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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Australia, July 29th to August 23rd, 2006,
In summer of 2006 we took a long-delayed trip to Australia, a continent which had beckoned for a number of years. This trip focused on the NE (Queensland) and the Top End (Northern Territories); Australia is a large country and (like the USA) requires several trips to thoroughly sample its wonderful bird life. We were fortunate to have the help of many Aussie birders who went out of their way to help, by taking us out to special sites or helping us find target birds.
Special thanks to the great hospitality of Greg and Karen Anderson, all our nights in Brisbane were spent at their very comfortable home. (Especially to Karen as Greg was in the USA for the first part of our trip).
July 31st Arrived At Brisbane International Airport at about 6.30 a.m., picked up our rental car from Budget and drove to Peter and Jean Crow’s house in the suburbs. The Crows had kindly volunteered to bird with us for the day at various sites around Brisbane. These included Minippi Wetlands, Metroplex, Tinchi Tamba and Pullenvale. This gave us a great start to our trip by seeing a large selection of species. We were also thrilled to see a female Koala with a baby (which looked like a stuffed toy) at Minippi – these turned out to be our only Koalas of the trip!
August 1st Picked up Paul Walbridge outside his home and drove about 2 hours to the Lockyear Valley. Paul had kindly volunteered to guide us around this interesting area. The Lockyear Valley is mainly open country/farmland but also includes several interesting wetlands. Best birds were large numbers of Pink-eared Ducks, breeding plumage Red-necked Avocets, a party of Red-rumped Parrots and a Speckled Warbler. None of these species were seen again on our trip.
After dropping Paul off at his home, we drove to the famous O’Reilly’s Guesthouse in the Lamington National Park for a 2 1/2 day stay, arriving after dark.
August 2nd Started out before dawn; the weather was very cold and we needed all of our layers. How could we have forgotten gloves? The first morning we birded Tree-top Walk and the Canopy Walkway, Border and Pensioner’s Track, the Botanical Gardens as well as areas around the lodge. In afternoon we drove and birded 5-6 km along Duck Creek Road, followed by evening owling. Top birds were Wonga Pigeon, Glossy Black-Cockatoo, Albert’s Lyrebird, Regent and Satin Bowerbirds. We ran into an American couple who were camping in the park, actually an old Birdchat friend Barry Levine and his wife Kate, and they pointed us towards some of our most-wanted targets,
August 3rd At dawn birded Python Track followed by Duck Creek Road to below the overlook [about 8k]. In p.m. did the lodge grounds and spent the evening owling on the road below O’Reilly’s with the Levines. Top birds were Australian Owlet-Nightjar, Spotted Pardalote, Logrunner and Russet-tailed Thrush. We had a great duet of Barking Owls (responding to a Sooty Owl tape) but they failed to show. Great dinner for the four of us at O’Reilly’s, watching possums and bandicoots come in to their fruit feeder.
August 4th At dawn we drove Duck Creek Road to Stephen’s Overlook and walked some side-trails in an unsuccessful search for the Spotted Quail-Thrushes that others had reported. Later in the morning we birded various trails in the vicinity of O’Reilly’s. P.M. drove back to Brisbane making numerous birding stops on route. Top birds were our only Yellow-billed Spoonbill of the trip and great views of a male Paradise Riflebird. Night with the Andersons near Brisbane.
August 5th Early a.m. birding in vicinity of the Anderson’s home. Dropped-off our rental car and caught mid-morning flight to Cairns, after some panic since the flight originated at the International Terminal and we first went to the Domestic one! Picked-up new rental car from Budget at Cairns AP and visited the Mangrove Boardwalk near the AP, the Esplanade and Centenary Lakes in Cairns. Overnight at the Acacia Court Hotel, right on the Esplanade. Top birds were Red-capped Plover, our first Bush Stone Curlews and Buff-banded Rails of the trip, the latter in a small wetland near the Anderson’s in Brisbane.
August 6th A.m. Started at Centenary Lakes, thence to Botanical Gardens, Mt. Whitfield Environmental Park, The Esplanade, and the Airport Mangrove boardwalk. In p.m. drove to Kingfisher Park near Julatten, stopping at Yule Point for an unsuccessful flog for Beach Thick-knee. In late afternoon we birded the KP grounds. Top birds were Noisy Pitta (actually the second bird we saw!) and our only Varied and Brown-backed Honeyeaters of the trip.
August 7th Am. grounds of Kingfisher Park, and East & West Mary Roads. Afternoon birded Mt. Carbine Dam, Lake Mitchell, Mt. Malloy Bakery and Park. Evening owling. Top birds were Squatter Pigeon, Masked Owl, Noisy Pitta, our first Victoria’s Riflebird, Spotted Catbird and Great Bowerbird.
August 8th Mossman River boat trip in morning with Peter Cooper. In p.m. drove up to and birded Mt. Lewis summit, where it was unfortunately rather cold and breezy. No luck on Golden Bowerbird, but we did find a large Red-bellied Blacksnake on the trail.. Top birds were Wompoo Fruit Dove, Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, 3 Papuan Frogmouths, our only Little Kingfisher and Fernwrens of the trip.
August 9th Morning at Abbatoir Swamp, Kingfisher Park, Mt. Carbine & Dam, West Mary Road and Mt. Molloy. The Swamp was dry, more like a meadow. Afternoon we visited Lake Mitchell, Big Mitchell Creek, and drove to Cassowary House near Kurunda. Top birds were our first Southern Cassowary, Red-necked Crake (at KH), Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo, White-browed Robin and party of 10 Australian Bustards.
August 10th Morning at the Cassowary House grounds and Tinaroo Creek Road. Afternoon we visited Mareeba Wetlands and the Cathedral Fig. We found no fruit on any fig trees anywhere, thus no hoped-for fruit doves. Top birds were both Cotton and Green Pygmy Geese. Very windy and cool.
August 11th The weather was wet and windy again this morning. We started at Crater NP and vicinity of Wondeela school, where we couldn’t find White-headed Pigeon. Afternoon we did Springvale Road, where it was gratefully drier and less windy, and re-visited Crater NP as well as several stake-out spots for Golden Bowerbird, dipping yet again. In the afternoon we revisited Springvale Road, Crater NP, road to Atherton and spent the evening spotlighting at various sites on the Atherton Tablelands with Glenn Holmes (arranged by Sue Gregory). Top birds were Bower’s Shrike-thrush, Tooth-billed Bowerbird and a male Spotted Harrier, as well as brief flight views of Lesser Sooty Owl. We also saw a number of Platypuses and various species of Possum on our night drive.
August 12th A.M. Cassowary House grounds (where we heard calling Chowchilla but did not connect) and Black Mountain Rd. Needless to say the weather was still windy and cool. Afternoon was pleasant and we birded Tinaroo Creek Road again as well as Granite Gorge NP. In late afternoon we went to Bromfield Swamp to see the cranes come in to roost (spoilt by it being very wet and foggy). By evening it had cleared, and we did owling along Black Mountain Rd. Top birds were Sarus Crane, Brolga, flock of 500 Sulphur-crested Cockatoos, Tawny Frogmouth, Grey-crowned Babbler, a party of 4 Black-throated Finches on Tinaloo Rd and great views of Lesser Sooty Owl near Cassowary House.
August 13th A very early start for Chowchilla, this time successful with superb views but not without much effort with the tape. After breakfast, Cassowary House grounds and vicinity, then on to Crater NP and Possum Valley Road where yet again we dipped on Golden Bowerbird. Cool and overcast. Afternoon along Springvale Road, where we encountered a very large feeding flock of several scores of honeyeaters and associated birds. Top birds were party of 8 Varied Sittella, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Chowchilla and Dusky Woodswallow.
August 14th Cassowary House/Black Mountain Road in the early morning. Then a drive to Cairns, drop-off rental car at AP and pick-up flight to Darwin. P.M pick-up 4WD Nissan X-Trak from Budget. An excellent vehicle for its size, naturally not sold in USA! Met Sheryl Keates at her home, and we all drove to the Botanical Gardens and then to Lee Point and Buffalo Creek. Top birds were Australian Pratincole at the airport, Rose-crowned Fruit Dove in flight, Pied Imperial Pigeon, 3 Rufous Owls at the Botanical Gardens. Chestnut Rail was heard several times but not seen.
