Sunday, 22 March 2015

2014 Queensland tour with the Birds part 1 Brisbane to Cape Tribulation


This chapter of our 2014 Qld tour is dedicated to birds I was able to photograph.

Knowing that I was touring many parts of Qld & being a mad keen bird watcher, I prepared my self with several hours of research from Eremaea eBird, making list after list of the birds I was targeting.
By the end of my research, I had 15 pages of Word Doc of bird names with several places I should expect to find them in the event the 1st place was disappointing.

By the end of my 4.5 month tour I had seen 353 different bird species, with approximately 75 of them being new birds to my "life" list.

Bird watching with binoculars was my main focus, but I took every opportunity to capture the birds on camera as well.
I used a compact Sony camera with 50 x optical zoom & 20 mp. Some photos have been cropped.
These chapters are only a fraction of photos I took.

We started with a couple of nights @ Lake Barambah near Murgon. The 2,150 ha lake  is open for recreational water craft, skiing & fishing. The dam is well stocked with fish.
There's a camp ground on the shores of the lake. The managers have bird feeders near the office for every one to enjoy watching some of the local birds.

Pale-headed Rosella & a male King Parrot

Rainbow Lorikeet are very common here & in most areas along the east coast of Australia & all the way to the Kimberley region & up to 300 kms inland.

There are several sections away from the main water craft activity where the water fowl take refuge & can feed on the smaller fish in peace.
In these 3 photos there were hundreds of Little Black Cormorants, Little Pied Cormorants & Pelicans in a feeding frenzy mid morning where they were herding the fish for an easy catch.



Striated Pardolote usually build their nest by tunnelling into sides of creek banks or similar structures.
This pair were tunnelling into the side of a bank next to the road early 1 morning.


We called into the tavern @ Bargara - east of Bundaberg where dozens of Plumed whistling-ducks roost for the day on the rocks around the lagoon.

A Varied Triller was amongst several birds I found after lunch @ Burnett Heads, a habitat of coastal & heathland - NE of Bundaberg

Along the rocky shores was a Sooty Oystercatcher.

Walking around the same park @ Burnett Heads there was a fresh water pond with overhanging trees  & to my surprise I found an immature Striated Heron. They can also be found roosting amongst mangroves & then feed on the mud flats when the tide recedes.

I found a pair of Red-tailed Black-cockatoos feeding on the Eucalypt tree nuts mid afternoon in the camp ground we were staying at just outside the township of Agnes Water, north of Bundaberg.

Spectacled Monarch @ Tannum Sands near Gladstone. These birds are only found along the east coast of Australia & migrate back to New Guinea & Indonesia for winter.
This 1 was probably on it's northern migration when seen mid afternoon.

Also @ Tannum Sands I walked around a small lagoon where I found a pair of Northern Mallard.....but I feel there's some cross breeding with something else.

Laughing Kookaburra also @ Tannum Sands one morning.

This Olive-backed Sunbird was my 1st sighting ever of this bird in Byfield NP just north of Yeppoon.
I was to see this species of bird dozens more times over the next few months of travel whilst on the east coast of Qld. These birds can be seen most times of the day amongst shrubs & some open dry forest.

We drove around to the northern section of Byfield NP & camped 2 nights in 1 of the many camp grounds there. It was cloudy, but the birding in the remnant rainforests was productive.

This bird is 1 of several species of fruit eating Doves - Wompoo Fruit-Dove. All fruit doves inhabit tropical rainforests on the east coast of Aust to as far south as mid NSW coast.
It is not often that you get to see these birds when walking in rainforests as they're usually up high in the canopy, but fortunately this 1 was taking a rest mid morning just a few mtrs off the ground.


Whilst staying @ Byfield NP, I was able to access the internet & the birding site where I place my lists to - Eremaea eBird. Another birder had placed on the vagrant / unusual sighting section of the website a bird that is endangered. Trouble was that this bird was south of Rockhampton.
We were nearly 140 kms by road of where the bird was, so it was wonderful that my hubby agreed to drive back to the site where I could find the wanted bird.....

Whilst looking for the Yellow Chat along Port Alma Road, near some salt works there are salt flats where wader birds can be found like this Red-capped Plover  ......

I was in luck....so was my hubby, 'cos he said he'd be really dirty if I didn't locate the bird that usually can be found amongst the samphire flats along the road side.
Yellow Chat......found only around this location & another group somewhere out near the Qld / NT border & are listed as endangered. I took several photos of this bird mid morning :-)

South of Mackay is a little town called St Lawrence. We stayed in the very popular & sometimes overcrowded free camp spot that is right next to a very popular wetland reserve.
A late afternoon & early morning walk to the St Lawrence Wetlands......Comb-crested Jacana aka 'Jesus Bird' as it can be seen to walk on water.......the bird has very long toes where he can skim across the top of lilly pads on the water.

