Two birders based in Brisbane (southern Qld) birding in the Townsville (TV) area (approx 1000kms north of Brisbane, 350kms south of Cairns) for 5 days. We visited Townsville Common, Cape Pallarenda, the Giru area (south of TV), Tyto wetlands at Ingham, Mission Beach, Edmund Kennedy National Park and Paluma.
Getting there and getting around:
Flew with Virgin from Brisbane to TV ($79 each way, daily special) and hired a car from Hertz (Toyota Corolla). We found the hire car expensive in comparison, $260 for 5 days. Next time we may consider flying to Cairns and driving back as the hire car costs in Cairns are approximately half. We requested the advertised free upgrade and got….. an automatic! Petrol was approx $1.30 a litre, but as the car was very economical and we didn’t drive huge distances, not really an issue.
Being aware it was the wet season, we were prepared for anything! We had a small tent each and that was our intended accommodation, however we ended up spending a couple of nights seeking a more secure bed. This was, in one case, due to the weather, i.e. we would probably have drowned if we’d camped, and, in the other case, a lack of easily accessible camping – something to note if visiting Paluma, see below.
We had a wish list and had requested, and received, specific information regarding some of the birds on the list via email on Birding Aus :
firstname.lastname@example.org. We had done our research and did visit the areas mentioned above plus a couple of spots in TV’s suburbs. Both of us had birded in Northern Qld before, so a number of species you might expect we ‘needed’ were not targeted, however, there was little cross over so the list was quite extensive all the same!
We saw several species ‘everywhere’ or at least commonly enough that I will not list them at every location - Peaceful Doves, Rainbow Lorikeet, Magpie Lark, Welcome Swallow, lots of calling Pheasant Coucal, Bar-shouldered Dove, House Sparrows (commoner than in Brisbane),Indian Mynas.
The plane left on time at 8.00 and an uneventful flight saw us arrive in Townsville just after 10.00. We took bets on the first bird of the trip as we descended – mine was Welcome Swallow, R’s Indian Myna – we both lost to an Australian Magpie beside the runway as we taxied to the terminal.
We stopped in West End at a park outside the West End Cemetery because we had seen a Great Bowerbird under the trees. A half hour’s birding here brought us Rainbow Lorikeets, Brown & Blue-faced Honeyeaters, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, White-breasted Wood-swallow and a pair of Nutmeg Mannikins nest building. A call attracted our attention and finding a flitting shape in a Jacaranda I scored my first lifer for the trip – White-gaped Honeyeater. We had hoped for this bird, but as it was only reported in ‘some northern Townsville suburbs’ I hadn’t really expected it – and here it was 30 minutes off the plane! Great start.
On to the Esplanade and we cruised along the sea front towards Cape Palarenda stopping to film some Red-tailed Black Cockatoos feeding on the ground beside the path. Pretty cool!
Arriving at Cape P we checked out the available info in the National Parks office and talked to a lady there who was also a local birder involved in the Black-throated Finch count – one of our hoped for species. We didn’t gain any additional info re this species, but did pick up some brochures which provided details on areas around TV.
We took a walk around the headland, found that very hot and walked back and into the forested hillside behind – we found this very humid, but carried on regardless. We had Dusky Honeyeater, Helmeted Friarbird, Great Bowerbird, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Mistletoebird, Varied Triller, Sacred Kingfisher, Double-barred Finch, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, Drongo and our first Yellow-bellied Sunbird of the trip, a male in splendid blue and yellow. Always a great bird to see. As we returned to the car, the heat and humidity already darkening our shirts, an Osprey cruised by overhead.
We drove back down the Esplanade and, as the tide was out, I watched the beach for wader silhouettes. Just across a small creek and opposite Rowe’s caravan park I noticed one. As I headed for the beach, R parked the car and the bird in question flew over - a Night Heron. A small bird hopped nearby and, to my surprise, turned out to be a Zebra Finch, presumably an escape. R by this time had abandoned the car and we were both chasing Great Bowerbirds and Yellow & White-gaped Honeyeater trying for photographs when Duan called. Following his call we went into town, picked up lunch at MacD’s, returned to the esplanade to eat (a Caspian Tern cruised past while we did) and then booked into a campsite in Rowe’s Bay Caravan site. ($21 for both tents, one site, one night) We set up our tents in, hopefully, a flood free zone and headed for the Common.
