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Total Bird Species: 300 New 'Lifers': 55
07/10/14 - On the way home tomorrow after 12 weeks on the road. Sunday started with a walk around Lake Anderson, adding Little Grassbird to our total before heading to Bartleys Block where we saw Speckled Warbler, White-browed Babbler and Varied Sitella. Whilst driving along Mt. Pleasant Rd., we came upon a pair of Painted Button-quail. I immediately stopped the car and was reaching for the camera when along came the first car we had seen on the tracks all day. Birds gone but total species up to 298. Monday was time to check out the local dams and waterways, all full from recent rain. Red-kneed Dotterel at No. 1 Dam and we're up to 299. Disappointing was the lack of water birds on the dams, obviously too much choice. A lot of searching for one more trip bird during the rest of the day without success. Monday, off to Honeyeater Dam, also very quiet. A walk around the White Box Track and, at last, Black-chinned Honeyeater, giving us 300 birds for the trip.
Now, where to go next!
04/10/14 - At Chiltern for at least 4 nights before heading home. The chance of any new birds is relatively low as we are back in very familiar territory. The next 'goal' is to see if we can make 300 species for the trip. Added European Goldfinch today, not overly noteworthy but it does count.
01/10/14 - Arrived at Tamworth on Saturday 27th, rendezvoused with Brian, then straight out to the farm to meet his father, Eric, and settle in. On arrival we were surprised at how familiar the birds were around us. Superb Fairy-wren nearly hopping on your feet, Zebra and Double-barred Finch close by the van in an orange tree. Willie Wagtail with their nests built on the open shed rafters, Little Corella and Galah nesting in hollows close by and many other species seen overhead. Hardly any need to go birding elsewhere but, of course, we did. The scenes below are of the farm and the Peel River which is one boundary of the 320 acres. Some birding highlights were Spiny-cheeked and Painted Honeyeater, Rufous Songlark, Hooded Robin, Plum-headed Finch and Diamond Firetail. The bird photographs are a small selection of the impressive 110 species Brian and Eric showed us during our stay. Would we return for another stay? A definite yes. Leaving for overnight stops at Dubbo and West Wyalong before a stay at one of our favourite birding spots, Chiltern, before heading home.
23/09/14 - Our stay at Mackay had us out early and back at the caravan no later than mid afternoon. Temperatures were mid 20's but the humidity was very high. The caravan park was on the edge of a large lake with a good variety and numbers of birds. Our first choice of walk was thwarted by the closure of the boardwalk though we were compensated by good views of Pacific Koel. A visit to the Mackay Botanic Gardens was rewarded with some spectacular plants in full bloom, especially the endangered Swamp Orchid kept in a lockable garden with other valuable species. The gardens are set along the edge of The Lagoons which made for good birding, large numbers of Magpie Geese, Hardhead, Grey Teal, Australasian Figbird and many more.
A drive around the town's waterways, with random stops at mangrove habitat, eventually produced views rather than only the calls of the elusive, to us, Mangrove Gerygone. Back at the caravan with a new tick, Denise looked out of the front opening to see two Torresian Imperial Pigeon perched five metres away. We dropped everything to get to the car for binoculars and camera, the birds meanwhile sitting quietly as if to say 'what's the rush'.
Off to Rockhampton and our first encounter with serious rainfall - 83mm. A half day was spent at Yeppoon before forced inactivity for most of our stay. Fortunately, we were able to visit the Botanic and Kershaw Gardens after the rain eased. Noisy Miner and Blue-faced Honeyeater seemed to dominate the gardens, we saw very few small birds whilst walking around, though we did have good views of a pair of Pale-headed Rosella checking out a nesting hollow. Crested Pigeon were displaying everywhere and waterfowl were taking advantage of the food provided by the increased water levels caused by the rain.
The next 4 days will be spent travelling from Rockhampton QLD. to Tamworth NSW via Maryborough, Toowoomba and Tenterfield. We are meeting a friend, Brian, at Tamworth and will be staying at his father's farm for 5 nights.
