Friday, 14 February 2014

FNQ Trip October 2013 - Part 1: Ingham

On the 4th October 2013 I set off from Proserpine on route to Ingham for the Birdlife Photography Workshop, then onwards to Atherton Tablelands, Daintree, Cairns and Mission Beach before returning home via an overnight stay in Townsville. 
Just two days before I was due to leave, I had to go to hospital to have an abscess opened up in my leg. This meant one leg for the whole trip and daily visits to hospital to get the wound repacked and redressed. After 3 days of doing this at the Ingham Hospital each morning, I had enough and just packed and dressed the wound myself for the rest of the trip. Tedious, but beats sitting in a Hospital ED for hours when I could be birding!
The whole trip was planned for seeing new birds first and foremost, with photography being very much secondary. I wanted to see at least 36 new species to bump my life list up over 300, but thought this would be unlikely so would be happy with at least 20 (new species in bold font). 

I left home at around 10:30am and stopped in at Toomulla Beach (just North of Townsville) on the way to Ingham and ticked off Lovely Fairy-wren thanks to the great advice from Daniel Venema. Two beautiful males and an equally beautiful female. They were hard to find at first, but found them on a beach track from a park - beautiful little birds. First new tick for the trip! Arriving at Ingham, I crossed the road from my motel to the Tyto Wetlands precinct (not the wetlands itself) and quickly ticked off the exceptionally Crimson Finch (absent from my area) and Green-pygmy Goose (we usually just get the Cotton-pygmy here). Off to a decent start with 3 new ticks on the drive up.
Crimson Finch (Neochmia phaeton)
The next 2.5 days were spent in Ingham for the Birdlife Australia Photography Workshop. It was great to meet many different people, some birders, some photographers, some both. I learnt that some people really to go almost absurd lengths to get an image, included catching their own mice, tying them to fishing line and then casting them out in the field to lure in owls. It was especially great to meet fellow F&P members Daniel Venema and Paul Randall. Both great guys and an absolute pleasure to spend time with!!! I was lucky enough to attend one of Paul’s workshop talks about “Creating Unique Images”. Both Daniel and I very much enjoyed Paul’s talk and learning how he approaches his bird photography. 

The arranged morning walks were out for me as I had to go to hospital each morning, but just doing the afternoon walks I was able to tick off Curlew Sandpiper, Whiskered Tern and Pink-eared Ducks at Mungalla Station and Brown-backed Honeyeater and White-winged Triller (just seem to get Varied Triller here) at Tyto Wetlands.

Pink-eared Ducks (Malacorhynchus membranaceus) 
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata)
Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)
Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida)

On the final afternoon, I decided not to do the afternoon trip to Mungalla Station given I went the day before, instead opting to visit Tyto Wetlands to try and tick off White-browed Crake (apparently common and would be my first ever crake tick) and Little Bittern which were sighted the morning before. I saw nothing. Whilst Daniel travelled to Mungalla Station and saw Australian Pratincole (would have been a lifer for me) and Pacific Golden Plover (not a lifer, but still a nice bird to see). I was just a little bit annoyed at myself wasting the whole afternoon with nothing to show for it

After a great few days in Ingham, it was time to hobble out of Ingham and onto bigger and better things in the birding world - next stop Kingfisher Park at Julatten in the Atherton Tablelands (with a few detours on the way). Leaving Ingham with 8 ticks under the belt, seeing at least 20 new species seemed very achievable, but not being able to walk very well or very far, seeing 36+ species was just not going to happen.

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