Qld's Savannah country

Subject: Qld's Savannah country
From: Barry Davies <>
Date: Fri, 15 Aug 2008 08:59:44 +1000
For the past 4 years I have had the good fortune to lead a tour through inland north Qld each year in July and it has been fascinating to observe changes in conditions and the resulting changes in bird distribution, diversity and numbers during that time. The most dramatic changes occurred between 2007 and 2008. The area around Georgetown and Croydon, which had been very dry, had a good wet this year and is full of birds. Of special note were the large numbers of Masked and Black-throated Finches, Rufous-throated Honeyeaters and Diamond Doves at Cumberland Lake. We had not seen any of these species there before. Croydon's lake is now full after being nearly empty last year and the area is alive with birds. As usual Galahs and Little Corellas are in their thousands but so were Budgies. The locals said this was a rare sight. Karumba by contast was very dry having missed summer rains. The usual lagoons around town were absent as were many bird species including Star Finch, Radjah Shelduck, Pied Herons and many of the other small birds we usually see. We only saw 2 Sarus Cranes and few Pratincoles but Brolgas were common. The usual suspects were still present in the mangroves where I got a lifer by seeing a Great-billed Heron. The area towards and around Lawn Hill NP was desperately dry so, not surprisingly, Lawn Hill with its permanent water was an oasis. Crimson Chats and Silver-crowned Friarbirds, which we had never seen at Lawn Hill, were common and there were thousands of White-browed and Masked Woodswallows as well as the resident Little and Black-faced. Purple-crowned Fairy-wrens were common but no males were in breeding plumage this year. The highlights for me were a golden-backed form of the Black-chinned Honeyeater, an old friend but I think one of our most beautiful birds, and a Painted Honeyeater.


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