Entering off the Cape P road we quickly listed Intermediate & Cattle Egret, Little Pied Cormorant, Magpie Goose and Brolga. We stopped at the partially vandalised two story hide and had a look from the platform – lots of lovely water and swamp but not a lot to see – added Jacana and Double-barred Finch. Then we separated for a walk parallel to the swamp edge – I chased down a Blue-winged Kookaburra and R reported our first Brown-backed Honeyeaters of the trip.
We drove on along the unsealed road, stopping frequently, adding Spangled Drongo and Red-backed Fairy Wren. Reaching the second hide, which we thought resembled a toilet block, we were again a little disappointed with the lack of water birds – obviously with all the recent rain this was not the best time to see the Common in all it’s advertised glory! We exited and ran into a ‘wave’ of honeyeaters before we reached the car – we had Yellow-bellied Sunbirds (4), White-naped (4), Brown-backed (10),Yellow (3), Brown (4) and then to my delight, 2 Rufous Throated Honeyeaters. This was a new bird for me, the second of the day! A Night Heron perched up briefly before we walked about 150 meters to the third hide and added Wandering Whistle Duck, Whistling Kite, Little Black Cormorant, White-faced Heron and Bee Eater to the list. We also had large numbers of small frogs, presumably newly emerged, on the track. We haven’t fully identified all these yet.
Driving further into the common we came across an open muddy area that provided more promise, however, after a short walk we had only Golden-headed Cisticola (despite much examination for Zitting possibilities!), Australian Pipit, Australian Bushlark and Masked Lapwing. During a further move to the end of the track and a walk to the fourth hide we saw Black Duck, Great Egret, Nankeen Kestrel, Royal Spoonbill, Black-fronted Dotterel and Australian Bush Turkey.
We returned through the Common to our campsite without further incident, apart from some Torres Strait Pigeons in the trees. At our campsite a Peregrine Falcon and a couple of Black Kites flew over.
We hung around for a bit, then went to check on a possible Barking Owl site on the esplanade, just down the road. We parked and walked to the mangrove area, then along the Esplanade – with no luck so far as Barking Owl was concerned - it was quite a populous area and we were not surprised as the lack of owl. The mangroves proved to be a major roost site for a number of birds – Indian Myna, House Sparrow and Rainbow Bee Eaters - and we saw a Brahminy Kite, Mangrove Honeyeater, Helmeted Friarbird and Sunbirds in the area too.
Thunder had been rumbling all day in the hills behind and to the north of TV. It had been hot and humid and cloudy and ‘threatening’- the temperature hardly changed with nightfall and it was extremely uncomfortable in the tents. There was not a breath of wind, even along the esplanade.
We spent a rain-free, but none the less, wet night, before emerging at 5.00 to shower and break camp. Bush Stone-curlews and a Koel called as we left the caravan park and headed to meet Duan outside the Museum in the city centre at 5.30. Stopping only for fuel – coffee and petrol – we chased Duan south on the main highway for about 30 minutes before turning off to Crocodile Creek. We were on the hunt for mangrove species and Zitting Cisticola. A brief look at the marshes off the causeway and we noted White-bellied Wood-swallow, Black Swan, Little Egrets, Black-winged Stilt, Grey Teal, 2 Black-necked Storks, 1 flying Brolga and a few Greenshanks.
Back in the cars again and we were off on another drive further off the main road ending at Cungulla – the road ended at an open beach flanked by mangroves. We birded here for a couple of hours trying determinedly for Mangrove Whistler or Robin, with no luck. We did, however, have,
Torres Strait Pigeon, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Dollarbird, Spangled Drongo, Rainbow Bee-eater, Dusky Honeyeater, Sunbirds, Mangrove Kingfisher, Double-barred Finch, Eastern Curlew, Mangrove Honeyeater and Gerygone, Pied Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Whimbrel, Bush Turkey, Large-billed Gerygone, Little Shrike-thrush, Leaden Flycatcher, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Mistletoebird, Varied Triller and Eastern Reef Egret (dark phase). We had a few minutes discussion when a couple of shining type Cuckoos turned up but decided that they were Little Bronze and not the (newly grouped sub species) Gould’s. I also had a new bird for my Australian list – Shining Flycatcher – we had crippling views as two pairs performed in very close proximity. A flock of approx 60 Fork-tailed Swifts moved north feeding as they went in the damp hot air.
