Iron Range and northern Atherton Tablelands

To: John Tongue <>
Subject: Iron Range and northern Atherton Tablelands
From: John Tongue <>
Date: Sat, 26 Dec 2009 18:31:36 +1100
Oops, make that 225 species for the trip.

John T.

On 26/12/2009, at 6:21 PM, John Tongue wrote:

> Hi all,
> Not long back from a long-awaited trip to Iron Range (north Cape York), and 
> then some time around Cairns/Julatten.  Sorry about the belated nature of 
> this post, but we were only back a week before Christmas, and had to get 
> through the Christmas rush to get a moment to post this.
> For many years, I'd been wanting to visit Iron Range.  An inheritance made 
> this possible for our whole family, early in December.  We put it off as late 
> into the season as we could, to get the PNG migrants, but also had to be back 
> in reasonable time for Christmas (as I'm an Anglican Minister).  For months, 
> we gleaned snippets from Birding Aus, and other sources, and I want to thank 
> all those who gave us advice directly.
> We flew Tassie to Cairns, and then into Lockhart River, where we hired a 4WD 
> Troop Carrier from Lockhart River Car Hire.  Paul is fine about you taking 
> his 4WDs offroad (unlike some car hire companies), and was more than helpful, 
> with esky, water carrier, chairs and gas stove thrown in.  We stayed at 
> Portland roads, in the Portland Roads Beach Shack, and had a number of 
> (fantastic!) meals next door, at the "Out of the Blue" Cafe.  In our week at 
> Iron Range, we were able to check and double-check the main areas, eventually 
> seeing all the 'Iron Range Specials' apart from Marbled Frogmouth, which was 
> only heard.  This was partly due to lots of searching, and partly due to lots 
> of helpful advice - from Paul Piva, at the Car hire place, Greg and Sheree at 
> the Cafe, Brian Venables, who was there with some birding friends, and Klaus 
> Uhlenhut of Kirrama Tours, who was there with a tour group.
> Brian put us onto 4 Spotted Whistling Ducks that were on the Lockhart River 
> Sewage ponds, as well as giving helpful advice about the Yellow-billed 
> Kingfishers being easier at Chilli Beach than in the Rainforest.  Greg, at 
> the Cafe, pointed us in the right direction for a Fawn-breasted Bowerbird 
> bower, which made finding the bird so much easier.  Sheree told us where to 
> pull up to get views across to an active Eclectus Parrot nest.  And Klaus 
> gave us lots of tips and advice whenever our paths crossed, including 
> directing us to where a Red-bellied Pitta was calling, arriving from PNG just 
> the day before we left, and finally being tracked down by us on the morning 
> we left!!  I was so excited, I took lots and lots of pics from underneath its 
> perch, prompting my daughter to rib me about all my shots of Pitta-bottoms.  
> Added to this, we had great views of Papuan Frogmouth, Noisy Pitta, and many 
> of the other local specials (though some were really only glimpses).
> We then came back to Julatten, where Keith and Lindsay Fisher at Kingfisher 
> Lodge were very kind, generous and helpful hosts, who put up with us only 
> being round occasionally, as we visited lots of spots in the area.  We got 
> onto lots of species in the lodge grounds, as well as visiting Daintree, 
> Cairns, Emerald Creek Falls, Mt Carbine, Abbatoir Swamp, and Mt Lewis.  
> Unfortunately, no Blue-faced Parrot Finches, Golden Bowerbird, Red-necked 
> Crake, or Victoria's Riflebird, but some other great birds, including 
> fantastic waders at the Cairns Esplanade, Lovely Fairy-wren (finally) at 
> Redden Island, nesting Pacific Baza near Kingfisher Lodge, great views of 
> Tooth-billed Bowerbird at Mt Lewis, and 7 White-browed Crake, and a Black 
> Bittern at Mt Carbine Dam.
> All up, we scored 224 species for the trip, with the four of us in the family 
> seeing almost all birds.  This included 58 lifers for me, 59 for my wife 
> Shirley, 98 for our daughter Kimberley, and 99 for our son Peter.  It was a 
> fantastic trip, made the more enjoyable by all the information and assistance 
> given by many through this forum, and others on the ground.  Thank you all so 
> much.
> Continue to have a safe, bird-filled holiday season, and I look forward to 
> being in touch with many in the new year.
> Cheers all,
> John Tongue
> Ulverstone, Tas.
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