Late FNQ Trip report - November/December 2008

To: <>
Subject: Late FNQ Trip report - November/December 2008
From: "Troy Mutton" <>
Date: Sat, 10 Jan 2009 14:50:05 +1100
Hi Birders,

Here's my trip report from a trip to the Wet Tropics, 25/11/08 - 1/12/08

My targets were obviously all the endemics, and apart from Golden Bowerbird and 
Victoria's Riflebird, I got them all. I've got these birds on previous trips 
however, so I now have the bag of Wet Tropic endemics. The other 2 targets I 
had were Buff-breasted Paradise-kingfisher and Blue-faced Parrot-finch - I got 
repeated, good views of the Kingfisher at Kingfisher Park, and tickable but 2 
separate, very brief views of individual BFPF's at the Mt Lewis clearing. I 
won't go into the full specifics of everything, but just a few highlights.

Day 1 - Left home in Sydney at 6ish am, in balmy 13 degree morning temps - 
Sydney having experienced a fairly mellow start to summer - and arrived in 
Cairns at around 10 am, stepping off the plane into 34+ degrees with a somewhat 
markable increase in humidity! picked up the hire car and drove off to the 
mangrove boardwalk, which was dead quiet so I didn't bother doing the boardwalk 
at this stage. Worked out how to put the car in reverse (some strange pull up 
the ring and shift it the other way contraption) and off to Cairns to visit the 
Esplanade and get supplies for the next few days. Visit 1 of 5 to The Esplanade 
was brilliant, although all my gear was fogged up and not coping with the 
change of climate - a bit like the birder! Still, my first "tropical" birds 
were found here - Varied Honeyeater, Sunbird, Black-necked Stork, and 
shorebirds I'm used to seeing in small numbers, if at all, in large numbers - 
Greater and Lesser Sand-plover, plenty of Whimbrel, Sanderling, Knots, 
Sharpies, Curlew Sands etc. After picking up supplies, it was off to Mission 
Beach to find Cassowary.

Day 2 - After spending around 3 hours walking/driving around the Mission Beach 
hotspots, inc. Lacey Creek and Licuala Palms, and only finding Cassowary poo, I 
decided to give Etty Bay a crack, and if I failed there, going to Cassowary 
House and trying there. I packed my gear away (mistake #1) in preparation for 
the trip to Etty Bay as I prepared to leave Licuala Palms SF, and as I pulled 
out of the car-park and started on the way out of the park, I saw a Cassowary 
on the road walking towards me, about 100 metres away! Immediately reached into 
my bag on the passenger seat and started extricating my camera, and by the time 
I got it out, the cassowary was gone. Drove to where it disappeared into the 
forest, and got out and had a look, but no joy. Oh well - I saw it, that's good 
enough for me. Next on the agenda was getting to Kingfisher Park via Atherton, 
which was an enjoyable drive, although I was chased by not insignificant (for 
me) storms from Mareeba to Julatten. At least it made the tent pegs easy to 
hammer in. Spent the evening staking out the Crake pool for evening 1 of 3 
non-successful stakeouts - this evening with the company of Doug from the south 
coast of NSW, and we gave up when rain drove us away. Best birds of the 
stakeout were Azure Kingfisher and Noisy Pitta - a scene to be repeated before 
my time was done.

day 3 - Up early to bird around head out to Mary Farms to get onto some 
Bustards, seeing 3 birds, including a flyby. At Mt Carbine dam, got shots of a 
Black Kite flying through the woodland, and of something up very high that had 
me thinking Red Goshawk, but not convincing me of it... showed the shots to 
John Young the next day and he sorted me out - juvenile male Brown Goshawk - 
called as soon as he saw the image on my little LCD display. Anyway - back down 
to Mareeba to have a look at what I couldn't see due to the storms, and off to 
Mt Molloy to get onto Great Bowerbird, found after driving around this lovely 
village looking like a dodgy stalker - I found the Bowerbirds near the school - 
never a good look to be driving at 10-15kmh around schools... Back to 
Kingfisher Park where I came across a fool-proof way of getting onto 
Buff-breasted Paradise-kingfishers - buy beer, and sit on the chair in the 
orchard and wait until they turn up. After 2 beers, I had a displaying bird 
come and put on a show for me. After this, I unsuccessfully staked out the 
Crake pool again. Highlight of the evening was a Sooty Owl calling loudly near 
the kitchen, before rapidly flying off towards the orchard. He called on 
occasion throughout the night, waking me at irregular intervals, yet not 

