A day in the lifers: Gulf-Channel Country trip

Subject: A day in the lifers: Gulf-Channel Country trip
Date: Wed, 10 Nov 2010 06:27:31 -0500

Hi all
I recently returned from a whirlwind trip through the Channel Country and Gulf 
of Carpentaria during which I covered 2000km in 8 days (excl flights from 
Bris-Mt Isa).
The second-last day spent at Lawn Hill Gorge was one of the best birding days 
I've ever had.
The weather was mercifully mild and I virtually had the place to myself as the 
Big Wet had just officially started.
I picked up 12 lifers* in all, starting with a Silver-Crowned Friarbird* 
drinking from a puddle beside the road from Gregory Downs near Century Mines.
A nature stop a little later revealed Long-tailed Finches* and Grey-Fronted* 
HEs right in front of me.
At Adels Grove a Great Bowerbird* and White-throated HE swooped in to drink 
from the dripping tap by my swag.
Just outside the Lawn Hill Gorge NP gate there were Little Woodswallows* galore 
to complete the set and Rufous-throated HEs* in a creekbed.
I picked up Buff-sided Robin* (an easy get, among others here) in the 
campground and then canoed to the far end of the gorge, picking up Crimson 
Finches* and Purple-crowned Wrens* along the way, then lunched on a small beach 
where a couple of springs feed into the gorge.
It was absolutely buzzing. At one stage I had 3 lifers in one bush and 4 
species of finch (Chestnut-breasted, Long-tailed, Double-bar and Crimson) in 
two bushes side by side. I didn’t know where to look.
I'm not strong on honeyeaters as the hyperactive little buggers never sit still 
but got White-gaped*, Yellow-tinted* and Banded* HEs. At the cascades I got a 
good look at a northern fantail.
While cooking (then burning) breakfast the next day I flushed a Black Bittern* 
at Adels Grove and later after the smoke had cleared was able to photograph it.
I'll be posting some bird pix from my trip on pbase tomorrow incl a mystery HE.
The trip had started promising at Mt Isa at Mica Creek on a scorcher of a day 
where I saw a Black-tailed Treecreeper* straight up and had two Kalkadoon 
Grasswrens* show within 20 minutes (sorry!) after I had persuaded a nice couple 
out for a 4WD joyride to come back a little later.
I found the GWs in the grassy embankment above the little raised rocky track 
along the right-hand side of the creekbed after hearing their calls. 
That night I made it down to Boulia and had a possible Letter-winged Kite by 
the side of the road but couldn't relocate it once I stopped.
The next morning at the waterholes just along the Donohue Hwy I found the first 
of many Aust Pratincoles plus Spinifex Pigeons, Diamond Doves* and a 
White-bellied CS.
I camped for a couple of days by a waterhole 70km south Boulia where it was hot 
and starting to dry off and fairly quiet birdwise.
The highlights there were an Owlet Nightjar, numerous Night Herons, Brolgas, a 
Sacred KF nest right beside our camp and almost treading on a pair of Brown 
Quails with large brood of chicks.
On the way north to the Gulf I saw Varied Lorikeets*, Blue-winged Kookaburra* 
and Ringnecks in Cloncurry, Oriental Cuckoos north of 3 Ways and Sarus Cranes* 
and Bustards near the Leichhardt River.
On a desperate last day after a rough 6hr drive back to Mt Isa, I trekked to 
Warrigal Waterhole in fading light in the hope of seeing Painted Finches. The 
road was as bad if not worse as advised on BA and I had to abandon my ute less 
than 1km up the track.
Alas the creek and falls weren't running - must be some sight when they are - 
and I dipped. But after 19 lifers in 8 days, I'm not complaining.
Thanks as always to the listers and Birds Qld for the precious local info. Much 
Shane B
Ascot Q

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