It was brought to my attention that I tend to go birdwatching alot. So here is my attempt to document my outings and sightings. I also hope to show photos of as many of my ticks as possible.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Dodgy Drongos Twitchathon Report - Back to Basics

After last year’s Lake Cargelligo flop the Drongos decided that returning to the route we know best was the best way of trying to wrestle our way out of third place. A brief reccie to Nyngan confirmed this suspicion and on Twitchathon eve three of the team (the co-pilot, Max and I) gathered at the usual starting point ready for our pre-race time trial. The weather was feral and the birding rubbish (80 species) so our hopes for the main event were low to say the least.
Our Painted Honeyeater site
We woke to a glorious morning and after picking up our fourth member Robbie we headed out for some last minute oiling. As we cruised along the back roads I noticed a familiar looking bird perched above the road. Swinging the car around revealed a Ground Cuckoo-shrike! Further observations revealed a second bird and a nest!! What a corker to bag just before the race.
Diamond Firetail
As 4pm approached, a female White-winged Triller was spotted flying into a tall eucalypt and there it stayed, with four desperate observers straining their necks, until the alarm went off and that rather dull little girl became our first bird for the race. White-throated Gerygone, Brown Treecreeper, Diamond Firetail and Fuscous Honeyeater were the next to fall. Little Friarbird was heard and a Double-barred Finch flushed from the grass. Wedgies, Tree Martin, Bee-eater and Dusky Woodswallow were seen soaring above. Rufous Songlark were very vocal and a brief glimpse of a Turquoise Parrot was a relief. A well oiled pair of White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike on nest was our last sighting here.
Jakcy Winter
We zipped along picking up Little Raven, Banded Lapwing, Little Corella and Grey-crowned Babbler along the way. A Plum-headed Finch was fluked and nervous waiting finally revealed a Painted Honeyeater calling and a Singing Honeyeater feeding in mistletoe. A bit further up the road and two biggies fell, White-backed Swallow and Horsfield’s Bushlark. A White-winged Fairy-wren was seen in the usual place but we dipped on Yellow-throated Miner. A Spotted Harrier glided past and the Co-pilot somehow managed to hear a Cockatiel at a 100kph! Ground Cuckoo-shrike, Blue Bonnet and Zebra Finch were easily seen but we dipped on Red-capped Robin and Spotted Bowerbird.
Leard State Forest - future open cut mine
We entered Leard State Forest and quickly picked up a swag of western woodland species like Leaden and Restless Flycatcher, Varied Sittella, Speckled Warbler, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Brown-headed Honeyeater, Western Gerygone and Common Bronzewing. We then swung the car around and headed for Boggabri. We didn’t need to leave the main street to get our targets, Blackbird, Brown Honeyeater and Musk Lorikeet. With the sun nearly gone we made a dash for Gunnedah and with minutes to spare Pink-eared and Blue-billed Duck made the list.
Our night time drive was pretty uneventful with only the big three night birds recorded, Barn Owl, Southern Boobook and Tawny Frogmouth. Masked Lapwing and Cattle Egret were spot lit bringing our Saturday total to 114 species.
Bassian Thrush

