Darwin 2010

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After all the exertion of the Gulf-trip I had built up quite a few days in lieu from work and had intended to spend a week searching for grasswrens with a couple of friends in the Corner-country (SW QLD/SA/NSW). Unfortunately due to wet-conditions this was postponed and so I had to find a way of using up a weeks leave, I decided to contact some old friends and take them up on their previously-issued invite. Sheryl and Arthur Keates have become stalwart members of Darwin’s birding-elite and I knew I would be up for some great-birding, I was given the ‘green-light’ and booked tickets with Qantas (….as they seemed to arrive and depart at civilized times, unlike Jetstar & VirginBlue!)

Alas, my in-flight optimism from Brisbane was soon eroded as the 767 was delayed for two hours after an engine ‘warning’ light was detected (see previous experience on the trip to the Gulf) Approaching Darwin the flight was delayed again for a storm (…and this is supposed to be the ‘dry’ season?), we finally landed after at least seven ‘circuits’, and I was relieved when I saw Sheryl waiting at the ‘passenger pick-up’.

Barking Owl (Ninox connivens)

One of the main targets of the trip was to find Rufous Owl (which I’ve yet to see on numerous trips to North Queensland), Sheryl suggested we do a tour of Darwin Botanic Gardens where a pair had been resident for some time. Unfortunately despite combing the area every day for a week they now seem to be absent, although I had cracking views of a pair of Barking Owls near the fountain (a species I have only encountered once before.)

Saturday morning began with a visit to Lee Point, Arthur and Sheryl were keen to check new wader arrivals and I was pleasantly surprised when Sheryl spotted a pair of Rainbow Pitta in the scrub near the beach, one of these was very tame and allowed reasonable photographs. The metallic-blue shoulder-patch on a black body is almost day-glo, making them particularly easy to track through the vegetation and they seem to spend more time on branches than other pitta species that I’ve encountered.

Pitta iris

Another species that I was keen to photograph was the Green-backed Gerygone and they were plentiful and vocal in the area.

Green-backed Gerygone (Gerygone chloronota)

On the high-tide roost Arthur had found quite a few Sanderling and lots of Greater Sand Plovers with a Lesser-crested Tern, later we were joined by a Dutch birder Bas Henson and a couple of old friends, Peter Kyne and Micha Jackson.

Sanderling (Calidris alba)

Pete and Micha

We returned to Darwin for lunch then went up to the Royal Darwin Hospital  for an afternoon walk. The area around the hospital is excellent for birding with a mixture of monsoon forest, mangroves and grassland, I was keen to see a Little Kingfisher which is frequently recorded at Sandy Creek, however I failed to catch up with one on this trip but did see Black Butcherbird, Broad-billed and Shining Flycatcher. Returning to the car we came across many honeyeaters drinking from a small creek, Banded, Rufous-throated and Rufous-breasted, and Bar-breasted.

Bar-breasted Honeyeater (Ramsayornis fasciatus)

Leaden Flycatcher (Myiagra rubecula)
Leaden Flycatcher (Myiagra rubecula)

Leaden (Satin?) Flycatcher (Myiagra rubecula)

I also came across an odd ‘myiagra’ flycatcher which I initially suspected to be a Satin but after photographing it and questioning it’s identity on the Birding-Aus mailing-list, I’m still no wiser. Personally I think it’s an aberrant Leaden Flycatcher but I’ve had plenty of response suggesting that it is a Satin (although I don’t have a great deal of experience with this species, so will have to reserve judgment)  There are more images on my Picasa site, would welcome any more comments. (Please note: I’ve uploaded most of this birds images in a Gallery, please visit this for better-quality pics and comparison shots)

Gouldian Finch (Chloebia gouldiae)

Gouldian Finch (Chloebia gouldiae)

We were up early on Sunday, Arthur, Sheryl and myself headed out east towards Kakadu, near Mt Bundey Arthur stopped at some old gravel-pits where he had seen Gouldian Finches in the past. We noticed other visitors positioned close to the water but probably preventing birds from coming in to drink, then spotted a flock of 20-30 Gouldian’s landing in the trees between us. Unfortunately they were obviously being deterred from drinking by the other party but we ended up counting nearly 80 birds, including red, black and orange-faced individuals and lots of juveniles. Apparently 2010 has been a very successful year for this species though I don’t want to be too precise with the location of this sighting publicly but can provide details via email if required.