Jabiru is the common name for Black-necked Stork.....seen here with a very large kangaroo grazing on the grasses near the water.

A late afternoon photo of 1 section of the wetland

The next morning looking back towards the camp ground

Eungella NP is west of Mackay up on a mountain range - part of  the Great dividing Range.
Near the lookout to the Pioneer Valley back towards Mackay several species of Woodswallow were using the windy conditions to fly around  catching insects.
Many White-browed Woodswallows were magnificent in their breeding colours with some very rich rufous breast colours. (bird on the left)

There were also several dozen Masked Woodswallows doing aerials.

Another tree in the region had this  young Diamond Dove.

I spent a morning walking around Mackay Botanical Gardens.
The Olive-backed Sunbirds were in good numbers & used to people wandering around the gardens.

A White-winged Triller

Peaceful Doves.

Looking in 1 direction of the lagoon of the Botanical Gardens.


We moved onto Cape Hillsborough NP after leaving Mackay. It was just 20 kms north of Mackay, so we arrived to the camp ground early enough to explore the very pretty NP next door.

A Sacred Kingfisher was sitting in a tree waiting for his next lunch opportunity to arrive.

Early the next morning, I walked around the public park next to the camp ground & found a pair of nesting Brahminy Kite.


Whilst staying @ Airlie Beach for a few nights we had the company of 4 Bush stone Curlew roosting in the gardens & lawn day & night behind our van. Usually these birds are sitting on the ground trying their best to camouflage themselves against predators. Here they didn't have a care in the world & getting photos of them was the easiest bird photography 1 could ask for. These are the birds some folk will hear with mournful calls in the middle of the night.

Conway NP was the large rainforest NP near Airlie Beach. I enjoyed birding here as I love walking in rainforests.
The Rufous Fantail has always been tricky to get a decent photo of as they move about so quickly catching insects in flight.

My time was limited on this walk & I only went 1/2 way around. Sadly after I came back up the track I met a very speedy young bush walker who asked me if I'd seen the "long tailed Kingfisher"......suffice to say I was most upset in that I wasn't able to go further down this track & would also have seen the Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher.......I wasn't to see this bird the next day or for the rest of the trip as it & the rest of this specie fly to New Guinea & Indonesia for winter.

Part of the way down through the rainforest (above track) I flushed this Noisy Pitta from the ground. It flew to a nearby low tree branch & froze.....I also froze so as to not have it move further if possible until I, in slow motion got my camera ready for some photos......a couple of lucky shots were taken.

Hubby Rod waited in the car reading whist I was walking in the rainforest.
This Brown Cuckoo-dove kept him amused during part of his time in the car.

Half way between Ayr & Townsville is a place called Giru. Bowling Green NP is near by, but I didn't have time to visit there, but instead just visited the roads around the cane fields & found a few wetland areas. I walked many kms looking for special birds that may happen to turn up......this group of Forest Kingfishers were just  a few of up to a dozen using the area.

A Pallid Cuckoo sitting on a power line was a new bird sighting of this specie for me.

The Black-shouldered Kite moved back & forth to this conifer tree in his morning search for food.

By chance I found this Pheasant Coucal trying her best to hide from me.

The White-browed Robin was also a new bird specie for me in the Giru area in a small section of remnant forest along a small creek crossing the road mid morning.


This pair of Jabiru was a sight for sore eyes as 1 joined the other on this tree top a couple hundred metres in the distance.

What happened next took me by surprise as he decided to copulate with her.

Suffice to say, I had about 12 pics of their shenanigans :-)

I birded in the southern Townsville region along a 10 km route outing called Old Flinders Hwy to Woodstock.....I didn't realize how long the route was until I was there.....in & out of the car in the heat of mid morning trying to find finches & other birds on my list to tick off.
This Brown Falcon was sitting high on a power line pole.

A Wedge-tailed Eagle gracefully flew by.


Down the end of the road near the community of Woodstock I found about 12
Red-tailed Black Cockatoos roosting in trees during the midday heat.

A Yellow Honeyeater was tricky to get decent photos of.


I love the striking appearance of the Jabiru - Black-necked Stork. This 1 was in a wetland near Ross River Dam, south of Townsville when I went birding with a local birder mid morning.

The Ross river Dam wetland.

Also there was this White-necked Heron.

White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike

How handsome does this male Blue-winged Kookaburra look? When he starts to sing you'd think twice about his overall appearance....looks & song.......this birds song is far from nice & I thought most unusual.

1 of the destinations a birder should visit whilst visiting Townsville is the Town Common.....a large conservation park not far from the airport with a mixture of wetlands & bush. I started out nice & early as the day heats up quickly.

1 of the 1st birds to find was this immature Brush Cuckoo.