Superb Lyrebird
After another uncomfortable night on the ground we awoke to a subdued dawn chorus but slowly the list started to grow. Pitta, Russet-tailed Thrush, Spectacled Monarch, Wompoo Fruit-dove, White-headed Pigeon, Brown Cuckoo-dove, Catbird and Yellow-throated Scrubwren were heard and seen. A Red-browed Treecreeper was the highlight as we crossed over the ridge, where on the other side we saw Brush Turkey, Crimson Rosella and Bassian Thrush.
Phesant Coucal, Variegated Fairy-wren and Koel were recorded on the drive down to Dungog. Long-billed Corella was seen south of town. Clarence Town only revealed Scarlet Honeyeater, whilst Seaham came through with the goods….Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Nankeen Night Heron and Scaly-breasted Lorikeet. Green Wattle Creek only produced White-naped Honeyeater, not an easy bird to get during the Twitch.
Geoff proved quite difficult to locate in the Terrace and it wont be long before a new location might be needed. Musk Duck and Great-crested Grebe were seen at our ‘New Walka’. We arrived at Stockton Sandspit to find the tide still quite high so we decided to leave and come back in an hours time. Tattlers and Tereks were seen in Fern Bay and Golden Plovers along the Stocko foreshore.
Brown Quail
The Baths were exceptionally quiet with only Crested Tern, Sooty Oystercatcher and Wedge-tailed Shearwater seen. We then headed west to Hexham Swamp where the waders of the previous week had disappeared but Brown Quail and Little Egret were welcome sights. Ash Island was quite good and we managed some beauties like White-fronted Chat, Brown Songlark, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Osprey and Brown Goshawk.
Pied Oystercatcher
Back to the Sandspit and there were the waders! In a very quick space of time we saw Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Whimbrel, Red Knot, Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Pied Oystercatcher and Gull-billed Tern. It was at this point that a quick count put the wind in our sails….212!
Next was Lenaghans which produced Glossy Ibis, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Latham’s Snipe and Topknot Pigeon. Over the range we dipped on Jacana and most of the woodland birds we were relying on but Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters were present in numbers. We then drove to our One Bird Town where we saw Goldfinch. Our final stop was the Wetlands Centre….Magpie Goose, Wandering Whistling-duck, White-cheeked Honeyeater and our final bird for the day, Tawny Grassbird.
We had managed to equal our highest score of 223 species and raise over $600 for the Cowra Woodland.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Tyto season

Over the past 2 months I've spent a considerable amount of time hunting owls and other night birds. Most trips are unsuccessful but recently I've had a fair amount of luck in the area between Maitland and Barrington Tops. Just by driving the quieter back roads it is quite easy to pick up one or two species, like Barn Owl and Frogmouth. Having reached Barrington, it is possible to pick up several more species like Sooty Owl, Powerful Owl and Boobook.
My best so far was seeing Masked, Barn and Sooty Owls in the one night plus the always present Frogmouths.
Here are some recent pics.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Belated 2011 Twitchathon report

We Drongos are a stubborn lot. Over the years we’ve tended to stick to the same old route, with the same old time restrictions and even the same old petrol station stops. But 2011 saw a new era in Drongo thinking. After a bombed oiling trip on the Liverpool Plains, the captain and co-pilot jokingly played with the idea of starting further west. Of course this joke quickly turned into reality (after a quick session on Google maps) and after consulting with our team mates it was quickly decided to start in the bird rich mallee and sewage works of Lake Cargelligo (LC).

Twitching isn’t easy. We mere mortals require many hours of oiling before the race to ease our worries and maximise our chances of competing with the big boys. I must say that each year I step back and see this massive hurdle of 230 in front of us. We start sweating on the most common of species and praying to the birding gods for a few rarities to turn up. Luckily, with only a few days before the race we could see the common stuff and even had a few toughies tucked under our belts. Previous oiling trips had resulted in some staggering birds, including Spotless Crake, Red-backed Kingfisher, Painted Honeyeater, Spotted Bowerbird, Little Bittern, Wood Sandpiper, Black-eared Cuckoo, Black-chinned Honeyeater, Noisy Pitta and Orange Chat.

Whilst we rested on the shores of Lake Cargelligo, a slight glimpse of confidence entered my thoughts. With two hours until kick off we headed off to do our last bits of oiling. Firstly to our roadside spot where all the regulars were waiting for us, including masses of Brown Quail that seemed to be everywhere. We then headed to the Sewage works in search of something special to start our race on. We walked right round the ponds and found some goodies but it was the one Freckled Duck in amongst the hundreds of waterfowl that won out. We set the scope up so we wouldn’t lose her and after 45min of watching that damn bird paddle happily around the pond she was ticked as our first species. The list shot up quickly with Glossy Ibis, Black-fronted and Red-kneed Dotterel, Pink-eared Duck, Native-hen and Little Grassbird all being seen within seconds of each other. Baillon’s and Spotted Crake were great additions and bagging three ‘inland’ species of wader, Wood, Sharpie and Marsh Sandpiper, was a highlight. We left the works after 20min with roughly 30-40 species on the list, but dipping on Shoveler, Shelduck, Cockatiel and Buff-banded Rail was a real blow.Our road side spot resulted in few ticks with the Spotless Crake and Brown Quail no where to be seen! Luckily Maxie spotted some Whiskered Tern on the other side of the levy bank which we thought we’d dipped on. Heading back towards town a Red-backed Kingfisher was spotted on the wires with an Apostlebird feeding below. Blackbird, Feral Pigeon and Sparrow were the highlights as we drove through suburban LC.