August 15th Meeting Sheryl again at her home, we first visited Nightcliff and East Point for Beach Stone-Curlew, then on to Howard Springs and Palmerston Sewage Works where we dipped on Mangrove Robin. After lunch and saying good-bye to Sheryl, we drove to Fogg Dam with roadside birding stops. Late afternoon and evening birding at Fogg Dam. Top birds 2 brilliant Beach Stone Curlews, Terek Sandpiper, Rainbow Pitta, Red-backed Kingfisher, 4 White-browed Crakes, Long-tailed and Crimson Finches. Barking Owl was heard but would not come in to the tape.
August 16th Fogg Dam at dawn followed by grounds of Eden B&B. Drive to Cooinda with stops at Mary River, Adelaide River, Alligator River, Bird Billabong, and Nourlangie Rock which had no Banded Fruit-Doves for us. Top birds were Rose-crowned Fruit Dove, Mangrove Whistler, our only White-winged Triller of the trip and 2 out of range Australian Ravens.
August 17th Morning spent on the Gunlom Escarpment. Needless to say, we (like almost everyone else this year) failed to see White-throated Grasswren, despite hours flogging over the rocks and through spinifex! P.M. Mary River Roadhouse grounds and the drive back to Cooinda with roadside stops. Evening owling [no luck]. Top birds were a superb white phase Grey Goshawk, Chestnut-quilled Rock Pigeon, and Sandstone Shrike-Thrush (all on the escarpment).
August 18th Morning Yellow Waters cruise and then to Nourlangie Rock (which again had no apparent Fruit-doves). P.M. Drive to Pine Creek with roadside stops and evening bird Pine Creek. Stayed at Digger’s Rest which we were saddened to hear is closing. Top birds were impressive numbers of wetland species including 10 Black-necked Storks, Barking Owl (finally) also 60 Hooded Parrots at Pine Creek.
August 19th Dawn at Edith Falls Road north of Katherine, Mike Reed’s house in Katherine. P.M. drive to Mataranka, Elsey NP, Katherine Sewage Works and Chinaman Creek. Top birds: Red Goshawk, Banded Honeyeater, and a flock of 150+ Gouldian Finches.
August 20th A.M. Copperfield Dam, gardens in Pine Creek. P.M. drive to Darwin with stops at McMinn Lagoon, Palmerston Sewage, late p.m. Lee Point. Top birds: Brown Quail, Australian Hobby, Yellow-tinted & Bar-breasted Honeyeaters.
August 21st Morning met Sheryl Keates at her home, then to Lee Point, Buffalo Creek, Palmerston Sewage Works (heard a Mangrove Robin, so they are not extinct), Tiger Brennan Drive mangroves. P.M. drive to AP and flight to Brisbane. Top bird: Green-backed Gerygone (at last).
August 22nd A.M Sherwood Park, Slaughter Falls and Forest Park. P.M. Lake Samsonvale (which is dry) and Bridie Island. Top birds: Powerful Owl and Little Wattlebird.
August 23rd Vicinity of Greg Anderson’s house and drive to Brisbane AP. Top bird: Striped Honeyeater.
O’Reilly’s Guest House, a famous site, which has become much larger and less birder-oriented in recent years. Many day-trippers as well, which can lead to some crowding on the trails near the lodge. Construction is on-going on yet more enlargements as well as on a small housing development. We were disappointed at the lack of bird feeders, especially for honeyeaters. O’Reilly’s is within the Green Mountain section of Lamington National Park, there is a park campground next to the lodge. Where our friends Barry and Kate Levine stayed. For independent birders used to doing things on their own, O’Reilly’s is a wonderful place. However the “bird walks” seem to be mostly for beginners, and we avoided them. Of the employees, we found Duncan to be the most helpful and “up to date” on recent bird gen. The food at O’Reilly’s is superb. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Acacia Court Hotel , 223 The Esplanade, Cairns. Right on the beach and easy access for the famous Esplanade (which was, however, not crawling with waders on our trip as it was winter), and also a good distance from the most crowded and noisy parts of the beachfront. Our arrangements were made through Sue Gregory (Cassowary House).
Kingfisher Park, Julatten. Self-catering flats run by birders for birders on the foothills of Mount Lewis at about 400 meters. The grounds are excellent (Noisy Pitta was almost the first bird we saw!) and it is convenient to the northerly areas of the Tablelands, as well as the Daintree and Mossman Rivers. Well-maintained and active feeders. The owners, Lindsay and Keith Fisher, are wonderful and helpful hosts; Keith is clued in to whereabouts of all the local owls. E-mail email@example.com
Cassowary House, Kurunda. We stayed in the cottage, which is self-catering and a bit rustic but very enjoyable. There are also rooms in the main house, meals provided. Cassowaries on the grounds are sometimes a little intimidating as they are rather curious and not easily dissuaded! There are lots of feeders and the lodge is located in good rainforest at about – meters. A very birdy place, with Lesser Sooty Owl, Riflebird, Chowchilla and other desirable species on the grounds or nearby. Our hostess, Sue Gregory, was very helpful in pointing us to good birding locations, and also facilitated our accommodations in Cairns. The only downside is that it is a rather long drive to Atherton and sites to the south. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Value Inn, Darwin. Rather small rooms and expensive for what one gets, but convenient for downtown and the various restaurants. Not too bad a drive to the Botanic Gardens and Lee and East Points.
Eden B&B at Fogg Dam. A not-to-be-missed spot which is only a stone’s throw from Fogg Dam itself and with good birds on the grounds, including Rainbow Pitta. Some years the nearby open fields host Letter-winged Kites (alas, not in 2006). We had Large-tailed Nightjar on the grounds. The owners, Heather Boulden and Jeremy Hemphill, are very welcoming and helpful. E-mail email@example.com
Gagudju Lodge Cooinda, Kakadu National Park. This is a fairly high-priced lodge and we found it a bit of a “zoo” with throngs of people, karaoke at night, etc. We stayed in one of the “budget” rooms that are little more than a gussied-up shipping container with air-conditioning and a small window. We rented towels from the reception desk, as they are not supplied. Having said that, it is convenient to Yellow Waters cruise (a must-do) and not too bad for other sites in Kakadu. However if we were to return, we would probably stay at Mary River Roadhouse, which is close to the entrance road to Gumlon. Web site: http://www.gagudjulodgecooinda.com.au/index.htm
Digger’s Rest Motel, Pine Creek. A famous motel for birders, unfortunately about to close and be converted to long-stay accommodations for employees of the newly re-opened gold mines. Good news for the economy of Pine Creek, bad news for birders as the motel once had active feeders where certain species were easy (e.g. Partridge Pigeon, which we missed). We enjoyed talking to the owner Pat about the history of the area, and she kindly did some laundry for us in the attached laundromat.
Books and Tapes:
We used two different field guides (each with their own strengths), a number of bird-finding guides, as well as trip reports from various web sites.
• Pizzey, Graham and Frank Knight. 2003. The Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. (7th Edition). HarperCollins, publishers
• Simpson, Ken and Nicolas Day. 2004. Birds of Australia. (7th Edition). Princeton University Press,
Both of the above are modern field guides and as such, have excellent illustrations. We found the maps in Simpson and Day to be more useful, albeit smaller, as they show ranges of races and closely related forms (potential splits). S&D is also a more convenient size for field birding.
The following bird-finding guides were used:
• McCrie, Niven and James Watson. 2003. Finding Birds in Darwin, Kakadu, and the Top End, Northern territory, Australia. Niven McCrie, publisher. We obtained this very useful book in Australia. Absolutely essential for the NT.
• Nielsen, Lloyd. 2006. Birding Australia – A Directory for Birders. Lloyd Nielsen, publisher. We had the International Edition. This guide is continually updated and copies are run off as requested so information is very current.
