Cairns, Mt Isa, Karumba trip report (Part 1b of 2)

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Cairns, Mt Isa, Karumba trip report (Part 1b of 2)
From: Carl Billingham <>
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 22:21:46 -0700 (PDT)
(Part 1 of this email was over the forum size limit and so I have now split 
into parts 1a and 1b)
The following morning we drove up through Normanton and enjoyed the majestic 
sight of numerous Sarus Crane between Normanton and Karumba.  We booked 
ourselves on a Norman River cruise with Ferryman Cruises for the following 
morning before heading back to Normanton to catch up with an old work mate of 
That evening we dined on Barra cooked on the BBQ, a bottle or two of red wine 
while our ear drums were assaulted by my mate singing Willy Nelson songs and 
strumming his out of tune electric guitar ?oh the inhumanity!  The next morning 
we managed to drag ourselves back to Karumba for an excellent cruise in which 
the highlights were Red-headed Honeyeaters, Mangrove Gerygone, White-breasted 
Whistler, Mangrove Fantail and Yellow White-eye.  Unfortunately it was the 
wrong time of the year for Great-billed Heron and Pied Heron.
While in Karumba we managed to find Zitting Cisticola?s amongst the more common 
Golden-headed Cisticola?s and Star Finches in the centre of town (S17 29.587 
E140 50.152)
While checking a location for Zitting Cisticola given to us by Marg and Ian on 
the side of the road ~23km?s out from Karumba (S17 26.126 E141 03.154) we 
flushed a Red-chested Button-quail.  I was so glad that Carl and I were both 
able to confirm the features we saw.  This was probably my personal highlight 
for the trip - I am sure I have seen them before but this one was a completely 
obvious female - even to me!  
I would like to note that I probably wouldn?t have been able to confirm my 
sighting of the RCBq without the information provided by numerous people on 
Birding-Aus that helped me put together my own ?Jizz? list for identifying 
Quails and Button-quails.  If anybody wants a copy of these notes please let me 
It was interesting that on the first trip out to Karumba the Sarus Cranes 
seemed to be in greater numbers than the Brolgas however, on the three trips we 
made along the road afterwards we barely noticed any!  We were also told that 
apparently one of the ways to tell the two apart when driving past (or as Carl 
calls it ?Blirding?) was that the Brolgas are a social bird while the Sarus 
tend to be solitary outside of the breeding season or hang out with Brolgas 
instead of their own kind.
Normanton to Atherton Tablelands
From here we headed back toward Cumberland Dam to camp for the night.  Along 
the way we found a really great spot (S17 57.159 E141 50.462) for birding which 
combined flowering eucalypts, long grass and a nearby dam.  This area provided 
an enjoyable hour simply walking around not knowing exactly what would turn up 
We arrived at Cumberland Dam just on dusk for another beautiful sunset over the 
dam filled with waders and water lilies.  Early the next morning we walked 
around the western dam and discovered lots of finches on the far side and along 
the main road including Double-barred, Zebra, Black-throated, and Masked 
(white-eared) Finches.
From Georgetown we returned to the narrow and quite treacherous roads which 
lead to the Atherton Tableland.  We couldn?t quite figure out why roads out 
past Georgetown were so much better (and wider) than those closer to the ?big 
smoke? ie. Cairns.
(cont'd Part 2)

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