birding-aus Far North Queensland birding

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Subject: birding-aus Far North Queensland birding
From: "W H Jolly" <>
Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 21:54:33 +1000

An ill wind blew us an extra four days on the end of our trip to the north,
and a few unexpected sightings to boot. I've read postings on birding aus
from people who have stayed at some of the specialist bird spots in the
north, and I'd like to reiterate that there is a very friendly and efficient
birding network up there that helps and directs us Mexicans (which includes
people like us from Southern Qld).

We stayed at birding guest houses in Kuranda (Cassowary House), Daintree
(Red Mill House), and Julatten (Kingfisher Park), all set-ups specifically
for birders, and all with North Qld specials living in the grounds.
Additionally, the people running these places were, like all birders, more
than happy to draw sketch maps and share local birding spots, as well as to
help with sorting out some of the initially overlapping species, such as
Graceful and Yellow-spotted Honeyeaters, with Lewin's sometimes thrown in
for good measure. Straightforward enough after a day or so of
familiarisation, but confusing enough when you first arrive.

In brief, just some exciting birds for us were:   Yellow-breasted Boatbill
at Kuranda;  Little Kingfisher, Gould's Bronze Cuckoo and Great Billed Heron
at Daintree; Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher from the car every time we
entered or left Kingfisher Park at Julatten. On one occasion as we went out
to the pub at Mt Molloy for dinner, a kingfisher provided us with an escort
like a motor-cyclist in front of an IOC delegate's car - twirling its long
white tail ahead of us as it preceded our car along the driveway.

Finally, an amazing series of experiences at Mission Beach, where we were
forced(?!) to lay up for
a few days while the Bruce Highway was cut in several places. Not only did
we at last catch up with a Southern Cassowary and his attendant youngster,
as well as Eastern Grass Owl, but one afternoon while Eileen slumbered and I
sat on the balcony of our room a distant gliding dot transformed itself
first into a dash as it glided closer, and then into a frigate bird as it
passed directly overhead!  A Lesser Frigate Bird, although the association
of a word like lesser with any frigate bird seems such a contradiction when
this angular buccaneer sweeps past, looking mad, bad and dangerous to know!
Of course, the episode passed in only a few dramatic seconds, and although
the thought of rushing inside, waking Eileen and guiding her to the verandah
with her binoculars in time to share the experience did occur to me, it
seemed that the most likely outcome would be only to lose the bird for both
of us, so somewhat guiltily I resisted and savoured every exciting moment to
the full.

However, scanning to the north, there were three more punctuation marks, a
few kilometres away, so this time I woke Eileen, who dragged herself to the
balcony without knowing why, in time to see three more Lesser Frigate Birds
passing directly over our heads. This time I got photographs. Three days in
that room, and frigate birds every day, Great and Lesser, all passing to the
south, all seen from our balcony. On the second day there, as we left our
room to go to breakfast, we met a cassowary about three paces outside our
room! Again, good photographs. In the grounds of the same hotel we saw
several fruit dove spp, as well as cassowaries every day, plenty of
Channel-billed Cuckoos heading northwards and around fifty spp in the
grounds in the four days we were there. More to see outside of course, but
we all enjoy a spot of easy birding now and then mixed in with the

Picking up on a Pheasant Coucal thread from the other day, this same Mission
Beach hostelry is blessed with a Pheasant Coucal which hangs around the
dining room and sneaks in to steal meat from the breakfast buffet. They have
to pick her up and put her out.

This is in no way a commercial for anyone, but I really feel that we should
share this kind of knowledge with each other. Contact info, bird lists,
suggestions etc are available to anyone interested by emailing me direct.

Bill Jolly
"Abberton", Lockyer Valley, Qld

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