• Reed, Mike. 2004. Birdwatching Kakadu, Katherine, Kununurra. Has very good maps for site in the Top End and tips for finding the specialty birds. Especially useful are the discussions of potential splits as many species have different races in NT as compared to their Queensland counterparts. We bought this book directly from Mike, he mailed it to us in USA, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, web site: http://www.ntbirds.com/
• Thomas, Richard and Sarah Thomas. 1996. The Complete Guide to Finding the Birds of Australia. Frogmouth Publications. Although this book is outdated (many sites have changed and some “stake-outs” for rarities are no longer viable) it is still a very useful book with good maps and directions. The site descriptions often reflect a single visit by the authors so seasonality needs to be considered.
We also used a number of trip reports available on various web sites:
Tapes and CDs: We have found listening to recordings of calls and songs to be extremely useful in preparing for a trip. Playing of recordings in the field was kept to a minimum, however we used them whilst owling and also, for extremely secretive or difficult species, sometimes (but not always) with success. We obtained a set of CDs of Birds of the Northern Territories (Van Gessell) while in Australia and had tapes of Birds of Queensland’s Wet Tropics and Lamington National Park obtained in USA.
We saw a total of 306 species plus 3 heard only. We also saw quite a few mammals and herps, including (to our delight) both Platypus and Koala.
A male and a female of this amazing species were seen wandering the grounds of the very aptly- named Cassowary House. The huge female tried to enter our cottage one morning and was reluctant to take “no” for an answer! The only bird species that I have actually been nervous of while watching it! This has to be the most memorable bird of the trip.
These large clumsy birds were quite common, widespread and very tame. The latter is due, in a large part, to the enlightened Australian Federal law that prohibits all hunting of native Australian birds.
Not nearly as widespread as the previous species but common at Kingfisher Park, Howard Springs and Fogg Dam with a daily maximum of twelve birds. We found this species to be highly entertaining [and rather stupid!].
Seen only once when a party of five birds was flushed from long grass at Copperfield Dam.
Numbering in the thousands at Fogg Dam and at Yellow Waters [Kakadu] but only small numbers seen elsewhere.
Large, dense flocks were seen in wetlands in the Lockyear Valley and Atherton Tablelands. Also several thousands seen from the Yellow Waters boat trip at Kakadu.
A female with five juveniles seen at Mt. Carbine Dam. Also seen on three other dates with the highest number of about 200 on the Yellow Waters boat trip.
Suprisingly scarce. Recorded in small numbers around Brisbane with the daily maximum of only six birds.
Fairly common in the Darwin/Kakadu area with the largest numbers  seen from the Yellow Waters boat trip.
Australian Wood Duck
This attractive species reminded us very much of the Shelgeese of South America, albeit on a smaller scale. Fairly common in wetlands around Brisbane with a maximum daily number of forty birds.
Both pygmy geese were much anticipated, having missed them on other trips. This species was quite widely distributed being recorded on eight dates with a daily maximum of fifty birds seen at Fogg Dam.
Cotton Pygmy –goose
Far rarer than the previous species with our only sighting being that of two pairs at the Mareeba Wetlands.
Pacific Black Duck
Common & widespread.
Recorded only in small numbers with most records being from the Brisbane area. Our daily maximum was 20 birds at the Minippi wetlands.
Recorded on just two dates including forty birds at the Minippi Wetlands.
Having seen about five hundred of this extremely attractive duck on our second day, we thought we would see a lot of them on the trip. However, this turned out to be our sole sighting. The birds were seen at various small dams in the Lockyear Valley.
Recorded on six dates mainly from wetlands around Brisbane. The maximum daily count was thirty birds.
Recorded on just four dates with the maximum being 100 birds seen at various wetlands around Brisbane.
Great Crested Grebe
We did not spend any time looking for this species but two birds were seen at a Lockyear Valley wetland August 1.
Quite common in the wetlands around Brisbane, with daily maximum of thirty-five birds. Much scarcer elsewhere being seen on eight dates with maximum of eight birds.
Little Pied Cormorant
Common & widespread in suitable wetland habitat.
Common & widespread in suitable wetland habitat,
Little Black Cormorant
Widespread and common with a daily maximum of two hundred birds.
Recorded on five dates with a daily maximum count of 20 birds seen on various wetlands in the Lockyear Valley.
Mainly seen around Brisbane with the daily maximum of forty birds. Apart from about thirty birds seen at the Centennial Lakes in Cairns, we only saw the odd bird or two outside of Brisbane.
Rather uncommon. Recorded on nine dates with generally 2-3 birds per day. However eight birds seen feeding at the Katherine Sewage Works.
Common at Fogg Dam and Yellow Waters. Otherwise quite scarce with only 6 birds being seen over three dates.
Uncommon with small numbers seen on just four dates. The daily maximum was four birds seen from the Yellow Waters cruise.
Eastern Reef Heron
Single birds seen on three dates. Probably greatly under-recorded as we did not spend a lot of time sorting through the large numbers of white egrets at places like Fogg Dam and Yellow Waters. A bird seen at Buffalo Creek on two dates was a dark-phase individual.
This attractive small heron was very common both at Fogg Dam and Yellow Waters. Otherwise six birds seen on just one other day [August 19th].
Common and widespread.
Very common at Fogg Dam and Yellow Waters. Otherwise recorded in small numbers on six other days.
Common and widespread.
Striated (Mangrove) Heron
Uncommon with five birds recorded in four widely separate sites, mostly in mangroves.
Nankeen Night Heron
About 350 birds watched leaving their roost during our evening visit to Fogg Dam. Surprisingly only five birds seen on our pre- dawn visit to this site. Also about 30 birds seen on the Yellow Waters cruise.
Recorded in small numbers on five dates with a daily maximum of ten birds.
Australian White (Sacred) Ibis
Fairly common and widespread in wetland habitat. This included a large noisy colony in a small park in suburban Brisbane [Metroplex Park].
A very common and widespread species seen virtually daily in a wide range of habitats including farmland and suburban gardens as well as the expected wetland sites.
Recorded in small numbers on seven dates. The daily maximums were 20 birds seen at both Fogg Dam and Yellow Waters.
Very surprisingly just one bird seen. This was at a wetland we stopped at on the drive from O’Reilly’s to Brisbane.
Six birds seen on the Yellow Waters cruise, and a female and three immatures of this large and striking species were seen at a roadside pond on our drive out of Kakadu NP on August 18th. Otherwise, just single birds seen on August 7th and 17th.
Single birds seen on five dates.
Recorded on nine dates with the daily maximum of 9 birds seen on August 1st and 9th.
A very common and widespread species [except in Lamington Forest].
Not as numerous as the previous species but still widespread and quite common, particularly in Kakadu where it probably outnumbered the Black Kite,
Seen on nine dates with the daily maximum being three birds at various sites around Brisbane.
This very impressive raptor was recorded on seven dates including four birds seen from the Yellow Waters cruise. Not always near water. A single bird was watched hunting low over large pastures at West Mary Road, where it flushed a flock of Australian Bustards.
A single adult male hunting low over farmland near Atherton was our sole record.
Eight birds recorded over five dates with the daily maximum of three birds on August 13th. Most numerous on the Atherton Tablelands.
Recorded on five dates including two birds on August 7th.
Single birds seen along Duck Creek Road and near the Cathedral Fig, and on the Gunlom Escarpment. The latter was a superb white morph that BEC almost blew-off as a Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo!
Single birds recorded on just three dates.
One of the highlights of the trip was watching a female at her nest. When we first arrived, the bird was incubating, allowing only partial views of head & tail. We returned an hour later and the bird was perched in full view on the side of the nest allowing great scope views. The nest location is not given for obvious reasons but was about an hour’s drive south of Pine Creek.
This large impressive eagle was more numerous and widespread than we expected. Recorded on eight days with the daily maximum of three birds seen in the Lockyear Valley. One bird was watched being quite aggressively mobbed by a Black-shouldered Kite.
Recorded on eight days with usually just 1-2 birds per day. However, 4 birds seen on our drive from Pine Creek to Darwin.
Our sole record was a single bird seen in flight at the Copperfield Dam.
Common at both the Lockyear Valley and Atherton Tablelands with daily maximum of 15 birds at each location.
