birding-aus FNQ Trip

Subject: birding-aus FNQ Trip
From: "Chris Lester"<>
Date: Thu, 4 Feb 1999 08:52:01 +1000


1 - 22 January 1999

In the early part of January 1999, Fred Smith and I spent a week at Pajinka
Wildness Lodge (as part of Klaus Uhlenhut?s annual Bird Week) and two weeks
around Cairns and Mossman.  We recorded 260+ species in the three weeks and
considered the trip a great success as we saw many of the hard-to-get
species that we had targetted.

The high (and other) lights were:

?    Atherton Tableland - a single House Swift (with Fork-tailed Swifts at
Nardello?s Lagoon) as well as Southern Cassowary, Macleay?s and Bridled
Honeyeater, Grey-headed Robin, Bower?s Shrike-thrush, Victoria?s Riflebird
and Spotted and Tooth-billed Bowerbird.

?    Pajinka, Cape York - Pale White-eye, Mangrove Robin, Mangrove Golden
Whistler and Oriental Cuckoo on Mount Adolphus Island (13 km from the tip
of Cape York);  eight species of tern, including Roseate, Black-naped,
Bridled and Lesser Crested on Akone Islet near Mount Adolphus Island;
Red-bellied and Noisy Pitta, Palm Cockatoo, Red-necked Crake, Northern
Scrub-robin, Marbled and Papuan Frogmouth, Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo,
Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher and Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Tropical
Scrubwren, Tawny-breasted, White-streaked and Red-headed Honeyeater,
Yellow-legged Flycatcher, White-faced Robin, Yellow-breasted Boatbill,
Frilled and Black-winged Monarch, Black-backed Butcherbird, Magnificent
Riflebird, Trumpet Manucode, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, lots of pigeons and
another House Swift around the lodge and in its environs.

?    Mossman / Daintree area - an amazing morning near Newell?s Beach,
where we saw four (but only if you think there may be Pacific Swallows in
North Queensland, a subject of ongoing debate) species of swallow,
including 4-6 Red-rumped Swallows and 50+ Barn Swallows, two species of
martins, two species of swift (with another 6-10 House Swifts) and one
species of swiflet (White-rumped);  Great-billed Heron and Black Bittern on
Chris Dahlberg?s boat trip on the Daintree River.

?    Julatten - Bush-hen at Kingfisher Park;  40 Blue-faced Parrot-Finches,
Lesser Sooty Owl (flushed in daylight), Atherton Scrubwren, Fernwren,
Mountain Thornbill, Chowchilla and the lurida race of Southern Boobook on
Mount Lewis

?    Mount Milloy area - Buff-breasted Button-quail, Australian Bustard and
Helmeted Guineafowl (a feral population waiting to be added to the
Australian list?).

?    Cairns area - a good selection of waders, including Broad-billed
Sandpiper and Beach Stone-curlew, at the Esplanade;  Little Bittern at
Eubenangee Swamp;  Barn Swallow at Garradunga.

?    Michaelmas Cay - Great and Lesser Frigatebirds, Brown Booby, Common
and Black Noddies and Sooty and Bridled Terns.

The weather was often hot and humid and it rained sometimes.  It was the
wet season, after all.  However, we had several clear, sunny days that
weren?t too hot.  Remarkably, the weather did not prevent us from doing any
of the things we wanted to, except for visiting Boigu and/or Saibai Islands
in Torres Strait.  We intended to do one or two day trips to these islands
as part of the Pajinka Bird Week, but were prevented by heavy rain.  This
rendered the airstrips unsafe and the plane was not able to land on either

There weren?t many species that we tried for that we missed.  We didn?t see
Red Goshawk on the Mary Creek, where it has been seen occasionally in
recent months.  We also didn?t see many of the northern waterbirds, like
White-browed Crake.  There was a general lack of waterbirds, both in
numbers and species diversity.

We had several sightings that need further research.  We saw small numbers
of what appeared to be all-dark swiftlets flying with Fork-tailed swifts at
both Bamaga airport and near Pajinka.  I also saw a strange wader on the
Cairns Esplanade that was nearly a Curlew Sandpiper, but didn?t seem quite

There were also plenty of mammals and reptiles, the best of which were
Lumholtz?s Tree Kangaroo, Lemuroid Ringtail, Herbert River Ringtail, Musky
Rat-Kangaroo, Cape York and Grassland Melomys, Red-legged Pademelon,
Spectacled Flying Fox, Saltwater Crocodile, Carpet Python and Burton?s
Legless Lizard.

We got plenty of assistance from a number of people, including Klaus
Uhlenhut, Gordon Beruldsen and Peter Slater at Pajinka, Chris Dahlberg on
the Daintree and Ron Stannard and his helpers, Julian and Debbie at
Kinfisher Park.  I would particularly like to acknowledge Del Richards of
Fine Feather Tours, who gave considerable time and knowledge to help us
find Red-rumped Swallows and showed us over an inaccessible wader spot, and
Lloyd Nielson, who did likewise with Buff-breasted Button-quail.  Both also
provided us with an interesting perspective on the possible Pacific
Swallows in the Mossman area and Lloyd was happy to share his considerable
knowledge on the Button-quail he is currently researching.  Thanks to you

Finally, I want to mention Lloyd Nielson?s book, "Birds of Queensland?s Wet
Tropics and Great Barrier Reef".  It is not conventional in its treatment
or layout if you judge it against an "ordinary" field guide.  However, I
found it very useful for its site maps and habitat information and for its
treatment of some of the difficult groups of birds.

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