I have returned from a marvellous trip to north queensland. Thanks to all who
gave me info before the trip (there are many of you). The birding was done in
four main areas: The Daintree, Lotus Bird Lodge on Cape York, the Atherton
Tableland, and a day to Michaelmas Cay (as well as some time looking over the
I am not going to write down all my experiences in one email, but will break it
down to a posting for each area. In this email, I have got the main sightings
of interest and an overview:
Total species: 218 (A birdo on a mission could get at least 50 more than that
for these areas, we were on honeymoon guys!)
Lifers: A ridiculous 70 (that's nearly 10% of Australia's birds! It was great
to see so many of the birds I had studied as photos in the Reader's Digest as a
child come to life)
First new bird: Torres Strait Imperial Pigeon, flying over central Cairns
Hoodoo bird: Red-winged Parrot. How many birdos saw a Golden-shouldered
before they saw a Red-wing? This was a source of much mirth at Lotus. Of
course I saw one eventually and then starting seeing them everywhere I looked.
Highlights: This is very hard, but here's a few.
Beach Thick-knee at Cape Tribulation. It was my 400th Australian bird and we
had a cocktail back at the restaurant to celebrate!
Cassowary (brief look) Cape Tribulation. I thought that Scrubfowl was making a
rather loud racket....
Paradise-Kingfisher at Kingfisher park, as already reported by Ron Stannard. I
knew not to expect to see one, as they usually arrive later. I was sitting
outside my room eating a muesli bar, and just looked up for no particular
reason. A similarly disbelieving Karen Dobson, a Melbourne birdo, was watching
the bird from the other side, unaware I was also watching it. The bird flew
into a nearby tree and out of view, and we converged on the lawn " did YOU
Square-tailed Kite with one young almost out of the nest at Mt. Molloy. Andrea
spotted it, and we returned to tell Kingfisher Park, to find out it was "the"
Square-tailed Kite nest and was well-known!
Bustard at MaryFarms. It's always funny when I bird is twice as big as you
expect. I pictured something the size of a thick-knee. Bustards are huge!
This one had the throat sac extended as well.
The cacophony of tropical seabirds at Michaelmas Cay. Included were many Sooty
Terns and Brown Noddies, and a few Bridled and Lesser Crested Terns, and Brown
Boobies. Apparently rarer tropical seabirds are sometimes also there, but as
all five abovementioned were new, I was perfectly happy!
Tooth-billed Bowerbirds (what a voice!)
Atherton Scrubwren (Lake Barrine)
All the honeyeaters. The honeyeaters of the north are interesting bunch indeed.
Lotus Bird Lodge had a clutch of good birds. The guide, Murray Hunt, was
brilliant. Phil Gregory "sicklebill" has reported these already..
Golden-shouldered Parrots (Artemis station)
White-streaked Honeyeater at a vine thicket at Lakefield NP (this spot had an
amazing array of honeyeaters, as good as a box-ironbark forest in full flower)
Star Finches (I missed John Crowhurst running towards Phil Gregory waving
frantically, I was about 50m ahead of John, running in the same direction)
Rufous Owl in gallery rainforest, being hassled by Blue-faced Honeyeaters.
14 Grass Owls in one spotlighting trip on the termite mound studded Nifold
Plain. These birds were sometimes in groups of three or four, their ghostly
forms wheeling around as they looked intently down for food legs extended
Black-breasted Buzzard soaring overhead.
I still haven't got to the Terek Sandpipers on the Esplanade, or any of the
wetland birds (pygmy-geese, rajah shelducks)
Oh heck, this email is too bloody long now. (Sorry Russell). I go into each
area in depth over the next two or three weeks.
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