Unfortunately the afternoon we visited Bromfield Swamp to observe the arrival of the roosting cranes, the weather turned wet and misty. Although over 200 cranes were seen, we were only able to identify about 20 birds to this species.
About 20 birds identified in the roosting flock at Bromfield Swamp. Additionally six birds seen on the Yellow Waters Cruise, plus a single at Fogg Dam.
Excellent views of a single very tame individual at Cassowary House, also heard calling at Kingfisher Park.
A surprsingly handsome bird. Four were seen in a small wetland near Gregg Anderson’s house in Brisbane. Also two birds seen at Kingfisher Park and singles on two other dates. This species was quite tame & confiding making it remarkably easy to see for a rail.
Heard only on the Mossman River cruise.
Fairly easy to see at Fogg Dam with four birds on our evening visit followed by five seen the next morning.
We visited Lee Point three times in search of this rail & regrettably the closest we came was hearing several calling birds.
Common & widespread in most fresh-water wetlands.
We only recorded this species around Brisbane where it was quite common with a daily maximum of 12 birds.
Common & widespread.
We twice visited both East & West Mary Roads searching for this much-wanted species. Initially we were frustrated as the grass in the various paddocks was extremely long making searching very difficult. Eventually we discovered two birds but had only obscured views as they were largely hidden in the grass. Fortunately on the second visit a low flying White-bellied Sea Eagle flushed a party of ten birds [including at least two adult males] which provided us with great flight views. Superb.
We did not spend a lot of time searching the tidal flats for shorebirds. As a result, this group was under-recorded by us.
Seen on four days with the maximum being 15 birds seen on the Mossman River tidal flats.
Seen on five dates with the maximum of five birds on the tidal flats at Lee Point.
Recorded on three dates with the daily maximum of five birds on the Mossman River flats.
Single bird seen by GBM on the tidal flats off East Point.
Recorded on six dates with the maximum of 20 birds at Lee Point.
Four birds seen on the Mossman River flats and eight seen off East Point.
Two birds at East Point.
At least 35 birds seen on the tidal flats off the Esplanade at Cairns.
Recorded on two dates including 100 birds seen off the Esplanade at Cairns.
Fairly common in wetland habitat. In all seen on eleven dates with a maximum of 35 birds seen from the Yellow Waters cruise.
Seen and/or heard on nine dates. This included a total of seven birds at the Cairns Botanical Gardens. This included a family party of two adults and two juveniles resting in the late morning under the shade of a tree. Also at least five were seen at dusk while we drove slowly along the dam at Fogg Dam.
Great extended views of a pair feeding fairly close to the edge of the mangroves at East Point. One of the top birds of the trip.
Recorded on two dates including a party of 12 birds on the Mossman River tidal flats.
Fairly common at Both Darwin and Katherine sewage treatment plants and in the Brisbane area. Daily maximum was 12 birds.
We were very happy to see five full summer plumage birds at University of Queensland Ag. Campus in the Lockyear Valley.
Pacific Golden Plover
Three birds on the Lee Point tidal flats was our sole record.
Six birds seen at Lee Point.
Single adult male seen well from the Esplanade at Cairns.
Lesser Sand Plover
One seen at Yule Point north of Cairns was our only record.
Greater Sand Plover
Single bird on the Mossman River flats and a party of 25 seen from Lee Point.
A total of five birds seen over four days at various wetlands around Brisbane & in the Lockyear Valley.
Two pairs of this attractive plover were seen at a wetland on the University of Queensland Ag. Campus in the Lockyear Valley.
Very common and widespread.
We had excellent views of at least six birds seen from our Qantas plane as it taxied down the runway at Darwin Airport. These turned out to be our only sighting so very fortuitous.
A fairly common coastal bird around Cairns and Darwin.
Recorded on eight dates with the daily maximum of 18 birds seen on the Mossman River cruise.
Recorded on three dates with a maximum of 10 birds seen from the Esplanade.
Common at Fogg Dam, Palmerton Sewage Works and Yellow Waters where the daily maximum of 200 birds were seen.
Lesser Crested Tern
A single bird seen from the Esplanade was, suprisingly, our only record.
Recorded in small numbers on three dates with the daily maximum of five birds at Bridies Island.
Fairly common in urban areas of Brisbane and Cairns [but not Darwin].
Heard calling but not seen at O’Reilly’s.
Common & widespread in built-up areas around Brisbane and Cairns.
We had excellent views of four birds feeding at a fruiting tree above our cottage at Cassowary House. Also two single birds seen at O’Reilly’s.
Common at both Kingfisher Park and Cassowary House where the birds came regularly into the feeders; we also had this species around Brisbane and in Darwin at Buffalo Creek and Howard Springs. Daily maximum was four birds.
Single bird well seen on the Gunlom Escarpment.
This handsome pigeon was common and widespread, particularly in built-up areas around Brisbane and Cairns.
We were treated to several great sightings of this somewhat difficult-to-see species. In all recorded on four dates including a party of eight birds on the drive into the Mt. Carbine Dam. The best place we saw them was in stock-pens on the Tinaroo Creek Road about 200 yards beyond the intersection with Henry Hanam Drive. At this site we saw about 25 birds.
Good views both in flight and perched of a single bird on the Gunlom Escarpment. The wings make a loud rattling noise in flight.
Common and widespread [although not seen around Brisbane].
Fairly common and widespread being recorded on 13 days with daily maximum of 15 birds.
We had great views of this tame, charismatic dove on our first morning at O’Reilly’s with six birds seen. Surprisingly only one other bird was seen during the following two days at this site.
Wompoo Fruit Dove
We heard the distinctive call more often than actually seeing this extremely attractive bird. In all, recorded on six dates but seen only on two. This included close views of a single bird feeding on a fruiting tree on the grounds of the Cassowary House right above our cottage.
Rose-crowned Fruit Dove
Recorded on three dates including great views of a close male feeding in a fruit tree at the Mary River Roadhouse stop. – Superb.
Pied Imperial Pigeon
These striking large black & white pigeons were quite common in Darwin where they could be seen perched on roadside light posts etc. In all recorded on five dates with daily maximum of five birds.
Two birds seen in flight at O”Reilly’s and a perched bird watched from the Mossman River cruise were our only sightings. Apparently the ‘05 hurricane and late ending to the wet season in ‘06 contributed to poor fruiting of the fig trees and consequently low numbers of fig-eating pigeons in both Lamington NP & Atherton Tablelands
Small parties of this extremely impressive large species were quite frequently encountered driving around the Fogg Dam/Kakadu/Pine Creek areas. Maximum daily counts were 25 birds. Scarce in Queensland, with up to four birds being seen on three other dates on the Atherton Tablelands. A combination of the large size and flight with slow deep wing-beats reminded us of the large macaws of South America.
Two birds seen briefly in flight and heard calling about 5k along the Duck Creek Road. They were feeding silently in casuarina tress, but flushed (making their strange growling calls) when we walked beneath the trees. The area where these rare birds are being seen is just beyond where the wet forest ends and open eucalypt/she-oak woodlands begin.
Common and widespread [although very few seen around Cairns/Atherton Tablelands]. Recorded on 10 days with a daily maximum of 150 birds.
Common in the Brisbane & Darwin areas including a flock of c200 at Howard Springs.
Common and widespread being especially abundant on the Atherton Tablelands where a flock of 500 birds was watched feeding in a ploughed field.
We were surprised to see just one party of this widespread species. This was 15 birds seen near Katherine.
The most common & widespread parrot. It was so numerous we gave up estimating numbers and simply ticked it off in the daily log. The race rubritorquis - The Red-collared Lorikeet [treated as a separate species by Simpson & Day] was recorded on two dates in the Northern Territories, including about 8 birds on the grounds of the Mary River Roadhouse.
Recorded on eight dates mainly around Brisbane and in the drier sections of the Atherton Tablelands, where it was particularly numerous.
About 60 birds seen flying around Edith Falls Road and around Mike Reed’s home in Katherine.
As most of the birds seen were in flight we probably under-recorded this species. Recorded on only three days with the daily maximum of 20 birds seen on August 13th.
After looking in vain at the Cairns Esplanade and other sites, we eventually had good views of three perched birds seen from the Mossman River cruise.
