From: lorne <>
Date: Wed, 02 Feb 2000 16:36:52 +1000
Here it is folks... my belated North Queensland trip report... ready???

I was up there from the 28th of December until the 10th of January (my 
28th birthday!). Had a tremendous time. The heat, the humidity, the
flowers and fragrances, the terrific Murri people, the New Year's Eve
hysteria and alacrity, the spell-binding emerald beauty of nature, all
the flora, the mammals, and of course... the birds...

I was able to secure 14 new species. Here they are...

1. Asian Dowitcher - On my second last day I had immaculate views of an
individual on the high tide mudflats of the esplanade at Cairns. It was
very close in. The bird had been around on and off for two weeks. John
Crowhurst and I looked for one earlier to no avail. 

2. Mangrove Robin - Saw three birds at the end of the mangrove boardwalk
(by viewing platform) near Cairns Airport. Beautiful two tone calls and
high pitched whistles. Came close with immitations. Lurking about in
eerie, dark habitat with trees like something from Tolkien or Disney.

3. White-browed Robin - Thanks to Tony Russell's crew one was seen at
Big Mitchell Creek, the classic locale. Not particularly great views as
bird was always obscured by foliage. Quite a solitary and mysterious

4. Brolga - Lake Mitchell. Two birds seen. Magnificant things... they
did a fly-by against the sunset-washed sky and gave a few trumpeting
notes. This was a bird I'd been longing for for years. I was damn
excited when I got it. Thanks again to Tony Russell's crew.

5. Graceful Honeyeater - Saw a few at Kingfisher Park. Thanks Ron
Stannard for verifying things.

6. Superb Fruit-dove - I was attracted by one calling in the morning at
Kingfisher Park - got on the case - found by Tony Russell's crew once
again. Nice one! Didn't have the world's best view... mainly arse.

7. Tooth-billed Bowerbird - Brief views at the infamous Mount Lewis
clearing. Would have liked greater appreciation time.

8. Russet-tailed Thrush - Seen half-way down Mt. Lewis, after it flew
across road ahead of car Tony, his posse and I were travelling in.
Brief, but decent views in roadside embankment gloom.

9. Bush-Hen - one scurried in front of my hire car near the Julatten
tavern one day, circa dusk. I nearly went flying off the road into sugar
cane, so as to avoid it!!

10. Black-throated Finch - seen on a couple of days at Mount Molloy...
southern side of Vains Park. One was carrying grain stalks - nesting
material???? Quite a stocky, hardy looking bird. Had tremendous views of
birds drinking at a large puddle. Beautiful apricot tones to plumage. 

11. Pacific Swallow - Boat ramp opposite flying-fox colonies, Newell
Beach. Only saw two. When first seen, one bird was with a Welcome
Swallow and a Fairy Martin. Tail length differences between Pacific and
Welcome evident.

12. Barn Swallow - Newell Beach... road behind water tower. Had about 15
one day, all on powerlines. Glorious bird. The black and white is
eye-catching. Some individuals flew round and round the base of the
water tower's hood, as if crazy, or desperate for a liquid fix.

13. Red-rumped Swallow - A big shout out here to a birdo from Tassie I
met at Kingfisher Park. He found them. He had a scope. The birds were on
powerlines by a barn and house near the T-Junction of the Mount Molloy
Highway and the road between Port Douglas and Mossman - the Captain Cook
Highway???? They weren't far from a sugar cane train terminal thing. The
house was west of the Cairns-Mossman road, on the left hand side if
heading west. I hope that makes sense. Saw about five birds, red rumps
clearly visible. Birds were quite grubby. Great to see a relatively rare
creature. And I won't get in to the whole species battle... were they
Streaked, Striped, Stained, from Jamaica or Botswanna... etc. etc. 

14. Squatter Pigeon - This bird was probably the highlight, although
that's a tall call. I had been after this since 1996. I had no luck at
Mount Molloy and Mt.Carbine for days, until my last evening up that way.
At Mount Molloy State School, late in the afternoon, I stumbled upon a
group of nine. I got close to them and none of the birds flushed. They
called softly to one another. I called back. A three-syllable call ike a
soft bubbling - not dissimilar to the start of a coucal's babble.
Heading back to my car, parked outside the school grounds, I called to
one walking near me... believe it or not the bird followed my mimicry to
my car and called to me from the passenger side of the car whilst I was
at the wheel... it was most poignant... and with the sun descending, the
calls of Red-winged Parrots, Pale-headed Rosellas and Great Bowerbirds
all about me, made for an awesome birding moment. Everything in my life
seemed perfect. The sun, the peace, the light, and me just cooing away
to this Squatter Pigeon. It brought a tear to the eye. ----- I saw
another three of these birds the next day on the road to Emerald Creek
Falls, south-east of Mareeba, where the bitumen becomes dirt.
There were other grand birds too... Blue-faced Parrot-finches at Mount
Lewis - vivid, unforgettable - truly breathtaking, Lesser Sooty Owls
every night at Kingfisher Park - calling to them - getting a shiver down
the spine with the 'falling bomb' call - trying to get to sleep with a
pair calling for forty five minutes outside my room there, a single
Red-necked Crake in the dappled ginger gloom of the Kingfisher Park
forest floor, a single Noisy Pitta calling from way up in a tree near
the K.P. bird feeders, the calls of BBPKingfishers, a single Black
Bittern hunting in long grass and in rain by the roadside south of
Mossman, swifts and swiftlets everywhere, White-breasted Woodswallows
feeding on sand on the Esplanade mudflats near Cairns Hospital, all the
Esplanades waders, about 20 Little Terns on the Esplanade, Crimson
Finches at Edmonton, nesting Ospreys at Wonga Beach and in the mangroves
near Centenary Lakes, drongos calling to one another in the Flecker
Gardens, a nesting sunbird outside the toilets near Coles at Port
Douglas, many Rainbow Bee-eaters and D.B. Finches on the roads in the
Julatten hills, Green Pygmy Geese at Lake Mitchell and the pond near the
cable car terminus north of Cairns, Brahminy Kites, three Bush
Thick-knees at Edmonton - me calling to them and making them a little
uneasy, Fairy Gerygones singing in the canopy at Mossman Gorge... a
dingo on the road out near McLeod River, west of Mt.Carbine, Musky
Rat-kangaroos bounding about at Lacey Creek near Mission Beach, Agile
Wallabies grazing on the oval at Vains Park... all the frogs at
Kingfisher Park... many turtles in the freshwater pond at Centenary
Lakes... arcing microbats writing their signatures on the air over the
roads near the Adobe motel in Cairns... seeing Jupiter and all its moons
one evening through my new Jenoptik binocs...I could go on and on...

I also saw bumped into a man who was the location manager on the film
THE THIN RED LINE and visited palces near Daintree where the picture was
shot. I took photos of 'dancer', the main hill used in the flick. I
spoke to locals about the filming and American actors such as Sean Penn. 

All in all a serene, majestic holiday. 

If anyone wants any more info. on any of my sightings or experiences,
feel free to hassle me.



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