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24-Days in Far Northern Qld Bird WatchingAuthor: Carl from Pahrump (More Trip Reviews by Carl from Pahrump)
Date of Trip: November 2006
On Nov 4 we met Peter Cooper at 6:45am at the Newell Beach boat ramp for a Mangrove Tour. We went 5 Km up the Mossman River in Peter's rubber raft. The river was at high tide and birds like the Whimbrel had to perch on tree since their beach was temporarily gone. The river was very scenic and peaceful. The highlight of the trip was seeing a pair of Collared Kingfishers.
Later we drove to Mossman Gorge and took the 2.7 Km scenic trail. There were heaps of colorful Spectacled Monarches. Our best bird was the White-faced Robin. We saw an adult and juvenile Pale-yellow Robins. There were numerous Atherton Scrubwrens along the trail.
On Nov 5 we met Dan Irby at 6:30am for a boat tour on Barrett Creek. This was the most comfortable of the 3 boats we had been on in Daintree. Each person had a padded seat with a back - the seats would even swivel. Using the quiet electric engine we were able to sneak up on a Great-billed Heron.
There were lots of fern baskets growing in the Gum (a.k.a. Eucalyptus) Trees. The creek and riverbanks were lined with Native Hibiscus bushes with yellow flowers that bloom for a day. We saw a White Pencil Orchid growing high in a tree.
The birding highlight was getting good looks at the Little, Azure and Sacred Kingfishers. We saw 26 different bird types on the trip.
The tide was high and rising. We had to cross under a road bridge coming and going on Barrett Creek. On the return we had about 2 inches of clearance between the top rails of the boat and the bottom beams of the bridge
After a good day of birding, we saw a Northern Brown Bandicoot at the B&B.
On Nov 6 we were at Mossman Gorge NP for a 2.7 Km (3.5 hours) hike. We spent some time boulder hopping up a side gorge over rocks that ranged in size from VW Bugs to Class C RVs. It was hard to imagine the water flow it would take to washed these monsters down the creek. Most of the time there were no birds to be seen, just tall trees, ferns and beautiful butterflies. But it can all change in a flash!! Once we saw a Gray-crowned Babbler, Topknot Pigeon, Frilled Monarch and a Pale-yellow Robin together.
On Nov 7 we drove south 50 miles to Kingfisher Park in Julatten. This is mid-level Rainforest around 1500 feet elevation.
When we got to Kingfisher at 9am our room wasn't ready. They recommended we drive to Mt Lewis for Birdwatching. About 8 Km up this dirt/rock road with no signs of life we began to wonder if we should turn back. Fortunately, we met a park ranger on the road. He recommended we continue on up the mountain. He said he would tie toilet tissue on a tree where we should park to get to the birding trail. He said we would see great birds. After 10.3 Km of dirt road we found the toilet tissue. We headed up the steep and rocky trail thru the rainforest. We saw beautiful butterflies and had glimpses of birds. About 90 minutes later we came to a dam and small pond. No birds. On the way back we took a long side trail down the mountain looking for a meadow the ranger had talked about. We didn't find the meadow or any birds.
We were beginning to think we wasted the day when we finally began to see birds. We saw a Gray-headed Robin, Bridled Honeyeater, Fernwren, Yellow-throated Scrubwren, 3-Chowchillas, and a Tooth-billed Bowerbird. We even saw an Eastern Spinebill eating nectar from a Passion Plant (a.k.a. Lantana). We ended up spending 5 hours here.
About sundown I went looking for the Masked Owl that lives next door to Kingfisher Park. I found a likely looking hole in a tree and about 6:55pm a Masked Owl briefly set outside the hole before flying off to hunt.
On Nov 8 we were out at first-light birding the 5-acres of rainforest and orchards around Kingfisher Park. Right off we heard a Noisy Pitta say "Walk to Work" and soon saw one scratching in the leaves. We saw Red-browed Firetailes everywhere and a flock of Scaly-breasted Lorikeets. We searched the property for a Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher other birders saw yesterday. This is the bird the local birding establishments use for bragging rights. While walking thru the orchard garden we turned a corner and scared one off its perch. We sat and waited for it to come back. We could hear it calling, but we never saw it again.
We left Kingfisher Park at 9:30am heading for Mt Molloy (pronounced Mt Ma-Loy 16.676S 145.331E). Birding the swamps and creeks along the road was so good it took us 4 hours to drive 8 miles. We saw 50 bird species!
We were the first guests to stay at the Bowerbird B&B ( in Mt Molloy. Yes, Bowerbirds can be seen here, and nest on the grounds.
The owners, Dennis and Rita, had converted their yards into flower gardens with stone pathways. The birds love it. The fruit was ripe on the palm trees now, and at time the bird calling was deafening.
Looking behind the B&B we found a Great Bowerbird's bower (nest). The bower was made of woven grass and the entrance was decorated with white shells and whatever brightly colored objects the bird can steal. The bower was about 2.5 ft long, 1.5 ft tall and 1 ft wide. While we were watching a male Bowerbird flew in with a pink headband in its mouth. It dropped its wing and danced around the bower. You could tell it was a male by the pink plume on the back of its neck. Sometimes the plume was hardly visible, but today it was huge. Pretty soon a female landed and started inspecting the bower. The male brought her a red fruit in his mouth. The female was in and out a few times. Then they started flying around together. We decided we should leave so as not to make them abandon the bower.
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