Innisfail to Cooktown, FNQ -- Short trip report.

To: "BA email" <>
Subject: Innisfail to Cooktown, FNQ -- Short trip report.
From: "simon starr" <>
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2007 09:08:48 +1000
Here's some highlights from my holiday in FNQ.....30th May to 20th June'07 .

First bird of the holiday.... Willie Wagtail as we got off the plane.

Drove to DAINTREE area.
Rajdah Shelduck seen from car at sewage ponds near Mossman.
First few days spent at Koala camp near Cape Kimberley. As a place to camp with 
children this gets a big tick. The surrounding lowland rainforest yielded a few 
of the areas special birds such as Victoria's Riflebird, Black Butcherbird, 
Yellow-spotted, Graceful, Macleays and Brown-backed Honeyeaters, Pied Monarch 
and Fig-Parrots.

On the Marrdja boardwalk were Spotted Catbirds, Vic riflebirds, and Bridled and 
Macleays Honeyeaters and "black-throated" Fairy Gerygones.

Next campsite KINGFISHER PARK, Julatten.
Papuan Frogmouths in the orchard, had moved from their usual roosts, but were 
found eventually, they hadn't gone far.
Masked Owl seen in the spotlight at dusk, plus an Owlet Nightjar soon after ( 
very pale underneath ).
Plenty of birds in the grounds such as Pale-yellow and Grey-headed Robins, 
Graceful,Yellow-spotted and Lewins Honeyeaters at the feeders, 2 Pacific Baza, 
and a Rufous Owl appeared one day. Red-necked Crake only seen once during our 
stay...not by me ( I think I was eating tea at the time). The Lesser Sooty Owls 
have left their usual tree, but one was seen ... again not by me, at nearby 
Bushy creek one night.  Thanks to our ever helpful hosts.

Only went up once ( in the hire car , a Toyota Yaris !!)  It rained at the top 
so didn't feel like spending too long although the road was in pretty good 
shape. In two hours found two of my 3 target birds....Fernwren and Atherton 
Scrubwren.  Also White-cheeked and Bridled Honeyeaters, Catbirds and 
Riflebirds. Definately a place deserving a day or more.

While waiting for our boat trip, explored some mangroves near town, finding a 
few Lovely Fairy-wrens.
At the Low Isles it was low tide and there were Grey-tailed Tattlers and 
Greater Sand-plovers a plenty.   Also swam with Green Turtles.

Drove around town and out to the tip for a couple of hours one morning hoping 
for Squatter Pigeon. No joy there, but plenty of drier country birds to see, 
and so close to the rainforest we were camping in.
Red-winged Parrots, Chestnut-breasted Mannikins, Grey-crowned Babblers, Great 
Bowerbird, Blue-winged Kookaburra and White-throated Gerygone.

Decided to spend some time in the rainforests south of Cooktown hoping for 
White-streaked Honeyeater, Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo and maybe a Parrot-finch 
... ha ha.
Camped at Home Rule rainforest lodge. Budget accomodation and camping in a 
peaceful rainforest by a creek. Also a good walk to some spectacular 
waterfalls. Around and close to camp birding was good...White-headed pigeon, 
Wompoos, Pied Monarch, Graceful Honeyeater, Black Butcherbird, Riflebirds, etc. 
 On two different nights at about 4 am a Lesser Sooty Owl called quite close. 
Both times I leapt from the tent in my jocks, got eaten by mossies whilst 
fumbling around for my spotlight, and then tryed whistling it in. I was sure it 
would work......
Made three trips out to the Shiptons Flat area ( turn off before Rossville), 
following directions to White-streaked Honeyeaters. There wasn't a lot 
flowering, though I still managed to find 7 sp of honeyeater by the end, but 
the target birds were elsewhere. Nice area though and lots of activity 
generally.  Twice found White-browed Robin. These were not far along, where the 
road runs past a tin mining operation. There is a creek on the other side of 
the road there.
Big numbers of Orioles and Peaceful Doves.   Northern Fantail, Lemon-bellied 
Fly, Brown-backed Honeyeaters, Cuckoos, etc.  One of my bigger bird lists for 
the holidays. Really didn't have time to check the rainforest sections for the 
Chestnut-breasted Cuckoos ( a local birder assured me they were there) and also 
ran out of time to be taken on a 2km hike  through some forest to a 
Parrot-finch site ( there all year apparently).

