Trip Report - Queensland (long)

To: "alan morris" <>, <>, "Birding-Aus" <>, "ian benson" <>, "John Reidy" <>, <>, "liza stewart" <>, "Robin Benson" <>
Subject: Trip Report - Queensland (long)
From: "Allan Benson" <>
Date: Sat, 17 Oct 2009 13:28:55 +1000
Hi All,

My wife and I completed a three week trip to most of Queensland from Mid
September to early October. The weather was warm (low 30?s) and the dust
storm hit us at Barcaldine which made conditions unpleasant for a couple
of days.

Route ? Gosford- Nyngan- Bowra- Charleville- Barcaldine- Bladensburg
National Park - Mt Isa- Lawn Hill- Karumba- Undara Volcanic National
Park- Paluma- Cape Hillsborough ? Gladstone- Maroochydore- Iluka- Coffs


Bowra: Bowra turned on its usual great display. It was crowded with
birders with a least 20 people camping there. AWC took over from the
30th September and the good news is it will be still be open to birders.
Birds Queensland is forming a management committee to help run the place
and the McLaren are staying on until 30th June 2010.

Ian is agisting 1500 head of sheep as well as 700 head of cattle when we
were there.  Conditions were dry and the impact of the sheep was

However, the birds were still plentiful with Hall?s Babbler,
Chestnut-breasted Quail-thrush, White-browed Treecreeper and Redthroat
amongst others being seen well. Thanks to Bill Moorhead and Karin for
their assistance with the Babbler and Quail ?Thrush. Grey Falcon was
seen by others both the day we were there and the day before but as
usual it?s a matter of being in the right place at the right time

Bladensburg National Park: We camped at Bough Shed campsite which is a
really pleasant site. The bird I wanted to see here was the
Rufous-crowned Emu-wren. I searched at the site a couple of kms past
Skull Hole where an old fence crosses the track for 2 hours on the
afternoon we arrived and never heard a squeak. I repeated the process at
dawn the next day and 1 ½ hours later was rewarded with a brown flash
dropping into the Spinifex. I placed the MP3 player on the ground and
retreated 3 metres.  Immediately 2 males and a female appeared in the
Spinifex close to the MP3 player providing stunning views. What a
beautiful bird, it filled my bins with the sun at my back. Perfect
views! At no time did I hear the bird call, which probably says a lot
about my inability to hear the call so I was lucky to catch that

The other highlights were a Black Honeyeater and Spinifex Pigeons who
lined the cliffs at Skull Hole acting like sentinels. We flushed about
100 from the remanent waterhole.

Mt Isa: We stayed a Moondarra Caravan Park.  The cabin was $70 per night
and while a bit small was adequate. The reward was Varied Lorikeets
feeding in a Silky Oak right outside the door. The park is on the banks
of Leichhardt River and there was a good variety of birds here including
a Wood Sandpiper.

John Reidy flew to seek the Grasswrens with me so first stop on the
Friday afternoon was Mica Creek.  After 1 ½  hours we were walking back
along the ridge of the second hill form the road, when a Kalkadoon
Grasswren popped up on a dead  branch in the Spinifex 5 metres in front
of me. We placed the MP3 player on the ground a male came right up
beside it. Great views!

Other birds at this site included Red-backed Kingfisher, Rufous
Songlark, Black-tailed Treecreeper and Variegated Wren.

We then searched the very healthy Spinifex below the reservoir at Pamela
St and were reward with good views of a Spinifexbird.

The next target was the Carpentaria Grasswren at McNamara?s Road. This
proved very difficult. We spent 16 hours in this area. Conditions were
far from ideal being very windy. At one stage we saw the bird 4 times at
the edge of Spinifex clumps but never got the bins on it.  Finally we
got the technique right and stalked the bird?s contact call. John got a
very clear view. I was a fraction of second too slow and got less than
ideal views. We were only 70 metres from the cairn and almost on the

Other good bird at this site were Owlet Nightjar (flushed from hollow),
Square-tailed Kite, Crested Bellbird, Crimson Chat, Grey-headed and
Grey-fronted Honeyeater and a calling Red-browed Pardalote which we
didn?t see because it was so windy.

We also went out to Warrigal Waterhole (5.7 km east from Overlander
Hotel- marked with sign) to see Painted Finch. This is wonderful place
with creek cutting through the rocks to form a 7-8 metre waterfall. The
waterfall was dry but a sizeable pool remained at the bottom. We sat at
the top of the waterfall and watched the Diamond Doves coming into drink
in groups of 20-30. Painted Finches were perched around us on the rocks
waiting to drink and we got great views of 8 within 10 metres. Suddenly
all hell broke loose as a juvenile Collared Sparrowhawk burst on the
scene. At least 200 Diamond Doves took off from the pool and surrounding
trees. It was truly memorable experience. Warning: While the track is
only 3.5 km it is extremely rough. I had my Landcruiser in 4WD and felt
that was more than justified as I never got out of 2nd gear.

Lawn Hill: The camping area looked very dry and dusty with no shade so
our first impressions of Lawn Hill were not great. Then we walked the
100 metres to the river and it all changed. This spectacular oasis in an
other wise very dry landscape. In this is a very beautiful spot and we
had Buff-sided Robin and the Purple-crowned Fairy ?wren virtually
hopping around at our feet.  Other good birds were Barking Owl and Black

Karumba: Highlights from Karumba were the significant numbers of Brolga
in the area as well as 5 Sarus Crane. 100+ Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo we
seen coming into roost on the main road near the golf course. A
spectacular sight! The mudflats at Karumba Point were covered in waders
with many in breeding plumage. Viewing was not ideal as the mudflats
were extensive and I was looking into the sun. Having a beer at the
Sunset Tavern and watching the sunset was also a special memory.

Undarra Volcanic National Park: Not a great spot for birds with the best
being Squatter Pigeon, Pale-headed Rosella and Bustard. However, it is
good site for mammals with Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Wallaroo, Whip-tail
Wallaby and Rufous Bettong common. As well we saw Little-Bent Winged,
Brown Bent Wing and Horseshoe Bat in the Lava Tubes

Paluma- We drove to Paluma via the Kennedy development Rd then ?cross
country? via Greenvale Station, Camel Creek Station, Mt Fox and Hidden
Valley.  Be warned there is no bridge or ford across the Burdekin River
on Greenvale Station and the crossing is ?interesting? even in a
Landcruiser. Even though the roads are supposedly public roads they were
pretty rough.

However, Paluma was worth the drive. What a beautiful place perched in
rainforest on top of the range .It is 1hour and 10 minutes north of
Townsville We stayed at Forestmist B and B and I would recommend it
highly. It is run by Ann and Andy Bishop ((07)47708578 who are really
friendly and it terrific value. The birds come to the bird bath right at
the back door and the list from here was Victoria?s Riflebird, Spotted
Catbird,  Large-billed Scubwren, Rufous Fantail, Chowchilla, Eastern
Spinebill, Little Shrike-thrush and Macleay?s Honeyeater. We saw Noisy
Pitta across the road and Tooth-billed Catbird at Birthday Creek, which
is reputed to be a good spot for Golden Bowerbird.

Cape Hillsborough National Park: This is about 50 km north of Mackay and
is a very special place.  A wide sandy beach is fringed by littoral
rainforest and coconut palms. Our well appointed cabin was only 10
metres form the beach.  I added Pied Imperial Pigeon, Rose-crowed Fruit-
dove and Orange ?footed scrubfowl here.

Iluka:  Another very beautiful place with rainforest right beside superb
beaches. White-eared monarch and Varied Triller occur in the rainforest
although we saw neither. Best birds were Black ?faced Monarch and Brown
Pigeon with Sooty Oystercatcher and Lesser  Sand Plover being seen on
the rocks.

Coffs Harbour:  I birded Bruxner Park which again is rainforest and saw
very little although Green Catbird and Spectacled Monarch were added to
the trip list. In addition I saw King Parrot, Spangled Drongo and Satin
Bowerbird in ?suburban? Coffs.

It was a big trip with a trip list of 244 species and covering over
7,000 km in 3 weeks but well worth the effort as we saw some amazing
places and birds.

I?m happy to provide more detail if anybody would like to contact me off

Allan Benson

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