Australian King Parrot
Seen mainly at O’Reilly’s where up to fifteen daily usually either being fed or waiting to be fed by tourists.
Recorded daily in the Fogg Dam/Kakadu/ Pine Creek areas with a daily maximum of 30 birds.
Only seen at O’Reilly’s/Duck Creek Road areas with up to 30 birds each day.
Small numbers recorded on seven dates but with 10 birds seen in the very birdy gardens right at the start of the road to Granite Gorge.
Four birds in the campground of the Mary River Roadhouse and a single bird at the base of the lookout hill at Pine Creek.
Four birds watched feeding on the ground at the Univ. of Queensland Agricultural College [Lockyear Valley] was our only record.
One of the trip highlights was seeing large numbers of this species. On our arrival at Pine Creek, we discovered a party of 60 birds feeding on the ground at the base of the Lookout Hill. The following day 6 birds were seen along the Edith Falls Road and finally 40 birds came into drink at the Copperfield Dam.
Single birds seen at Fogg Dam and at Cooinda.
Horsefield’s Bronze Cuckoo
One in the fruiting tree outside our chalet in the grounds of the Cassowary House.
A single bird seen in the trees at Buffalo Creek.
Five birds recorded over four dates including 2 on August 10th.
We saved one of the best birds to our last full day with great views of a roosting male at Slaughter Falls. The bird was roosting low down in a tree beside the only sizeable pool in a side creek at the Falls. An appropriate name for this very impressive bird. Many thanks to Greg Anderson who found the bird. A superb finale to our trip.
Two adults and a juvenile well seen roosting at the stakeout site in the Darwin Botanical Gardens. Another very impressive owl.
We had several close encounters with this species but each time we were frustrated. The birds would come in very close in response to our tape but did not show. We finally heard one calling while on the dock waiting to go on the Yellow Waters cruise. GBM imitated its barking call and it suddenly appeared on a rather distant tree. We also had two very close birds calling while owling along the road several miles below O’Reilly’s. Also a pair heard calling while owling on the Atherton Tablelands, one in the campground at Cooinda and a single bird heard at Fogg Dam.
One heard and another seen while owling below O’Reilly’s.
Lesser Sooty Owl
We had great views of one taped-in on Black Mountain Road. We were both struck by how much smaller it appeared than a Barn Owl. Also one seen in flight whilst spot-lighting on the Atherton Tablelands.
Nice scope views for a couple minutes of a single bird as it emerged out of its roosting hole and stood at the edge of the hole at Kingfisher Park. It appeared noticeably larger than a Barn Owl with less heart-shape facial disk.
Heard calling at Kingfisher Park.
A single bird found at its roost site by GBM at the campground at Granite Gorge NP.
A pair seen twice at their roost site at Kingfisher Park and a single bird seen from the Mossman River cruise.
A single bird seen and another heard at the Eden B&B near Fogg Dam.
We had no luck at the usual roosting site at O’Reilly’s & in fact found the feathers of a bird nearby, suggesting that it had been taken by a predator. Fortunately, one bird was seen well as it responded to the tape on the road below O’Reilly’s. Also a bird flew across the road in front of our car in the evening near Pine Creek.
Common and widespread in the Cairns/Atherton Tablelands areas.
11 birds recorded over three dates with 8 birds seen from the Yellow Waters Cruise being by far our largest daily total.
This tiny gem of a bird was seen only from the Mossman River cruise with just a single bird.
We never got tired of seeing and hearing this impressive large kingfisher. It was common in most areas [except Kakadu/Darwin region]. In all recorded on 15 days with the daily maximum of 12 birds.
A slightly smaller, paler version of the previous species. Up to 3 birds recorded on eleven dates. Probably most easily seen in the dry country around the Atherton Tablelands [i.e. Mt. Malloy, Mt.Carbine] and THE Kookaburra of the NT. Quite easy to see perched on roadside fences.
This handsome species was quite common & widespread [although not recorded around Brisbane/O’Reilly’s]. Recorded on 10 dates with an amazing 15 birds seen at Fogg Dam and on the drive from there to Cooinda.
Surprisingly scarce with just four birds seen on two dates. We had two birds on the drive from Fogg Dam to Cooinda and two more while driving in the vicinity of Pine Creek, all sitting on telephone wires.
Common and widespread being recorded on 13 dates in a wide variety of habitats. The maximum daily count was 6 birds.
A pair seen very well at East Point and a single recorded at Bridie Island were our only sightings.
Another common and widespread species [although not seen in Lamington NP]. In all seen on 16 days with a daily maximum of 20+ birds.
We had extremely close views of this brilliant pitta at Kingfisher Park where a single bird was seen on three different days. Superb and one of the top birds of the trip.
Another brilliant species which took us a while to track down. Eventually, we had great views of a single bird at Howard Springs.
Up to three birds were heard displaying along the Python Track and a single bird was seen well as it ran passed us [with its long tail pulled up above its head] on the Border Track at O’Reilly’s.
Two birds seen at Mt. Lewis summit was our only sighting.
Four birds were recorded over two days in dry eucalyptus woodland about 5k down Duck Creek Road.
We saw this treecreeper on both visits to Springvale Road [Atherton Tablelands] with five birds seen on our second trip down this very birdy road.
Six birds seen at the Bird Billabong [off the Arnham Highway on route to Cooinda] and two more seen at Chinaman Creek [near Pine Creek].
We both thoroughly enjoyed the various Fairy-wrens. Almost always in small parties, these very attractive birds were both inquisitive and very tame. Many brown fairy-wrens were seen but not identified as to species.
Recorded on three dates in the vicinity of Brisbane with a daily maximum of 8 birds seen at O’Reilly’s and at various roadside stops on our drive from O’Reilly’s to Brisbane.
The most numerous fairy-wren around Brisbane where we saw this species daily with a daily maximum of 12 birds. Surprisingly scarce around Cairns with four birds being recorded on just one day.
A party of four birds at the Centenary Lakes was our only sighting.
Our favourite of this group. This species was the most widely distributed being recorded on a total of nine dates with a daily maximum of 11 birds on August 19. We saw both the brown/scarlet form in Queensland and the black/crimson form in the NT.
This exquisite tiny bird was the top passerine of the trip for BEC. A total of only three birds seen on two days. This included excellent close views of single bird on Duck Creek Road. Superb.
This attractive species was quite common and widespread, but it was much easier to hear than see. We heard its distinctive triple note call on 13 days and actually saw the bird on only six of these days. The daily maximum was 3 birds seen on the drive down the steep winding road from O’Reilly’s. Look for them where there have been road-cuts resulting in a steep bare dirt ‘cliffs’. The birds like to feed on these man-made ‘cliffs’.
Nice views of four birds feeding on the forest floor at Mt. Lewis.
Particularly common along the trails at O’Reilly’s where we estimated 15 birds on one of the days there. Otherwise seen in much smaller numbers principally at sites on the Atherton Tablelands including the Cathedral Fig, Crater NP and Mt.Lewis.
Recorded in small numbers daily in dry brushy habitat in Lockyear Valley and along Duck Creek Rd. with daily maximum of 4 birds. Also 6 birds seen in similar habitat on the Atherton Tablelands.
Fairly common at Mt. Lewis, Crater NP and Cathedral Fig. Daily maximum was 6 birds at Mt. Lewis.
Recorded on two dates at Kingfisher Park with daily maximum of 4 birds.
Nice views of a single bird foraging on the ground in some scrub-woodland in the Lockyear Valley. This was our only sighting. Quite reminiscent of a North American Waterthrush.
Recorded on just three days including 3 birds seen along the Springvale Rd on the Atherton Tablelands.
Heard only at Howard Springs, we finally caught up with this species at Buffalo Creek.
Fairly common at O’Reilly’s with up to 6 birds on a day. A good spot to see this species there was from the Canopy Walkway. Also 2 birds seen at the Cathedral Fig.
Four birds seen on our first day at the Tinchi Tamba wetland in Brisbane also two more seen at Lee Point.
Recorded on 3 days totaling 7 birds. This included 3 birds seen from the Mossman River cruise, including a pair at its distinctive hanging nest.