17/09/14 - Our first morning at Cape Hillsborough NP found us on the beach at 6.00 a.m. to see the Agile Wallabies feed at the waters edge. Normally they forage for their natural food but someone had, against all warnings, put food out. We informed the park operators, who are forbidden to feed any wildlife, and they will pass it on to the parks people. The 2 Eastern Grey Kangaroos are both female and are the last of a group that were relocated to the area years ago. Orange-footed Scrubfowl were common in the park as were Bar-shouldered Doves. We had been hearing another dove calling and finally located it, a Rose-crowned Fruit Dove, new for us both. A day trip to Eungella NP was a success. We had sightings of the Eungella Honeyeater at 2 locations, the second also giving good views of Wompoo Fruit Dove. The variety of wildlife that was readily seen at Hillsborough NP made the stay very enjoyable (except for the hungry midges).
We are in Mackay for 3 nights then off to Rockhampton.
11/09/14 - A trip to the Townsville Palmetum then Oak Valley Reserve the following day, finished our tripping around the Townsville area. The Palmetum was very interesting with the variety of palms on show, well set out with a lovely lagoon at the centre. Unfortunately, a section was closed for health reasons due to a high number of Little Red Flying Foxes roosting within the gardens. Arriving in Bowen, we set up and started to think about where to go. A walk along the beach at low tide revealed a number of Whimbrel on the sands and the inevitable Silver Gulls but little else. Across the road was a small lagoon which gave us good views of Black-fronted Dotterel, Eastern Curlew and a very shy Buff-banded Rail. Touring the various beaches, mostly book-ended by large rocky outcrops, showed us why the Whitsundays are so popular. The outcrops provided us with our first Sooty Oystercatcher and Eastern Reef Egret/Pacific Reef Heron (depending on what list you use) for the trip. A very relaxing four days. Leaving Friday for Cape Hillsborough Nature Reserve for five nights with the Eungella Honeyeater being 'the' bird we will be hoping to find.
03/09/14 - Arrived Townsville Thursday afternoon and settled in. First
visit was to the Townsville Town Common where we notched up our 250th
bird species for the trip, Whiskered Tern. Saturday saw us keeping away from
the city, heading south towards Ayr to the Horseshoe Lagoon. While looking at
an Australasian Pipit over the fence, a car pulled up beside us. Thinking they
were fellow birdwatchers, we waited to be asked what we were looking at.
Instead, it turned out to be the farmer who owned the property and informed us
that the gates just down the road were accessible to us for that day, told us to
park under a shady tree and walk around the lagoons at our leisure. We had
stops at Cocoa and Alligator Creeks in the Bowling Green Bay N.P. on our return
to the van. Sunday was a trip to Willows Rotary Market and a bit of shopping
then a quiet afternoon. Monday was spent visiting the Reef HQ Aquarium and
their Turtle Hospital, currently with 5 patients, then lunch and a walk along
The Strand. Our next port of call was the Ross River Dam which provides up to 80% of
Townsvilles water. Plenty of birds, Allied Rock Wallabies so close you could
nearly touch them and turtles sunning themselves on the lake wall. Another day
off followed as the car underwent the necessary 80,000 km service. Thursday will see us
catching up with friends, Peter and Julie. I worked with Peter at Victoria
Barracks, Melbourne, back in the 70’s. We leave Townsville on Monday the 8th
28/08/14 - Day one at Ingham naturally saw us at Tyto Wetlands. A 3
hour walk around the wetlands whetted our appetite for more, 60 birds for the day
with Brown-backed Honeyeater and Tawny Grassbird added to our lifers tally, so
we immediately extended our stay to 7 nights. The following day saw us
travelling the winding road to Paluma for another look through the rainforest,
a tiring drive with all the switchbacks and having to constantly watch for
oncoming traffic that wanted our side of the road. Birds were hard to find and
difficult to identify as they would show a glimpse before finding a convenient
leaf/twig to hide behind. We did manage to get one lifer, Fernwren, during our
third walk of the day. Next trip out was to Wallaman Falls, which is Australia's longest permanent single-drop waterfall. Quite spectacular, one wonders what it would be like in the wet season! Next, back to Tyto Wetlands for an early morning walk added White-browed Crake to our lifers list.
Our final outing from Ingham was to Lucinda Beach, getting Varied Honeyeater in the mangroves at low tide together with some early migratory arrivals - Grey-tailed Tattler and Great Knot in breeding plumage together with Bar-tailed Godwits and some resident Whimbrel and Eastern Curlew.
