Cyclone damage and birds

To: "Birding-Aus" <>
Subject: Cyclone damage and birds
From: "Klaus Uhlenhut" <>
Date: Wed, 5 Apr 2006 11:17:27 +1000
Good morning,

Thank you all very much for the trying to contact us in regards to us going
through cyclone Larry. I was in Perth when it happened, so Brenda and my
youngest daughter Caitlin had to get through it by themselves. If you want
to see the report and some pictures please email us at HYPERLINK
"" and I’ll send it to you. Our
rainforest is bare, broken and twisted, hardly recognisable as we were right
in the path.

We are all fine, nobody was injured, but the clean-up and replanting will
take a long time. We are running on generator power, and we are told it
could be more than 6 weeks before we are connected to the main grit. Nobody
really knows for sure.

Just because Cyclone Larry isn’t in the news anymore (I assume this, as we
don’t have TV yet), that doesn’t mean the hardship is over, the clean up now
is astronomical. I am concerned about the environmental hardship, not the
trouble people have with insurance companies or anything related to it.
Let’s face it, although some have lost a lot, and we really feel for them,
some of them are our friends and neighbours, they are taken care of. The
generous public support, the local council, the army, the SES, government
grants and responses have been outstanding, very emotional and
heart-warming. But the rainforest needs protection and help to rebuild

Usually the news doesn’t cover the environment at all, so here is now a bit
about our birds in the backyard (12 acres of forest).

On the morning before the cyclone Brenda woke and immediately missed the
morning chorus of the birds, and all day the rainforest was eerie quiet.
Brenda and Caitlin were on their own for the first 5 days after Larry,
although Brenda is not a birdwatcher she did observe the following. The
morning after the cyclone, while sitting on our veranda, she observed flocks
of 30 or more Wompoo Fruit-doves mixed with Superb Fruit-Doves, plus 4 or 5
different types of smaller birds, all in the same flock. They flew around
all afternoon, but they left us within a few days. Also, there were King
Parrots although not in a flock, seeds were offered and they hung around for
a while, but haven’t been seen now for over a week. In the first few days
many birds were seen feeding from the forest floor, but once everything
started to die they were left with no food. Our neighbour who is a tree
cutter for Ergon has remarked on how many dead birds they have found.

Yesterday we heard for he first time again our Orange-footed Scrubfowls,
which was very nice, as it is a call so typical to the lowland rainforest of
North Queensland.

Also a mixed flock of White-rumped Swiftlets and Fork-tailed Swifts were
around yesterday during a thunderstorm.

We heard calling Red-necked Crake, Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, Noisy Pitta,
Chowchilla, Eastern Whipbird and Yellow-breasted Boatbill, so they are still

Missing so far (not seen or heard) is the Bush-hen, Rainbow Lorikeet,
Pheasant Coucal, Lesser Sooty Owl, Papuan Frogmouth, Azure Kingfisher,
Large-billed Scrubwren, Large-billed Gerygone, Helmeted Friarbird,
Australasian Figbird, Barred Cuckoo-shrike and Metallic Starling.

Definitely still here is the Australian Brush-turkey, Brown Goshawk, Grey
Goshawk, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Bar-shouldered Dove, Emerald Dove,
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Laughing Kookaburra, Rainbow Bee-eater, Forest
Kingfisher, Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher, Fairy Gerygone, Macleay's
Honeyeater, Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, Graceful Honeyeater, Dusky
Honeyeater, Grey-headed Robin, Pale-yellow Robin, Little Shrike-thrush, Grey
Whistler, Rufous Fantail, Willie Wagtail, Spectacled Monarch, Pied Monarch,
Spangled Drongo, Yellow Oriole, Victoria's Riflebird, Green (Spotted)
Catbird, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Varied Triller, Black Butcherbird,
Crimson Finch, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, Olive-backed Sunbird and

It will be interesting to see if the population of these birds change over
the next few months.

We are feeding or birds with seeds, sugar water and fruit. We haven’t done
much of that in the past, but the situation now is hardly normal. We are
going through about 20 bananas and 2 Papayas per day. Unfortunately they are
getting more and more expensive. It’s mainly the Honeyeaters, Catbirds and
Riflebirds, which seem to be the hungriest.  We are trying to get some
Nectavite to supplement the sugar water with the right vitamins, and are on
the looking for more bird feeders.

Quite a few birds were shocked, and we heard of strange stories like
Sunbirds landing on shoulders of people. Caitlin had a Brown Cuckoo-dove
almost crashing into her as she stood outside. Generally most birds have
become very trusting.

The cassowaries at Mission Beach are being looked after by National Parks
rangers, and feeding stations have been set up, away from the roads. I have
no idea of how many have survived or have been killed. I don’t think anyone
knows yet. Brenda did hear of two being killed by cars after people had been
feeding them on the road side.

I heard of Cassowaries having survived in the areas of Etty Bay and Flying
Fish Point, which are close to Innisfail. Some have been seen looking for
food in the cane paddocks.

A major concern for the future of our rainforest is the upcoming dry season.
Unfortunately we still have a lot of farmers, who burn the cane fields after
being cut, and we have a real fire danger once the dry season starts. The
rainforest canopy is on the ground, and the amount of leaves and branches is
enormous. If all of this should burn the trees will die and will never

We need a total fire ban for at least 2006, and ongoing protection for the
next 5 years. We have to start lobbying the Queensland Government now. Very
heavy penalties should apply as we have witnessed after the last cyclone
(Winifred 1986) how many land owners bulldoze or burn what’s left. I am
hoping Birds Australia will help to get the ball rolling.  Any thoughts or

As I am not subscribed to Birding-Aus please email me directly.

            All the best,


Klaus & Brenda Uhlenhut

Kirrama Wildlife Tours

PO Box 1400

Innisfail    QLD   4860


Ph:    07  4065 5181

Fax:  07  4065 5197

Kirrama Web Page:


Web Directory:


No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Free Edition.
Version: 7.1.385 / Virus Database: 268.3.4/299 - Release Date: 31/03/2006

To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)
<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Cyclone damage and birds, Klaus Uhlenhut <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU