Birds Australia North Queensland

Pied Imperial-Pigeon logo of BANQ

Birding and AGM at Innisfail, 21-22 June 2008

AGM Report

Members plus a few visitors including two-month old Tessa gathered at Innisfail State High School for the annual meeting, with Committee elections, reports and plans for the next 12 months. During lunch we explored rainforest gardens and water features built at the school by "Backyard Blitz", after the devastating effects of Cyclone Larry in 2006. Late Saturday afternoon, local members Sandra and Elaine led us for birdwatching and Atlassing at the Bulguru Swamp Revegetation Area, part of the Etty Bay Road Conservation Park where cyclone recovery is well underway. That evening an impressive menu and friendly staff greeted us at the Imperial Tavern for a great end to a successful Saturday.

Eubenangee Report by Greg Bortolussi

The Birds Australia NQ group all met at the Eubenangee Swamp carpark on the banks of the Alice River around 0730 Sunday, with a few stragglers turning up as we took in the birdlife around the bridge and forested edges. (We won’t mention the joke about the crocodiles, Czech and Kiwi tourists.) Forest Kingfishers shifted positions on the powerlines along the cane paddock while an Azure Kingfisher flew upstream when flushed. Yellow Orioles and Black Butcherbirds called from the dense forest. Four Topknot Pigeons headed east along the creek. Fifteen species were recorded before we set off on the rainforest walk along the river towards the Grassy Hill lookout. Just as many Large-billed Gerygones were encountered in the forest as on the edges. A Wompoo Fruit-Dove called from the other side of the creek. About halfway along the track we had good views of a Shining Flycatcher, Rufous Fantail, Spectacled Monarch and Little Shrike-thrush. A bit further along we encountered a trio of Black Butcherbirds and Willie Wagtails.

Reaching the foot of Grassy Hill we emerged from the rainforest to find that the wind was picking up. We started up the hill not knowing the surprise in store for us. From the lookout we got good views of Great, Intermediate and Cattle Egrets, Jacanas, Black, Wandering Whistling and Hardhead Ducks, and a collection of Little Pied Cormorants and Darters. Green Pygmy-geese moved across the swamp and could hardly be seen among the lilies when the wind gusted. They appeared to be aggressive with various individuals pursuing others. A Royal Spoonbill flew westwards towards the back of the swamp. As we were getting ready to move back down the hill we had a good sighting of a Swamp Harrier towards the rear of the swamp and it must have caught something when it dropped into the long grass. While we were on the hill we also got very good views of two crocodiles, the largest of which was very plump but kept its head obscured behind the sedges while the smaller one displayed a mouth full of teeth as it tried to make the most of the weak sun in the increasing wind.

Heading down the hill back to the river, we did not find any Little Kingfishers where the fishermen told us they had seen them. As we headed back we watched two Little Bronze-Cuckoos (a female and juvenile) dispute possession of a large yellow caterpillar in a low shrub while a female Leaden Flycatcher and Grey Fantail worked the upper foliage. Further towards the carpark a Swamp Harrier was spotted cruising out on the swamp near the tree line.

Little Bronze-Cuckoo with morning tea (larva of the 4 O'Clock Moth). Courtesy Alan Gillanders, Alan's Wildlife Tours»

As we departed the carpark, after having morning tea, last birds seen were a pair of Magpie-larks, a Swamp Harrier at high altitude and a Straw-necked Ibis coming in for a morning feed on the swamp. Despite the quietness of the morning due to windy conditions we managed to see and/or hear 41 species of birds.

Thankyou to Sandra Christensen who organised the weekend, and everyone who participated. Birding records as usual for BANQ outings, were contributed to the Birds Australia Atlas project.

Images: Saltwater Crocodile, S Carroll; 4 O'Clock Moth and Larva, A Gillanders; Water feature in the "Blitz" garden, Innisfail School, E Scambler; Birding at Eubenangee, A Gillanders; Sandra Christensen explains the redclaw facility at Innisfail School, E Scambler; Dinner at the Imperial Tavern, and Treasurer audits crustacean (I Preston)