- Leaving Fishery Falls on Saturday, the local mountains were clearing
from an overnight fog, Walsh’s Pyramid is shown below. The day was spent in
Cairns, most of it walking the tracks of the Botanic Gardens, Centenary Lakes
and Mt. Whitfield C.P. with Barred Cuckoo-shrike, Black Butcherbird and Nutmeg
Mannikin added to our new species. Raja Shelduck were present, a bird we last
saw in the N.T. in 1991. A compulsory
stop was the Cairns Cemetery for good views and photos of Bush Stone-curlew,
though we had previously seen them in Yungaburra at the rear of the Anglican
Church. Back to Cairns on Monday to check out The Esplanade proved quite
fruitful, with an immediate sighting of Sacred Kingfisher closely followed by
3 new lifers: Mangrove Robin, Broad-billed Flycatcher and Beach Stone-curlew.
Tuesday we arrived at Etty Bay for 2 nights to look for Southern Cassowary.
While sitting at the back of the caravan, a juvenile walked by as if we weren’t
there. From what we learned from the regular visitors, it was last year's chick
and had only recently been driven off by the father. Hopefully it means that
the male is incubating a new clutch. We left Etty Bay today, stopping at
Cardwell for coffee and a walk along the Wetlands Trail sighting Collared Kingfisher and another lifer,
Little Kingfisher. Now at Ingham for at least 4 nights.
15/08/14 - Monday morning produced excitement around the Lodge as, finally, we heard Double-eyed Fig-Parrot coming in to feed rather than the usual sounds of departure. People with and without cameras were quickly gathered for good views. We then left for the Daintree River for the day doing a short cruise on the river. A Forest Kingfisher posed at Daintree Village prior to our cruise. Crocodiles, snakes and butterflies were seen in abundance. We left Kingfisher Park on Tuesday for Fishery Falls, a camp ground app. 40km south of Cairns, recommended to be spacious and quiet rather than being packed in like sardines in the city caravan parks. A good choice. Next we went to Cattana Wetlands near Yorkeys Knob where we had stayed in 1988. Cattana is a well kept park with beautiful walks and good birding. Comb-crested Jacana, brilliant Crimson Finch, Mistletoebird and a Little Bronze-Cuckoo were birding highlights. The afternoon saw us on Redden Island with Peaceful Dove, Large-billed Gerygone (a lifer), Spangled Drongo, Brahminy Kite, Common Tern and Bar-tailed Godwit putting in appearances prior to our returning to Fishery Falls. Another RDO (rainy day off) followed with no chance to get out as the rain hardly let up and continued throughout the night. Despite the forecast for more rain, the following day we went to Babinda, south of Fishery Falls and from there to Eubenangee Swamp N.P., seeing a Great-billed Heron (another lifer) in flight across the swamp, then lunch at Bramston Beach. To finish the day we went back through Babinda to Boulders Gorge Park and admired the sculpted rocks worn away over the eons.
10/08/14 - Left Lake Eacham and travelled to Kingfisher Park stopping
for lunch at Mareeba. What should have been a brief drive became longer due to a
few sudden stops, first for an Eastern Osprey at nest and further on for
Black-necked Stork, Comb-crested Jacana and surprisingly, our first Black Swan
of the trip. Wednesday was spent birding around Kingfisher Park and Abattoir
Swamp, with good results. Next day the rain and drizzle persisted so we went
south to Mareeba Wetlands for the day. Australian Bustard, Pacific Baza,
Double-barred Finch during the day, 11 Barn Owl and a Papuan Frogmouth during a
night walk at Kingfisher Park were some birding highlights. Also seen on the
night walk were 4 species of frog (Dainty Green Tree, White-lipped Tree,
Cogger’s and Junguy), a Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko, Striped Possum, Northern
Brown Bandicoot and Spectacled Flying Fox. A trip up Mt Lewis and a walk along
the rainforest track gave us views of Chowchilla – 8 together. Further down the
mountain we had great views of a male Victoria's Riflebird. Next day, out to
Mount Molloy township for some stops along Rifle Creek which produced new
lifers including Grey Whistler, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Varied Triller, Fairy
Gerygone and Lovely Fairy-wren. Today is Sunday and quite wet so we are
catching up on some chores and birding at the park between the rain..