Mallee Ringneck, Blue Bonnet and Brown Songlark had us stop/starting on the highway north but to our disappointment we dipped on Spotted Harrier and Yellow-billed Spoonie. At chat alley we had Orange Chat, White-winged Fairy-wren and Zebra Finch. Emu were spotted in the paddocks and Black-shouldered Kites were everywhere. As we entered the first patches of woodland woodswallows could be heard calling from high above, and when I say I mean HIGH! We could only make out White-brows but there would have certainly been Masks in amongst them. Little Friarbird and Striped Honeyeater were vocal.

We pulled up at the famous Wheat Field a little behind schedule but not before ticking Gilbert’s Whistler roadside. The mallee was dead. Every previous reccy had resulted in numerous species calling but of course it didn’t happen on race day. We paced and strained to hear anything and eventually we added Inland and Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Splendid Fairy-wren, White-winged Triller and White-fronted Honeyeater. We then continued further down the road a little but this only resulted in Red-capped Robin and Crested Bellbird. It was time to move on and to say the Drongos were a little shattered would have been an under statement.

We left the Wheat Field and headed towards Whoey Tank. A shout from the co-pilot had Bel the Subaru screaming to a halt in time to watch a male Chestnut Quail-thrush walk slowly off the road. A cracking bird that saw our spirits rise a little and Robbie Drongos life list creep ever higher. As we drove into Whoey, a pair of Shy Heathwren shot across the track but were missed by the two youngins in the back, our first proper miss for the race. Black, Spiny-cheeked and Singing Honeyeater and Southern Whiteface were the only notable species so we decided to spice things up a little by heading back to the Wheat Field. What a move! The male Quail-thrush was still on the road where we left him, allowing all of us fantastic views, and as we walked through the mallee Robbie Drongo found a Southern Scrub-robin quietly sitting nearby. Yellow-plumed Honeyeater were feeding in the taller Eucalypts but we still couldn’t hear any Western Gerygones. It was then decided that we should use the last remaining light driving back to LC in the hope of seeing Cockatiel and Spotted Harrier. As we hooned along, the co-pilot let out an almighty ‘FOWL! FOWL! FOWL!” and there on the side of the road was a magnificent Malleefowl, a tick for three of us. Robbie Drongo went diving into the boot to retrieve the co-pilots camera and several shots were taken before the bird calmly walked back into the mallee. We were so excited that eventually dipping on the Harrier and Cockatiel didn’t really matter and we sped off into the night with 109 species under our belt.

The night drive was long and tedious. The only night birds spotted were Barn Owls and these were few and far between. It wasn’t until we got to our rest stop some 6 hours later that we finally added our second and last night bird to the list, an Aust. Owlet-nightjar. Pallid Cuckoo called all through the night but in my groggy state I failed to notify the team when the Channel-bills started a rave in the wee small hours, a costly mistake.

We awoke to a pathetic dawn chorus in Goulburn River NP but the birds started trickling in slowly. Oriole and Grey Fantail were heard and a female Hooded Robin flew in for a closer look. As we headed south towards the river we started picking up some desired species like Superb Lreybird, Glossy Black-cockatoo, Dusky Woodswallow, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Double-barred Finch, Speckled Warbler, White-browed Babbler, Painted Button-quail and a whole swag of Honeyeaters (White-naped, Yellow-tufted, White-eared etc). We dipped on Plum-headed Finch, Black-eared Cuckoo, Diamond Firetail and Turquoise Parrot which were all seen two weeks before. Luckily however the Black-chinned Honeyeaters hadn’t moved and we quickly ticked them up.