Day 4 - Up early again to head up to Mt Lewis - god's own country. The clearing 
at Mt Lewis is an easy, easy place to bird. Walking from one end to the other 
revealed dozens of birds, including Blue-faced Parrot-finch. There were 2 birds 
- one on the right as I drove into the clearing, at the first bit of grass, and 
the second more towards the middle of clearning, on the left side near the path 
towards the dam. I spent about 4.5 hours at Mt Lewis, and would have stayed for 
longer, but I ran out of water. Back to Kingfisher Park to unsuccessfully 
stakeout the Crake/s. The evening was spent with John Young and his returned 
tour group from Cape York. John is one of the friendliest people I've met, and 
despite raucous conversation, managed to stop the conversation as a Bush-hen 
called. How he heard it amongst the laughter I do not know, but he did. He put 
me on to see Chook at Mareeba Wetlands to see Black-throated Finches, so my 
next days morning agenda was planned.

Day 5 - Up a bit later today, following a few too many wines the night before. 
Birded around Kingfisher Park and packed up the tent. Off to Mareeba Wetlands 
to let Chook know that John Young told me he'd get me Black-throated Finches - 
despite putting in 3 hours or so of driving, the closest we got was a recently 
disused nest. Still - had a great time - cheers Chook! Off to Wonga Beach via 
Newell Beach (for Barn or Red-rumped Swallows - that arrived a week later!!!) 
to prepare for a morning trip with Chris Dahlberg on the Daintree.

Day 6 - Did the cruise with Chris and an American Family - highlight being a 
pair of Pale-vented Bush-hen, numerous Black Bittern, many close encounters 
with Azure Kingfisher, and Shining Flycatcher on nests. Following the cruise, 
it was back to Wonga Beach to try, again, for Beach Stone-curlew. No BSC's, but 
I did find the crocodile that had been reported off the beach the day before. 
After that, it was off to Cairns to stay at a (dodgy) backpackers hostel where 
despite having a single room with AC, I managed to have a terrible time.

Day 7 - was planning on going out to Michaelmas Cay, but I was feeling super 
run-down after the previous weeks activity, so didn't go (mistake #2). Off to 
Redden Island instead - a fantastic place! I see that dog walkers in North 
Queensland are as interested in not disturbing roosting shorebirds as 
everywhere else, as despite being the first person at the mouth of the river, 
and clearly looking at/taking pictures of the birds feeding on the 
sand/mudflats, a dog walker let their animals off leash as they went running 
into the flocks of birds. As a plus - these dogs flushed 3 Beach Stone-curlew, 
which I had all but written off after walking many a beach.

Day 8 - Up early and packing the car up for a last day around Cairns. I'd been 
to most of the places I had planned for this last day already, so went to the 
Esplanade again, where I ran into Keith Fisher. He put me on to Pacific Golden 
Plovers among the grass. A Caspian Tern was also down there nicely pirouetting 
with the wings up for me. An Osprey was fishing off shore, and I have a series 
of yet to be edited photos of a dive and splash. It was really quite hot this 
day, and after another night of hostel accommodation (never again) I spent the 
day at the shopping centre enjoying the air-conditioning in the heat of the 
day, and checked out a few other spots, before getting on my late flight back 
to Sydney.

Of the 2000+ photos I took, I've posted around 70 here (more to come)

Over the 8 days I was there, I got 43 lifers. My eternal thanks to Keith and 
Lindsay Fisher, Dion Hobcroft, John Young, Chook, Chris Dahlberg, Alan 
Gillanders and everyone who has posted trip reports to this email list. Species 
lists available on request.

Sorry for the late report, but I came back to moving house, and as with trying 
to get any services looked at around the christmas period, internet was *very* 
slow to be reconnected.


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>

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