birding-aus Cairns Wet Season Trip Report - Long.

Subject: birding-aus Cairns Wet Season Trip Report - Long.
From: richard baxter <>
Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2000 05:07:16 -0800 (PST)


I've just spent a week wet season birding around
Cairns in Nth QLD, in hope of
picking up a few species that I have missed in the
past.  My main targets were 
Blue-faced Parrot Finch, Red-rumped and Barn Swallow,
White-browed Robin,
Atherton Scrubwren, Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher
and Pied Imperial Pigeon.  
Most of the birding I did myself, but I required the
expertise of Del Richards from
Fine Feathered Tours to help with some of the harder
ones to locate.

My first stop was Redden Island, which is near Machans
Beach just north of Cairns
airport.  It was a cloudless day and quite hot. 
Around the beach area I was able to
locate Greater Sand Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit and 
Eastern Curlew.  Walking around
the island I was able to locate only Rainbow
Bee-eaters, Dusky and Brown H/E,
Bar-shouldered Dove and Figbird as well as a
Great-billed Heron flying up the Baron
River.  Generally it was just too hot to see many

After Redden Island it was of to the Esplanade to
check out the waders, especially to
locate the Asian Dowitcher thats been there all week. 
It was low tide, but there were
only bout 50 waders present, in fact the silver gulls
outnumbered the waders.  Whatever
happened to the famous Cairns Esplanade.  I managed to
locate Greater and Lesser 
Sand Plover, Striated Heron and a Brahminy Kite as
well as the usual east coast waders.
But no Asian Dowitcher, maybe later in the week.

After the Esplanade I took a drive down to the turf
farms at Edmonton and Yarrabah Rd.
One farm was a jungle and the other was devoid of
birdlife, so I headed to the Croc farm to 
find the Little Bittens that have been there for a
couple of weeks.  The Croc farm had the 
usual birds that are there such as Crimson Finch,
White-browed Crake, Brown-backed H/E,
Sea Eagle, Chestnut-breasted Manniken and Plumed
Whistling Ducks.  I didn't bother to walk
all the way around to see if the Little Kingfisher was
at home, but did see two Little Terns, which
were of a much smaller build and were much whiter with
narrower wings than the Little Terns
resident at Newcastle at the moment.  The little
Bittens are in the large breeding pond with the
blue cages near the centre of the farm.  I saw two,
but up to four have been seen there 
recently.  I waited for nearly an hour before seeing
them and it wasn't until a Black Bitten noisily
flew over and landed on the pond fence that the two
Little Bittens came up for a look.

I then drove up to Cassowary House to seen Phil
Gregory.  The typical summer afternoon 
showers had arrived by now and things were cooling
down and the birds were coming out.
I saw Yellow-spotted, Dusky and Macleays H/E, Spotted
Catbird, Double-eyed Fig-parrot, 
Barred Cuckoo-shrike as well as White-eared Monarch.  
Also present was a male and female
Victoria's Riflebird which came in and took fruit off
the verandah and I also had excellant views
of two male Superb Fruit-doves chasing a female.  At
the back of the house I counted 7 Musky
Rat Kangaroos just after sunset.

The following morning I set out for Big Mitchell Creek
to find White-browed Robin.  It was again
hot and very few birds were around even though it was
only 10am.  I had no success with the
White-browed Robin that day.  I returned at 2pm the
next day and  was again unsuccessful, finally
locating it at 9am on my last day.  I located it on
the western side of the road about 50m in from 
the road, by walking up the dry creek bed and
whistling like a rosella which seemed to attract its
attention.  During the week I also saw Whistlng Kite
and Bronze-Cuckoo at the creek.

After Big Mitchell creek my next target was the Pied
Heron which had been seen on Lake Mitchell
the day before.  I located it on the shore opposite
the large white gate with a group of Pelicans and 
Darters.  Heading north its about 400m from when the
lake first comes into view.  Also around the
lake I saw, green Pygmy Geese, 5 Darters, 13 Caspian
terns, 2  Black-necked Stork and  2
Apotlebirds.  The following day Del Richards and I
located 2 Black-throated Finches nearby.

That afternoon I searched the Abattoir Swamp and the
Mary River area for the resident Red
Goshawk.  I knew I was pushing things expecting to
find it, but you don't find things if you don't
look. I had good views of Bustards and Channel-billed
Cuckoo, but no Red-Goshawk.

The following morning Del and I headed up Mt-Lewis to
find the Blue-faced Parrot Finch.  On the 
way out there we saw Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher
(4 for the entire trip), a pair of Superb
Fruit Dove as well as Tawny Frogmouth and Great
Bowerbird.  On the way up Mt-Lewis we 
saw 1 Pacific Baza, 2 Noisy Pitta, 7 seperate
Russet-tailed Thrush, 4 Brown Cuckoo dove,
and Pale yellow Robin.  Good birds were seen on the
way up the mountain, but it was at the 
clearing that all the excitement started.  It took
only about two minutes before 6-8 Blue-faced
Parrot Finches were found.  The next bird we located
was Mountain Thornbill, quickly followed
by Lewins H/E, Topnot Pigeon and two Red-tailed Black

What better place to have morning tea than the
clearing at Mt Lewis and while we were finishing
off our last lamington 2 Atherton Scrubwrens decided
to take a path next to the car, while a
Tooth-billed Bowerbird flew over and landed in the
rainforest nearby.  After a brief walk through
the forest we located a Chowchilla and Grey-headed

That afternoon was spent in the Mossman area.  On the
way down the Rex Range I had good 
views of both Wompoo and female Superb Fruit Dove
sitting on nests that were situated
precariously over the roadway.  Good views were had of
Pied-Imperial Pigeons at Newell Beach
and Singing Bushlarks on the mowed grass next to the
sugarcane fields.  I failed to locate any
Red-rumped (or Straited) swallows at any of the usual
places.  The best place to see them is
the intersection of the Mossman-Mt Malloy Road in the
first kilometre of wires.  Unfortunately I
arrived at 3pm which is the wrong time of day.  I did
mange to find numerous Welcome and Barn
Swallows and amongst these were several non-sPACIFIC
swallows which I couldn't positively
identify, but they certainly didn't appear to be
either of the above.

That night I did some spot-lighting with Lloyd Neilson
and located Large-tailed and White Throated
Nightjar as well as Barn Owl.   The final day before
flying out I drove across to Kingsisher Park to
see Andrew and Carol.  It took about 2minutes to
locate the resident pair of Red-necked Crake 
which now have two chicks and spend most of their day
touring around the park.  From here it 
was off to Mossman where I found 3 Red-rumped Swallow
in the usual spot at 8.30am and then a Common
Sandpiper.  I again had
no luck with the Asian Dowitcher on the Esplanade
before I headed home.

Richard Baxter

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