On 19 November 2021, a Fairy Gerygone Gerygone palpebrosa was heard, sighted and photographed by local BirdLife members in dry rainforest (semi-evergreen vine-thicket) at lower Redwood Park, on the Toowoomba escarpment.
As the photos reveal, this small bird differs from the common White-throated Gerygone in having a white moustache streak and a dusky throat and chest. Also, instead of a dainty descending whistle, the Fairy Gerygone has a lively chattering call with an unremarkable repeated melody.
The bird, presumably a male, fits the description of subspecies flavida, whereas subspecies personata with a black throat is on Cape York. Fairy Gerygone has been recorded as far south as the Gympie area according to Pizzey & Knight’s field guide, but Birdata has many more recent records from the Sunshine Coast hinterland and as far south as the bottom end of Bribie Island and adjacent mainland. Toowoomba is a little farther south and a fair way inland.
Along with some other species more typical of the tropics, such as Shining Flycatcher, the Fairy Gerygone seems to be expanding southward. The existence of high quality habitat in Redwood Park may be a reason for it turning up here—encouraged by the presently wet season. This further underscores the value of vegetation management work by Friends of the Escarpment Parks and the importance of designating Redwood Park as a conservation area protected from incompatible development.
Interest stimulated by this article has revealed additional records of Fairy Gerygone in SE Queensland, coastward of Toowoomba, underlining the southward shift in range of this species.
Contributed by Roger Jaensch