Two Months In Qld, Pt 1

To: Birding-Aus <>
Subject: Two Months In Qld, Pt 1
From: Matt Hinze <>
Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2007 09:27:21 +1100
On July 20th I left Kempsey, in northern NSW, and headed for Cape York. I had 
never been north of Brisbane in Qld before, so I had a big wish-list. In two 
months I found a whole host of incredible birds, and ever since I returned home 
on Sept 16th I have dreaded the thought of trying to write up a trip report. I 
saw so many great birds! Where do I start?

Well, my first birding stop was Inskip Point, near Gympie. Before I got out of 
the car I had my first new lifer for the trip- 2 Mangrove Honeyeaters. I had 
come here for another bird, the Black-breasted Button-Quail, which I located 
off to the side of the track an hour or so later. The female I saw was 
beautiful, fat and dark! I was impressed!

The following day I drove to the Port Alma area, just south of Rockhampton. It 
was dark when I got there, but the next morning I was up early searching for a 
Yellow Chat. There were 6-8 birds right next to the road in a ditch, coming up 
and sitting on the fence occasionally. They were stunning, and not too shy, but 
I found my photographic equipment to be more technical than I was, so all my 
photos were only a blur of yellow. On my way out of here I found a pair of 
Radjah Shelduck’s on a small pond.

>From here I went up to Eungella in search of a Eungella Honeyeater. After 
>camping the night I awoke full of confidence, only to find the weather had 
>closed in. Mist enshrouded the whole area, and nothing was active. After a few 
>fruitless hours I returned to the coast around Airlie Beach and walked both 
>the Circuit Track and the Swamp Walk in the Conway NP, with good success. I 
>found Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Fairy Gerygone, Rose-crowned Fruit-dove, Black 
>Butcherbird, White-throated Honeyeater, Little Shrike-thrush and Noisy Pitta.

Up the road at Bowen I saw my first Great Bowerbird. But I had to push on…. I 
arrived at Home Hill, just short of Ayr, and decided to pull up here by the 
highway and camp for a night. To my surprise I had Rufous-throated Honeyeaters, 
Crimson Finches and plenty of Chestnut-breasted Mannikins.

My goal the following day was Plantation Creek, Ayr for a few specialties - 
Mangrove Golden Whistler and Yellow White-eye primarily. I got neither, 
although I heard some Silvereye/White-eye’s, but I couldn’t catch up with them. 
I was still very impressed with the area! Large-billed Gerygone worked the 
mangroves while a Little Kingfisher worked the creek. More Crimson Finches were 
out in the surrounding grasses. Sunbirds were active, as were Helmeted 

After a great morning here I headed a little further up the road to Cromarty 
Siding Rd. Right at the start of this road I found a Sunbird nest, 
Lemon-bellied Flycatchers, Yellow-spotted Honeyeaters, a Blue-winged Kookaburra 
while White-rumped Swiftlet's patrolled above. I didn’t want to leave here 
either, but the evening was fast approaching and I had plans to get to Paluma 
Dam to camp for the weekend. So, off I sped, through Townsville, through 
Paluma, to Paluma Dam. If you live in North Queensland and have never been 
there you are really missing out! And if you are planning a trip stay a couple 
of days here as it is not only beautiful and quiet, but full of tropical birds! 
I recorded 7 new ticks here: 2 Chowchilla males arguing/ displaying within a 
foot of each other at high volume at sunrise, Bridled Honeyeaters just as 
noisy, but all day! Then there was spotted Catbirds, Mountain Thornbill, 
Fernwren, Pied Monarchs and my favorite, the Grey-headed Robins. The Papuan 
Frogmouth I found at night, coming out in the open in the town itself. There 
are other specialties in the area too, but I never saw them here, like the 
Lesser Sooty Owl that I heard near Paluma village, but couldn’t spot in amid 
the rainforest and the Golden Bowerbird. Victoria’s Riflebirds were as common 
as Sparrows in Paluma Village. I also spied a Tooth-billed Bowerbird on the 
short walk through the rainforest in the town.

On my re-entry to caravan-riddled lowlands I called in to Big Crystal Creek, 
still in the Paluma NP.  It was here that I found the Macleay’s Honeyeater that 
normally inhabits the mountains up above. There were also a couple of Northern 
Fantails, White-browed Robins and Lemon-bellied Flycatchers. My list was 
starting to blossom, but I had to meet my brother and his wife in Cairns in a 
few days, so I continued up to Ingham. Ingham has the Tyto Wetlands, well worth 
a visit too. It was fairly quiet the day I called in, but I still added Nutmeg 
Mannikins and Green Pygmy-Geese to my list. A Little Kingfisher was also seen 
hanging off a reed in a small channel near the bird hide. Yellow Honeyeaters 
were common, and also present were Crimson Finches, Sunbirds and 
Rufous-throated Honeyeaters.

The following evening I arrived in Cairns. That day I also added Brown-backed 
Honeyeaters at Five Mile Creek Rest Area just south of Cardwell, and at the 
beach just north of Cardwell, around Meungra Creek, I came across families of 
Lovely Fairy-wrens, Mangrove Robins, plus Yellow Orioles, more Macleay’s 
Honeyeaters, Dusky Honeyeaters, Yellow-spotted Honeyeaters, Mangrove, Fairy and 
Large-billed Gerygone’s and another Northern Fantail. So many birds! Did I 
mention my stop that afternoon near Mission Beach? I never did find that 
Cassowary. It is one of the 4 or 5 that I missed, with the others being the 
summer migrants. I did find Metallic Starlings, Grey Whistlers and White-eared 
Monarchs though!

Cairns at last! It was August 1st. I was surprised at how common Double-eyed 
Fig-Parrots are around Cairns. Out at the Esplanade I found Varied Honeyeaters, 
a Beach Stone-Curlew and a pair of Terek Sandpipers. It seems that the fit walk 
the Esplanade, while those wishing to be fit walk the Mt Whitfield circuit. 
This hill is right in Cairns, but after you leave the paved part it is a quiet 
track full of birds! There were good numbers of Wompoo, Rose-crowned and Superb 
Fruit-doves, plenty of Little Shrike-thrushes and I also caught a glimpse of a 
Red-necked Crake.

>From Cairns we headed up to Kingfisher Park. This is another essential place 
>to stop. The Park has gardens teeming with life, and the owners are very 
>helpful at finding any birds you need. I gathered a few more here, like the 
>Graceful Honeyeater and Yellow-breasted Boatbill. Also worth noting is that 
>Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours is a terrifically helpful guide who is 
>based in this area. With his help I was able to see Blue-faced Parrot-Finches, 
>White-gaped Honeyeaters and a roosting Rufous Owl. Co-incidentally, we met up 
>at Mount Lewis while he was taking 2 people out looking for the Golden and 
>Tooth-billed Bowerbirds. I was able to find these, plus a Bower’s 
>Shrike-thrush, Atherton Scrubwrens, Mountain Thornbills and Fernwrens up here.

I also used the guidance of Peter Cooper, or “The Mangrove Man” just down the 
road at Mossman. On his tour we saw 2 Great-billed Herons, an adult and a 
juvenile, Shining Flycatchers, Papuan Frogmouths, many types of Kingfishers 
(Sacred, Azure, Collared and Little) and we heard Mangrove Robins. It was a 
very enjoyable and productive trip!

to be continued......

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