Far north Queensland day trips

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Far north Queensland day trips
From: Phil Gregory <>
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2001 21:58:05 +1000
Two day trips to Mt Lewis (near Julatten, far north Queensland) late last week were very productive. We called in at Mareeba wetlands en route, and even though this new reserve is shut for the wet season we still saw 20 Black-throated Finches by the entrance gate. The staff at the reserve tell me that white- rumped birds of the southern race occur here, but I have only ever seen the normal dark rumped form.
Lake Mitchell (north of Mareeba near Mt Molloy) is exceptionally low for some strange reason, but still held Black-necked Stork and Green Pygmy-Goose, whilst Apostlebirds and Grey-crowned Babblers were nearby.
The Great Bowerbird bower that I usually visit  in Mt Molloy has relocated by about 25m, now in a flower bed right by the track, with 3 or 4 birds in evidence in the area, and suggesting an absence of certain American researchers too.
Ron's place at Kingfisher Park, Julatten has breeding Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfishers easy to see, and a quite tame Noisy Pitta by the entrance track. The quaintly named Abattoir Swamp nearby had a White-browed Crake and nesting Brown-backed Honeyeaters, whilst a birder I met claimed a Baillon's Crake.

Mt Lewis was its customary excellent self, we saw at least 6 Blue-faced Parrot-Finches within minutes on both days, feeding on grass seed heads in the lantana infested clearing 11km up the track, and also taking seeds from some sort of a sedge. The birds are fairly confiding, much easier to see well here than they are in PNG! A couple of the finches were also along a track under quite closed forest, not their usual forest clearing habitat. Mountain Thornbill are quite common here, their sweet song being a feature of the regrowth areas, whilst Eastern Spinebill and Bridled Honeyeater duly put in appearances.

Tooth-billed Bowerbirds are still singing, one mimicking a cicada as  part of its repertoire, whilst Spotted Catbirds and Victoria Riflebirds foraged nearby. Atherton and Yellow-throated Scrubwrens showed well, and we saw the often rather tricky Fernwren very nicely on both days, with a group of 3 of them a surprise on the second day. A small party of Chowchillas and lots of Grey-headed Robins were seen on both days. One of the great stars here is Golden Bowerbird, and we were somewhat relieved when the male eventually showed up, my fears being that the dreaded doctor might have collected him!
A Cassowary dropping on the track was the nearest we got to seeing one here, though a male along Black Mountain Road has two middle sized 4/5 month old youngsters and one here also has two similar chicks. Another beautiful Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher near the base of the track ended the trip nicely.
Two good trips and some happy birding!
A short pre-breakfast trip along Black Mountain Road near Kuranda on Sunday Jan 14 gave us lovely views of Yellow-breasted Boatbill,White-eared Monarch, Black-faced and Spectacled Monarchs, Barred Cuckoo-shrike and Lovely Fairywren, though we only heard Pied Monarch in the distance. A platypus in the creek that evening was also a nice find, though the Lesser Sooty Owls did not perform and I only heard them briefly later that night.
Phil Gregory
Cassowary House, Kuranda
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