Just 1 of the views of the wetland section where grasses now stand as the water dries up a little.

I found a pair Spangled Drongos .....I'm not too sure if this his mating look or his frowning at her......
Drongos also migrate northwards towards the northern parts of Australia, with some going to Indonesia for the winter.

Watching Rainbow Bee eaters doing their aerial acrobats as they catch flying insects is pretty cool.
They're colours are pretty spectacular too.

We stayed in a van park not far from the Paluma NP , which is 70 kms north of Townsville.
Paluma NP  is the southern most region of Queenslands Wet Tropics rainforests.
Sadly my visit up on the mountain was a wet day, so I didn't get any photos taken up there.
Another section further down the mountain was more rewarding to me, but it was quite challenging as I encountered many birds  that were new to me with their unfamiliar calls.

This is the White-browed Robin ......the pic isn't so good, but I loved his stance.

In the camp ground a Great Bowerbird's bower

Up in the trees around the camp ground,  Figbirds looked different than their southern families.....the male's front is more lemon.

The Pale Yellow Robin was also looking a little different.....this is the northern form. They like riparian type vegetation & can be seen most parts of the day.

Tyto Wetlands is in Ingham. This 120 Ha site has vast wetland areas & is home to over 240 species of birds throughout the year including the Eastern Grass Owl - Tyto Capensis - where the wetland gets its name from. I spent several hours one morning wandering around this beautiful area.

Several Green Pygmy goose on 1 of the ponds male is more handsome than his lady.

Cotton Pygmy Goose were also there.

A visit to Lucinda on the coast along the shore line gave me my 1st sighting of a Varied Honeyeater late 1 afternoon.


Grey-tailed Tattlers were feeding in the mud flats as the tide was receding.

Pied Oystercatchers also feeding in the mud.

A few days later we were in Cairns with a walk along the Esplanade. A Striated Heron was waiting patiently for his next meal.

The view looking northwards along the Esplanade. The tide goes out a long way & is popular for many wader birds as their low tide feeding grounds.

Also feeding amongst the mud flats was this Sacred Kingfisher

A Black-fronted Dotteral taking a bath in the salty water - I'm more familiar with these birds being a fresh water wetland bird

A Red-necked Stint

Sadly this is the only photo I have of the Double-eyed Fig Parrot that was feeding in 1 of several trees along the Esplanade.

Also along the Esplanade were Helmeted Friarbirds feeding on the nectar in the flowers....not the prettiest of birds.

I drove up to Kuranda & walked part of the Barron Gorge NP mid morning.
The Black Butcherbird was sitting amongst the trees & was more visible than many of the other birds in this rainforest.

Whilst in Cairns, I spent several hours walking around Cattana Wetlands. This 80 ha conservation park with several lagoons was created from a former sugar cane farm & sand mining quarry with hundreds of tree plantings. More than 180 different species have been seen here at various times of the year.
I found a Purple Swamphen next to 1 of of the lagoons.

A Yellow Oriole.
We spent a day driving to Cape Tribulation from our camp ground just north of Mossman.
This region is simply stunning with pristine world heritage rainforests.

I found this Bridled Honeyeater along the Mangrove Boardwalk....1 of at least 4  board walks along the drive to Cape Trib from the Daintree River crossing. I recommend to everyone to visit each of the board walks as they are all different.

The Yellow-spotted Honeyeater is an endemic bird to Northern Qld. There are 2 other  honeyeaters that look similar to this 1 - Gracefull Honeyeater which is also endemic to North Qld & the Lewin's Honeyeater that inhabits the east coast of Australia from the Cooktown south to Melbourne region.
Fortunately for us, all 3 have different calls.

Indian Peafowl are resident @ Wonga beach caravan park, just north of Mossman




Also wandering about the camp ground were Orange-footed Scrub fowl. These birds were very challenging to get a decent photo of as they move about so quickly. 

I went on an early morning Daintree River cruise with 1 of the several birding operators available.
My hubby & I were the only passengers, so we were able to be taken to a couple of extra places searching for my target list of birds. Sadly, the cruise operator couldn't locate a Great-billed Heron, but we managed to find a couple of other birds on my list.......
Papuan Frogmouth camouflaging itself very well on it's usual tree perch. I was to see several of this specie over the ensuing weeks.

A pair of Shining Flycatchers were displaying well, the female Shining is very striking, but my pics of her aren't that good.


Sadly, the largest native bird rainforest bird in Australia, the Southern Cassowary, eluded me this trip :-(
I was 30 mins late on at least 2 occasions for a sighting to an area I was going to.
Cape Tribulation being 1 of them. The most obvious place to find them is  Etty Bay, just south of Innisfail, but as we left Innisfail area, it rained all morning during the drive north towards Cairns, so we didn't stop there.
Part 2 birds of Qld tour  to come soon.



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