Black-tailed Treecreeper (Climacteris melanurus)

From Mt Bundey we headed back towards Darwin then went south on the Marrakai Track, unfortunately there appears to be ‘development’ occurring along the northern part of the road and sub-division looks imminent. However we did manage to see one of the ‘target’ species early on, my second ‘lifer’ for the day, the Black-tailed Treecreeper. Further along we found another bird which I was keen to catch up with, the ‘leucoptera’ race of the Varied Sittella, this has white rather than orange wing-panels and black on the head, although the sexes have differing amounts of black on their heads, males are ‘capped’ whilst females appear to have a full-‘hood’.

Varied Sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera)

Varied Sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera)

Continuing along the track we stopped at a dried-up creek-bed with flowering melaleuca, there was an intense ‘gingery’ smell (if only you could ‘bottle’ it!) and singing their plaintive  “three-blind-mice” song, I found my first stunning Buff-sided Robins.

Buff-sided Robin (Poecilodryas cerviniventris)

Also present in the same creek-bed was a nice male Shining Flycatcher and a Banded Honeyeater feeding on the melaleuca blossom. From there we moved to a dry open flood-plain where I spotted a Red-backed Kingfisher. We stopped for lunch at a wonderful river crossing, heard Azure Kingfisher, saw more Shining Flycatcher and Arthur spotted a large fish. In a nearby billabong we had a Black-necked Stork, some Radjah Shelduck and a White-bellied Sea-Eagle perched near it’s large nest. Before reaching the Stuart Highway we passed through a nice rainforest area known as “Bamboo Creek”, here we saw a pair of Brown Goshawk, and a flock of Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo.

Broad-billed Flycatcher (Myiagra ruficollis)

Grey Whistler (Pachycephala simplex)

View of beach and mangroves at Kulaluk

Red-banded Jezebel (Delias mysis)

Female Mangrove Golden Whistler (Pachycephala melanura)

Arafura Fantail (Rhipidura dryas)

Red-headed Myzomela (Myzomela erythrocephala)

During the following couple of days before Sheryl left for a brief return to Brisbane. I concentrated my efforts on the greater Darwin area and visited some of the more accessible areas such as Kulaluk Reserve at Coconut Grove, East Point Mangrove Boardwalk, Royal Darwin Hospital and Aralia Road at Nightcliff. The search for the elusive ‘Rufie’ Owl continued in the Botanic Gardens without success, though we did find an Orange-footed Scrubfowls wing, which raised my hopes somewhat. At Kulaluk we managed to find a pair of Mangrove Golden Whistler, Mangrove Robins and an Arafura Fantail, at Aralia Road I saw 3 species of Kingfisher (Collared, Forest and Sacred), plus several species of wader. Despite several returns to the hospital I failed to re-find the mystery flycatcher.

White-throated Honeyeater (Melithreptus albogularis)

Rufous-banded Honeyeater (Conopophila albogularis)

Banded Honeyeater (Cissomela pectoralis)
Banded Honeyeater (Cissomela pectoralis)

Before leaving for Brisbane Sheryl generously took me around and late-afternoon on Monday we visited Buffalo Creek to search for the big red ‘Chook” (…or Chestnut Rail) She decided that it our chances were greater observing from the bank further upstream and as the tide started to return we entered the muddy world of northern mangroves by crossing ‘dubious’ bridges and covering ourselves in ‘deet’ to combat the hordes of mossies and inevitable Saltwater Crocodile attack! Even the fisher-folk seemed to be packing up to go home , but as I was endeavoring to photograph a wily female Shining Flycatcher was amazed when she told me to look over to the other bank…..there it was, a big red chook wandering along the mud for a few seconds before re-entering the dark-jungle from whence it came! I managed to get some shots but they were distant and quite heavily ‘cropped’.

Buffalo Creek

Northern Fantail (Rhipidura rufiventris)

Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)

Chestnut Rail (Eulabeornis castaneoventris)

On Wednesday I had the good-fortune to meet Darryel “Biggles” Binns, a local Darwin birdo and well-known guide. He drove up from his home at  McMinn’s Lagoon and attempted to find ‘Rufie’ for me at the Botanic Gardens, failing again we headed out to Howard Springs Nature Reserve where we saw Rainbow Pitta and Large-tailed Nightjar with ease.

Large-tailed Nightjar (Caprimulgus macrurus)

From Howard Springs we headed for Fogg Dam, a nature-reserve I had visited twenty-one years ago in a vain search for White-browed Crake, which Biggles found within ten minutes of our arrival! I re-acquainted myself with Pied Heron and near the hide my guide had a conversation with a Barking Owl, which remained invisible…..most entertaining, especially as it was lunch-time.

