around in the evening. The area is known for its feral population of Red Deer and we saw many on the way out in the morning. Back at the Lake Perseverance dam wall we saw at least a dozen Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby which gave great views. From here it was south to the border where we decided on spending an evening spotlighting in Girraween National Park which is an area known as a hotspot for South Queensland rarities with many species not getting much further north.
Girraween National Park sits nestled right on the border with New South Wales and has one of the few populations of Common Wombat in Queensland as well as a few Spot-tailed Quolls so these were the main targets for the night. Its an area of granite outcrops and drier woodland bordered by rough paddocks so I must say it does look good for quolls! Elliot Leach had again given us some excellent gen on local birding hotspots and we started racking up a great list with Turquoise Parrot, Diamond Firetail and Chestnut-rumped Heathwren being highlights. Spent some time chasing the local subspecies of Superb Lyrebird but despite hearing a few I did not get a glimpse this time. The common macropods were Red-necked Wallaby, Common Wallaroo and Eastern Grey Kangaroo. We spent a long evening spotlighting and using the bat detector with many bats in evidence despite it being very cold. Standouts included Southern Greater Glider, Brown Antechinus and Eastern Horseshoe Bat amongst around 7 bat species. Despite a lot of effort we did not turn up a wombat or a quoll. In the morning there was a coating of ice on the tents and a quick check showed us at over 1000 meters of altitude. We birded a couple of hours before heading south. Further good birds like Glossy Black-cockatoo, Red-browed Treecreeper, Fuscous Honeyeater and Eastern Rosella were good from a Queensland list perspective.
From here it was the long haul home with the occasional birding stop. We stayed the last night at Forbes and due to there being a bit of rain about we went to nearby Gum Swamp in the hope the Giant Banjo Frog – Limnodynastes interioris was out. We ended up seeing plenty of the attractive looking frog and there were many bats zipping around with a half dozen species recorded. The weather was becoming foul so it was pretty much straight back to Melbourne the next day. A very successful trip with 2 new birds, 8 new mammals, 10 new reptiles and a new frog! Thanks to Rohan for the invite, those who gave information and Lucas and Simmy for letting me go! Looking forward to the next trip.