Two Months In Qld, Pt 2

To: Birding-Aus <>
Subject: Two Months In Qld, Pt 2
From: Matt Hinze <>
Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2007 09:29:09 +1100
Time had come to leave the bitumen and head up the Peninsula Developmental Road 
for Cape York. We had arranged our first nights camp with the owners of Artemis 
Station, Tom and Sue Shepherd, and the following morning the Golden-shouldered 
Parrots presented themselves. There were about 8-10, although reports I had had 
the previous few days from other birding travelers suggested that up to 40 had 
been there. After a nice look at them, and a pair of Banded Honeyeaters, we 
left. We had a fairly easy day, and pulled down a side-track in the 
Mungkan-Kandju National Park north of Coen for the night. I was very surprised 
and pleased to find Great and Fawn-breasted Bowerbirds both here! We also 
camped here on our return, and then I located the Fawn-breasted Bowerbirds 
bower, along with Trumpet Manucode’s, Magnificent Riflebird’s, Orange-footed 
Scrubfowl and a Wompoo Fruit-dove.

We packed up the following morning and I was full of anticipation. Today we 
would arrive at the much-heralded Iron Range. It was a beautiful morning, but 
as we headed east the clouds loomed, and by the time we hit the start of the 
park it was drizzling. We camped at Cook’s Hut for 4 nights. The sun was rarely 
seen, but the birds were everywhere! It was one of the noisiest forests I have 
ever been in! The Eclectus and Red-cheeked Parrots flew noisily overhead, and 
occasionally one would perch in a profitable spot for me. Magnificent 
Riflebirds were common, as were the tourists’ impersonations of their loud call 
that sounds like someone whistling their cattle-dog! But it is always the 
little birds that make the rainforests one of my favorite places. Around Cooks 
Hut campground there were Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Tawny-breasted Honeyeater, 
Frilled Monarch, Yellow-legged Flycatcher and Tropical Scrubwrens. Just a few 
hundred metres down the road at the entrance to Rainforest Campgrounds there 
were a small family of Green-backed Honeyeaters. Oh, I could talk about this 
spot for hours! I was sad to leave. When we did, I had missed out on the 
Yellow-billed Kingfisher and Northern Scrub-robin, but as fate had it, I did 
find them both further up the road. On the way out along Portland Roads I was 
able to locate a family of White-streaked Honeyeaters, a shy but lovely bird.

In Weipa we had beautiful sunsets over the ocean, and a few nice birds such as 
Radjah Shelduck in numbers, as were both Frigatebirds, and Red-winged Parrots. 
Other notables here included Red-headed Honeyeaters, Lesser Crested Terns and 
number of Greater Sand Plovers. There were also some small terns at the Awonga 
Sewage works that I couldn’t identify. I’m not an expert, but funnily enough I 
was talking to another birder who had been there the previous year, and he also 
had a small tern there he couldn’t identify, so I am not alone!

Anyway, I should cut this short….  We pushed on to the tip. Along the way I 
polished off the Peninsula specials as best as I could expect for the dry 
season; Yellow-billed Kingfisher and Pied Imperial-Pigeon in Lockerbie Scrub, 
Northern Scrub-robin along Captain Billy Landing Rd. I went through Lakefields 
NP on my way south. Just before the park I had been directed to a Red Goshawk 
nest leaning over the road. An adult was home and gave me nice looks before 
sitting down out of sight. In Lakefields NP I came across Black-throated and 
Masked Finches, Rufous-banded and Yellow-tinted Honeyeaters, Red-chested 
Button-quail, Squatter Pigeon and many Comb-crested Jacana on every pond and 
waterhole! My favorite waterhole was Horseshoe Lagoon; the colors of the lilies 
in the lagoon and the colors of the trees and bushes next to the lagoon were 

Then out to bitumen again. My Suzuki Grand Vitara had made it! After returning 
to the Atherton Tableland and cleaning up all but the Cassowary with the help 
of Del Richards, I parted from my brother and his wife and headed for Karumba. 
A perfect halfway campsite is the Cumberland Dam west of Georgetown. I never 
added to my life list here, but I did see more Masked and Black-throated 
Finches, Yellow-tinted, Rufous-throated and Banded Honeyeaters, Brown 
Treecreeper, Squatter Pigeon, Glossy Ibis and the stunning Spotted Harrier.

