Logo of BirdLife Northern Queensland

Logo of BirdLife Northern Queensland

Outing to Gourka Road, Atherton Tableland, 19 February 2012.

A small but enthusiastic band of birders gathered outside the Butchers Creek School in the misty morning. Members from Townsville, Innisfail and Mossman joined one local to search the rainforest edges between there and Bartle Frere. Thankfully the local had extra wet weather gear.

Blue-faced Parrot-Finch (Courtesy Ian Montgomery)

Even before we had gathered many good birds had been seen and a mammal specimen gathered for the Museum of Tropical Qld. Buff-banded Rails fed along the roadside. A white phase Grey Goshawk plummeted past one car and both species of swifts were seen flying with Australian Swiftlets. Later White-throated Needletails were seen hawking just over rows of tea.

As we sorted plans for the morning a Gallinago snipe was seen to circle the school, our group and the then the community hall before disappearing over a bamboo plantation. No species identification was made but there was some jocularity in the speculation.

We did not stop for the View at Lammonds Hill on the way out as there was none but the cloud had lifted by our return. Our first walk revealed a few of the rainforest edge specialists but the birds were keeping fairly quite in the gloom. More birds appeared on the second section to the east. The third walk hit pay dirt though: three species of monarchs, three parrots and three finches. The highlight was the second group of Blue-faced Parrot-Finches. These birds were chasing each other around, feeding and sometimes sitting out in the open for extended periods. At one stage I responded to an alarm call (human) to see a BFPF flying straight for my head.

After a late morning tea four of the party went to view the bower of a Golden Bowerbird at Mt Hypipamee where the bird is still working with sticks though not adding decorations at this time. He is taking opportunistic advantage of a branch fall to reform his bower. Strangely he is still working on his secondary tower from this last season too. It will be interesting to see what becomes of this bower next breeding season.

Alan Gillanders