Trip Report - Mount Isa and Karumba

Subject: Trip Report - Mount Isa and Karumba
From: "Chris Lester"<>
Date: Thu, 22 Oct 1998 10:25:49 +1000

                           MOUNT ISA AND KARUMBA

                              September 1998

A few friends and I went on a short trip to Mount Isa and the Gulf of
Carpentaria (the bottom of it, anyway) at the start of September.  The area
is very interesting with lots of potential.  We thought we were fairly
successful, seeing 206 species over the 9 days we were away.  (Of course,
you could spend a lot more time up there and find many other things.)

The highlights were:

Around Mount Isa

- Carpentarian Grasswren.  We saw several groups at the Lady Loretta Mine
site.  We also found a nest with (probably) two nestlings in it.  We sat
off from the nest and had magnificent views of the adult bringing in food.
Ross Mulholland got some great pictures.  (There is going to be an article
in the next (?) issue of Australian Birding, which will show some of them.)

- Dusky Grasswren.  Two parties south of Mt Isa.

- Australian Ringneck.  The Cloncurry race.

- Painted Finch.  At the Lady Loretta Mine site and at Lake Moondarra.

- Lots of waterbirds and waders around the shallower edges of Lake
Moondarra.  E.g. Green Pygmy-Goose, Glossy Ibis, Wood Sandpiper,
Comb-crested Jacana.

- Other species - Baillon's Crake, Buff-banded Rail, Spinifex Pigeon,
Varied Lorikeet, Spinifexbird, Spotted and Great Bowerbird, Black-tailed
Treecreeper, Grey-fronted, Grey-headed and Black-chinned (Golden-backed
race) Honeyeaters and Little Woodswallows.

Bob Forsyth from Mount Isa was very helpful with local information and went
out with us for half a day.  We investigated a report of Letter-winged Kite
just north of Mt Isa, but could only find Black-shouldereds.

Karumba and Environs

- An excellent boat trip  with  Russell Holt on the Ferryman.  In the
mangroves along the Norman River, we saw Red-headed Honeyeater,  Mangrove
Grey Fantail (including a white one), White-breasted Whistler, Mangrove
Gerygone, Yellow White-eye and Broad-billed Flycatcher (heard only).  On
the sandbars at the mouth of the Norman River, we saw lots of waterbirds
and waders including Black-necked Stork, Little Tern, Terek Sandpiper,
Grey-tailed Tattler, Sanderling, Great Knot, Grey Plover and the two
Sand-Plovers.  We were slightly early to see the big numbers of waders that
turn up for summer at Karumba.  They would be an impressive sight as we saw
good numbers.

- Great-billed Heron in the mangroves at Karumba Point.  A short view by
two of our group.  Apparently these herons are associated with large
crocodiles.  These have a seasonal occurrence at Karumba (?) and weren't in
the river when we were there.  We also saw Broad-billed Sandpiper in the
same area.

- Lots of Bolgas and Sarus Cranes on the flats as well as Australian
Pratincole and Rajah Shell-Duck in some swamps.

- On a day trip north to Gregory River - Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo,
Squatter Pigeon, Black-breasted Buzzard, Yellow Honeyeater and
Black-throated Finch.

- Australian Brush-Turkey.  Foraging in the mangroves along the edge of the
Norman River in downtown Karumba.  Very weird (and out-of-range).

- Yellow-tinted and White-gaped Honeyeaters and Barking Owls in Karumba.

We were also hoping to bump into a Chestnut Rail or two.  But, they
apparently don't occur at Karumba.

Cloncurry and Environs

- Spotlighting for Night Parrot.  Very interesting, but no, we didn't see
any.  We did spotlight Spotted Nightjar, Tawny Frogmouth, Australian
Owlet-Nightjar and Diamond Dove.

- Clem Walton Park - Black Bittern, Pheasant Coucal and Long-tailed Finch.

On the trip, we also saw quite a lot of mammals, the best of which were
Black-footed Rock-Wallaby and Common Sheath-tailed Bat (roosting in a cave)
at Mt Isa and Agile Wallaby around Karumba.

Several people answered my RFI in August.  I would like to thank them for
the information.  It proved extremely useful.  This free exchange of
information demonstrates one of the excellent values of Birding-Aus.

If anyone has any queries, please feel free to respond.  A bird list is
available on request.  And watch out for my article in Australian Birding.

Chris Lester

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