I arrived at Karumba on August 30th; just two days to spring! Glenn and Alison 
Newton run the Ferryman river cruises from here, and they are a wealth of local 
birding knowledge. Over my 4 day stay they gave me tips that eventually led me 
to find the one Star Finch left in the area (there were 40-60 a few weeks 
earlier). They also gave me tips on how to identify Zitting Cisticola from 
Golden-headed while in non-breeding plumage. In fact, I totaled 103 species in 
those few days. The highlights were the Mangrove Grey Fantail, White-breasted 
Whistler, Bustard, Singing Bushlark and the common Yellow White-eye.

On Monday September 3rd I left for Mount Isa and its Grasswrens. I had not 
planned this part of the trip, so I was making it up as I went along. I did 
however have with me some very detailed mud-maps for finding the two Grasswrens 
around Mount Isa that Bob Forsyth had emailed me. But it was the Painted Finch 
that now stands in my memory. The first 3 birds I saw at Bob’s Duchess Road 
site were Painted Finches, and they became my 500th Australian bird, and it was 
my birthday! I topped it off with a few Grey-fronted Honeyeaters and a couple 
of Kalkadoon Grasswrens. One of my best birthdays, but a long way from family 
and friends…… The following day I searched Mica Creek area, finding 
Black-tailed Treecreepers, Little Woodswallow, more Painted Finches and 2 

The next day I headed out to the Carpentarian Grasswren site an hour or so out 
of Mount Isa. After a few fruitless hours of searching I was heading back to my 
car for lunch when I found a pair right by the roadside. I swallowed down my 
lunch, and then returned, getting incredible views for 30 minutes. There were 
also a few Budgies getting around, and more Painted Finches, Black-tailed 
Treecreeper and Diamond Doves.

After a few days relaxing over the weekend I headed south for Bladensburg NP. 
Here I remember reading that Rufous-crowned Emu-Wrens had been seen, and 
without any more details I was going to find them! I shared the campsite with 2 
other couples, one of which was also here for bird-watching. So we gathered our 
2 hours combined experience in this park and thought we would have a crack at 
the Emu-wrens the following day. By lunch I was ready to quit. The flies were 
atrocious. My bird list was nice, but no Emu-wrens. Red-browed Pardalotes, 
Budgies, Inland Thornbill, Black-chinned Honeyeater, 2 Spinifexbirds, even a 
Spotted Nightjar that I flushed off the top of a Spinifex-covered hill. But no 
Emu-wrens. Back at camp two new groups had arrived. It included 3 birdo’s from 
Townsville who told me where the Emu-wrens were supposed to be. They had 
unsuccessfully looked the last 3 times they had been here. After a few laughs 
the following morning around a Ringneck nest in the camp area I headed out. I 
came to a big patch of Spinifex right where they had said. I searched. And 
searched. Then…. “Squeak squeak”. It was the very faint high-pitched call of 
the Rufous-crowned Emu-wren, but it had darted into a Spinifex bush. So I 
waited, and waited. It kept on calling but refused to come out, so I straddled 
the bush, and it darted into the neighboring bush, still squeaking. After we 
repeated the process a few times I allowed him to relax, and I headed for home 
to escape the rising heat and the incessant flies.

It was all driving, with not many stops, back to a friends place near Gympie by 
the following evening, then back to NSW soon after. For those like myself 
interested in stats, I recorded the Peaceful Dove the most, followed by Rainbow 
Bee-eater then Brown Honeyeater. I never imagined I would return with nearly 
360 species all up, including 120 new ones for me! What a memorable trip! 
Thanks again to all those I mentioned in this report who aided me along the way!

Matt Hinze
It's simple! Sell your car for just $30 at

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