Moving on from here Duan pointed us in the direction of some Zitting Cisticola habitat in the area of Giru. He headed back to TV and work, we returned to the main road, drove further south and down towards the coast again. We searched what appeared to be prime ZC habitat, but to no avail. We did see Willie Wagtail (our trip first!) and Australian Pelican among commoner birds. After a while we decided to quit and head north towards Ingham.
We reached Tyto wetlands on the south side of Ingham at after a 2 hour drive and decided, against any weather sense, to walk the track. We didn’t really intend to walk the whole thing – or at least I didn’t - but walk it we did - the whole 4kms - in the blazing hot, sweaty sun from which most living things had, sensibly, taken refuge.
Crimson Finches were a lovely sight just inside the entrance and were a common feature of the walk. A shaded area just before a bridge and some movement – Varied Trillers, Honeyeaters and then R is waving and making unintelligible noises and I am quietly beside him and he is pointing into the murkier regions of the bush and mouthing White-browed Robin into my ear and there it was, for a few seconds, my third lifer for the trip and one I had really wanted!
We come to the bridge and I am in the lead, halfway across, a movement, a blur of blue and a Little Kingfisher is perched in splendid view no more than 3 meters away on an exposed branch. A new bird for R. He, somehow, had failed to connect with this little beauty despite several visits and he is rapt. To see a new bird and get photos? Brilliant! For several minutes we all examine each other and then with a flick and a whir like a little clockwork toy, it’s off, up the creek and perching again, though less conspicuous.
I manage to drag R away after a while and we proceed to the lookout over the lake. Search for White-browed Crake, our target here and spend the next 3 hours the same all the way around the lake – with no luck. Even if they are here it’s completely the wrong time of day anyway. We do see some Magpie Geese, Scaly-breasted Lorikeets, Wandering Whistle Duck, White-throated, Brown-backed, Yellow, Brown, White-gaped and Rufous-throated Honeyeaters, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Red-backed Fairy-wren, Golden-headed Cisticola, Brush Cuckoo, Red-browed Finch, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, Rufous Whistler (male & female) and, according to the bird list unusually for Tyto, 2 Black-fronted Dotterels. Apart from birds we also saw several Ulysses butterfly – the huge, electric blue butterfly of the north and as we exited the park we noted a large number of wallabies at the entrance track. After drinking lots of water qnd re-fueling the car we headed on to Mission Beach.
I had visited the area for a day’s birding in May last year, R had not been in the area for several years so we stopped off at the Licuala walk for a quick look late in the afternoon – Little Shrike Thrush, Dusky and Macleay’s Honeyeaters were seen on the Fan Palm boardwalk section – we headed on to MB.
R went for a ‘quick look around’ His wander produced White-rumped Swiftlets (also over campsite), Masked Lapwing, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike and Torres Strait Pigeon. I was lucky enough to have a close encounter with a Black Butcherbird (the only one of the trip) as I returned from my very welcome shower.
We had something to eat – chicken and chips at the caravan site – then ventured back again to the Licuala walk.
We considered parking on the main road and walking in, but decided to drive in to the picnic area. Parking up we walked further down the track past the barrier – about 200 meters. Nothing showed so we returned to the picnic area again and were lucky enough, after a short period, to see Lesser Sooty Owl. We had at least two in earshot, but only one clearly visible. We missed out on a new species by about 2 weeks as it had just been lumped back with Sooty Owl – which we had both seen previously- however, it was great to actually see this variety and I always count myself lucky to get good views of any Owl!
Up at 6.00. Dry night, which was great considering MB is the wettest place in Australia! Not too hot, either, although not really cool enough for ultimate comfort! Went straight to Licuala walk again and walked in from the main road this time and on up the track past the picnic area for a couple of kilometres. I don’t know how far the track goes, but we walked until it appeared to flatten out and the bird numbers dropped off, as the day progressed.
