North Queensland trip

To: <>
Subject: North Queensland trip
From: "Lynn Jenkin" <>
Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2001 21:29:43 +1100
Hi all

Please find recent trip report to Cairns etc following


Just back from a week in Cairns, Atherton Tableland and Daintree, with a
small group led by Fred van Gessel. It was fabulous to have somebody like
Fred along who knows all the bird calls, especially when going to a new area
for the first time. I clocked up around 220 species, including 40 odd new

Absolute highlights, included good close views and video footage of Rufous
Owl, Lesser Sooty Owl, Little Kingfisher, Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher,
Great-billed Heron, Red-necked Crake. Also Victorias Riflebird displaying,
Blue-faced Parrot Finch, Golden Bird, Sarus Crane,Papuan Frogmouth,
Fern-wren , Bush-hen and Squatter Pigeon.

Our first stop after Cairns airport was a quick visit to the Esplanade,
where several birds were nesting including,*Varied Honeyeater, Magpielark,
Figbird, Pied Imperial Pigeon. Also saw a few waders such as Bar-tailed
Godwit, Whimbrel, Eastern Curlew, Red- necked Stint, Great Knot, Lesser
Sandplover, Greenshank. Other highlights included Gull-billed Tern, Brahminy
Kite, Nutmeg Mannikin, Nankeen Night Heron, and Caspian Tern. A Mangrove
Robin was heard and much later seen at the Daintree River crossing to Cape
Tribulation. On our way to our first night in Yungaburra at the Curtain Fig
Motel we stopped at the Cathedral Fig where highlights included *Chowchilla,
*Grey-headed Robin, Victorias Riflebird (Male & Female), Bridled Honeyeater,
*Musky Rat Kangaroo, Wompoo Pigeon, *Macleay's Honeyeater, *Little
Treecreeper, Topknot Pigeon. Around our motel were Dusky Honeyeaters,
Scaly-breasted Lorikeets and Bush Stone Curlew and Barking Owl calling at
night. Our first day, or half day, as we arrived after lunch at the airport,
kicked off with 80 species.

Next morning we had our first visit of many to the Curtain Fig just outside
Yungaburra. *Spotted Catbirds were plentiful as were Wompoo Pigeons, up to
20 in one tree) *Metallic Starlings, Orange footed Scrubfowl, Brush Turkey,
Pale Yellow Robin, Spectacled and Black-faced Monarchs, *Yellow-breasted
Boatbill. We then drove to Lake Tinaroo close by and came across around 100
*Sarus Crane in a paddock. Whilst we were watching these, Singing Bushlark,
Buff-banded Rail and Brown Quail wandered past the car. Lake Tinaroo added
Yellow-bellied Sunbird, *Yellow Honeyeater, White-throated and *
Brown-backed Honeyeater Also Red-backed Fairy wren, Cicada Bird (good looks)
and Pale-headed Rosella.

We then headed to Wongabel, south of Atherton and a quick rain forest walk
revealed *Tooth-billed Bowerbird calling, Three of us left the track to
locate the bird and whilst there I saw a Lumholz's Tree Kangaroo. Fred
wouldn't believe me later as he has been to North Queensland 500 times!! and
never seen one Of course I had to gloat and showed him the video footage I
had taken. Bad move, no more new birds for Dick! *Mountain Thornbill was
heard and several were seen when we visited Mt Lewis.
On the way back from Wongabel we stopped at Hasties Swamp, where the most
common bird was Plumed Whistling Duck (approx 2000). Also seen were Magpie
geese, Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel, Buff-banded Rail, Pink-eared
Duck, Intermediate Egret, White-necked Heron, Glossy Ibis, Common Sandpiper,
Marsh and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Comb-crested Jacana, Black-wing Stilt,
Australasian and Hoary-headed Grebe, Sacred Kingfisher. plus other common
ducks and waterfowl.

That evening we visited Lake Barrine and Lake Eacham. Double-eyed Fig
Parrots were heard and seen flashing past, a pair quickly perching in a
large tree before continuing on their way. Just after dark we revisited the
Curtain Fig to spotlight. Barking Owls were quickly heard but could not be
"woofed " in for a sighting, the reason for this became apparent some time
later after Fred heard a single Rufous Owl call. The woofs were changed to
"woo hooo's", another call heard, getting closer. Then Di & George had a
Rufous Owl in their spotlight. Fred and I raced as quietly as we could back
to where they were and we all got great views of a dark female Rufous Owl
(Race queenslandica) she stayed for about a minute and a half before flying
off. The male was calling in the background but not seen. On the way back to
the car we saw a Long-nosed Bandicoot beside the road. We walked to tea very
pleased with our sighting and 2 more Barking Owls were heard right above the
restaurant. Around 155 species at the end of Day 2.