Fogg Dam Scene 1

Forest Kingfisher (Todiramphus macleayii)

Fogg Dam Scene 2

Pied Heron (Egretta picata)

From Fogg Dam we proceeded on to the Adelaide River, where the crocodile-cruises run from. Here we hunted for Mangrove Golden Whistler eventually finding a male in a large tree behind the restaurant, much to the delight of the patrons. A Paperbark Flycatcher was nest-making near the bridge.

Male Mangrove Golden Whistler (Pachycephala melanura)

Paperbark Flycatcher (Myiagra nana)

Early start on Thursday, Biggles had agreed to drive down to Mataranka to help find the nesting-pair of Red Goshawk on the condition that we had a look for the northern race of Crested Shrike-tit. The journey is approximately 4 hours straight driving from Darwin so it was some relief when we arrived at Pine Creek and I managed to photograph one of my target species the Hooded Parrot, we also had great views of Northern Rosella, a species that I had only seen once before, twenty-one years ago at Howard Springs.

Hooded Parrot (Psephotus dissimilis)

Northern Rosella (Platycercus venustus)

After a coffee-stop at Katherine, we headed towards Mataranka turning east along the Central Arnhem Highway to look for the Shrike-tit, some of the areas had been extensively burnt and bird activity was very low (probably due to the time of day) but we did manage to see Yellow-tinted,  Golden-backed Honeyeaters, Black-tailed Treecreepers and a small group of Varied Sittellas. At the point of giving up, we reached the distance-marker sign 10 km to Stuart Highway and I thought I heard the birds plaintive-calling, similar to the eastern race. Suddenly Biggles announced that he was on one and we had a total of three birds, I managed to get a couple of reasonable shots.

Kilometre Sign

Northern Shrike-tit (Falcunculus frontatus)

From this good-fortune we continued on to Mataranka, in search of the Red Goshawks. Apparently the birds have moved their previous nest-site across the road and it didn’t take long to find the new one with a bird sitting, though we thought we would hang around and wait until it’s partner turned up. After 15-20 minutes Biggles heard a call which sounded similar to a Brown Falcon and looking on the outside of the tree we realized that the other bird had been perched there all along (…and it was practically asleep!) I’m fascinated how a bird that has taken me 23 years to find can be so obvious and easy to see here.

Mataranka Scene

Red Goshawk nest

Red Goshawk (Erythrotriorchis radiatus)

Red Goshawk (Erythrotriorchis radiatus)

Elated by the latest ‘lifer’ we headed back towards Katherine and resumed our search for Chestnut-backed Buttonquail (we had stopped at several likely-spots with no success)  At Chinaman and Chainman Creeks on the Victoria Highway west of Katherine we drew ‘blanks’ but I was quite worried at one point when Biggles disappeared into the scrub and then I saw a large ‘willy-willy’ in the same area. Fortunately he returned several minutes later, safe but quail-less!

Big Willy-willy
Big Willy-willy

Freshwater Crocodile (Crocodylus johnsoni)

At Katherine Sewage-works I was rewarded with a new reptile, a Freshwater Crocodile (or ‘Freshie’) was photographed basking on the bank. We continued on to Copperfield Dam,  just outside Pine Creek and had a look around for the buttonquail but the highlight here was another surprise, I had heard a slight noise which I attributed to a small reptile, and so scanning the rocky-ridge, I got a great fright when about ten Partridge Pigeons erupted at my feet! As they flew off like rockets in totally random directions views were poor but I did manage to see the red eye-colour on one bird. Despite the sun having set Biggles decided to try for the buttonquail at Pine Creek Sewage-works (…where we had searched in the morning) and this time we had more luck and flushed a group of about ten birds. We then returned to Darwin after an incredible day’s birding!

The last two days were taken up trying to find a few odds’n’sods and we visited Palmerston Sewage-works, Lee Point, the Hospital and other spots, though the Leanyer Sewage Works were still out-of-bounds to birders (supposedly from fear of a croc attack!)

Australian Pratincole (Stiltia isabella)

Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)

Azure Kingfisher (Alcedo azurea)

Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton)

So ended a great week’s birding, ten ‘lifers’, 179 species and some reasonable images, many thanks to Arthur & Sheryl, Pete & Micha and Biggles for their hospitality and great company. If anyone requires further information on this trip please let me drop me a line.

