Birds Australia North Queensland

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BANQ Australia Day Long Weekend atKingfisher Park 25th - 28th January

The now traditional Australia Day Long Weekend field trip was again held at Kingfisher Park, Julatten. Unlike previous years we had wonderful weather for the full 3 days activities with people arriving on the Friday for the start of the program on the Saturday. Those lucky people on the BA-NQ committee had the day to hold their meeting whilst the rest of us had to go birdwatching! The morning was spent up on Mt. Lewis at and around the well known Blue-face Parrot-Finch site. We were not disappointed as at least 8 BFP Finches were in the area; also a pair of Double-eyed Fig-Parrot was seen along the road. A slow walk down to the Dam had a pair of Yellow-throated Scrubwren feeding a youngster, several Chowchilla foraging on the edge of the track, good views of Spotted Catbird and Bowers Shrike-thrush plus a few Atherton Scrubwren in the undergrowth. Many other species were seen beside these and combined with the sunny weather made for a great morning.

Blue-faced Parrot-Finch at Mt Lewis (Courtesy Ian Montgomery, Birdway»)

The afternoon field trip took us around some of the back roads in Julatten stopping of at a seasonal wetland where we had Brown Quail, Buff-banded Rail, Red-backed Fairy-wren and a flock of White-breasted Woodswallow. Along the Wetherby Road towards Mt. Molloy we stopped to find a small flock of Brown-backed Honeyeater and at the Wetherby Swamp was a lone Green Pygmy-goose and Comb-crested Jacana. We returned via Abattoir Swamp where the best birds were White-browed Crake and a Northern Fantail on a nest.

The Saturday night communal dinner was excellent, congratulations to all the cooks, and as usual we ate too much again. The dinner was followed by an excellent talk by John Clarkson, Principal Botanist from Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service who gave us a thought provoking look at introduced grasses and their impact on wildlife mainly in the Tropical Savanna of the north. These grasses are changing the ecology of the landscape, causing irreparable damage to mature trees when they are burnt and this will inevitably result in a changed landscape and bad news for the native animals living in it. You can find out more on the web at http://savanna.ntu.edu.au/research/projects/impacts_of_exotic_g.html.

Nesting Northern Fantail at Abbatoir Swamp (Courtesy Ian Montgomery,Birdway»)

The Sunday field trip was north to the Hurricane Station area and onto a section of Brooklyn Station across the Mitchell River. Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours had kindly organised the field trip which was so well attended we had to split up into two groups. First stop was north of Mt. Carbine for one group who found Little Bronze-Cuckoo whilst the other group went onto McLeod River. Here was found the population of White-gaped Honeyeater which are present along the river here. These birds occur further south around Townsville but avoid the Wet Tropics area, are found around Georgetown to the west and then re-appear along the McLeod River and then north across onto Western Australia. Also of interest here was a pair of Grey Goshawk, three Channel-billed Cuckoo, Dollarbird and Fairy Gerygone. A dam along the Kondaparinga Road was very productive, several Australian Wood Duck flew off as we arrived and in the woodland around it was a Squatter Pigeon in a tree, the north Queensland race of the Noisy Miner, a few Black-throated Finch, several Brown Treecreeper (NE Qld race melanotis called the Black Treecreeper, this location is on their southern distribution limit), one pair was feeding nestlings who were in a nest situated in the fork of a tree. Further along the road we stopped to see some more Black-throated Finch who cooperated and allowed everyone to get good views. The group then travelled across the Cooktown Crossing on the Mitchell River into Brooklyn Station, the Australian Wildlife Conservation property. Of interest here was Galah, a roosting Southern Boobook and nesting Tawny Frogmouth. No signs of the Variegated Fairy-wren Del had found here a while back, a considerable range extension. It was an excellent day trip with plenty of interesting country and birds found.

Northern race of Brown Treecreeper, Hurricane Station (Courtesy Ian Montgomery,Birdway»)

The evening was spent watching a DVD called "A Flash of Blue" which was mainly about the Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher and the Azure Kingfisher. The filming was done around Kingfisher Park by Mr. Shimada, a Japanese film maker, who spent 3 months making the film. The result was a very good insight into the breeding ecology of the Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher.

Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher at Kingfisher Park (Courtesy Ian Montgomery, Birdway»)

Monday morning we went for a 2 hour bird walk around Kingfisher Park and the surrounds. It started well with two Pale-vented Bush-hen (new name) walking across Mt. Kooyong Road, we also saw Buff-banded Rail with three fluffy black chicks, Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher and Bridled Honeyeater which was unusual at this time of year (they are normally at higher altitudes). We ended up with 60 species of which 11 were heard only.

Some of the group re-visited Mt. Lewis in the morning and found Fernwren which was not seen on our previous trip.

Fernwren at Mt Lewis (Courtesy Ian Montgomery, Birdway»)

A big thank you to John for his presentation on Saturday and providing the projector for Sunday night, Del for organising the Sunday trip and all the people (40+) who attended the weekend making it one of the more successful BA-NQ socialising and birding weekends.

The total number of species logged down for the weekend was 145.

See you all at the official 10th anniversary of the BA-NQ Australia Day weekends at Kingfisher Park in 2009.

Keith & Lindsay Fisher.