We left Goulburn with a good total but now had a long stretch of almost birdless driving ahead of us. Horsfield’s Bushlark and Stubble Quail were calling along Ringwood Road, and we saw our first White-necked Heron nearby. It wasn’t until after Jerry’s Plains that we saw our first and only Wedge-tailed Eagles for the race.

A quick discussion about high tide times saw us changing our route and heading straight for the coast, which as it turned out was our biggest mistake of the race. Bypassing all our planned stops we headed for Stockton Sandspit only to find it very waderless. Stint, Red-capped Plover, Curlew, Little Egret and Pied Oystercatcher were all in the lagoon. Brown Honeyeater and Mangrove Gerygone called from the mangroves whilst Tattlers and Whimbrel were ticked in Fern Bay, but besides that we scored little else. Not even the sight of a partially coloured Golden Plover could brighten our spirits and with very dark storm clouds rolling in we held little hope of scoring big this year.

The storm hit us as we travelled down the freeway towards the Toronto exit. The rain was howling in from all directions and the decision was made to pull over and ride it out. After 10min we pushed on, crawling through the traffic until we eventually reached our rainforest spot at Brunkerville where the rain finally stopped and we starting ticking the limited rainforest species on offer. Brown Gerygone, Lewin’s Honeyeater and Black-faced Monarch were calling loudly and a Rufous Fantail spotted but the Pitta, Catbird and Bassian Thrush of the week before failed to show. Maxie Drongo not wanting to get his shoes wet in the rapidly rising creek decided on the barefooted birder approach which failed miserably and resulted in his team mates plucking the leeches from between his toes! We’re a more bonded team now.....

We pushed on towards Maitland getting a Yellow-billed Spoonbill along the way and hearing a Koel as we drove through Kurri. Walka Water Works was dead and we only added Great-crested Grebe and Red Wattlebird here. Goldfinch and Banded Lapwing were major dips on the floodplains but finally bagging Fuscous Honeyeater, Little Lorikeet and Shining Bronze-cuckoo at Green Wattle Creek slightly made up for that. Seaham produced Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Nankeen Night Heron, Tawny Grassbird and Chestnut Teal, but the Channel-billed Cuckoo was only seen by two in the group. Our last ticks before hitting the Wetlands Centre were Mallard and Little Wattlebird at Raymond Terrace and a single Grey-crowned Babbler feeding in someone’s front yard just north of town.

Rolling into the Wetlands with 30min still on the clock we ticked the obligatory Goose and Whistling-duck and finally managed to put White-browed Scrubbie on the list!!! We then made our way back to the centre where we settled in to go over the list. Sadly Robbie had not under counted and our end total was a very pitiful 215 species. We were shattered and it was quite a relief to hear we had snuck into third place.

Well done to all teams involved especially the Brewers who started the race near us and to the Dry-throated Buzzards for their Herculean effort. The Drongos thank all those who sponsored us. We managed to raise over $600 which we’re pretty chuffed about. Also a huge thanks to Huxtable Drongo for supplying the camping gear and to Lloyd Drongo for supplying his son.

Until next year,

Head Drongo

Yengo National Park

The following article appeared in the April edition of the Hunter Bird Obsevers Club newsletter.

Yengo has only been a new discovery of mine and therefore my knowledge of the area is pretty light. However, from the few visits I have made it has quickly turned into one of my favourite birding locations close to home (within 1.5hrs of Rutherford).

This large national park is located 45km south west of Cessnock and can be accessed via Laguna in the east or off the Putty Road in the west. The terrain is rough with many valleys and ridges which hosts fairly basic habitat types. As you wind your way up the Finchley Track from Laguna you pass through large amounts of rocky, dry eucalypt forest and this habitat dominates the area. According to the NPWS website there are remnant patches of rainforest in the deeper gullies and open woodland on the western side of the park. I have not experienced these habitats in Yengo.

