Trip Report - Maleny to Camooweal 30/7/5 to 12/8/5

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Trip Report - Maleny to Camooweal 30/7/5 to 12/8/5
From: "Dam Lamb" <>
Date: Thu, 3 Nov 2005 10:42:08 +1100
This  report is the first of a number which will cover our trip from home 
(Maleny, SEQ) to Broome and return , from 30th July to 27th October this 
year.We travelled in a Mazda 4wd towing an on-road Cub camper-trailer, and 
staying mainly at commercial caravan parks. Birding was the primary purpose of 
the trip, and seeing the waders of Roebuck Bay was a long-held desire.Before 
seting-off a list of "target species" (code for new birds) was determined and 
locations researched (mainly a variety of "where to find " books, but also 
birding-aus archives, and fellow birders).The list contained 42 species and 
included birds spectacularly  missed in the past (viz Black Bittern, 
Great-billed Heron, Rufous-crowned Emu-wren),the "I can't believe I haven't got 
this" series (Hooded Parrot, Banded Honeyeater,White-browed Robin, Mangrove 
Grey Fantail), the "gee  wouldn't it be great if I got" series (Chestnut 
Rail,Letter-winged Kite, Red Goshawk), and the totally, absolutely, impossible 
(more on this later) Button-Quails. Some target species needed an early wet and 
us still being on the road, others a miracle.

 So we left on the 30th July heading for Cania Gorge. The trip list mounted 
steadily during the day, we even overcame a navigational error that had us 
heading into Maryborough.Highlight of the first day was a flock of 23 Bustard 
feeding in an irrigated paddock 5km south of Cania Gorge, others were seen 
earlier at Monto.Early morning walk up escarpment towards Fern Tree Pool 
revealed many Yellow Thornbill, pair of Speckled Warbler, Brown-headed 
Honeyeater, and a nest-building White-throated Treecreeper. The campground had 
Dusky Woodswallow and a Wedge-tailed Eagle overhead.A drive to Cania Dam 
revealed not a single waterbird on the water.Next stop was Carnarvon Gorge 
where we stayed three nights.Heard our first Barking Owl for the trip, they 
were heard more frequently than Boobook.Did a number of walks into the gorge 
and found Yellow Tufted and White-eared Honeyeater up near the Boolimba Bluff 
lookout, Squatter Pigeon in the picnic area,and Azure Kingfisher and Striated 
Thornbill along the creek.Little Lorikeet flew through the campground, along 
with Yellow-faced and White-naped Honeyeaters.
   Headed next towards Emerald aiming for Barcaldine, encountering first patch 
of rain (not to be repeated for 11 weeks).Camped at Lloyd Jones Weir on 
southern outskirts of town seeing first Red-winged Parrot,Spiny-cheeked , 
White-plumed and Singing Honeyeater, Hooded Robin,Yellow-rumped Thornbill, 
Jacky Winter and White-winged Chough.Did the tourist thing at both Barcaldine 
and Longreach (judging by the condition of the Tree of Knowledge, it's no 
wonder the Smart State is in a bit of strife--it looks emaciated) before 
heading of to Winton.Three Brolgas flew into the caravan park at Longreach and 
paraded down the roadways creating great delight for the overseas travellers.

 The country we travelled towards and past Longreach was looking quite good, 
green with water patches, very unlike 1998 when we last travelled here.The 
drive to Winton produced Black Kites in numbers as well as a Crimson Chat, 
whilst at Crawford Creek we found Budgerigar copulating, and Zebra Finch. The 
Winton area has some great birding and we set-off quickly for Bladensburg 
NP.South of Skull Hole I searched for an hour through the spinifex before 
finally seeing a single Spinifexbird sitting atop a small bush.My first new 
bird for the trip.Nothing much else was about (it was mid-afternoon) and I 
reluctantly called it a day without finding my other target bird, the 
Rufous-crowned Emu-wren.Spirits rose as we left the park and saw Hobby and 
Diamond Dove,and when about 5km south of town the one  paddock held 10 Bustard, 
2 Brolga, and flocks of 40 Budgerigar, 20+Little Woodswallow, 40 Zebra Finches 
and 30 Galah.The next day we headed-off to Lark Quarry, a journey(110km) that 
took almost 3 hours the birding was that good.Black-fronted Dotterel, 
Yellow-billed Spoonbill were seen in small water holdings whilst Crested 
Bellbird, Brown Falcon, Common Bronzewing,Diamond Dove were seen from the car, 
as were 100+ Black Kite over a 50km stretch of road.After doing the tour of the 
dinosaur footprints I walked through the surrounding spinifex hoping for the 
Emu-wren. Alas, no luck, but did see our first Black-breasted Buzzard. The 
drive home was quicker, though again close to Winton we stopped and watched 20 
Spinifex Pigeon walking across the road.A little further on we spied 3 
Ground-cuckoo Shrikeand a Brown Songlark.That night watched the last 2 hours of 
the second Ashes Test in the Great Northern Hotel, a gripping ending which 
befuddled and bemused the Irish and German backpacker barmaids, and enthralled 
everyone else.
 Headed-off next morning for Mt Isa, saw 60 Brolga flying into small swamp 
behind Kynuna (the country was much drier now).Had lunch at Chinaman's Creek 
Reserve just out of Cloncurry and got good collection of waterbirds including 
Great-crested Grebe, 3 species of Egret, and a juvenile Black-necked 
Stork.Caspian Tern flew over the water and we saw our first Grey-headed 
Honeyeater. We spent 4 nights in Mt Isa, easily getting Varied 
Lorikeet,Collared Sparrowhawk at the caravan park, along with Great Bowerbird.A 
trip to Mica Creek brought forth the Dusky(Kalkadoon) Grasswren in the gully 
behind the burnt-out car, also Weebill and Brown Goshawk. Had a wonderful hour 
or so at the "Water Effluent Settling Ponds"(looked very much like a sewerage 
works) with 450+ Pink-eared Duck,Hardhead,Darter,Coot,Black-fronted Dotterel 
,70+ Black Kite,and our first Red-backed Kingfisher.Well worth a visit. Next 
day took a day trip to Lake Moondarra, staying on the eastern side and not 
attempting the tracks on the west.Saw over 60 species, best of which were a 
party of 20 Painted Finch, some Glossy Ibis, 4 raptors,more Spinifex Pigeon, 
numerous Rufous Whistler, Restless Flycatcher and Double-barred Finch. Next day 
went to McNamara's Rd, 61km towards Camooweal.Found a note in the stone cairn 
from a Belgian birder, Jan, who had seen the Carpentarian Grasswren the day 
before.With mounting excitement set-off to the nominated spot and began the 
hunt.After two hours of nary a squeak or sight, caught a glimpse of a bird 
diving into spinifex.Waited around and then heard brief contact calls between 
two birds, 20 metres apart. One bird sounded only 15 feet away, then finally it 
ran out into the open, stopped, turned towards me so we could regard each 
other.As I raised by binos it was gone and didn't re-emerge. But I'd had close 
naked eye views for about 20 seconds, which I reckon is pretty good for a 
grasswren.Black-tailed Treecreeper and Ringneck were seen on way back to care.I 
dutifly left a note of my success for the next birder to visit.
Left Mt Isa for the next leg of the trip. Stopped briefly by the Georgina River 
at Camooweal but very windy and dusty, not conducive to birding.It had taken us 
14 days to get to the NT border, with two ticks out of a total of 161 species.

Russ Lamb, Maleny, SEQ
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