Cape York Birding Pt 1

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Cape York Birding Pt 1
From: knightl <>
Date: Wed, 1 Oct 2003 21:30:20 +1000
Following on from my post last week, here are some birding notes about the upper parts of the CY Peninsula.

Basically because my objective was to do some twitching and general poking around in the upper part of the CYP, it was pretty much a matter of shooting through. The only birding I did between Brisbane and Musgrave were in Innisfail, where I couldn't help but notice [and photograph] a happy colony of metallic starlings nesting above the bus stop in the middle of town, and the place where I was overnighting at Little Mulgrave [bottom of the Atherton Tableland] at the end of the second day.

Visually, the main bird of interest at Little Mulgrave was a strange looking friarbird [probably helmeted] - it had the uglist face you could image - bit like a smallpox victim. I wasn't sure if it had some sort of disease or whether that species of friarbird normally looks like that at some stage in its lifecycle [I can forward a jpg to anyone who is interested]. Sonically, the main species of interest was large-tailed nightjar - with lots of chopping going on in the night.

I overnighted at Musgrave the next day - the main feature there was a trio of bush thickknees running about after insects out the front of the roadhouse [I had to wait over half an hour for a backpacker working at the roadhouse to finish her call home to Europe].

Day four involved a drive through to Weipa [and search for a tyre to replace the one I staked north of Laura]. There was no sign of whistling ducks of any description at either of the sewerage treatment ponds [or anywhere else] round Weipa. There were quite a few pied herons at the Comalco ponds and assorted ducks and other water fowl at the eastern ponds. There were certainly plenty of black kites etc hanging around town. The main birds of interest though, were a large flock of little black cormorants [~300] fishing in a pack, and a wheeling mixed cloud of great and lesser frigatebirds. As people have previously noted on BOz, you get mixed flocks of frigatebirds drifting over Weipa.

There are lots of mudflats around Weipa, so presumably, plenty of scope for wader watching. I got the impression there is only one tidal cycle per day in the Gulf of Carpentaria, so there is plenty of time at high/low tide.

Photographically, the highlight in Weipa was photographing the sunset over the inlet from the beach beside the caravan park - an eastern curlew and a mangrove bittern were also out admiring the twilight air.

On the way out of Weipa, the highlight was a spotted harrier wandering along the road corridor. As harriers are wont to do, it would glide for a hundred metres before perching, and then relaunching. As it was on the other side of the road, I was able to get quite a few shots of it from the car "hide".

From Weipa, it was pretty much a case of driving across to the Iron Range, with a diversion to the Archer River to refuel.

To be continued.

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