Gulf of Carpentaria trip 2010

Australian Pratincole (Stiltia isabella)
Australian Pratincole (Stiltia isabella)

In August 2010 whilst at a planning meeting of my company I successfully volunteered as a surveyor’s assistant for a ten-day trip to the Gulf of Carpentaria. This was probably not due to any competence on my part but a lack of surveying staff and mapping-work in the office. Six sites in the Gulf area required small surveys to assist a larger project. We were required to set up base in Normanton, and travel to Karumba, Kowanyama, Burketown, Doomadgee and Gregory Downs. Having never visited the central and north-west of the state before I was very keen to try and incorporate some birding when the opportunity should arise.  The planned route from Brisbane to Normanton was approximately 2000 kms and took us 3 days due to the activation of an engine ‘warning-light’ and although we had no idea what it was telling us we managed to get it turned-off in Longreach (…it returned later and so we did the logical thing and ignored it!)

I’ve made a photo-album as a record of the trip which gives a general account of the drive up and back and so only intend to discuss the natural stuff that was seen on this blog.

From Brisbane to Winton the drive was fairly uneventful, although numbers of Black and Whistling Kites (Milvus migrans & Haliastur sphenurus) increased exponentially after Longreach. As the drive was rather boring I decided to educate my colleague Serge to become a birder and feel confident now that he can tell the difference between Whistling and Black Kite (we probably saw about ten thousand of each in the ten days of travel!)

Black Kite (Milvus migrans)
Black Kite (Milvus migrans)

Between Winton and Cloncurry we started to see some interesting species and near the Ayrshire Hills we saw approximately 50 Australian Bustard (Ardeotis australis) and began to see Australian Pratincole (Stiltia isabella). At the bleak town of Kynuna I spotted some Spinifex Pigeon (Geophaps plumifera) although they were far too nervous to allow close-approach (…and a photo!) the same couldn’t be said of a family of Brolga (Grus rubicunda) marching down the high street.

Brolga (Grus rubicunda)
Brolga (Grus rubicunda)

At Cloncurry the scenery is very different from the vast open plains and quite rocky and just outside the town of Quamby we stopped for a nature-break and a coffee and noticed that many of the bloodwoods were flowering with large clumps of blossom. I saw some lorikeets flying out of one and watched with dismay as they flew over the ‘horizon’, however as I turned around I spotted two flying straight into the tree next to where I was standing. To my delight I realised that they were Varied Lorikeets (Psitteuteles versicolor) a species that I had only seen briefly near Darwin twenty years before!

Cloncurry scenery
Cloncurry scenery
Bloodwood?
Bloodwood?

Varied Lorikeet (Psitteuteles versicolor)
Varied Lorikeet (Psitteuteles versicolor)

Buoyed by this success we continued on and then I’m fairly certain I saw a Grey Falcon (Falco hypoleucos) fly over the car, unfortunately it was heading fast in the direction that we had come and so I couldn’t verify it. We also had Little Eagle (Hieraaetus morphnoides) and Black-breasted Buzzard (Hamirostra melanosternon) in this area.

Arriving in Normanton late afternoon we checked into the Central Motel and I took a short walk around the wetlands to the west of the town and saw some Radjah Shelduck (Tadorna radjah) White-headed Stilt (Himantopus leucocephalus) and Black-fronted Plover (Elseyornis melanops). Returning I was nearly torn to pieces by three dogs being walked by a lady who had never seen another person walk on the track before!

Radjah Shelduck (Tadorna radjah)
Radjah Shelduck (Tadorna radjah)

I was very intrigued by an unusual tree which was plentiful around Normanton, I’m fairly sure that it is a Brachychiton species and think that it might be a Queensland Bottle Tree (B. rupestris) There didn’t seem to be any leaves, only flowers and green fruit similar to unripe passionfruit.

Mystery Tree - Brachychiton sp?
Mystery Tree - Brachychiton sp?
Black-faced Woodswallow (Artamus cinereus)
Black-faced Woodswallow (Artamus cinereus) & mystery tree

The following day (Wednesday) we commenced work at six-thirty am and set up our base near the Airport, birds of note were Red-winged Parrot (Aprosmictus erythropterus), Australian Hobby (Falco longipennis) and Blue-winged Kookaburra (Dacelo leachii).

Blue-winged Kookaburra (Dacelo leachii)
Blue-winged Kookaburra (Dacelo leachii)

Pheasant Coucal (Centropus phasianinus)
Pheasant Coucal (Centropus phasianinus)

Later in the day we travelled to Karumba, only 70 kms away! This is the only town in North-west Queensland which is directly on the Gulf and a magnet for the ‘Grey-nomad’ community,  who visit for the fishing. Before entering the town large flocks of Sarus Cranes (Grus antigone) (with some Brolgas) can be seen  and Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus banksii) were easily spotted in gardens.

