Birdlife Bundaberg’s major outing for 2016 was a trip to Nth Qld’s Atherton Tableland with some interesting stops on the way up and back.
8 people travelled up and most came home with a number of “lifers”.
FRI – 7th Oct.
We left Bundaberg at 7am to travel to Eungella in search of Platypus & Eungella Honeyeaters. Raptors were numerous along the way with 1 inquisitive Square-tailed Kite cruising level with the vehicle. Brolgas were also a nice sighting along the way.
We reached camp at Broken River campgrounds and set up by 4pm.
First order of business was strolling down to the bridge to enjoy views of 4 Platypus playing. Walks along the river produced lots of birds, and we enjoyed these until darkness forced us back to camp.
SAT – 8th Oct.
Up nice and early and off to Diggings Rd to pick up Peter & Trudy. Had a quick search at junction of Broken River Rd and Diggings Rd and after enjoying a feeding and preening flock of Topknot Pigeons it was off to Chelmans Rd.
Pulling up at the end of Chelmans Rd we were greeted by very noisy and very obvious Eungella Honeyeaters. We spent the rest of the morning enjoying these endangered birds and plenty of others in the State Forest. We eventually dragged ourselves away and meandered back to camp for a lazy afternoon.
A short search was launched for the endemic Eungella Darner with no luck.
Sat night was a short spotlighting outing that didnt turn up much, and we all turned in early ready for the next days long haul to Yungaburra.
SUN – 9th Oct.
Sunday was spent mainly driving with short stops for stretching legs. Lunch was had at Mt Gordon rest area just short of Bowen. Most tables had a scavenging Blue-faced Honeyeater and a pair of Whistling Kites rested in a nearby tree. Out the back was a path through the dunes to to a tidal mudflat and this turned up quite a haul of shorebirds.
Yungaburra was reached about 7pm and we set up at Lake Eacham Tourist Park. Nice grounds, close to everywhere and reasonable rates.
MON – 10th Oct.
Early morning breakfast and off to Lake Eacham. 4 1/2 hrs to stroll around the 3km circuit produced a host of tableland birds. Pied Monarchs, Atherton Scrubwrens, Grey-headed Robins, Metallic Starlings and Orange-footed Scrubfowl were very common. We found the Pale-yellow Robin very common here also. A Tooth-billed Bowerbird was enjoyed showing off his seemingly full routine to a very interested female; so interested they flew off together at the end of the performance. Double-eyed Fig-parrots were enjoyed here at a consequent visit. Bassian Thrush was another shy bird spotted.
After lunch we visited Malanda Falls and enjoyed the walk here. The Curtain Fig was visited on the way back to camp.
After dinner spotlighting was done at Lake Barrine but not a lot to report. In fact, we were very disappointed in all our spotlighting outings.
TUES – 11th OCT.
Dawn found us at the magnificent Cathedral Fig. The dawn chorus here was simply amazing; a continuous wall of sound. Fun was had trying to identify all the birds calling whilst not being able to see them. As the light strengthened, it was easier to identify the birds and by full light the sound had dropped away to the occasional call.
We headed off to Lake Barrine to have breakfast and enjoy the host of honeyeaters, Victoria’s Riflebirds and Chowchillas that entertained us.
After breakfast a couple of us went to visit Yungaburra local Alan Gillanders who had a serious medical incident the night before. Some went shopping and the others enjoyed the birdlife at our campgrounds.
The afternoon was spent cruising Topaz Rd and strolling around Mount Wooranooran NP.
Spotlighting was at Mt Hypipamee.
WED – 12th Oct.
After setting off nice and early, we pulled up at at Bromfelds Crater for a “quick” stop to enjoy the views of more than a dozen Sarus Cranes. Spotting what first appeared to be a dead bat on the barbed wire fence, it was quickly noted the “bat” was alive. A Little Red Flying-fox was caught on the barbs. A quick call to the nearby Tolga Bat Hospital and we were asked to wait 15 mins for a rescuer to arrive. After she arrived she quickly untangled the bat and commenced feeding it. We were then invited to tour the hospital that afternoon free of charge.
