Birding East Coast Australia 2000 - Daily Log 

First Part of the Daily Log: 29.10.2000 - 10.11.2000
Cairns   -   Michaelmas Cay   -   Daintree   -   Kingfisher Park   -   Atherton Tablelands   - Mission Beach   -   Eungella   -   Great Sandy National Park   -   Kingaroy

Second Part of the Daily Log: Bunya Mts - St. George - Brisbane - Sydney 11.11.2000 - 24.11.2000
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Nesting Magpie LarkAfter our arrival at Cairns Airport and picking up our rental car, we found a good backpacker hostel ("Floriana") at the Cairns Esplanade. Birding Australia started really promisingly. Opposite to our window we had a nesting Magpie Lark, in the park like area along the Esplanade were Varied Honeyeaters, Helmeted Friarbirds and lots of Nutmeg Mannikins and on the mudflats at the Esplanade we saw Pelicans, Royal Spoonbills and shorebirds like Red-capped Plover, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Great Knot, Red-necked Stint, Terek Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler etc..
In the afternoon we visited Centenary Lakes, a botanical garden in Cairns. Although Brigitte got a little bit scared by a Common Tree Snake (harmless) we had a nice time with Rainbow and Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, our first megapodes - the mound building Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Dollarbirds, Black Butcherbird and Spectacled Monarch.

Michaelmas CayEarly In the  morning (about 6 am) I went across the street to the Esplanade. There are lots of people taking a walk very early. Surprisingly I found a Beach Thickknee and two Marsh Sandpipers.
At 7.30 am we started on a cruise with the Seastar II which we booked the day before. This cruise might be the best for birdwatchers since it visits the seabird colony Michaelmas Cay. We arrived after ca. 2.5 hours at this very small island, where Captain Greg was so kind to ship us around the Island in a small boat to get better views of the birds.Michaelmas Cay
Above the tern colony soared Frigatebirds. The most common breeding birds in the colony are Brown Noddy and and Sooty Tern. Crested Terns and Lesser Crested Terns are also easy to find besides only few Black-naped Terns and Little Terns along the beach. The few Bridled Terns perch mostly on a buoy near the boat, whereas the very rare Black Noddy can sometimes be found on a rope seperating the beach from the seabird colony. Other birds on Michaelmas were Brown Boobies, Silvergulls and some Turnstones.
Unfortunately we only stayed about 1 hour and went afterwards to Hastings Reef to do Scubadiving. When we came back to Cairns at about 5.30 pm an adult White-bellied Sea-eagle welcomed us.

North of CairnsThis morning I went towards the mangroves north of the Esplanade. There is also a mangrove boardwalk near the Airport which is worth a visit. I found Straw-necked Ibis and Barred Cuckoo Shrike. Afterwards we drove north out of Cairns. A stopover at Mossman Gorge produced our first Australian Brush Turkey, Superb Fruit Dove aswell as a Double-eyed Fig Parrot at a hollow. In the evening we arrived at Daintree where Geoff from Red Mill House showed us a nesting Papuan Frogmouth.

Chris DahlbergAt 6 am we started the famous Chris Dahlberg's Specialised Daintree River Tour. Reservation in advance is essential! Chris showed us Darter, Wompoo Fruit Dove, Shining Flycatcher etc.. The highlight of the tour was a Pacific Baza, flying over the boat. The tour lasted for about 2 hours and produced besides nice photos about 50 bird species, some Eastern Waterdragons and Spectacled Flying Fox.
After breakfast we went to Cape Tribulation. On the way we saw Australian Hobby, Nutmeg Mannikin (both near Daintree) and Grey Goshawk. Cape Tribulation produced little besides a calling Victoria's Riflebird, but has a nice scenery.

Since Chris Dahlberg had some unforeseen cancellations for his boat trip this morning, we were able to join again. This time we had good views of a Black Bittern and a fantastic Great-billed Heron. On the way to Kingfisher Park, Julatten 2 Wedge-tailed Eagles soared above the road. At our arrival, a Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher was around and also some Honeyeaters at the feeder. After setting up our tent we decided to explore the area. Carol from Kingfisher Park gave us some instructions and so we started:

Map: Where to go around Kingfisher Park

First we had a quick look into the hide at Abattoir Swamps with Green Pygmy Geese, many Purple Swamphen, Comb-crested Jacana, White-cheeked Honeyeater, Leaden Flycatcher and a flushed Red-backed Button-quail.
Mt Carbine CemetaryThen we looked for dry country birds along Mt. Carbine Road, which is a good place for Blue-winged Cookaburra. Eastern Mary Roads turned out to be especially productive with great views of Australian Bustards, at least 2 Australian Pratincoles in the haze, Red-backed Fairy Wren, Golden-headed Cisticola and Richards Pipit. At the Mt. Carbine cemetary were some Squatter Pigeons and Weebills. Afterwards we went together with Arnoud van den Berg and Cecilia Bowman, who we met at the Mt. Carbine Petrol Station, to the Mt. Carbine Dam. Best birds on and around that lake were Grey Teal, Hardhead, 2 Sarus Cranes, Bushhen, and two very elusive Red-tailed Black Cockatoos. An agile Wallaby jumped through the dry forest and we also found a roost of the Little Red Flying Fox.
In the evening we did some spotlighting around Kingfisher Park finding a Bandicoot, White-lipped Treefrog and lots of Cane Toads. A calling Owlet Nightjar was extremly difficult to spot.

An early morning walk around Kingfisher Park gave me a Red-legged Pademelon (a small Kangaroo species), Noisy Pitta and a Spotted Catbird.
Then we went to the Rainforest on Mt. Lewis. On the road up we found some Cassowary droppings, but without the bird belonging to them. Although birding in the rainforest is everything else but easy, we found Bassian Thrush, Chowchillas, Rufous Fantail, Grey Fantail, Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Grey-headed Robin, Bowers Shrike Thrush and many other birds.
Lake MitchellIn the Afternoon we went to Mt. Molloy and had a look at the Great Bowerbird bower at the school. Afterwards we went to Lake Mitchell. There is a roadway crossing the lake. You just have to open a gate (and to close it afterwards). From this roadway we had good views at Australasian Grebe, 2 Pied Heron, Black Swans, Jabiru (Black-necked Stork), Glossy Ibis, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Black-fronted Dotterel, Little Friarbird, White-winged Triller etc..
In the evening we did some spotlighting with the crew of Kingfisher Park and found: Red-legged Pademelon, Northern Brown Bandicoot, Long-nosed Bandicoot, Eastern Tube-nosed Bat, Melomys spec., White-tailed Rat, Barn Owl, Leaf-tailed Gecko etc.. The Lesser Sooty Owl was only calling aswell as Red-necked Crake.

Stefan at Eastern Mary RoadBefore leaving Kingfisher Park at about 5.30 am, we had a look at the Water Rat in the small creek. Visiting the Mt. Carbine Road areas again, we went to the end of Eastern Mary Road there where there is a nice Paperbark forest in which we saw Striated Pardalote, Scarlet Honeyeater and Banded Honeyeater. Early in the morning some Agile Wallabies were also around on the paddocks. At Western Mary Road there were some displaying Australian Bustards.
After having another look at the Mt Carbine Dam (Nankeen Night Heron) we are driving to Lake Mitchell (2 Brolga Cranes). At the Mitchell Creek, a dry country area, a walk to the west along the dry river bed produced White-browed Robin and Rufous Whistler.
After reaching Atherton Tablelands we went to Lake Tinaroo. At Pelican Point (signposted) we found Cotton Pygmy Teal and Green Pygmy Teal aswell as a Tawny Grassbird. Afterwards we drove along the Dunbulla Forest Road (not paved but easy to drive) clockwise around the Lake. Highlights at several stops along the road were Pacific Heron, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Black-faced Monarch, Bush Stone Curlew and 2 Brown Quails at the end of the road. At Lake Echam Camping we had another 2 Bush Stone Curlews close to the tent.

In the morning a pair auf Australian King Parrots were our alarm clock. An early morning walk around Lake Eacham started with a Musk Rat Kangaroo, a small marsupial, much more a rat than a kangaroo. Several Tooth-billed Bowerbirds produced their extremly loud song, whilst a Spotted Catbird and a Victoria's Riflebird were chasing each other. The nearby Curtain Fig Tree was also visited by a White-throated Treecreeper and a Tree Dragon.
Hasties SwampsAnother drive to Lake Tinaroo coming from Yungaburra, gave us several 100 Plumed Whistling Ducks. Yungaburra has also a Platypus viewing platform south of the village, which offers easy views of this animal in the evening hours. Other places we visited that day were Hasties Swamps (many ducks, Comb-crested Jacanas, Dusky Moorhen, Fairy Martin etc.) and The Crater Park with Golden Bowerbird (description see Thomas & Thomas), Mountain Thornbill and our first Pied Currawongs. The last place to visit that day were the Bromfield Swamps east of the gravel road from The Crater to Malanda. This an evening roost for several hundred Brolga and Sarus Crane.
Since we were running a little bit out of time, we drove that evening in heavy rain to Innisfail, where we stayed for the night.

