Atherton Tableland Woodswallows

To: Alan Gillanders <>, Ian Sinclair <>, "" <>
Subject: Atherton Tableland Woodswallows
From: martin cachard <>
Date: Sun, 31 May 2015 22:46:59 +0000

Hi Alan, Ian & others,

Geez Alan, that's a high number of Dusky WS for up here, isn't it??!!  I know 
that there's always been a pretty healthy resident population of Dusky's about 
that area near Yungaburra/Tinaroo, but that is a very high number in a single 
flock, I would've thought...  Or have I missed something, Alan??

And Ian, that's a good day you had out west of here on Saturday too...  It's 
pretty normal though to see White-winged Trillers wintering up here - a good 
spot to see them regularly up here in the cooler months is Lake Mitchell, 
between Mareeba & Mt Molloy. We even see the occasional bird or 2 on the 
northern beaches of Cairns in most autumn/winters here as well.

I'd like to please pass on a tip that should help you know whether you have 
White-browed WS and/or  Masked WS in your immediate area the next time you go 
hunting for them too Ian, if I may...  Both these 2 very closely related 
species, which seem to flock together more often than not, especially in the 
eastern half of Aust, make a very distinctive and very musical call when they 
are hawking insects in flocks high on the wing. And it's a sound that's quite 
unlike that of any other woodswallows too.  It's the sum effect of a high 
number of birds in a hawking flock each making a similar and rather simple, yet 
uplifting rather musical call in contact, that can alert you to them being 
somewhere above you - it's best heard at dawn pre-sunrise, and that's exactly 
what alerted me to these birds being here on the foreshore of Trinity Beach 
that dawn a month ago.  But they do make these same calls throughout the day as 
well when hawking in a similar fashion - it's just that it's so much more 
obvious to your ears in the absolute stillness and quietness of dawn.

I am sure that there are many birders on here that have awoken to this 
beautiful collective sound many times, as I have, and then knowing they have 
either or both of these gorgeous species up above them, somewhere...

It's still one of my favourite dawn chorus experiences, and I will never tire 
of hearing it either.

martin cachard,
from the gorgeous trinity beach, cairns.

on 31 May 2015, Alan Gillanders wrote: "...Most WS were dusky but White-browed 
and Masked too."
 on 31 May 2015, Ian Sinclair wrote:
"...Yesterday late morning a few of us went chasing woodswallows in the Mareeba 
area.   No luck in the Koah and Chewko Road areas,  and also out towards 
Mutchilba.  Also no luck initially along Channel Road however on returning from 
Mutchilba along Channel Road we came across a flock of around 50 or so. Some 
were definitely White-browed Woodswallows, which was our target species....
 When we eventually saw the woodswallows on Channel Road the weather had 
cleared and warmed up.......  It certainly makes a difference in identifying 
woodswallows when they are sitting on fence lines.  Driving between Hughenden 
and Winton it is easy to identify Woodswallow species at 100 km an hour as they 
are sitting on the
fence close to the road, or soaring just above the car!  When they are distant 
in grey days we found it more difficult.
 Despite the un-obliging nature of the woodswallows (could have saved us 4 
hours of driving around by just being on Channel Road in the morning), it was a 
good day birding.  The other birding highlight was when we stopped at Mutchilba 
to wait for woodswallows to come to us we saw White-winged Triller - also a 
sign of dry conditions out west."

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