Sarus Cranes in flight
Sarus Cranes (and Brolgas) in flight
Sarus Cranes (Grus antigone)
Sarus Cranes (Grus antigone)

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii)
Red-tailed Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus banksii)

After completing our work Serge allowed me a few minutes birding near the airport where I saw my first ‘lifers’ for the trip, Yellow-tinted and Red-throated Honeyeaters (Lichenostomus flavescens and Conopophila rufogularis). Also seen in the area were many White-winged Triller (Lalage tricolor) and Red-backed Fairywrens (Malurus melanocephalus).

Rufous-throated Honeyeater (Conopophila rufogularis)
Rufous-throated Honeyeater (Conopophila rufogularis)
Yellow-tinted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus flavescens)
Yellow-tinted Honeyeater (Lichenostomus flavescens)

The next day’s work was the most remote, we had to drive up the west coast of Cape York to the community of Kowanyama, this was a totally unsealed road from near Normanton and took around 5 hours. The drive was fairly uneventful and the work easy, sadly there wasn’t much of interest birding-wise however I did managed to get a butterfly ‘tick’ and managed to photograph one that had eluded me for a long-time back home in Brisbane.

Female Blue Argus (Junonia orithya)
Female Blue Argus (Junonia orithya)
Clearwing Swallowtail (Cressidda cressida)
Clearwing Swallowtail (Cressidda cressida)

The return trip in the dark was more interesting though still fairly quiet, we only saw a couple of snakes, a few wallabies and lots of  birds flying above the truck which I think were probably ‘Tyto’ Owls as we managed to get fairly close to one on the ground. I initially thought that this was a Masked Owl (Tyto novaehollandiae) from the stout legs and feet, however on consultation I believe that it is just an Eastern Barn Owl (Tyto javanica).

Eastern Barn Owl (Tyto javanica)
Eastern Barn Owl (Tyto javanica)

On Friday we travelled to Burketown along the Savannah Way, a 3.5-hour ride on another dirt-road. This was much less comfortable than the Kowanyamah one with far more potholes and wildlife encountered. However we saw many Australian Pratincole and a couple of Spotted Nightjar (Eurostopodus argus) on our return. At Burketown Airport I managed to get reasonable shots of one that had also eluded me, the Mistletoebird (Dicaeum hirundinaceum)

Mistletoebird (Dicaeum hirundinaceum)
Mistletoebird (Dicaeum hirundinaceum)

Anthill Scenery
Anthill Scenery

On the way back to Normanton we were amazed at the numbers of Agile Wallabies (Macropus agilis) on the road and Serge managed to miss most (…but not all!)  At dusk close to Burketown we saw several Flock Bronzewings (Phaps histrionica)

Agile Wallaby (Macropus agilis)
Agile Wallaby (Macropus agilis)

We repeated the route the next day (Normanton to Burketown) but had to travel an extra 100 kms to Doomadgee, which surprisingly was almost totally sealed with bitumen. Doomadgee was a very pleasant town and despite the time of day (lunch to late afternoon) birds were very evident, whilst working I heard a ‘myiagra’ flycatcher, saw lots of White-winged Trillers and Red-backed Fairywrens. A Blue-winged Kookaburra came close but not close enough for my camera. Several small flocks of ‘Rainbow-type’ Lorikeets flew around the town but I couldn’t see if they were Red-collared or the nominate -species (subspecies?) On leaving Doomadgee we drove up to the only submerged creek-crossing of the trip over the Gregory River near the Tiranna Roadhouse, this looked like prime habitat for Purple-crowned Fairywren (Malurus coronatus) and so I managed to talk Serge into stopping for a coffee-break. I started to make a ‘squeaking’ sound and was surprised when an adult-male Purple-crowned Fairywren hopped up onto a nearby dead-tree and began to sing, I was even more amazed when it allowed me to get some reasonable photographs showing it’s gorgeous colouration.

Purple-crowned Fairywren (Malurus coronatus)
Purple-crowned Fairywren (Malurus coronatus)
Purple-crowned Fairywren (Malurus coronatus)
Purple-crowned Fairywren (Malurus coronatus)

This was undoubtedly the highlight of my trip, and I really thought that I would struggle to see this threatened endemic species. If anyone is planning a trip to the area let me know and I will pass on details and coordinates of the location.

