Well for those of you that think this blog has been slipping in caliber over the last few posts, hopefully this will save your faith! FINALLY, the epic and longest possible conclusion to Jukka, Pertti, and Russell's crazy dash across Australia. What makes this post long? It's about Queensland--Australia's most bird-rich state. We entered it on December 23rd, and left on January 8th. That might not seem like a super-long time. But when you're birding from 6 am to 9 pm every single day--you can pack in a lot of action. To roughly summarize, we started off in the famous Lamington National Park in SW Queensland, then headed due west into SW Queensland, before cutting NE to return to the coast in Townsville, where continued north past Cairns to the Daintree River before heading all the way back down south to Brisbane.
So here we go...
|Playing around with one of Lamington's many Strangler-Figs.|
|Sheena is a Punk Rocker|
We tried in vain, one last time, for Hall's Babbler... then hit the road for Winton. It's a 10-hour drive to Winton from Eulo, so we weren't going to get in until well after dark. Most of our birding was from the car but we got out from time to time when things like our lifer AUSTRALIAN PRATINCOLE popped into view. Since I'm writing this from memory, I may be missing some highlights, but my principle impression from that drive was how many BLACK KITES were there. In that one day, we must have seen between 5,000 and 10,000 kites... I'm not joking. The entire countryside was covered in them. There were 10-30 on every roadkill, kettles of 50-200 soaring in the distance at all times, and every garbage dump (aka "tip") had several hundred in full-scavenge mode.
|There were other grassland birds out there as well, like this AUSTRALASIAN BUSTARD|
[Photo: Jukka Jantunen]
|Wouldn't be a hardcore birding trip without a quick visit to a peat-farm. |
Here in Edmonton, Queensland, we found a lone LITTLE CURLEW--lifer!
|I think I'm going in chronological order... anyway. So after arriving in Cairns, we hopped on the "Seastar" and cruised out to the Great Barrier Reef for a day. I don't look too happy for some reason; maybe it was the $10 fuel surcharge?|
|Further out near Hasting Reef, we looked-on as two people were air-lifted from another dive-boat. Not sure what happened... maybe someone stepped on a stone-fish? Shark? Box-jelly? Ah well, I payed over $100 for this, I'm jumping back in.|
|Would these be our closest encounter with a cassowary? Luckily the railing is blocking our view of Jukka playing with the cassowaries dangly-bobs.|
|Here is a building! It's the HQ of the Atherton Tablelands' most popular birding lodge--Kingfisher Park!|
|A sharp-looking RED-BACKED FAIRYWREN near Lake Mitchell. Lots of other goodies nearby (Mt Molloy area) like NORTHERN FANTAIL, COTTON PYGMY-GOOSE, and WHITE-BROWED ROBIN.|
|Major-cool! This was my first mammal/monotreme of 2013, and a lifer at that. There were in fact two PLATYPUS at this waterhole (Kingfisher Park). Just great. New Years morning!|
|Most burger-joints over-do the whole advertising thing, but in Mt Molloy, this spectacular establishment has a rather inconspicuous sign.|
|But boy do they deliver--this was a serious burger with some serious fried-egg content!|
|Me and my first AMETHYSTINE PYTHON (somewhere in the cane-fields near Mossman). I'm not used to seeing 3-m snakes, but I think these blokes can get a lot longer and fatter.|
|Before moving it off the road, I thought I'd strum a few LIVE ACTION C-chords|
|He had his reservations, but eventually Pertti got into the whole snake-thing.|
|Another roadside snake. This is a Whipsnake sp. (Left my book at home). Somewhat poisonous. There were also Cane Toads everywhere in this area. We probably "accidentally" killed 100+|
|Jungle-fringes to the Daintree. This is Croc country|
|Although we missed two targets: Little Kingfisher & Great-billed Heron, this was almost negated by the fact that we had great looks at 11(+) BLACK BITTERNS, including a pair just starting a nest. [Photo: JJ]|
|Thanks to a tip from Sauce, we were alerted to this PAPUAN FROGMOUTH nesting right beside the main-road near some road-construction.|
|For the North American Wader-phyles out there, here's a GREY-TAILED TATTLER. Age and sex it yo.|
|After the thrill of grasswrening and quail-thrushing, Jukka and I were now obsessed with "beach stone-curlewing & cassowarying"|
|Me going for a dip in Mt Hypipamee National Park, where we tried in vain to nab a Golden Bowerbird. Nice looks at a male Victoria's Riflebird though!|
|Welcomed dusk in downtown Mareeba. We were following up on a hot-tip for White-browed Crake (which we failed to see), but one never gets tired of watching massive exoduses of flying-foxes!|
|Following up on another tip, we tried for Rufous Owl at night at the "Cathedral Fig" (one of the most impressive stranglers you'll ever see). Cool tree, but no owl (well, we heard several boobooks).|
|Jukka and I making out "Last Stand" for cassowary. Here I think we're trying to relocate a tattler that seemed suspiciously Wandering-like. Could not refind the bugger though, but we did flush our lifer BARRED CUCKOO-SHRIKES (at long last).|
|Also went swimming here, but in the safe fenced-off area. Things are always trying to kill you in Australia|
|How is that NOT a dinosaur!!?!?!? |
[This is apparently a female named Marilyn. Fun fact: It's the males that do the child-rearing]
|Last morning in Brisbane with Jukka, Roy, and his wife Helen. Thanks so much for the final crusade and lovely lodging with calling PALE-VENTED BUSH-HENS!|
Hasta luego amigos!
March 29th, 2013
Perth, WA, Australia