Birds Australia North Queensland

Pied Imperial-Pigeon logo of BANQ

2007 BANQ 'Southern' Christmas Party at Hidden Valley

By Elna Kerswell

This year, the 'southern' Birds Australia N.Q (B.A.N.Q.) group held a Christmas Party at Hidden Valley, on 17th November. Some of us arrived mid-afternoon, but others were unable to get there much before the drinks were poured. Of course we early ones had inspected the surrounding gardens and bush for interesting sightings, and had been rewarded both there and in the Grandis forest en route, with a good variety. A Baza Kite being harrassed by a Blue-faced Honeyeater near the "Resort", was probably the best that offered, though Pat Charlton found other Honeyeaters down near the creek.

The table for dinner was set up with some festive-type decorations, on the verandah near the pool, and the wearing of sparkling, coloured bowler hats added to the Christmas atmosphere. Though there were only nine of us, it was a pleasant gathering and all could join in the general conversation, which of course mainly centred on birds and birding trips. The roast meal was tasty and filling, while dessert - a most delicious apple crumble, custard and ice-cream had us all licking our lips in pleasure. Festivities came to a fairly early end as we succumbed to a very cool breeze, that sent us seeking the warmth of our respective beds.

Photo courtesy Ivor Preston

Sunday morning was relaxed as we consumed our individual breakfasts, before meeting in the Grandis Forest to enjoy the birdsong concert that surrounded us as soon as we exited our cars. Almost like being in Heaven with choirs of angels singing. Jo caused some excitement as she called for Roy to inspect her 'find', which was a Potato Orchid (Gastrodia sesamoides, also known as 'Cinammon Bells'), which is an interesting single-stemmed, parasitic orchid, with no leaves, that lives on the roots of the Grandis trees. Roy is the expert on them, it seems, and fearing for their demise from pigs, he led us all in a search for more. There we were, ears tuned to birdsong and eyes alternately searching the tree-tops and the ground around the biggest trees. Three more stems were found, and the best displayed opened blossoms - small but exquisitely lovely and almost invisible, hiding in the blady grass.

Eastern Yellow Robin in the Grandis Forest
Golden Bowerbird at Birthday Creek
(Photos courtesy Ian Montgomery, Birdway»)

Yes, we did find birds - a closeup Scarlet Honeyeater, Golden Whistler, Shrike Thrush(Bower's and Grey), Eastern Yellow Robins posing for us, Grey Fantails entertaining with their antics, Brown Treecreepers working their way up tree-trunks, and Little Lorikeets trying to pretend they were only Scaly Lorikeets, until one stayed still long enough to be clearly visible. Of course they were in the very tallest of the Grandis trees.

The Pied Monarch Beth and I had seen the afternoon before, omitted to appear, but Large-billed Scrub Wrens and Brown Gerygones chirped happily near the track. There were others, but time was rushing by and we had yet to see the Golden Bowerbird and his new bower on the road to Birthday Creek. He made his appearance several times and posed for some photos. Morning tea called, so five of us returned to Beth's place in Paluma where more discussion took place over coffee and cake, before everyone dispersed. Yes, a quiet but happy Christmas weekend, hopefully to be repeated in the future.