After waving bye to the bat and her carer, we headed off to Mt Hypipamee. The Golden Bowerbird here was fleetingly enjoyed, spoiled by the arrival of a Spanish camerman and accompanying guides. The falls and crater views were enjoyed as were the walks and the birds, with a couple treated to quick views of a Fernwren. Note to self; DO NOT TAKE SHORTCUTS!
After Mt Hypipamee, it was off to Hasties Swamp. Thousands of Plumed Whistling-ducks, a couple of Wandering Whistling-ducks, 3 very hungry Little Eagles feasting on duck, a shy Swamp Harrier and a pair of obliging Satin Flycatchers. Next was lunch at Atherton lookout then off to Wongabel SF. Just the usual suspects here plus 2 busloads of American & Canadian birders. So this was cut short and we headed off to Carrington to bird around the area of the Bat Hospital. We were rewarded by loads of honeyeaters, Banded Honeyeater being the standout for most. The grounds of the Bat Hospital abound in Victorias Riflebirds and honeyeaters that enjoy the food left out for the free ranging Bats.
The “free” visit to the hospital turned out very expensive for most as t-shirts, pins, cards and donations gobbled up quite an amount. But it was more than worth it to be shown around this remarkable facility. Caring for bats from a day old upwards, most of the bats here were Spectacled Flying-foxes which are endangered. The number of micro bats was quite numerous and very entertaining.
THURS – 13th Oct.
Thursday we set off to Lake Mitchell and Big Mitchell Ck.
Lake Mitchell is an enormous body of water and has a corresponding amount of birds. Cormorants, egrets, ducks, geese, swans and grebes was just for starters. 3 grebe species in one place is always nice viewing. Yellow honeyeaters kept the photographers entertained chasing shots as they darted all over the place. An Australian Hobby put on quite a display over the water continuously putting even much larger birds to flight. An unidentified crake proved elusive and therefore annoying.
Big Mitchell Ck was dry, as it mostly is. It didnt disappoint with an abundance of honeyeaters and finches.
Lunch was held at Mareeba and we then travelled back to spend the afternoon birding around the Lake Eacham area.
FRI – 14th Oct.
Friday, we split up. 4 of us to head homewards and the other 4 to spend more time on the tablelands and then a much slower trip home.
The homebound crew stopped in at Etty Bay for morning tea as a nice surprise for Jann who has long had a yearning to see Cassowary in the wild. Not sure if Etty Bay counts as in the wild, but it took her less than 5 minutes walk to head back big-eyed and calling for cameras.
After morning tea, we headed off stopping again at Mt Gordon rest area to stretch legs. The tide wasnt in my favour this time and there very few shorebirds. After a quick stop, it was off to Ingham and the world famous Tyto Wetlands. First, we had a look around the Parklands here, then off to Palm Tree Caravan Park to camp for the night. Once we were set up, it was back to Tyto and stayed at the wetlands till dusk. No Grass-owls, but plenty of nice birds. White-browed Crakes, White-browed Robins, White-gaped Honeyeaters and dozens of nesting Crimson Finches were the highlights.
That night was the first rain of the trip, so no spotlighting.
SAT – 15th Oct.
Woke up to very heavy rain and the news saying the weather was clear north and south of Ingham. Yay. So, it was pack up in the rain and sure enough, as we pulled out the rain stopped.
The drive to St. Lawrence was pretty uneventful, but weather although looking threatening at times was perfectly clear by the time we got to St. Lawrence.
We set up with a nice gentle breeze and bright sun drying all our gear out for us. Dinner was put on hold and covered up as the local Magpie Goose colony decided that straight over our tent was the perfect flight-path for their nightly foray.
Spotlighting around the wetlands turned up several interesting frogs and hundreds of sleeping Eastern Billabongflies. A group of Bush Stone-curlews serenaded us during the night.
SUN – 16th Oct.
Camped as we were within sight of the wetlands, breakfast was continuously interrupted with sightings of raptors, egrets, ducks, geese, lorikeets, finches and honeyeaters. A stroll around the wetlands added pygmy-geese, shorebirds, Bustards, Black-necked Storks to the tally.
As enjoyable as it all was, it was time to pack up and head for home.
Lunch was at the Gardens in Rockhampton and a nice quiet drive home ensued.
Our other 4 campers visited most remaining spots on the Tableland and added quite a collection of birds to our overall tally.