Far North Queensland sightings

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Far North Queensland sightings
From: Phil Gregory <>
Date: Tue, 04 Jan 2000 09:03:19 +1000
Hi folks,

Nice to be back on birding aus again after various trips away. Highlights of late around Kuranda have been daily Red-necked Crakes at Cassowary House, Kuranda, a Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo about a kilometre south of Kuranda Forest Station along Black Mountain Road on 3/9- must be one of the most southerly records, Satin Bowerbirds in the same area, and some visitors seeing Square-tailed Kite again. White-eared Monarchs are around but skittish, hard to see well, but Pied Monarch is easy enough. A male Satin Flycatcher near Mareeba on Sept 1 was a good local record.

The Cassowary situation  at Cassowary House was excellent up to Aug 30, with almost daily visits from a big female and sometimes the male with a large chick. We saw the male and female mating on our front lawn in mid-August, which was a bit of a shock that early in the day, and wonder whether he may be incubating now. This could be bad news for the large but still dependent chick "Steve", who was hatched during cyclone Steve back in February, we await developments with interest.

I heard a Channel-billed Cuckoo near Mareeba on Sept 1, Shinning Bronze are still around on Mt Lewis, and on 6/9 at Kingfisher Park we had great views of a Zoothera thrush. This was a bit of a case study in identification, we could see no white on the tail at rest, but in flight after I left there was quite a long white strip up the outer feather. There were no russet tones to the plumage at all, and it looked distinctly large billed, which made me wonder whether it was a cuneata Bassian Thrush (resurrect the Atherton Ground Thrush sez I, more endemics is good for business.....) but I suppose the tail pattern rules that out.  The folks at Kingfisher Park had a small influx of these thrushes over the past couple of days, interesting given that Schodde's Directory gives very few Far North Q records for Russet-tailed Thrush Z. heinei. Still lots to be learned, good stuff.

Carol at Kingfisher tipped us off for a Diamond Dove site near Mt Carbine (on the Cooktown Road), and we saw 4 there plus 4 Squatter Pigeons, about 20 Red-tailed Black Cockatoos and a Red-backed Kingfisher. A Square-tailed Kite nest nearby had astonishingly survived a big bush fire, the tall gum in which it has built was badly scorched to well above nest level, but to my amazement a kite was still sitting and we quickly left her alone. Kingfisher Park has very obliging Noisy Pittas still, my guest and I had wonderful views of 2 birds there on 6/9.
Good birding
Phil Gregory, Cassowary House, Black Mountain Road,  Kuranda
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