Kingfisher Park Bird Watchers Lodge Trip Report

To: "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: Kingfisher Park Bird Watchers Lodge Trip Report
From: "S Cooney" <>
Date: Thu, 30 Oct 2003 08:43:42 +1100
Now that I have worked at Kingfisher Park Bird Watchers Lodge it might be
considered improper to say that North Queensland is a fantastic place to
visit, that the Cairns hinterland is an awesome place to bird, that Julatten
and Mt Lewis are amazing bits of rainforest, that Kingfisher Park is a great
place to stay and that Ron and his family are top-notch hosts!

Having just returned from only a couple of weeks at KPBWL I am already eager
to return.  I went there to do some work experience for my degree, and if I
picked up a few birds, well that wouldn’t be such a bad thing either.  Based
pretty much at Kingfisher in Julatten I picked up 55 new birds in the 2
weeks I was there and met some great people.  Highlights include:

Getting altogether blasé about seeing Cairns specialties such as Macleay’s
Honeyeater everyday outside the units.  Have you seen how restricted their
range is?

Mt Lewis.  What a great spot.  On my first trip up to the famous Blue-faced
Parrot-finch clearing I got all of the mountain endemics except for the
BFPF, which wasn’t around due to a distinct lack of seed heads.  The list
for the few trips up there included:

Atherton Scrubwren
Bower's Shrike-thrush
Bridled Honeyeater
Golden Bowerbird (on bower)
Grey Whistler
Grey-headed Robin
Mountain Thornbill
Russet-tailed Thrush
Spotted Catbird
Tooth-billed Bowerbird (on bower)
Victoria's Riflebird
White-throated Treecreeper (race Minor)

Loads of displaying male Bustards at Maryfarms, between Julatten and Mt
Molloy.  They looked like big fenceposts; white against the brown background
until you got close and they aloofly wandered away, not to be seen in the
company of the likes of me!

Seeing female Square-tailed Kite on her nest, just hunkered down for a
while, until she decided to preen and sat on the edge of the nest preening.
This was great, a new bird and sustained views of it.  But then it got
better.  The male came in with two nestlings that it had raided from
somewhere and dropped them on the nest for the missus, before settling on
the eggs, while she had her lunch.  That was great.  What a fantastically
beautiful bird and what a privilege to watch it go about its business.

I did manage to get on a Chris Dahlberg River trip out of Daintree and it
was another highlight.  For many years as a birder I have intended to go to
Cairns and go on one of Chris’s trip and finally I made it.  I could dwell
on the fact that I missed Little Kingfisher, or that there was a
Black-winged Monarch in Daintree Village on the very day that I was there,
but didn’t know about it, but that would completely take away from a great
morning’s birding in a truly beautiful spot.  The trip lived up to
expectations.  Chris is a great guide, catering well for the range of
experience on the boat.  All in all we got 45 species and highlights for me

Black Butcherbird
Helmeted Friarbird
Large-billed Gerygone
Papuan Frogmouth (on a nest)
Pied Imperial Pigeon
Shining Flycatcher
Yellow Oriole

On my last day, and on the way back to the airport Ron dropped me off at the
Espalanade, where I would finish of my birding for the trip, but when I
arrived I met up with Carole Helman and Phil, whom I had met at the park and
we sat and chatted for an hour or so until the sun went down, during which
time I also met, for the first time Richard Nowotny, long time birdline
supporter up from Melbourne for a holiday and Chris Gaskin a NZ tour guide
who had just returned from a trip to the top of Aus.  I only ticked one bird
at Cairns Esplanade, but catching up with those people there, added to the
lovely people I had met for the entire length of my stay, made me happy that
I was a birdo and part of the birding community.

Well enough of that soppy stuff, back to the facts:

196 birds for the trip, which would have been far more with a car, taking my
year list (now post twitchathon) to 395,
87 species at Kingfisher Park (Andrew and Carol Iles, the usual guides at
the park were getting 70 on a morning walk, I’m buggered if I know from
70 new species for my Queensland list, taking it to 267 only 59 behind my
Vic list,
55 lifers taking my list to 455, 102 of which I have ticked this year!
Best birds: Square-tailed Kite, Golden Bowerbird, I could go on (I think I
got 55 best birds)
Worst dips: Lovely Fairy-wren, Black-throated Finch, Lesser Sooty Owl,
although they were not around Julatten and I was working most evenings so
didn’t get a chance to go looking much.

Aa I said a great trip, made better by the people I met and I am looking
forward to returning.

Stuart Cooney
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