Sunday morning saw us heading to Gregory Downs, via the Burke & Wills Roadhouse on a sealed road. Gregory is a small community south of Burketown with an airfield and a pub, a roadside sign informs travelers not to make camp in the river-bed (visit my picasa album and see the response!)

Whilst Serge was checking a couple of Permanent Survey Marks (PSM’s) near the community I had a few minutes to do some birding and found a small tap run-off, spotted a Masked Finch (Poephila personata) drinking, there were also Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton) and Diamond Dove (Geopelia cuneata) here and a Black-breasted Buzzard came down and gave me the once-over.

Black-breasted Buzzard (Hamirostra melanosternon)
Black-breasted Buzzard (Hamirostra melanosternon)

Returning from Gregory we noticed a phenomenon that we had encountered on several occasions, large numbers of locusts were ‘swarming’ and Kites and other Birds of Prey were taking advantage of the feast.

Locust swarm
Locust swarm

Australian Pratincole (Stiltia isabella)
Australian Pratincole (Stiltia isabella)

The next day Monday, was our last working-one but Serge only had to do some checking at Karumba, so I was given a longer-leash and allowed to do some birding. My target bird was the White-breasted Whistler (Pachycephala lanoides) a mangrove-species, so I got a lift to the end of Riverview Drive and spent an hour trying in vain to find one. However, I did manage to see a species that I hadn’t encountered since I worked in Darwin, a Yellow White-eye (Zosterops lutea) and a couple of Honeyeaters, Yellow and White-gaped (Lichenostomus flava and unicolor) I also flushed three Australian Bustard.

Yellow Honeyeater (Lichenostomus flava)
Yellow Honeyeater (Lichenostomus flava)
White-gaped Honeyeater (Lichenostomus unicolor)
White-gaped Honeyeater (Lichenostomus unicolor)

After Serge had completed his work I asked if he was interested in taking a boat-ride on the Norman River aboard the ‘Ferryman’, the tour that I had read about on the Birding-Aus Mailing-List,  he agreed and we contacted Glenn and Allison Newton and fixed a trip for a two-hour session around the mangroves. On an earlier morning-trip Glenn said that had seen plenty of White-breasted Whistlers and also a pair of Mangrove Golden Whistler (Pachycephala melanura) and Arafura Fantail (Rhipidura dryas)

The Ferryman
The Ferryman

At one pm we set off across the Norman River and Glenn steered us into a small tributary where a White-breasted Whistler called, unfortunately this bird did not show but we were rewarded with views of Red-headed Honeyeater (Myzomela erythrocephala) and Mangrove Fantail (Rhipidura phasiana) (…another ‘lifer’)  We also saw Broad-billed Flycatcher (Myiagra ruficollis) and a family-party of Variegated Fairywren (Malurus lamberti)

Mangroves
Mangroves

Red-headed Myzomela (Myzomela erythrocephala)
Red-headed Myzomela (Myzomela erythrocephala)

Further along the mangroves we got successful when Glenn found another tributary and we all saw the male White-breasted Whistler, and a couple of females on the other bank feeding within photo-shot.

Female White-breasted Whistler (Pachycephala lanioides)
Female White-breasted Whistler (Pachycephala lanioides)
Variegated Fairywren (Malurus lamberti)
Variegated Fairywren (Malurus lamberti)
Broad-billed Flycatcher (Myiagra ruficollis)
Broad-billed Flycatcher (Myiagra ruficollis)

We then returned to Karumba and had a quick look in a tributary close to the Golf-course, we were unsuccessful with the Mangrove Golden Whistler but had great views of  a ‘sulky’ White-bellied Sea-Eagle (….well,that’s what Allison claimed!) and to cap it off we realised that we were being watched by a 12-foot Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)!

White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)
White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)
Saltwater Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus)

This was really the end of birding for the trip, we returned to Brisbane the following day just as a large front was coming through the state. From Normanton to the Burke and Wills Roadhouse the temperature dropped from 23 to 14°C and many Queensland towns had their wettest August day for many years. I hope this has been useful to anyone planning a trip to this area, I will certainly be going back to study the area properly.

List of Species Seen

Sad loss

One of Australia’s rare mammals, the Brush-tailed Phascogale is occasionally seen on the roads in the Kobble Creek area but this morning I had the misfortune to find a still-warm body on the road about a kilometre from our property.

Brush-tailed Phascogale (Phascogale tapoatafa)