Hi Chris and others
Your trip North almost exactly coincided with ours. As I know you are a
Victorian, like me, I am sure you enjoyed the totally different birding
offered by far North Queensland. Only my second time birding this area.
I set off from Central Vic with Russ Lamb on 2nd December and we birded all
the way to Cairns, then joining Klaus on a Kirrama Tours 8 day fly/drive
Iron Range/Musgrave trip. Finished back at the Sunshine Coast on 22nd Dec.
I set off with a wish list of birds for Queensland generally as well as a
wish list for Iron Range. I only dipped on a single seriously hoped for and
tried for bird for the whole trip, being the Yellow Chat near Rockhampton.
The area was very dry and the birds had probably moved.
I will not put up a detailed report unless anyone wants to ask, but the
following were the highlights.
Eungella - Eungella Honeyeater, about 400m along the forest track at the end
of Chelman's road. As the adjacent property owner has recently undertaken
clearing a large section of land, I expect that most birds will have
retreated a bit further into the forest.
Paluma Range - a fabulous day, when I ticked seven birds in a day. Golden
Bowerbird hopping around its bower at Birthday Creek Falls for several
minutes, plus very confiding Tooth-billed Bowerbird "guarding" the start of
this track, singing its head off. Witnessed about five juvenile Victoria's
Riflebird practising their displays on each other. Also ticked Bridled
Honeyeater, Barred Cuckoo-shrike and Chowchilla here, Double-eyed Fig-parrot
at Eubanangee Swamp and Bush Hen crossing the road just near Eubanangee.
Cairns - provided good birding at the Esplanade, but we could not find the
Broad-billed Sandpiper amongst all the others. Saw four Oriental Cuckoos
near the Ambulance Station.
Kingfisher Park - Masked Owl and Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher.
Mt Lewis - As John Young had seen the Blue-faced Parrot Finch a week or so
earlier at 6.00 a.m., we got to "the clearing" at 6.00 and exactly one hour
later found a single Blue-faced Parrot-finch mixing with Red-browed Finches.
Atherton (Wongabella Forest) - This was a wonderful birding location with
just one tick (Bower's Shrike-thrush) but many other great birds on the 2.5
km walk. Recommended. Hasties Swamp was good, but low on numbers - missed
the reported Yellow Wagtail.
Iron Range - As expected, we got every endemic and specialty at Iron Range,
plus a few needed by us that we had not got elsewhere, thanks to excellent
guiding by Klaus. Included Spotted Whistling Duck, Northern Scrub-robin and
the Red-bellied Pitta, which we got on the morning of either Dec 16th or
17th (can't remember which). I think we were the first to see this
specialty this season. I felt especially great about this as I was the one
who first spotted it, sitting clearly in good light, and it was my 600th
bird. By a wonderful coincidence this also was the 600th bird for my best
birding buddy, Russ. We were understandably pretty stoked by this!!
Musgrave - Spent around 8 hours in total on one day looking for the
Golden-shouldered Parrot and eventually got several females and juveniles
with a single beautiful male in the late afternoon.
I ended up with 39 new birds for the trip, ticking Wandering Tattler back at
Caloundra to bring my life list to 601. I don't know if I ever will achieve
such a count on a single trip again. Russ, being a Queenslander, added (I
think) 25 to end up on 604.
A great trip!
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