The best birding I have so far found is around the Finchley lookout and the Aboriginal cultural site on the Finchley Track. There is a very basic camping ground nearby which only has a pit toilet for amenities. Within walking distance I have seen Spotted Quail-thrush, Rock Warbler, Chestnut-rumped Heathwren, Cicadabird, Gang-gang Cockatoo and Turquoise Parrot.

Driving around the park should produce Common Bronzewing, Wonga Pigeon, Painted Button-quail, Lyrebird and various other ‘roadside’ species. Various honeyeaters can be found in the area with the most common being Yellow-faced, Yellow-tufted and White-eared.

I haven’t managed much night time birding but have seen White-throated Nightjar and heard Boobook. I believe there are records of Barking Owl within the park and I wouldn’t be surprised if all of the Hunter’s forest owls are in there somewhere.

Unfortunately that is about the limit of my knowledge. My advice would be to get out and start exploring the area. I’m keen to continue visiting Yengo in the hope of finding Glossy Black-cockatoo, Masked Owl and who knows, maybe a Grey Currawong.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Queensland Trip Report

Nick Livanos, Rob Kilkelly and I had planned a two week birding trip around western Queensland incorporating Mt. Isa, Bedourie and Noccundra. Unfortunately for us the channel country experienced 3 days of rain which closed several roads in the area and had us changing the route mid trip. We decided instead to hit the coast, visiting Karumba, Etty Bay and the rest of the Qld coast down to Nerang. We drove 7500km and saw 280 species.
Our route changed dramatically from the one we posted on birding_aus several weeks ago:
Day 1: Maitland - Mitchell
Day 2: Mitchell - Winton
Day 3: Winton area (Lark Quarry and Opalton)
Day 4: Winton - Mt. Isa
Day 5: Mt. Isa (Lady Loretta and Mica Creek)
Day 6: Mt. Isa (Lake Moondarra)
Day 7: Mt. Isa
Day 8: Mt. Isa - Karumba
Day 9: Karumba (Ferryman cruise)
Day 10: Karumba - Etty Bay (Cumberland Dam and
Day 11: Etty Bay - Sarina (Mission Beach and Tyto Wetlands)
Day 12: Sarina - Nerang (St. Lawrence and Inskip Point)
Day 13: Nerang (Mt. Tamborine, Victoria Point and O'Reilly's)
Day 14: Nerang (O'Reilly's)
Day 15: Nerang - Maitland

I could literally write for days about every awesome location we visited and every feathered friend we saw but I'll try to keep the day reports as short as possible. I've also added our Bird of Prey (BOP) counts at the end.

Day 1: A 950km drive resulted in very little birding being done outside the car. Nankeen Kestrel were very plentiful with 99 seen while driving. It was amazing how they vanished once we got so close to 100.
Our river side lunch stop in St. George added Dusky and White-breasted Woodswallows to the list and a few Red-winged Parrots.
The really cool birding started after St. George when we started seeing Pale-headed Rosella, Red-capped Robin, Chestnut-rumped Thornbill, Aust. Bustard, Spotted Bowerbird and a single White-browed Treecreeper. Is this at their eastern limit?

