Seasonal Report, Yungaburra, 145* 33' 25"E 17* 16' 40"S

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Seasonal Report, Yungaburra, 145* 33' 25"E 17* 16' 40"S
From: "Alan Gillanders" <>
Date: Sat, 4 Sep 2004 17:42:03 +1000
Hi there,
The following is the birding content extracted from my email news letter.

A male Cicada Bird in early June was a strange but pleasant sighting on
Petersen Creek in Yungaburra. This creek continues to be a source of some
great birding even though the eucalypts are almost finished flowering.
Upstream of the platypus viewing platform and below my bedroom window, Sarus
Cranes have established a new roost. Slowly the numbers built to 30 but now,
in early September, there are more than 60 birds roosting each night. It is
very interesting that along with the Brolgas, those with chicks mostly have
two in tow. Perhaps it was the late but good wet season which caused early
nesting to fail but made it favourable for the later birds. Huge numbers of
Sarus Cranes can be seen from the road sides between Atherton and Yungaburra
or Kairi. Bustards are also found in this area.

Woompoo and Topknot Pigeons have been feeding in the Lemon Aspen,
Achronychia acicula, and Blue Quandong, Eleaocarpus angustifolius. At Lake
Eacham they have been joined by Spotted Catbirds, Tooth-billed Bowerbirds
and at Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat by Satin Bowerbirds and King Parrots as

A pair of Woompoo Pigeons built a nest over the walkway at the Curtain
Figtree in December last year but did not breed there. This year in June I
heard birds calling near the site and then saw both birds approach the nest,
calling and displaying to each other. One bird then climbed onto the little
see-through platform and continued to call and bow for some minutes even
though its mate had left the scene. From the second of July they were
sitting and in the first week of August the single chick fledged. Once the
chick hatched the parents were cautious about approaching the nest while it
was under observation. If we turned out backs they would come in to feed and
settle down.

Woompoo pigeon on nest, displaying in late June

I saw a Black Falcon across the creek from home. If it had been on the other
side of the creek, about twenty metres further east it would have been in my
'home block'. If I had been at my back fence I could easily have seen and
identified the bird. Can I add it to my home list? It may be fifty years
till another one comes past and will I be watching when it does.This bird
patrolled the treeline like a Square-tailed Kite. We had excellent views as
the bird flew almost directly over us after coming out of a paddock across
the road and then continued up the creek on the "wrong" side.

A full range of raptors is present on the Tablelands during the winter. One
of the most spectacular is a young pale phase Little Eagle. The leading edge
on this bird's wing is a burnt gold or rusty orange; the ends of the
primaries are black but the rest of the bird is very pale, almost white. It
is often seen in the Picnic Crossing area but also at Hasties Swamp. There
is not the range in colour phases among the Brown Falcons this year but many
birds are patrolling the agricultural lands of the inner Tablelands.

Down in Cairns the waders are returning in force but up here there is not
much mud on the edge of the water holes, dams and weirs. Perhaps that is why
half a dozen Black-fronted Dotterels are in Cairns rather than up here.

Golden Bowerbirds have begun to decorate their bowers and are calling more
often. The Tooth-bills are not yet getting serious about stage making but
have begun to call. Now that the Fan-tailed Cuckoos have started calling
they are doing their usual trick of hiding away. When they are silent it is
not difficult to see them; now it is only easy to hear them.

Fig-Parrots have started excavating their nests in mid August this year.
While they will commonly be that early on the coast I believe it to be
exceptional on the Atherton Tablelands. In Yungaburra, the centre of town
and the school grounds have them feeding in the fig trees. At Lake Eacham
they are mostly feeding in the Celerywood, Polyscias elegans.

In winter the numbers of mice increases and the owls are more visible.
Coming home from a nocturnal tour and again the next evening, I saw Grass
Owls near Lesley Creek which is just south of the Curtain Figtree. Barn Owls
are common in this site and occasionally a Masked Owl is also seen there.
This is in an area which was maintained as eucalypt forest by the high water
table, lightning strikes and Aboriginal burning. It is much nicer to camp in
the open than in the rainforest and easier to obtain firewood too. When
touring the Tablelands you will often come across roads called, "Someone's
Pocket Road". These refer to the small patches of open forest which were
taken up by the early settlers as homestead locations. They could also see
the advantages the Aborigines had created by keeping some patches free of
the rainforest.

There has long been the suggestion that Bush Hens migrate for the winter.
These birds are secretive at the best of times and seem to be silent during
winter. This morning 17/07 along Petersen Creek, 145* 33' E, 17* 16' S, my
wife and I saw what we both took to be a Bush Hen.

Banded Honeyeaters have been in large numbers on the northern and western
edges of the Tablelands. At Granite Gorge they raised two chicks in July.
Striated Pardalotes and Rainbow Bee-eaters are nesting along the road into
the gorge.

Our resident Thicknees have moved up the road to their breeding territory
and the Buff-banded Rails which breed in the yard every year are back.

Alan Gillanders

Alan's Wildlife Tours
2 Mather Road
Yungaburra 4884
Phone (07) 4095 3784
Int + 61 7 4095 3784
On the beautiful Atherton Tablelands
145* 33' 25"E  17* 16' 40"S

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