North Queensland Trip - Part 1 of 3

Subject: North Queensland Trip - Part 1 of 3
Date: Mon, 9 Jan 2006 09:10:18 +1100

6 - 22 December 2005


In December last, I went back to north Queensland with Jann and Ross
Mulholland and Fred Smith and, this time, with my wife, Rosemary.  Our
primary aim was to go to Iron Range and look for some of the summer
specialities.  So, we booked in on an Iron Range tour with Klaus Uhlenhut
of Kirrama Wildlife Tours.  We wanted to do the 8-day trip, which involves 
driving out, because we also wanted to see some of the other Cape York
specialities that aren't in Iron Range, like Golden-shouldered Parrot
(GSP).  However, that was weather dependent ? if the wet didn't arrive in
December, we could drive out; but if it did, then we would have to fly

Port Douglas

So, on the 6th December, we all met up in Cairns, hired our Tarago and
headed off to Newell Beach looking for Red-rumped and Barn Swallow and
House Swifts.  About 20 Barn Swallows and a couple of Pacific Swallow types 
were there, looking a bit scruffy, but the other species weren't to be
seen.  We spent a couple of days based in Port Douglas with the highlights 
being 2 Beach Stone-Curlews, Mangrove Robin and Shining Flycatcher at Newell 
Beach during a boat trip with the Mangrove Man, Peter Cooper,
on the Mossman River.

We also went back to Cairns to the Esplanade and saw 2 Broad-billed Sandpipers 
along with Terek Sandpiper and lots of the more common waders.  No sign of the 
previously reported
Asian Dowitcher or Kelp Gull.

Iron Range

On the 9th, we flew to Lockhart River to join Klaus and spent four nights
at Portland Roads and most of five days birding in Iron Range.  It was
extremely dry in this supposed rain-forest as they had had little rain up
there to that time.  It was also consistently hot with maximum
temperatures at 35 degrees each day.  So, we had a good rest after lunch
each day as it was too hot to bird.

While birding was not easy, we did find all that one might expect, with 
Red-bellied Pitta, Marbled Frogmouth and Oriental Cuckoo being the highlights.  
We also saw Palm Cockatoo, Eclectus, Red-cheeked and Double-eyed Fig Parrots, 
Large-tailed Nightjar, Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher and Yellow-billed 
Kingfishers, Noisy Pitta, Lovely Fairy-Wren, Tropical Scrubwren, 
Tawny-breasted, White-streaked, Varied and Green-backed Honeyeaters, 
Yellow-legged Flycatcher, White-faced and White-browed Robins, Northern 
Scrub-robin, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Frilled, Black-winged and White-eared 
Monarchs, Northern Fantail, Magnificent Riflebird, Trumpet Manucode, 
Fawn-breasted Bowerbird and lots of pigeons.

The one bird problem was that Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo eluded us; we heard 
several but didn't get to see any.  The Spotted
Whistling-Ducks, which had been near Lockhart River the week before we got 
there, had unfortunately deserted before we arrived and didn't reappear.
That was less of a problem as we had all seen that species before.

One impressive spectacle was a sunset at Chilli Beach when 20,000 or
30,000 Metallic Starlings went to roost on a nearby island.  We also saw Lesser 
Frigatebird and Little, Black-naped, Bridled and Lesser Crested Terns from the 

Besides the heat (which wasn't all that bad), the only downside to this
leg of the trip was the persistent sandflies at Portland Roads.  That
discomfort, however, was well compensated for.

(Part 2 to follow)


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