Saturday, 15 February 2014

FNQ Trip October 2013 - Part 2: Kingfisher Park (Julatten)

Leaving Ingham on the 7th October, I made tracks to the Atherton Tablelands for 2 nights at Kingfisher Park in Julatten – probably the best bird watching lodge in the country.

On route to Kingfisher Park, I decided to have a quick drive down Hastie Road near Atherton to try and tick off Sarus Crane. Found two of them in a cattle field without any effort – I like that sort of birding!

Passing through Mareeba on the way to Mount Molloy, I ticked off a large group of Helmeted Guineafowl – a feral species, but this population is a noted wild population, so still very much tickable. I also most likely ticked off a speeding fine which will be on its way in the mail – not responding to an 80km zone quick enough. I am hoping by some miracle the speed camera got the car in front and not me!

I arrived at Kingfisher Park at around 3:00pm and quickly ticked off Australian Swiftlet (sure I have seen these before, but were not ticked on the life list), Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, Graceful Honeyeater and Pale-yellow Robin. I also met Rochelle Stevens, the student in the latest Australian Birdlife magazine or who doing a PhD on avitourism. I filled out a few questionnaires to help her with the study.
Pale-yellow Robin (Tregellasia capito)
Try as I might, I just couldn’t see the Yellow-breasted Boatbill and Pied Monarch. Apparently they were around and common, but I was getting a little annoyed by not being able to tick off these relatively common birds.That night I joined Keith and Lindsay Fisher (and a few Americans) on a night walk. A few other student’s travelling with Rochelle joined us for the first part of the trip, but then went their separate ways. There was nothing out that night apart from Barn Owl and some Red-footed Pademelons.

Eastern Barn Owl (Tyto delicatula)

Common Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica)
It was not until the following day where I ran into Rochelle and her student friends on Mount Lewis that they showed me a photograph they took about 30mins after the night walk had finished. A beautiful Lesser Sooty Owl just 20m from the Kingfisher Park lodge, in clear view about 5m off the ground. I am still punching myself that I didn’t go with the student’s on their walk as any attempt to find the Lesser Sooty during my time at the Park came to nothing.

At Mount Lewis I easily ticked off Atherton Scrubwren and Yellow-throated Scrubwren as well as Double-eyed Fig-parrot – luckily as the latter eluded me for the rest of the trip. On the way up the Mountain I stopped to have a look at a group of small birds hopping around the top of the trees. I hoped they were Mountain Thornbills, but they were Brown Gerygones – still a new tick though! I ran into Rochelle and her friends at the top of Mount Lewis and with their help, I was able to see Mountain Thornbill hopping madly around the top of a tree.

Returning to Kingfisher Park that afternoon, it was my last real chance to see Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill. Knowing playback was not encouraged, I got away from the lodge a bit and played a 5 second call of the Boatbill and Monarch – both successful in bringing in the birds within a few seconds. A great way to finish my time at the Park with two ticks bringing the total to 21 new species (no good images, though), however that bloody Lesser Sooty Owl is still a sore point…

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