Birds Australia North Queensland

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BANQ Australia Day Long Weekend atKingfisher Park 23rd - 26th January 2009

The now traditional Australia Day Long Weekend field trip was again held at Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge, Julatten. This year marked 10 years of these long weekends and this was duly celebrated at the nearby Highlander Restaurant, on the Friday night, where 31 members attended. There were at least 5 members from the 1st year present including Ron and Susanne Stannard who were running the Lodge at that time.

The birding activity started on the Saturday morning with a leisurely walk around Geraghty Park and the Lodge grounds, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher was new for some members, a male and female Mistletoebird obligingly flew down to eye level for good views and Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfishers were flying aroung the Lodge grounds busy feeding their young at one of six nests. After breakfast we headed to Wessel Road near Abattoir Swamp where we walked through the woodland and swampy ground along the formed road. Here the main attraction was dragonflies and frogs but we did see some birds including Eastern Yellow Robin, Grey Shrike-thrush, Cicadabird and Great Bowerbird. From here we checked out a couple of Great Bowerbird bowers in Mount Molloy which had several birds in attendance, also Red-winged Parrot andBlue-faced Honeyeater here as well. Back to Julatten via Wetherby Road was productive for raptors with Whistling Kite, two Wedge-tailed Eagle and three Brown Falcon which are not common at this time of year. A few members saw some Black-chinned Honeyeaters in Julatten along the way

Photo of Lemon-bellied Flycatcher

Lemon-bellied Flycatcher (Courtesy Ian Montgomery, Birdway»)

The afternoon was spent up on Mt. Lewis at and around the well knownBlue-face Parrot-Finch site. We saw at least 3 parrot finches on our way up and at the finch site a further 6 plus. At the start of the dam walk a Fernwren popped up, other birds recorded included White-throated Treecreeper, Yellow-throated Scrubwren, Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Lewin’s and White-cheeked Honeyeater, Grey-headed Robin, Chowchilla, Bowers Shrike-thrush, Victoria’s Riflebird and Spotted Catbird. A female Golden Bowerbird was seen the following day by one of the members.

Photo of Mountain Thornbill

Mountail Thornbill at Mt Lewis (Courtesy Ian Montgomery,Birdway»)

The Saturday night communal dinner was excellent as usual, congratulations to all the cooks, and as normally happens we ate too much again! The dinner was followed by an excellent talk by Cliff and Dawn Frith, well known authors and photographers. The subject of their talk focused on the Madagascar endemic bird species plus some endemics from Mauritius and Reunion Islands, which they had photographed on a recent trip. Many of the species shown were in danger of extinction or in serious decline and finding these species was a mammoth task let alone photographing them. The use of guides, which was compulsory in National Parks, helped find some of the more elusive species. The degradation of the landscape where indigenous vegetation is cut and burned for subsistence charcoal production or is logged plus huge Sisal plantations and conversion of wetlands to growing rice made for depressing viewing. If you want to find out more about this go to . The variety of birds and Lemurs shown was a credit to Cliff and Dawn’s organisation and patience which encouraged members to visit in the near future before anymore species are lost. We thank them for their time in preparing and showing the Madagascar wildlife to the 45+ members in attendance. After the show a Sooty Owl called and a few of us set out to find it but only found a Papuan Frogmouth eating an insect.

Photo of Papuan Frogmouth

The Papuan Frogmouth eating an insect (Courtesy Ian Montgomery,Birdway»)

Sunday morning we headed out to Mowbray National Park where we were going for a walk along the Bump Track to the falls. Some members made this walk whilst others missed the track and ended up walking the Bump Track in the opposite direction! This was OK in the end as we logged up many good species including Superb-Fruit Dove, Lovely Fairy-wren, Male and female Scarlet Honeyeater, Northern Fantail, Barred Cuckoo-shrike and male Cicadabird in the woodland. In the rainforest to the falls good birds such as Superb-Fruit Dove, Noisy Pitta, Chowchilla andYellow-breasted Boatbill were recorded. A bonus was a Spotted Tree Monitor seen in the woodland up a tree before running off into some long grass.

Photo of Noisy Pitta

Noisy Pitta (Courtesy Ian Montgomery, Birdway»)

In the afternoon we headed down to the coast north of Mossman where we found at least 2 Red-rumped Swallow mixed in with the Welcome Swallows, Fairy and Tree Martins but no sign of the Barn Swallows which have been here. A few people went down to Palm Cove, north of Cairns to tick off the Laughing Gull which was still hanging around there whilst the rest of us went on to Newell Beach where we found Crested and Lesser Crested Tern plus a Common Sandpiper. Next stop was Cooya Beach where we had good looks at Mangrove Kingfisher and a variety of waders plus we heardMangrove Robin calling in the mangroves. Good views were had of the male and female Shining Flycatcher and Black Butcherbird in the mangroves beside the Killaloe Rubbish Tip road on the way to Port Douglas. Before the evening meal we went over to Geraghty Park and viewed at least one pair of Masked Owl and possibly two. After dinner we checked out a light trap we had set for moths, plenty of beetles and a few moths gave good photographic opportunities. 

Photo of Red-rumped Swallow

Red-rumped Swallow north of Mossman (Courtesy Ian Montgomery, Birdway»)

Monday morning we were met with rain after three days of good weather so most people packed up early and headed home south to Townsville and north to Cooktown and all places in between. Another successful Australia Day weekend was had and the weather behaved allowing us to get around and record 142 bird species for the three days.

Keith & Lindsay Fisher.

Photo of Masked Owl

One of the Masked Owls in Geraghty Park (Courtesy Ian Montgomery, Birdway»)