Brush Cuckoo and Orange-footed Scrubfowl calling near the campsite as we left. Torres Strait Pigeon overhead on and off all morning, along with occasional small flocks of Metallic Starling. Spotted Catbirds calling in the forest - occasional glimpses. Macleay’s and Dusky Honeyeaters virtually the only Honeyeaters along the track, we did get short views, a couple of times of Graceful/Yellow-spotted HEs but too brief and non-conclusive. In May last year both species had appeared much more abundant. Helmeted and Noisy Friarbird, Little Shrike-thrush (v common), Golden Whistler, Varied Triller, Black-faced Monarch, Emerald Dove, Barred Cuckoo-shrike and while we checked the latter, at last, several Double-eyed Fig Parrots hove into view and provided great views preening and chattering on exposed branches albeit 70 meters above our heads. This bird had eluded my best efforts on two recent visits to northern Qld, so I was very happy to finally get ‘tickable’ views. Some birders report them as ‘common’, for me they have been ‘elusive’ - a couple of silhouettes screaming over the forest and reassurance by other birders that that was what they were – but that was not enough for me to feel comfortable. These were, though, and for about 20 minutes we watched 6 – 10 individuals do their thing. It was very rewarding.
As we were soaking up the Fig Parrots three other birds flew into the immediate area and on further inspection we agreed they were Gould’s Bronze Cuckoos, a subspecies of Little Bronze Cuckoo.
We birded as far as the creek and took a break watching the Jungle Perch and Snake-headed Gudgeon hanging lazily in the current. It was tempting to jump into the water and cool off but we moved on. Not far past the creek and a movement low down attracted our attention and a Yellow-breasted Boatbill showed briefly, but well. Not a new bird for either of us, but a welcome sighting, although photographs proved impossible.
We went back to the caravan park for a shower and breakfast at the on site café. Our prickly heat rashes had subsided somewhat overnight, but we were still feeling ‘delicate’ and so a stop off at Lacey’s Creek on the road out of North MB and a dip in the crystal clear, cold waters was an absolute delight! We snorkelled using the mask and snorkel R had dragged all the way with him and generally lazed about a bit in the sun.
Heading on we came across a sight regularly seen in this part of the world, of course, a Cassowary crossing the road at a leisurely pace. MB is the easiest place to see this bird and I think most people see it, usually in similar circumstances, i.e. unexpectedly crossing the road! Unfortunately a number are killed in their wanderings, despite the signs, speed limits and requests for caution.
We stopped at Edmund Kennedy National Park and went for a walk. Again it was not the best time of day and was, in fact, particularly fruitless, unless one was interested in mosquito strains and counts. They were unbelievable, biting through our shirts when exposed skin was protected. We did see Macleay’s, White-throated and Dusky Honeyeaters, Sacred & Forest Kingfishers, several Fairy Gerygones, had brief glimpse of an Emerald Dove and an Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Varied Triller and heard several Orioles. The walk was a circuit of about 3 .5 kms and we arrived back at the car hot and tired, to be assailed by the smell still oozing from the seat… we aired the car for a while before continuing on our way….
Arriving in Paluma at 16.00 we rejoiced in the lower temperature – it dropped about 6 degrees as we climbed the 22 km twisty winding road from the coast. It was a weird change – from hot, humid conditions below to a cool, misty damp atmosphere above! We sat at the restaurant and had coffee, then went for a walk along the road. People were very friendly and staff at the restaurant especially helpful – making phone calls to check availability of accommodation and advising re camping permits etc. It appeared we had misjudged the situation, although R admitted reading something about pre-booking at Paluma. There is limited accommodation and it comparative terms it can be quite expensive - $100 -$150 per night for a room or B & B. The camping grounds are near the dam, 15kms beyond town, most of the drive on an unsealed road susceptible to heavy rain. The catch is that you are required to pre book a site by phone during business hours – there is no mobile reception at Paluma itself and office hours finish at 16.30…
All of this we discovered while watching Macleay’s Honeyeaters at a feeder on the restaurant verandah waiting for Duan to arrive between 18.00 and 19.00. Our walk produced outstanding views of Noisy Pitta with food for young hopping around the street and front gardens, Black-faced Monarchs, Eastern Spinebills, Dusky & Lewin’s Honeyeaters, Spotted Catbird, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and, for R, a lifer, Bowen Shrike-thrush.
At 19.00 Duan-less we had a meal in the restaurant. Wondering what we were going to do and contemplating a rough ‘crash’ somewhere nearby we were finishing excellent meals of kangaroo (me) and lamb shanks (R) when Duan arrived - he had been delayed at work. As he ate we discussed the sleeping possibilities and he suggested we offer the proprietor some cash to crash in the restaurant! In the end he negotiated an older unit for $100 for the three of us for the night, although why this had not been offered to R & I earlier, remains a mystery, Duan’s prior visits may have opened doors, but accommodation is something that needs to be considered prior to visiting Paluma if intending to stay. According to a brochure we picked up calling 07 4759 4759 or using the website www.nqwater.com.au one is able to pre book a campsite
Following dinner we transferred to the unit, dumped our stuff and headed out with headlights and torches to seek the locally famous Papuan Frogmouth. The lights were alive with moths and other flying insects – especially at a floodlight on the end of the restaurant. The evening, or night now really as it was close to 23.00, warm, still, and foggy! Weird!
