A last minute decision and 50 hours on the ground was full of highlights.
Straight from the airport to Palm Cove to meet up with Ian Montgomery and get
the first tick of the year within an hour. The Laughing Gull was still present
on the stinger net bouys, with occasional laps of the jetty providing good
photo opportunities. Unfortunately, my compact camera didn't survive a drop on
the road and was to be a constant source of irritation over the weekend as
birds routinely presented themselves within good range! Ian & I chased each
other up the highway to Newell where a pair of Red-rumped Swallows were found
in the barn with a pair of Welcome Swallows for comparison. Tick number two. A
roundabout route via Kingfisher Park at Julatten for Buff-breasted
Paradise-Kingfisher and it was time to head for Cassowary House at Kuranda.
After checking-in, and in the failing light, I spent approx 3/4 Hour watching a
juvenile Red-necked Crake go to sleep in a sapling on the grounds. Tick number
3, albeit a bit disappointing. I needed an adult. The fireflies were a
wonderful surprise and a delight.
Next morning I was up early, but the Crake was up even earlier and nowhere to
be found. Following up some info from Sue Gregory, I wandered down a nearby
track in Kuranda National Park. As I decided to return for breakfast I flushed
an adult Red-necked Crake from a puddle in a ditch beside the track. Excellent
view in good light. Nothing had prepared me for the stunning colour. Damm that
Off then to meet Ian and spend a very pleasant day up Mt Lewis where Blue-faced
Parrot-Finch were remarkably abundant. We found them at the first clearing, at
the main clearing, further down the road past the gate and even a single bird
way out on the walking track. Other good birds were Mountain Thornbill,
Atherton Scrubwren, Chowchilla, Toothbilled Bowerbird, Double-eyed Fig-Parrot
and Golden Bowerbird.
Late back to Cassowary house after stopping for dinner in Mareeba with friends
from Broome days didn't provide any opportunities for searching for my fourth
tick, but the weather seemed to be against me anyway as the days were clear and
sunny, although very steamy.
Next morning, I was again up at barely light and following yet another tip from
Sue. Having wandered around aimlessly, disregarding the patch of rank grass
beside the road as being too small, I stopped to watch a pair of playful
Whipbirds. As I did so I became aware of a soft ticking coming from the grass.
Paying attention I then noticed occasional movements of the tall grass that
were unrelated to wind. After 15 minutes of complete stillness by me, a sudden
tug on grass near the edge of the rank area and a Bush-hen emerged onto the
adjoining mown lawn. It poked at the ground a few times, strolled a couple of
meters down the edge and then leisurely disappeared back into the dense grass.
Tick number 4. I hung around another 10 minutes, the Bush-hen did come back to
the edge, but seemed more concerned by my presence this time, and whilst I
could see its head looking around and watching me, it didn't come out into the
I wandered back for breakfast, delighted to have achieved everything I hoped
to. Of course, sharing breakast time with a Cassowary just capped the weekend
and I flew out at lunch time a very happy woman.
I highly recommend making the most of long weekends, The weather is barely
noticeable when there are such good birds to see and good friends to catch up
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