The now traditional New Year’s Big Day birding based at the Lodge took
us around our little patch of Far North Queensland from Julatten, Mt.
Lewis to Mt. Molloy, Mareeba and down to the coast at Newell Beach and
Port Douglas. Friends Angus and Jan from Cairns joined me this year,
Angus for the full day and Jan joining after we returned from Mt. Lewis
for a breakfast stop. We recorded species both seen and heard.
The Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfishers were the first birds to be heard
calling and a Spectacled Monarch was the first bird to be see for 2008.
A walk around the Lodge grounds saw us log up just over 40 species
including a roosting Papuan Frogmouth, Pied Monarch, and a male
Cicadabird and hearing Noisy Pitta. The biggest dip in the grounds was a
Red-necked Crake which was present a few minutes before we appeared at
the crake pool and promptly reappeared just after we left! Mt. Lewis
proved magical as usual, four Chowchillas foraging on the path 3m in
front of us and four Fernwrens hopping around our feet. We dipped on the
Blue-faced Parrot-Finch which was seen by six others who were also
birding Mt. Lewis. Back to the Lodge for breakfast and off to Mt. Molloy
via a back road where we saw five Glossy Ibis in fantastic breeding
condition. The Great Bowerbirds put on a show at the Mt. Molloy school
with 3 bowers in action. Lake Mitchell, on the way to Mareeba, had a
variety of waterbirds including 20+ pairs of Green Pygmy Geese, Black
Swan, Australian Pelican and our only Noisy Friarbird for the day. Big
Mitchell Creek failed to turn up the White-browed Robins who were
feeding young several days before. Mareeba was a good choice as we saw
our only Bush Stone-curlew standing next to the main road, a Collared
Sparrowhawk was attending a very large white fluffy chick in its nest.
Further down near the airstrip we added Crested Pigeon, Singing Bushlark
and Richard’s Pipit. Back in Mareeba a lone Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo
obliging flew over and we fluked a Squatter Pigeon just out of town near
a small wetland.
Back to the Lodge for a lunch break before going down to the coast.
Newell Beach north of Mossman which was disappointing due to people and
dogs on the beach, but we did add Whimbrel, Pied Oystercatcher and
Crested Tern. Back to Port Douglas for a few waders, Sharp-tailed
Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt, Pacific Golden Plover and Black-fronted
Dotterel and a lone Rock Dove. On the way back to the Lodge we added
Brown Quail. Another break before we went spotlighting for 30 minutes
seeing a couple of Masked Owls and hearing an Australian Owlet Nightjar.
The final bird of the day was added over dinner when the Red-necked
Crakes started calling when a noisy motorbike went by (this also set of
the Bush-hens). So a pretty relaxed and enjoyable days birding saw us
end up with 150 species (no this figure was not contrived!), 130 seen
and 20 heard, Angus was one species less as he missed a Little Friarbird
whilst photographing a dragonfly! Lesson - don’t take cameras on a big
day. We were pleased with this years total as we passed last years 137
Good birding and best wishes to all in 2008.
Keith & Lindsay Fisher
Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge
RN 6 Mt. Kooyong Road
Julatten QLD 4871
Ph : (07) 4094 1263
Fax : (07) 4094 1466
Web Site: www.birdwatchers.com.au
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