Day 3 saw us head off through Atherton, stopping briefly to view *Barred
Cuckoo-shrike in the schoolyard and White-throated Gerygone, on our way to
Daintree. A quick visit to the Mareeba Wetlands added Black Swan, Little
Friarbird, Red-tailed Black cockatoo, Pacific Baza, Grey-crowned Babbler,
Wandering Whistling Duck, Green Pygmy-geese, Double-barred Finch, Peregrine
Falcon and a Black-tailed Treecreeper heard by Fred and I. The
Black-throated Finches seen most mornings and evenings here were not around
in the middle of the day. They are breeding Gouldian Finches here for a
release back in to the wild as suitable habitat exists here.
Next stop was Quaid's (formerly Mitchell) Lake. Added Radjah Shelduck,
Yellow-billed Spoonbill, White-winged Triller < Chestnut Teal. Lunch at
Kingfisher Park at Julatten added *Grey Whistler, Red-browed Finch,
Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, *Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, Yellow
Spotted and *. Graceful Honeyeaters.

 On to our two night accommodation at Red Mill House at Daintree village. On
the way Osprey and Black-necked Stork were seen. A great spot to stay and
very birder friendly, walking distance to Daintree River and Chris
Dahlberg's river cruise.  Around Red Mill was a pond where we added Azure
Kingfisher, *Little Kingfisher, Yellow Oriole on nest, *Helmeted Friarbird,
and spotlighted at night (because it kept me awake) I found a Large-tailed
Nightjar after nearly stepping on the 4 metre Amethystine Python At 6 A.M.
we went on the 2 hour Daintree river cruise with Chris, which was fabulous.
His enthusiasm certainly inspired us and also another couple staying at Red
Mill House who were not bird watchers, started looking up books and noticing
the birds around the house after their trip Highlights were Shining
Flycatcher, *White-rumped Swiflets, several *Papuan Frogmouths (2 on nests),
hundreds of Pied Imperial Pigeons, Large-billed Gerygones, Salt water
Crocodile, *Great-billed Heron giving prolonged and close views perched on a
dead branch. *Black Butcherbirds and a single female Black Bittern, scenery
wasn't bad either! Azure and Little Kingfisher also seen.

Back at Red Mill there were two *Bush-hens drinking at the pond and a Black
Butcherbird was really attacking and having a go at one of the Bush-hens and
eventually scared them off.
Next day we visited Mossman Gorge and the highlight was watching at close
range a male Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher calling for a mate with his
tail bobbing up and down and white rump feathers fluffed up. Also after
hearing *Superb Fruit-doves all the way round the walk, finally got a good
look at a pair not far off the ground at the end of the loop walk. A
White-eared Monarch was also heard calling but would not reveal himself.
Metallic Starlings were nesting at several places we went and it is
certainly a great sight and sound to observe the mass colony breeding.

Our last three nights were spent at Kingfisher Park, Julatten and Ron
Stannard our host fed and looked after us well. Three trips up Mt Lewis were
productive, finding Russet-tailed Thrush, *Bowers Shrikethrush, *Fern wren,
*Golden Bowerbird, *Blue-faced Parrot Finch.  We sat for 40 minutes at the
bower and the male came and sat 5 metres from where I was sitting with full
sun lighting his beautiful golden back. He didn't attend the bower while we
were there but as there has been no rain and everything was dry this may
have been the reason. There was a pair of Blue-faced Parrot Finches which we
saw well but only briefly (too quick to film).

At Kingfisher Park were many of the birds already seen elsewhere but
highlights were the *Red-necked Crake, Buff-banded Rail, Red brows,
Honeyeaters, Northern Brown Bandicoot, Red-legged Pademelon, Orange-footed
Scrub fowl, Emerald Doves which all used the feeders and water points giving
great views of all and sundry. Spotlighting was very successful, seeing
*Lesser Sooty Owl on all three nights and on the second night getting a
couple of minutes video footage of one sitting 3 metres off the ground and
only 4 metres from us. This is certainly a wonderful place to stay and with
14 acres of Rain forest and the fringes to explore the birds are plentiful.

A trip out north of Mount Molloy one day had us the opportunity to study a
male Australian Bustard oust a challenging male from his territory while two
females looked on. Banded Honeyeaters were also seen near by. Just past
Mount Molloy cemetery where we found Lemon-breasted Flycatcher we also came
across 3 *Squatter Pigeons of the northern race. A quick revisit to Cairns
Esplanade before the plane left added, Pied Oystercatcher and Common Tern.


Dick Jenkin
Dungog NSW

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