Our only sighting was a party of four birds at Kingfisher Park.
Recorded on six dates with the daily maximum of 4 birds on August 11th. This species has a very beautiful liquid song.
Fairly common on the Atherton Tablelands with 6 birds at Mt. Lewis plus a total of 10 birds on two other dates at various sites on Tablelands including the Crater NP.
Fairly common at O’Reilly’s with a total of 8 birds seen over two days. A good spot to see this species was from the Canopy Walkway.
Five birds seen at the Univ. of Queensland Agricultural College in the Lockyear Valley was our only record.
Two birds seen along entrance road at O’Reilly’s was the sole sight record, but more birds were heard.
We did tremendously well on honeyeaters seeing 37 species of this large diverse group.
Three birds seen at Bridie Island [outside Brisbane] on our last full day.
On our last day before heading off to the AP we had a quick walk around the gardens adjacent to Greg Anderson’s house in Pinevale (bear Brisbane) and finally caught up with this species with nice views of a single bird. This turned out to be our last new bird of the trip.
We did not always spend time sorting out the friarbirds as to species. Therefore, our log totals are probably an under-estimate.
Recorded on seven dates with daily maximum of 12 birds seen from the Mossman River Cruise.
Recorded daily at various sites in & around Kakadu NP (Nourlangie and Gumlon) with a daily maximum of 10 birds.
Recorded on only one day, along the Tinaroo Creek Road near ---. No doubt, this species was under-recorded by us.
Recorded on three dates including up to 20 birds seen at various sites around Brisbane.
Recorded on nine dates with a daily maximum of 30 birds on August 20th.
This large distinctive honeyeater was suprisingly common and widespread being seen on 12 dates and a daily maximum of 20 birds seen at various sites on August 7th.The Mt. Malloy bakery was one easy place to watch the birds coming in for crumbs!
We found a large noisy colony of at least 50 birds about 7km down Duck Creek Road. The bell-like sounds were all around us, but the birds were surprisingly difficult to see. Another colony heard in Brisbane Forest Park.
Common and easy to see around Brisbane and on the Atherton Tablelands.
Unexpectedly, our only sighting was a single bird at Pine Creek.
Common at various sites on the Atherton Tableland (especially the feeders at Kingfisher Park). In all recorded on seven dates with a daily maximum of 15 birds on August 22nd.
Common & Widespread being seen &/or heard on 11 dates.
Recorded in small numbers at various sites on the Atherton Tablelands with daily maximum being 5 birds.
This rather attractive bird was quite common on the Atherton Tablelands being seen on 7 dates with a daily maximum of 20 birds. As with several other Meliphaga honeyeaters, Kingfisher Park was an excellent place for these birds.
This large honeyeater was quite scarce. We saw a total of nine birds over two dates all along the Springvale Road [Atherton Tablelands].
Recorded on eight dates with a daily maximum of 30 birds. One good site was about 5km along Duck Creek Road.
A single bird seen at Nourlangie Rock on August 7th followed by two more at the same site two days later were our only sightings.
Our only sighting was of a single bird in mangroves at Yule Point, during an unsuccessful flog for Beach Thick-knee.
Three birds seen at Tinchi Tambi wetland outside Brisbane on our first day was our only sighting.
Fairly common at East Point, Howard Springs and Fogg Dam. In all recorded on six dates with a daily maximum of 10 birds.
Recorded on five dates in the Atherton Tablelands with a daily maximum of six birds. Kingfisher Park was one good site for this species.
A total of 14 birds recorded on two dates on the Atherton Tablelands with Springvale Road being a good location for this species. The birds along Springvale Road were in Casuarinas; they are also very yellow and might be confused with Yellow-tinted HE.
The only site where we saw this attractive honeyeater was at the Copperfield Dam [outside Pine Creek] where we saw about 8 birds.
A widespread species being recorded on thirteen dates with a daily maximum of eight birds.
Common about 5 km along Duck Creek Road with a daily maximum of 10 birds. Also about 25 birds in a large mixed honeyeater flock along Springvale Road in the Atherton Tablelands.
This drab honeyeater was probably the most widespread honeyeater being recorded on fifteen days with a daily maximum of 25 birds, and more than that heard.
This very distinctive honeyeater was seen only along Springvale Road where on two visits we saw 10 and 2 birds respectively.
A single bird at Centenary Lakes was our sole record [local birders told us that this individual was an early spring migrant].
Our sole record was a single bird in a mixed flock seen briefly on the grounds of the McMinn Lagoon [near Darwin].
Recorded on 5 dates with a daily maximum of 12 birds. Good sites were the Darwin Botanical Gardens and Howard Springs.
Recorded on 3 dates with daily maximum of five birds. Good sites were the gardens at Pine Creek and open woodland between Pine Creek and Katherine.
Flowering bushes at O’Reilly’s was a good site to get great views of this highly attractive charismatic species – Australian’s equivalent of a North American hummingbird. In all recorded on 5 dates with a daily maximum of 3 birds.
About 15 birds of this very distinctive honeyeater were seen in dry open eucalyptus between Pine Creek and Katherine, at the same site where we had the Gouldian Finches. Other than this party, none were seen.
Recorded on six dates with daily maximum of 6 birds. The mangroves near Brisbane AP, Cassowary House feeders and Springvale Road in the Atherton Tablelands were good sites for this species.
Fairly common around Darwin with a total of 12 birds being recorded over three days. Good sites were Lee Point mangroves and mangroves at Palmerton Sewage Works.
Fairly common in woodland and mangrove habitat around Brisbane, also along West Mary Road near Julatten. In all recorded on four dates with a daily maximum of 10 birds.
Nice views of two birds seen along the very birdy Springvale Road on the Atherton Tablelands.
Recorded on nine dates with daily maximum of 5 birds. Good sites were at start of the Granite Gorge Road [Atherton Tablelands] with 3 birds in the gardens. Also Howard Springs and coastal vegetation at East Point.
Common forest species on the Atherton Tablelands. Good sites included the Crater NP, Cathedral Fig and Mt. Lewis. In all recorded on 9 dates with a daily maximum of 10 birds.
Eastern Yellow Robin
This tame confiding species was commonly seen along the trails at O’Reilly’s with up to 15 birds daily there. Also recorded in much smaller numbers at various sites in the Atherton Tablelands.
We had excellent views of one bird at the well-known stakeout site along Big Mitchell Creek. The bird was feeding in the dry creek-bed very close to where the main road crosses the creek.
This large attractive robin was a fairly common & tame bird in the upland-forested areas of the Atherton Tablelands. It was easy to see right at the parking lot at the Crater NP and also on the trails at the Cathedral Fig and at Kingfisher Park. In all recorded on 7 dates with a daily maximum of 10 birds.
One of our most wanted birds proved extremely elusive along the trails at O’Reilly’s. Eventually we discovered it to be quite common along the Python Rock Track with about 10 birds seen and/or heard shortly after dawn. Another pair was seen near Mick’s Tower – both these trails are on the dryer side of the ridge.
Another top target bird which was frustratingly difficult to see. At least two parties of birds were heard at dawn each morning along Black Mountain Road near the Cassowary House but they became silent after about fifteen minutes. Eventually we managed to see two birds including exceptionally close views of one that we taped in, after following up calling birds deep in the wet woods at dawn. Superb and well worth the effort.
This charismatic and highly social species was recorded, always in small groups, on five dates. Our first encounter was a party of about 8 birds in the very birdy gardens right at the start of the Granite Gorge Road. Parties [of up to 10 birds] were also seen at the Mary River Roadhouse, Pine Creek and the Copperfield Dam.
This tropical forest species was quite common at O’Reilly’s and in suitable habitat on the Atherton Tablelands [and around Brisbane]. While we had frequent excellent views, we heard its highly distinctive call much more often than a sighting. In all recorded on 12 dates.
Only recorded along the dry Springvale Road [Atherton Tablelands] where it was relatively easy to find [being seen on both trips along this road]. As expected, in small parties with 14 birds over both days. A remarkable example of convergent evolution as it closely resembles the unrelated genus Sitta (nuthatches).