COOKTOWN.  A Square-tailed Kite flew over the outskirts of town as we drove in, 
close views, even my kids ticked it off.

GRANITE GORGE.  West of Mareeba this was a good swimming spot, there were some 
tame and some not-so tame Mareeba Rock-Wallabies, plenty of dragonflies and a 
couple of Squatter Pigeons near the camping area.

Did the full 5km walk around Lake Barrine, particularly hoping for Tooth-billed 
Bowerbirds. At the half way mark sat down for a snack, and as I peeled my 
banana a flock of them flew across in front of me. They landed nearby but were 
quiet and not moving for some time. It took me 20 minutes or so to finally get 
to grips with them properly. They gave themselves away only by the sound of the 
leaves moving as they foraged for figs in the canopy. Also Riflebirds and 
Catbirds, Pied Monarch, Fig-Parrots, 130 Great Crested Grebes and a Musky 
 Sarus Cranes were seen in some paddocks north of Malanda, and later at 
Bromfield Crater enjoyed the morning spectacle of Brolgas and Sarus Cranes 
walking up the crater slopes to get some height before taking off.  Definately 
one of the highlights of the trip.
A Red-backed Kingfisher was a good sighting, on powerlines not too far from 
Hasties swamp, and Wongabel State Forest was a great birding area also.

Drove in late, not too many waterbirds by the looks and decided 30 dollars for 
an hour probably wasn't worth it. But the drive in was very lively, a lovely 
bit of Savannah woodland. Pale-headed Rosellas, CBMannikins, Red-backed 
Fairy-wrens, Brown Quail, Red-tailed BCockies, etc.

Arrived in persistent rain, camped in a bog, thickest mossies I've seen, 
everything went mouldy, had to rush my daughter to hospital with a fish 
fin-bone an inch into her heel, heard another Lesser Sooty Owl...ha ha. But it 
was all worth it to see the Cassowaries  :-)

Spent the last few days around town.  Metallic Starlings and Fig-Parrots in the 
main shopping street surprised me. Drove through the cemetary a couple of 
times, getting funny looks from a couple of passers by while I photographed 
some of the Bush Stone-Curlews there. Was at least 25, split between 2 main 
Checked every gull every day.
The esplanade on a highish tide was fantastic. Had no idea how close the birds 
came. Beach Stone-curlew, Black-necked Stork, Great Knots and Tattlers, 
Striated Herons and Varied Honeyeaters, and hours spent just watching the 
egrets ply their trade ( 4 species all lined up....Greats,Littles,Intermediates 
and 1 Reef).
Mangrove boardwalk near the airport was itchy but worth doing. Shining 
Flycatcher, Large-billed Gerygone, Varied Honeyeaters, Graceful Honeyeaters 
plus others.
And finally made a few visits to Centenary lakes and the Flecker Botanic 
Papuan Frogmouths (a pair) were where they were meant to be....from southern 
end of rainforest boardwalk go to the third bend and look up and to your right. 
 Saw Little Kingfisher in three different spots. Once at saltwater lake, once 
by the freshwater lake and one by the little creek that flows out of the 
botanic gardens.
And finally a 2 metre Croc was living in the fresh lake (the small flock of 
Wandering Whistling Ducks was gradually getting smaller a local told me).
Last bird for the trip list...Dusky Moorhen in the park.

Was just shy of 200 birds by the end, and I wasn't really trying that hard. 
More importantly I left a couple behind for next time,

Happy birding,
Simon Starr,
Pyramid Hill,

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