The Long Weekend in May, provided an excellent opportunity for the members of Birds Australia in N. Qld to hold their A.G.M. in Paluma, in the rainforest north of Townsville. Beth Snewin arranged with some of the local residents to provide accommodation privately, as well as sending out information on the Motel and other Business Holiday places and organising the use of the Community Hall where the meetings were held. Committee members gathered at 10.00a.m. - some having arrived the night before, while others made the long drive from Cairns that morning - in the Hall to begin proceedings with a delicious morning tea. Lunch of hot home-made soup (Beth's work) and bread rolls was partaken of in between the Committee meeting and the A.G.M. when a few other members joined the group.
Following that, everyone drove out to the Eucalyptus Grandis Forest, 14 kms west to walk the old timber track in search of more species. A very pleasant time with some excellent sightings - Scarlet Honeyeater, Pied Monarch (juvenile), White-throated Treecreeper, Grey Fantail, Golden & Rufous Whistlers, Eastern Yellow Robin, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters and White-naped Honeyeaters being some of the more interesting finds. The search for Crested Shrike-tits proved unsuccessful and there was no sight nor sound of the Glossy Black Cockatoos that also live in that area. A Fan-tailed Cuckoo called persistently until it was seen along the road to Puzzle Creek, a little further south, but still no Shrike-tit.That evening a Pot-luck dinner was enjoyed in the hall as testament to the culinary skills of some of the members. Ian Montgomery supplied some excellent entertainment with his fabulous slides and talk entitled “Birding in Alaska”. Many hands helped with the cleaning up of the hall before everyone drifted off to their respective beds.
On Sunday morning, with heavy cloud cover over Paluma many keen people did the short trails around the village before the general return to the Grandis Forest area. Still no Shrike-tit or Glossy Black, but Roy heard the latter further along the Taravale road and later we learnt that some of the B.O.C.A. members who were camped on Taravale, actually saw a group of them. Back towards the Paluma Dam, to find two Golden Bowerbird bowers along the way and a quick walk down to Birthday Creek Falls filled in more time before the arrival at the Dam for lunch. Dozens of campers there virtually wiped out any chance of finding a good bird, but Topknots were seen twice flying overhead.
Group Photo at Birthday Creek Falls
Photo courtesy Alan Gillanders
By mid afternoon, light drizzle had set in so most people retired to their accommodation for a rest before dressing for dinner at the Restaurant. By 6p.m. thick cloud had settled over the Village and this made the short drive very interesting as we navigated our way along the narrow road, remembering to keep alert for late walkers who suddenly loom out of the dense fog. 20 members met there for a very social evening with good food and wine which included a farewell to a long term member Jo Wieneke who is moving south to be near family. We finished the evening with a great view of a Papuan Frogmouth near the Hall.
Convenor Alan Gillanders presents Jo Wieneke with a Certificate of Appreciation at the Dinner
Photo courtesy Alan Gillanders
On Monday morning a few enthusiastic birders returned to the Grandis for a last, but successful search for the elusive Crested Shrike-tit. Well done Ivor, Karen & Ian. Others moved on to do a walk of the Tyto Wetlands in Ingham, while a couple made detours to Balgal Beach - very little of interest other than dozens of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos tearing up the Fiji Almond nuts - and then to the Bluewater Boat Ramp for good views of White-bellied Seaeagle, Brahminy Kite, Aust. Kestrel, Whistling Kite, Black Kite and what was probably a Little Eagle (couldn't identify it positively), as well as a strange Kingfisher which was most likely a juvenile Sacred, but the books didn't have the head right - a very distinct, thick and long yellow eyebrow??
Male Crested Shrike-tit in the Grandis Forest
Photo courtesy Ian Montgomery
The 2009 A.G.M. is now but a pleasant memory thanks to all those who participated, and we look forward to the next BANQ outing.