cassowary signIn the morning we drove to Mission Beach in search for the Southern Cassowary, one of our most wanted target species. First we went to Lacey's Creek and made the circle, as recommended, anti-clockwise. We saw Chowchillas, Eastern Whipbird and heard something, that might have been a Cassowary, but the most interesting experience we had were some leeches invading our shoes and trousers. Afterwards we went to the Licuala Fan Palm Forest southwest of Mission Beach. There is a small gravel road leading north from the main road to a small parking area at the beginning of a rainforest trail. Arriving at the parking area I saw some hundred meters away something huge black disappearing from the trail into the forest. A quick search at that place resulted in an adult Southern Cassowary only a few meters away in the forest. Fortunately the bird decided that it was easier to walk on the trail, so it came out, walked towards our car, had a look at it and disappeared slowly and silent into the forest.
After having breakfast in Mission Beach we spent the rest of the day driving south, only interrupted by a short stopover at the beach south of Bowen for a dead Sea Turtle, a Beach Stone Curlew and a juvenile Red-winged Parrot. We stayed the night in a motel (run by Germans!) in Proserpine.

On the way to Eungella National Park, which means "country in the clouds", 2 Channel-billed Cuckoos flew over us. First we looked at Chelmans Road (Follow Campsite Broken RiverDalrymple Road starting at the top for about 16 km, then turn left). We drove as far as we could and walked for the rest. After some Lewins Honeyeaters, Scarlet Honeyeater and Eastern Spinebill aswell as some leeches, Brigitte eventually found two Eungella Honeyeaters, a species which is endemic to the small Eungella area. On the way to the Broken River area, where camping in the Eungella National Park is possible, I tried to chase a Python (about 2 meter long) from the street with the result that I was chased...
In the afternoon we took a walk around the Wishing Pool and looked around our campsite. Best birds were Shining Bronze Cuckoo, Noisy Pitta and a female Regent Bowerbird.
The Broken River has an excellent Platypus viewing platform, which must be visited! You get excellent views of these strange animals, we had up to four Platypus at once. Best time is in the early evening and in the morning. In the evening a Brush-tailed Possum visited the campsite and inspected the tables and the cars.

on the highwayAfter another walk to the Platypus and through the rainforest at Broken River, we left Eungella and drove southwards. On the way to the Bruce Highway we turned right in Mirani to visit the Kinchant Dam. This reservoir holds big numbers of waterbirds. We saw Black Swans, Pelicans, Pied Cormorant and Crested Grebe, the same species as in Europe! Unfortunately we had to drive for the rest of the day to reach Bundaberg in the late evening. The best birds directly on the highway were two Painted Button Quails for which we even did a U-turn to get better views.
We spent the night in one of the numerous motels of Bundaberg.

Australian PelicanToday we visited at first Tin Can Bay, a small village with a yacht harbour, which is famous for its tame dolphins. We were to late to see the feeding of the dolphins, but saw Mangrove Honeyeater, Red-winged Parrot and a slightly aggressive Australian Pelican. Afterwards a drive to Rainbow Beach, a part of Great Sandy National Park,  produced little but some unidentifiable dark shearwaters far out at sea. The beach is famous for driving along with a 4WD...
Poona LakeA few kilometers before Rainbow Beach there is turn west into the Freshwater Road, a small dirt road, which is easily accessible up to a picnic area. We walked from here to the Poona Lake which is about 2.2 km walking track away. The road and the walk to the lake lead through several types of forests, from dry, somewhat open, forest to dense rainforest. The bird of the day was a very nice Rose-crowned Fruit-dove. Other birds encountered were Variegated Fairywren, Green Catbird, Pale Yellow Robin, Eastern Yellow Robin etc.. The lake itself has a nice scenery but hosts only few Australasian Grebes.
In the evening we drove to Kingaroy where we visited John Lowry.

Gordonbrook DamThis morning started with the first of several attempts to find a Black-breasted Button Quail east of Kingaroy. Although we found several places with fresh platelets, we never managed to find the birds. Nevertheless we found Emerald Dove, Superb Fairywren, White-browed Scrubwren, Large-billed Scrubwren and Pretty-faced Wallaby close by. Besides recovering from the driving and doing some laundry we also visited the Gordonbrook Dam. This dam is easy to find, since it is signposted from Memerambi which is about 12 km north of Kingaroy. We found lots of swans, ducks and grebes aswell as Sacred Kingfisher. In the dead trees in and around the dam were some, probably nesting, Red-rumped Parrots. In the afternoon John showed us a Striped Honeyeater, visiting his garden.

Second Part of the daily log: Bunya Mts - St. George - Brisbane - Sydney 11.11.2000 - 24.11.2000

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