Quite common at sites around Brisbane and at O’Reilly’s being recorded daily with a maximum of 10 birds. In contrast, we found this species quite scarce in the Cairns/Atherton Tablelands area with only one sighting of 2 birds.
Mangrove Golden Whistler
Two females and an immature well seen at the Mary River Roadhouse stop was our only sighting.
Three birds of the race “Grey” Whistler were seen at Kingfisher Park. Birds of the race “Brown” Whistler were recorded on four dates in the NT, with daily maximum of 2 birds. Good sites for this race were East Point and the mangroves adjacent to the Palmerston Sewage Lagoons.
Fairly common & widespread with up to 4 birds being seen on 13 days.
A common forest bird of the Atherton Tablelands. Seen daily with maximum daily count of 6 birds. Good locations for this species included Kingfisher Park and Black Mountain Road.
More distinctive than the illustration in Birds of Australia being noticeably larger and with a grayer back and much more rufous (almost apricot) underparts than the previous species. Single birds seen at the Crater NP and along Black Mountain Road.
Two birds seen quite well on a cliff-face on the Gunlom Escarpment. We were initially drawn to this species by its loud beautiful song.
Most numerous at O’Reilly’s and sites around Brisbane [race harmonica] with daily maximum of 8 birds. Smaller numbers also seen at sites in the Atherton Tablelands [e.g.;. 2 birds at the Crater NP]. Finally 2 birds of the race brunnea seen at Howard Springs.
We only heard this much-wanted species at Kingfisher Park but after some frustrations [particularly for BEC] we both obtained great views of a male along Black Mountain Road right outside the Cassowary House, responding to a tape of its call.
Fairly common in woodland in the Cairns/Atherton Tablelands area being recorded on 6 dates with a daily maximum of 8 birds. A Good site was Kingfisher Park.
Recorded on four dates with daily maximum of 5 birds. Good sites were Fogg Dam and Mary River and Adelaide River Road Houses.
The most common & widespread of the Myiagra flycatchers. In all recorded on 10 dates with daily maximum of 8 birds.
Recorded on 3 dates including 6 on August 15th. Good sites were East Point and the mangroves at Mossman River.
Recorded on 6 dates including 6 birds on August 16th at Fogg Dam.
A very common and widespread species. No attempt was made to estimate numbers but birds seen virtually daily in good numbers. Several were seen at their distinctive mud nest.
Single birds of this attractive fantail were recorded on five dates. Kingfisher Park was a good site for this species.
Several individuals of this recently split species was seen at Buffalo Creek and in mangroves at the Palmerston Sewage Works.
Common and widespread being recorded on 13 dates including 8 birds on August 22nd. Several birds of the mountain race keasti were seen at Mt. Lewis.
Recorded on 4 dates including 5 birds on August 15th. Good sites included Howard Springs and East Point.
This engaging and constantly active species was very common and widespread.
Fairly common and widespread being recorded on 13 dates with daily maximum of 4 birds.
This large distinctive cuckoo-shrike was recorded on six dates with a daily maximum of 5 birds. It was easy to see in the open-country of the Lockyear Valley.
Suprisingly more common than we expected. Seen on 16 dates with a daily maximum of 12 birds.
A single female at Fogg Dam was our sole record.
Recorded on eight dates with a daily maximum of 6 birds seen in the mangroves from the Mossman River cruise.
Recorded on nine dates with a daily maximum of 20 birds seen in the mangroves from the Mossman River cruise.
Much scarcer than the previous species with only 5 birds seen over three dates. Birds were seen (near the little lake on our way out of O’Reilly’s), Mary River Road House and from the Yellow Waters cruise.
Fairly common & widespread usually in fairly large parties. In all recorded on 11 dates with a daily maximum of 40 birds. The race in Brisbane is green-breasted (“Green Figbird”) whilst the race in northern Queensland and NT has a yellow breast (“Yellow Figbird”)
The most numerous woodswallow. Usually in small parties and in a variety of habitats including parkland and even light suburban, from Brisbane to NT. Recorded on 8 dates with a daily maximum of 20 birds.
Recorded on four dates from the “Top End’ with daily maximum of 15 birds seen at various sites between Pine Creek and Mantaranka. Copperfield Dam outside of Pine Creek was a good site for this species.
Single bird watched in flight showing its conspicuous white primary edge. Seen along the very birdy Springvale Road [Atherton Tablelands].
Two parties of 6 and 2 birds seen while driving through Kakadu.
A few birds seen over six dates mainly at sites around Brisbane & the Atherton Tablelands. We failed to see the “silver-backed” race in the NT, where it is very local.
Recorded over 7 dates at various forest sites on the Atherton Tablelands with daily maximum of 4 birds. Several birds were seen at the Cassowary House including one that came to cheese we put out on our balcony.
Easily the most numerous butcherbird being recorded almost daily with a high count of 8 birds.
This large striking species was very common and widespread being seen virtually daily.
A strange-looking bird with a highly distinctive call. We recorded this species on 8 days with a daily maximum of 8 birds. Good sites included O’Reilly’s, Crater NP and Cathedral Fig Tree.
A single female seen well in a wooded patch near the campground toilet at O”Reilly’s by GBM and a male observed for a long time whilst foraging in gum tree about 6 km along Duck Creek Road, in dry open woodland (not rainforest). The bird used its long bill to probe the tree bark and leaf clumps and extract insects.
We were amazed how numerous this species was around the Cassowary House and the adjacent Black Mountain Road. Judging by mainly unseen calling birds we must have had upwards of 10 birds daily at this location. Both sexes were well seen coming to the feeders at the Cassowary House. Birds were also seen and more frequently heard calling at forested sites on the Atherton Tablelands including the Crater NP and Cathedral Fig.
A party of 3 birds seen feeding on trash at the Mary River Roadhouse. According to Birds of Australia this location is out of the species’ range. However, we both had excellent views of the party and have no doubt as to the identification. One bird came within 5 meters and one could easily see the long, pointed throat hackles and grey base to neck feathers. Their wailing calls, different from that of the abundant crows, originally attracted our attention to these birds. This species must occasionally disperse from its normal range; Joseph Morlan photographed one in 2005 at the Cairns Esplanade.
An abundant and widespread species seen daily. Usually so common no daily estimate of numbers was attempted.
Two groups of this noisy, charismatic species were seen. The first a flock of 12 birds were seen at Mt. Carbine Dam. A party of about 30 birds were seen – Hot Springs park. Unfortunately one of this group had become entangled in netting and was surrounded by its brethren who were screaming at an even louder pitch than normal, while attempting to bite through the netting to free their flockmate. Unfortunately the bird was too high up for us to release it [despite asking the locals for a ladder without any success].
Easy to see at the feeders of both Kingfisher Park and Cassowary House. In all we recorded this species on 7 dates with a daily maximum of 4 birds.
A very difficult species to nail down. It was quite common at O’Reilly’s judging by the birds calling at dawn. Unfortunately they all became silent shortly afterwards and were impossible to locate. Out of desperation on our last morning we got up before first light with a flashlight and waited for the first bird to start up. We immediately played the tape and managed to see it several times with the help of the flashlight. Not the best of views but we had to settle for that.
Two birds seen flying across the road into the Crater NP; one perched in the roadside trees for some minutes, allowing close examination.
We expected this to be a sure thing at O’Reilly’s. We did get great views of three beautiful males perched on the roof of the main building and later a single female. However, considering we were there for three days we were surprised we did not to see more.
Common at O’Reilly’s with up to 12 birds per day. This included one bird attending to its bower, making a strange ventriloquial thrumming, whilst a female sat nearby.
This turned out to be a really brilliant, charismatic species. While it was suprisingly abundant we never got tired of watching its antics. Recorded on 8 dates with an amazing estimate of 40 birds in the gardens at Pine Creek.
A single bird seen along the Possum Valley Road was rather suprisingly our sole record.
Recorded on nine dates with a daily maximum of 3 birds mainly at sites around Brisbane and the Atherton Tablelands.
Seen at Cairns and around towns on the Atherton Tablelands.
A flock of at least 60 birds seen in the Lockyear Valley. Unfortunately the flock was flushed by a Sparrow Hawk before we obtained really good views, and could not be relocated.