I was checking a tree close by the floodlight and picked up the Frogmouth immediately sitting across a branch approx 5 meters above. We got crippling views of it there after a short return flight and in surrounding trees as it moved around. Leaving it in peace to feed, we drove down the road towards Hidden Valley (westwards) and stopped to listen for Owls. Nothing – we returned to town and went for a walk down a track at McClelland’s Lookout to find – nothing again. Crashed around midnight.
Up at 6.00 and a wander around the famous tea house (shut) and McClelland’s Lookout – Chowchillas calling loudly – obtained very close views of several adults. Then a flight into a tree and a female Victoria’s Riflebird – lifer for R. Grey-headed Robins hopping nonchalantly close by whenever we entered the edge of the forest, Brown Gerygone, Pale Yellow Robin, Macleays & Lewin’s Honeyeaters, Grey & Golden Whistlers, Wompoo Fruit-dove, Spotted Catbirds, Noisy Pittas, Bowen Shrike-thrush, Bush Turkeys, Eastern Whipbirds and Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.
We loaded the cars and drove slowly down the road westwards towards Hidden Valley and turned right off towards Birthday Creek and Lake Paluma on the unsealed road. Our target was Fernwren and we stopped to listen every 100 meters or so. Picked up distant calls at one spot but otherwise no sign, although we did have Red-browed Finches, Yellow - throated Scrubwrens, Crimson Rosellas, Grey & Rufous Fantails and Brown Cuckoo- dove. We met up with Chris Sanderson, another birder, who advised trying the bridge over Birthday Creek itself for Bridled Honeyeater, another target species, especially for R. We reached the bridge about 20 minutes later and searched the surrounding trees for movement and soon enough had 3 birds feeding on blossom, much to R’s delight, another lifer!
We parked and walked through the rainforest to Birthday Creek Falls. We had direction for a Golden Bowerbird bower and found it easily, about 30 meters off the track. It appeared in good condition, despite the advice that it had been damaged, but there was little to suggest it was still in use. As we were at the end of the season, it was not surprising that no birds were present during our 30 minute wait. We continued on down to the falls and took some photos, not many birds in evidence just a couple of Brown Gerygones, however, we had very close views of a Tooth-billed Bowerbird singing it’s heart out just beside the car park. In a difficult spot for photography although only 3 meters above our heads it was terrific to just watch and listen as it poured out it’s heart! There was no bower apparent in the immediate area although we may not have seen it in the dense bush.
Arriving back at Paluma we needed food and coffee so went to the tea house and watched Macleay’s Honeyeaters eating oranges while we consumed mediocre pies and dosed ourselves with caffeine. As we ate it started to rain….
Before we left Paluma R & I were keen to try one last time for the elusive Fernwren and so we all went to the H track where it had, reportedly, been seen previously. The track was generally quiet but half way round Duan spotted a roosting Southern Boobook which was a nice extra! A second bird was also present but only seen in flight. We also had another female Victoria’s Riflebird, Large-billed Scrub-wren, Brown Gerygone, Grey-headed Robin, Lewin’s Honeyeater and Spotted Catbird. Rain continued but we remained relatively dry under the canopy.
Further around, just across a boarded creek crossing Duan and R picked up the faint, relatively distant calls we were seeking and, after quietly sitting for some time, we finally had very brief but verifiable, views of a Fernwren male.
Happy at last, after approximately a 6 hour search, we returned to the cars and headed west.
The road descended through rainforest and quickly became dry eucalypt with huge gum trees flanking the verges; two raptor sightings caused us to stop and we had excellent views of a perched Grey Goshawk (grey phase) and in the top of a large gum a Square-tailed Kite – always a good bird!
