N Qld Trip Report (late) part 3

Subject: N Qld Trip Report (late) part 3
From: Frank Hemmings <>
Date: Thu, 07 Apr 2005 15:00:09 +1000
11/1-15/1 cont'd...

Mt Molloy School

Although other birds were around, I went here to see the GREAT BOWERBIRD, and was not disappointed as several passed through the grounds right near where I had parked the ground as I got out from the car.  A bower was in the front yard of a nearby house.

Mt Molloy Pub

Having bought food for most meals and cooked it myself in my unit, I ended up having dinner at the pub at Mt Molloy towards the end of the trip.  On the last day, sitting on the verandah at sunset and enjoying a nice cool drink, I was able to watch the world and the birds pass by.  Squatter Pigeon, Bar-shouldered Dove, Figbird, Yellow-breasted Sunbird, what looked like a Fairy Gerygone, and Blue-winged Kookaburra were all present, and a lone Magpie Goose passed overhead.  Defintely the easiest birding I did on the whole trip.

Lake Mitchell

A bit disappointing, because the water level was much lower than expected, and birds which would otherwise have been close to the causeway were otherwise up to a couple of km away.  I visited here twice, and the second time, I borrowed a scope from the lodge to see the distant birds easier, but it seemed that the waters' edge had receded further over a few days (probably my imagination).  Anyway,  it did produce my first BROLGA,  so I was happy with that.  Comb-crested Jacanas and Masked Lapwings were close to the causeway edge, as were a few Little Black and Little Pied Cormorants and a lone Little Egret.  Lots of Coots were further out, as were a group of Caspian Terns (15+), what looked like Intermediate Egrets, and a few Black-necked Storks.  Black Swans were further out still, as were a large number of unidentifiable ducks.  On my second visit I managed to add Darter, Pelican and Royal Spoonbill to the waterbirds.  Both White-bellied Sea-Eagle and Osprey were patrolling the area.

There is a small area of woodland near the main road, and this proved to be good for drier woodland birds, many of which were present at other sites.  These included Pale-headed Rosella, Red-winged Parrot, Little Friarbird, Yellow Honeyeater, Grey-crowned Babbler, Double-barred Finch, Leaden Flycatcher, Willy Wagtail and Pied Butcherbird.  I saw Apostlebirds from the car near to the roadside near here on two occasions.

Big Mitchell Creek

This site was a little further south along the Mareeba Rd, and was the place recommended for WHITE-BROWED ROBIN,  and I saw a pair within five minutes of walking along the creekbed, in the denser fringing vegetation.  A few Fairy Gerygones were feeding in the canopy of some bloodwoods overhanging the creek.  Buff-breasted Buttonquail had been seen nearby here at two different sites but I failed to see anything remotely like them, and neither did I see the Black-throated Finch, which I would have more happily seen than the Buttonquail.  Just to prove that these things are hit and miss, someone else staying at Kingfisher Park later in the week saw both the button-quail and a large flock of the finches, but such was not my luck. I heard a Grey Butcherbird here, which is apparently not common in the area.  I also had a bad view of a Friarbird which looked like a Silver-crowned Friarbird, but I cannot say that with certainty.

Quade Rd

A site a little further north than the Lake Mitchell causeway site and just off from the Hwy, this area had a couple of small ground tanks in surrounding woodland with Ironbark (Euclayptus crebra) in addition to the many bloodwoods still present and scattered Cypress Pine (Callitris intratropica).  This was recommended also as a Black-throated Finch site and I am ashamed to say that in my quest to see this species I visited here on three occasions (two on my way to and from the Atherton area).  Once (or thrice) again I dipped on this bird.

This was an interesting site, and had a number of species in common with many other drier sites, especially the woodland near the edge of Lake Mitchell.  Of particular interest was a lone LEMON-BREASTED FLYCATCHER, the only one seen on the trip.  Also present were Pacific Baza, Red-backed Fairy Wren, Striated Pardalote and Weebill.  Although Leaden Flycathers were also around, two flycatchers which were at times together in low branches overhanging the dam in the early morning appeared similar to female leaden but were much glossier on the head and rich coloured in the throat and I was unsure as to whether these were two Satin Flycatchers (female) although probably wrong time of year, or perhaps Broad-billed Flycatchers, even though the habitat was wrong.  Yet another sighting to be uncertain about.

Mt Hypipanee National Park (The Crater)

A small book which Ron had lent to me suggested that this place was great for most of the high altitude rainforest species, and most could be seen close to the carpark or near the toilets.  It also suggested that this spot was popular so go really early in the morning or really late in the afternoon.  Although I arrived in the early afternoon, the carpark appeared to have one campervan of people who had camped there and only one other car.  Terrific.  As soon as I got out from the car I saw GREY-HEADED ROBINS,  as suggested in the book.  These turned out to be the most common of birds at the site.Yes the book was right, as it was about the people.  Carload after carload arrived and hung around in the carpark area long enough so that as soon as one group left to walk, another arrived back, or another car load arrived. All seemed to want to use the toilet  (the toilet block area was recommended in the book) at the beginning AND end of the walk, so I didn't spend a lot of time hanging around in the vegetation near there, and quite a few groups consisted of people who seemed to think that the best way to enjoy the rainforest was to scream/cry/talk extremely loudly.

Having said all this, I managed to get a quick visit to near the toilet block and was rewarded with views of an immature GOLDEN BOWERBIRD, BOWERS SHRIKE-THRUSH and ATHERTON SCRUBWREN.  On the basis that most people would be walking on the track, I walked back up the access road instead, and also saw BRIDLED HONEYEATER in the canopy of trees overhanging the road, more Atherton Scrubwren, Large-billed Scrubwren, Brown Gerygone, a Grey Fantail and a White-throated Tree-creeper.  I also walked along the track and added Rufous Fantail and Lewins Honeyeater.  I hear what sounded like it should be Mountian Thornbill but failed to see any.  I did walk to The Crater, and it was spectacular.

More sites visited 11/1-15/1 in part 4...

Frank Hemmings
John T. Waterhouse Herbarium
School of Biological, Environmental and Earth Sciences
University of New South Wales

Tel +61 2 9385 3274
Fax +61 2 9385 1558

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