04/08/14 - Stayed at Ravenshoe Heritage Steam Railway for three nights from July 28th. Went down to Millstream Falls for some scenery and birding then spent time birding along the Tully Falls Road. Next day, we drove to the Tully Gorge NP for birdwatching then we drove on to Koombooloomba Dam. A visit to Little Millstream Falls ended another day of birding. Moved on to Lake Eacham on 31st July for a five night stay. From here we radiated out to see some more of the sights in the southern Atherton Tablelands. Bird highlights included six Sarus Crane feeding in a ploughed field, Victoria's Riflebird (F), Pied and Spectacled Monarch, Atherton Scrubwren, Grey-headed Robin and Orange-footed Scrubfowl (all new lifers). Despite near constant drizzle for the last two days we have managed to get out and about, stopping as breaks in the weather allowed. One such stop produced another lifer, Plumed Whistling Duck. Leaving Lake Eacham and our hosts Liz, Lionel and Sandy on Tuesday 5th, setting off for Kingfisher Park, Julatten, for at least a week.
28/07/14 - Left Clermont for Charters Towers on 25/7/14. Saw approximately 2000 Brolga by a dam, in the air above and in a nearby paddock amongst the remains of a crop. Fantastic! Stopped for lunch at Belyando Crossing where a Spotted Bowerbird caught our attention. After an overnight stop in Charters Towers we headed off for the Undara Volcanic National Park. En route we chorused 'Bustard' as an Australian Bustard (a new species for us) appeared at the side of the road. Several sections of the Gregory Developmental Road were only single lane and road trains got priority every time (and even on the two lane sections it was advisable to move over to the left to give them sufficient space). Spent two nights at Undara which gave us the opportunity to do a tour of the lava tubes and to drive to Kalkani Crater where a walk around the rim of the Crater allowed us views of other extinct volcanoes in the area. Later in the day we found a pair of Squatter Pigeon (new) not far from camp. Another new bird, Pheasant Coucal was seen on the trip to Ravenshoe where we are basing ourselves for a while prior to reaching Kingfisher Park.
24/7/14 - We are at Clermont, leaving for Charters Towers in the morning. We had a 3 night stay at Emerald. We met our niece for half a day and had a tour of the large cattle station she works on. It is all scientific now with different measures of types of mixes to the different feed lots, all depending on which market they are going to. A surprise there on the bird front, at least 100 Brolga around the feed lots and the near-by dams. We had a good walk around the Emerald Botanic Gardens, many types of palms and cycads within the planted area. A visit to the Centenary of Federation Mosaic Pathway and to the Big Easel to see a huge painting of one of Vincent Van Gogh's sunflower works on a 25 metres high structure rounded off the sight-seeing in Emerald.
It was a short trip today so we had time to visit Theresa Creek Dam, a popular spot for camping, fishing and bird watching. The water is not suitable for human consumption but the birds don't seem to mind. White-bellied Sea-Eagle overhead, Black and Whistling Kite soaring high and also skimming the water for a drink . The inevitable Silver Gull where there is a large body of water and a number of Caspian Tern. Highlight of the day was the discovery of our first new 'lifer' of the trip, six Cotton Pygmy Goose on a dam while returning to Clermont.
20/7/14 - At Roma, Qld. Off to Emerald tomorrow where we are going to have a 3 night stay, catching up with our niece and taking some time to look around. Managed some photography the last couple of days. Some surprises on the way in that we didn't see a Magpie-lark until 167 km on the road and an unbelievable 1321 km to see our first Whistling Kite for the trip. Nankeen Kestrel and Black-shouldered Kite have been in very high numbers everywhere due to abundant food.
Finally found some warmth, 19 deg this afternoon but forecast for -2 overnight.
18/7/14 - Left home on the 16th as scheduled, reaching Tocumwal on the N.S.W. side of the Murray. Next day to West Wyalong stopping briefly for a walk around the lake at Jerilderie, then on to Dubbo for Friday night. Very cold days with West Wyalong down to 3 degrees at 9.00 a.m. and a wind chill factor of heaps. Dubbo started the day at minus 1.1 deg, we are supposed to be heading to the warmer weather! Too cold to stop for birding, most sightings have been from the car or our overnight stops.