Not long after that the bitumen ended and the road presented an unsealed surface – hard packed soil with scattered grit. This continued for a few kilometres then the surface became treacherous and we suddenly found ourselves gently sliding sideways down a hill in the thick glutinous mud stirred up by the rain. Further down the hill Duan also came to a slithery halt, both cars luckily staying out of the ditch! R and I sat still considering our options while Duan gently eased his car straight and took it carefully to the bottom of the hill and up the far side out of immediate danger. Our car being hired, we decided that enough was enough and R reversed back up the hill and onto the harder surface where we waited for Duan. After discussion he chose to go ahead, despite the approximate 30kms of unsealed road - we chose to reverse direction, not willing to risk the Corolla, and return to TV via Paluma.
This we did, stopping for a quick coffee at our favourite restaurant as the rain increased in intensity. By the time we reached the highway it had become torrential! We reached TV and sought a caravan park with vacant cabin, locating one at The Lakes (aptly named) Caravan Park ($70 per night). The rain continued unabated and water levels were rising. We were advised that the road south to Ayr was closed already. We had dinner at Sizzlers on a 10% discount from the caravan park and retired to watch television before crashing early.
Still raining, but R was keen so we packed all our stuff in preparation to fly and headed off towards the Ross River Dam. Arriving there we poked around the trees below the dam wall looking for a reported Rufous Owl, but without accurate directions it was basically a hopeless expectation. Blue-winged Kookaburra, White-breasted Wood-swallow, Galahs, Black Kite, Bee Eater, Golden-headed Cisticola, Intermediate Egret, Osprey, Whistling Kite, Yellow-bellied Sunbird, Green Figbird, Blue-faced Honeyeater all braved the weather, the rain coming in sheets at times, then reducing to a thin drizzle we hopped in and out of the car when we could. As we drove along beside the dam wall I peered through the slanting rain into an empty paddock and saw… anthills? Emus? No, Australian Bustards! A group of about 6 individuals feeding about 100 meters away!
The roads were becoming waterlogged in places but we persisted, stopping along the Ross River on the way back into town at Loam island. We parked up and walked the sodden riverbank flushing a flock of Nutmeg Mannikins, a Brush Cuckoo calling, a Brahminy Kite overhead, then suddenly R pointed and called “Black Bittern”! One of my hoped for sights that I had almost given up on! It flew along the riverbank and disappeared close in to the bank about 150 meters away. We circled round as quickly as we could, scanning the trees for it’s landing spot, to flush it again, back up river, to land, this time at a location we could pinpoint. Moving forward we just about had it in sight when it lifted again and flew further up river. The rain increasing we decided we had disturbed it enough and returned to the car, more driven than before!
Wanting to try Aplin’s Weir we drove around back streets but could not find a definitive access. We stopped at the Botanical Gardens and checked the pond – Royal Spoonbill, a single confiding Magpie Goose, Yellow Figbird, Forest Kingfisher and a Wallaby.
We took the road to Charters Towers looking for likely Squatter Pigeon or Black-throated Finch habitat, turning off onto a side road after a few kilometres we drove through the sodden and flooding countryside – our only return being a pair of very dark Pale-headed Rosellas.
By now, we felt we had just about exhausted all viable possibilities and decided to give it away, however, Cape Pallarenda beckoned as a last stop before the airport. When we eventually got there, getting a little lost and having to detour around flooded roads, the wind was suddenly strong enough to blow the lens out of your binoculars and we huddled fearfully in the car as leaves and small branches flew past horizontally in the howling gale. Finally we went to the airport, wondering if the weather would cause delays, however, we dropped the car off, changed out of our wet and smelly clothes in the toilet and arrived back in Brisbane on time.
Although the trip went quite well overall, I think we could have done better.
We had done our research, but could have used the results more constructively. We had phone nos we didn’t use that may have led us to Black-throated Finch or White-browed Crake for example.
We planned to visit places, rather than target species, as a result possibly missed out on several new birds. We did however, see the Fig Parrot and Black Bittern unexpectedly and not where we had planned, so it didn’t go all wrong!
We changed our plans at the last minute, i.e. visiting Mission Beach on the Friday/Saturday when that was originally planned for later in the weekend. Thus we had less time at Paluma which was a major focus of the trip.
However, we each scored 6 lifers and 2 distinct subspecies, I added 2 birds to my Australian list, we saw some lovely birding spots and gained experience in heaps of other birds.
We were extremely lucky with the weather – our 5 days fitted into just about the longest dry period Townsville has had this season and since then the area has experienced substantial flooding….
To the following people who offered assistance and advice: Margaret W, Gavin G, Rosemary B, Steve C, Chris S and, of course, Duan B.