N Qld Trip Report part 1

Subject: N Qld Trip Report part 1
From: Frank Hemmings <>
Date: Thu, 07 Apr 2005 15:52:55 +1000
Hi all,

This is a very late trip report (Jan) but for anybody who interested in going where I went, it may still prove useful. Thanks to all those who supplied information on places to visit, what the roads were like etc. Thanks to Ron Stannard of Kingfisher Park (and also to Matt who lives at KP but was there at nights, who was very helpful). Apologies if some of the place names are incorrect (Centenary Lakes or Centennial Lakes, or even Centennary parklands - sorry but not going back to change it all now). Some of the road names seemed to differ between locals and maps.

I spent a week in north Queensland on a birding holiday, basing myself at Kingfisher Park at Julatten, from 10-16/1. Great birding, with 205 species seen and another 8 heard, around 45 of these were new to me - species in upper case were new for my life list.

Cairns to Julatten (10/1):

After arriving from the plane I had decided to bird around Cairns before heading up to Julatten in the afternoon. It was showering intermittently and I expected this to be the case for most of the week, however it was really only both the first and last day in Cairns itself which were rainy. First stop was the mangrove boardwalk off the airport road. I did the northern boardwalk first and saw a few species although not many which I had expected. I heard a Mangrove Robin here but I failed to see it. After finishing the first loop walk, i decided to go back and get the car - by some strange instinct I had left my rental car parked in the carpark and walked to the boardwalk, which was only about ten minutes or so. Just as well because I saw a pair of BEACH STONE-CURLEWS fly over the road from the mangrove areas and into the wet grassland, probably flushed by a rising tide. A second lifer only minutes later as I was entering the fringes of the carpark grounds was a single female CRIMSON FINCH, feeding together with Nutmeg Mannikins and Chestnut-breasted Mannikins. A number of waders were visible on the boardwalk or on the fringes of the mangroves, such as Whimbrel, Eastern Curlew Grey-tailed Tattler. In a drainage ditch near the airport carpark, a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was foraging and my only Pippit of the trip was here also. I drove down to the boardwalk carpark and walked the southern boardwalk. This gave my first YELLOW ORIOLE, COLLARED KINFISHER and a beautiful female SHINING FLYCATCHER.

On to Centennial Lakes close by, and more rain. A HELMETED FRIARBIRD flew past as I got out from the car. Spangled Drongos were conspicuous, as were Figbirds, Common Mynahs, Scaly-breasted Lorikeets and another vocal Collared Kingfisher. METALLIC STARLINGS flew overhead and I saw my first of many TORRESIAN (PIED) IMPERIAL PIGEONS - not really sure if the latter was a lifer for me or not, depending on your taxonomy, since the Australian birds are either a different species or race to the Pied Imperial Pigeons I saw in Sabah last year. A quick check of the freshwater lake as the rain started to pour in earnest revealed little in the way of waterfowl, a single pair of Wandering Whistling Ducks were the only ducks so I dipped on my hoped-for Cotton Pygmy-goose (which I never saw in the wholetrip). I also failed to see a croc which I had been told about by some American birders who were also staying at Kingfisher Park and who had seen it. It had been sitting on the lawn, no doubt in this same area on the same day when I was there!

On to Yorkeys Knob lagoon which produced a number of GREEN PYGMY-GEESE, some Rainbow Bee-eaters, more TIP's, and some Dusky Honeyeaters feeding in a large Melaleuca tree with a few BROWN-BACKED HONEYEATERS.

After picking up some supplies and having a bite to eat for lunch I headed up the coast. I stopped in at Wangetti Beach, just off the Captain Cook Hwy after crossing Hartleys Creek, a spot suggested by Ian Cowan (many thanks Ian). I failed to see the nomadic (no guarantees with nomads) Bar-bellied Cuckoo-shrike here, but there were lots of White-bellied Cuckoo-shrikes feeding in the trees together with a pair of Varied Trillers and Figbirds. A group of LOVELY FAIRY-WRENS flitted through the undergrowth by the roadside, and I had excellent views of both the male and beautiful female birds. Also, and unexpected trip highlight was a single NORTHERN FANTAIL hawking after insects from a branch within the canopy of a small tree. Both Peaceful and Bar-shouldered Doves were common and Mistletoebird was also present. After this I headed up to Kingfisher Park.

Cont's in part 1a

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

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