The most widespread of the small finches, being recorded on 8 dates with a daily maximum of 8 birds. Good sites for this species were Mt. Carbine Dam and Copperfield Dam.
Nice views of this attractive finch were obtained with up to six birds along the side road into the Eden B&B near Fogg Dam.
Four birds watched briefly along the roadside of Tinaroo Creek Road (at its intersection with Henry Hannam Drive) before they were unfortunately flushed. We also searched briefly for this species at the start of the road to the Mareeba Wetlands without success. [Other birders have seen them there].
Recorded on two dates including brilliant views of about 10 birds seen along the Bird Billabong trail on our drive into Kakadu.
Common at Fogg Dam with a flock of about 40 birds feeding at the base of the observation tower. Most were immatures. Another good site was Copperfield Dam. In all recorded on 5 days at the Top End with those at Fogg Dam representing the daily high count.
A few of these desirable finches were mixed in with the Zebra Finch flock encountered in the Lockyear Valley as their “tinging” notes could be heard as the birds flew from bush to bush. However, just as GBM got her bins on a small bird with a dark throat a sparrowhawk came through and flushed the entire lot far into the next field where they could not be relocated.
Easy to see at the feeders of Kingfisher Park and Cassowary House. In all seen on 6 of the 8 days we were in the Atherton Tablelands with peak count of 25 birds.
A party of 15 birds was seen feeding on the grassy road-edge just outside Centenary Lakes and a similar size party was later seen in the Atherton Tablelands along Springvale Rd in agricultural country.
Parties of this species were seen on four dates with the largest group of about 40 birds seen feeding on the grassy edge of Somerville Road near the pond.
We had fantastic luck with this much sought-after species, thanks to Mike Reed’s generous help. Mike led us to a power line cut along the Edith Falls Road (open eucalyptus country about mid-way between Pine Creek and Katherine). After a short walk south we came across a flock of at least 150 Gouldian Finches. The birds were actively feeding on the ground and allowed very good views. Both red-faced and black-faced birds were seen. Seeing such an unexpectedly large flock of these beautiful finches was one of the high points of our trip.
A total of 10 birds seen over three days. The first sightings were at the Cairn’s Botanical Gardens and Centenary Lakes. Birds were also seen from the Mossman River cruise and at various roadside stops on the drive from Cassowary House to Cairns.
It proved suprisingly hard to find this species. We did see one on our first day birding around Brisbane and this was followed by 2 birds seen from the Mossman River cruise plus others heard.
A common & widespread species. It was absent from the Kakadu/Fogg Dam/Pine Creek region. Otherwise seen virtually daily.
Seen on seven widely separated dates with a daily maximum of 20 birds.
Recorded on six widely separated dates with a daily maximum of 30 birds.
This introduced species was seen thankfully seen only once with 2 birds on an agricultural area on the drive from O’Reilly’s to Brisbane.
Recorded on three dates including c200 coming into roost in trees at the Cairn’s Botanical Gardens.
Common and widespread in urban areas around Cairns/Atherton Tablelands.
Australian (Clamorous) Reed-Warbler
Recorded both days at Fogg Dam with 1 and 5 birds respectively.
Recorded in suitable grassland habitat on four dates with daily maximum of 4 birds on August 11th and 16th.
Two birds seen on our first day at the Minnipi Wetlands in Brisbane and a single bird on our final full day, at a wetland in the vicinity of Brisbane.
The common grassland species being seen on 9 dates with a daily maximum of 6 birds.
Recorded on two dates including 10 birds on August 15th, in mangroves near Tiger Brennan Drive south of Darwin.
Common and widespread being recorded on 10 dates with daily maximum of 20 birds seen along the trails at O’Reilly’s.
We were very pleased to find and have excellent views of this attractive thrush at O’Reilly’s, near the campground, particularly as most birds disperse to the lowlands in winter. The cooperative bird, which was feeding by scratching loose leaves to bare the soil beneath, allowed close examination so as to eliminate Bassian Thrush.
Duck-billed Platypus – at least 5 individuals seen very well in late afternoon swimming and diving in a small pool on private property near Atherton, taken there before our spotlighting tour with Glenn Holmes. As a biologist, fulfillment of a life-long desire to see this “mammal-like reptile” or perhaps more correctly, “reptile-like mammal” which shares so many characteristics with the earliest ancestors of modern mammalian lines.
Koala – only seen on our first day at Minippi Wetlands, a female with a toy-like baby in arms. Extremely cute although those long claws discourage hugging!
Macropods: We saw quite a few macropods (kangaroos and their allies) although we unfortunately dipped on Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroos, despite hours of searching with Glenn Holmes.
Musky Rat-kangaroo – common at Cassowary House – endearing little bouncers.
Red-necked Pademelon – Common at O’Reilly’s
Red-legged Pademelon – a few seen along road from O’Reilly’s – lower elevation than preceding.
Red-legged Wallaby – in open areas before ascent into Lamington NP.
Agile Wallaby – A common roadside sight in both Queensland and NT
Whip-tailed Wallaby – along Tinaloo Road near Juranda
Unadorned Rock-Wallaby – Granite Gorge Park
Black Wallaby – one seen at a Kakadu Park billabong near sunset. Not as common as expected.
Eastern Grey Kangaroo – Several seen along Springvale Road in pastureland.
Possums: Most of these were seen at O’Reilly’s or on our spotlighting trip with Glenn Holmes.
Lemuroid Ringtail – spotlighting near Atherton
Herbert River Ringtail -- spotlighting near Atherton
Common (Coppery) Brushtail -- spotlighting near Atherton
Mountain Brushtail – O’Reilly’s
Long-nosed Bandicoot – O’Reilly’s
Northern Brown Bandicoot – roadside grass near Atherton
Black Flying-fox – A number seen flying at dusk over main roads around Brisbane.
Spectacled Flying-fox – One found roosting in a tree near entrance to Mt. Whitfield Environmental Park allowed close looks (it seemed rather nervous about our scrutiny) – other seen flying at dusk near Cairns were probably this species.
Little Red Flying-fox – A large roost of this smaller species at Herbert Springs, NT
Giant White-tailed Rat – Seen briefly at dusk at Kingfisher Park
House Mouse (introduced) – One seen coming to feeders at night at Kingfisher Park
European Hare (introduced) – One at night along roadside on route to O’Reilly’s
European Rabbit (introduced) – A few seen in Atherton Tablelands.
Dingo (introduced) – A dead Dingo along the road near Mt. Molloy and three live ones seen at Kakadu, including one just outside our cabin at Cooinda.
Feral horse (Brumby) – two small groups in Kakadu NP
Feral donkey – 2-3 small groups in Kakadu NP
Feral pig – several in Kakadu NP
White-lipped Tree Frog – Two at Cassowary House – one (in our bathroom) was hibernating and had taken on the dark brown color of the wall paint.
Red-bellied Blacksnake – One at O’Reilly’s and one along trail on Mt. Lewis
Golden Tree Snake – Seen from Yellow Waters and also, one along road in to Gumlon
Water Python – Only one seen at Fogg Dam, much depleted due to introduced Cane Toad, which is toxic and has caused significant declines in predatory snakes and other animals, including the Goanna.
Goanna – Only one seen at Fogg Dam, also much reduced in numbers.
Butterflies: (A few species of note, we made no attempt to ID most of the butterflies as we lacked a field guide. Next time we will do better!)
Wanderer or Monarch (Danaus plexippius) – When we arrived at Minippi we were surprised to see so many butterflies about that “looked exactly like the Monarch at home.” Well, no surprise, they WERE the Monarch from North America. They have adapted to Australia and so has their food-plant, American Milkweed. They have been present in Australia since 1871.
Cairn’s Birdwing (Ornithoptera priamus)- We had looked forward to “ticking” this representative of the Australasian Ornithoptera genus, having seen others in Malaysia and Thailand. However we failed to find any until, driving back from the Mossman tour, we found a large white-flowering vine beside the road covered with this species and the following. Brilliant!
Ulysses (Papilio ulysses). This brilliant blue swallowtail is as spectacular as any neotropical Morpho!