Day 2: We headed off early and didn't spare the horses (or speeding fine) as we wanted some birding in Bladensburg before dark. Our 100th Kestrel was ticked up and a Little Eagle was sighted sitting in the sun. Amazingly our first Black Kite was seen at the Giant Meat Ant in Augathella. Do they migrate north in Winter?
We managed two hours in Bladensburg before the sun went down. We saw 20+ Spinifex Pigeon on our first stop but couldn't get close enough for a pic. Further up the road we found a great patch with lots of activity. Budgerigars, Black-faced Woodswallow, Rufous Songlark, Zebra Finch, Peaceful Dove, Singing Honeyeater and Aust. Bustard were all seen together. Our last bird for the day was a single Diamond Dove.
Day 3: We arrived at the Lark Quarry CP just after dawn in the hope of hearing Grasswrens before the wind picked up. Unfortunetly we couldn't find any but did stumble upon three RUFOUS-CROWNED EMU-WREN. What a stunning bird! So much richer in colour then the Southern EW we're accustomed to. Grey-headed Honeyeater and Hooded Robin were seen nearby.
Having dipped on the Grasswrens we decided to head south east to Opalton where they're apparently more common. Around the hamlet we saw a fair sized flock of Crimson Chat, more Grey-headed Honeyeater, a Little Button-quail, Crested Bellbird and a single STRIATED GRASSWREN! He allowed great views as he called from low in a mallee eucalypt and bounced between spinifex clumps. My Grasswren virginity had been broken and I liked it!!
We then commenced the drive back to Winton via Bladensburg seeing White-backed Swallow, Red-backed Kingfisher and more Bustards.
Day 4: As we drove north of Winton large numbers of Horsfield's Bushlark appeared. Seven Brolgas were seen feeding beside the road and a pair of Black Falcon circled over head.
We passed through Cloncurry and stopped briefly at Chinaman Creek Dam. A large flock of mud gathering Fairy Martins allowed a very close approach which delighted the photographer in us. Double-barred Finches and Variegated Fairy-wrens were seen in the water side vegetation. Then at once Nick and I asked each other "did you hear Painteds?" and sure enough there were 10-15 PAINTED FIRETAILS preening in the scrub.
After booking into our accommodation in Mt. Isa we quickly ducked out to Sybella and Mica Creeks hoping for Kalkadoon Grasswren. They didn't show but we did add Varied Lorikeet and Collared Sparrowhawk to the trip list.

Day 5: We started the morning at the water tanks at the end of Pamela Street, Mt. Isa. Varied Lorikeets and Rainbow Bee-eater zoomed overhead and an Owlet-nightjar called once from his well hidden hollow. Then we saw movement. A small dark bird had jumped up onto the spinifex and disappeared quickly. Nick and Rob swear they saw a long stiff tail so we patiently wait for the bird to reappear. Then suddenly the bird reappears right in front of us....a SPINIFEXBIRD! Not what we were hoping for but still a much needed tick.We then drove north to the famous Lady Loretta mining road in the hope of seeing Carpentarian Grasswren. We couldn't find the cairn (at first) so just relied on information given to us and the two creeks described in the new Thomas & Thomas. The area was alive with birds. Black-tailed Treecreeper was first to be seen closely followed by Grey-fronted Honeyeater, Painted Firetail, Spinifexbird and Little Button-quail. After 2hrs of searching we heard a grasswren call. We slowly advanced on the bird until Rob spotted him quite high in a eucalypt. We advanced some more and after a bit of cat and mouse we eventually had great views of a single CARPENTARIAN GRASSWREN.
We then headed back to Mica Creek where we once again dipped on Kalkadoon but saw Black-tailed Treecreeper, Painted Firetail, Grey-headed and Grey-fronted Honeyeater and another Spinifexbird.
Last stop for the day was Pamela Street again. We didn't expect to see anything so all our cameras were left in the car to loosen the load. Of course what happens when cameras are left behind....the bird you want appears. Right beside the first water tank and only metres from the busy walking track there were three KALKADOON GRASSWRENS hopping around the rocks. We had great views as they eventually flew low across the track and down into the valley below. Rob had run back to the car to retrieve the cameras and we managed distant record shots.
Day 6: We spent the day at Lake Moondarra. What a great spot! We recorded 80 species and added a few to our trip and year lists. Highlights included: 50+ Painted Firetail, 7 Pictorella Mannikin, Spinifexbird, Great Bowerbird, Spotted Bowerbird, Rufous-throated Honeyeater, Silver-crowned Friarbird, Red-backed Fairy-wren, Red-backed Kingfisher, Varied Lorikeet, Spinifex Pigeon, Comb-crested Jacana, Brolga, Black-necked Stork, Glossy Ibis and Green Pygmy-goose.Day 7: We had seen the three species we wanted to target in the Isa so we decided to target the Cloncurry subspecies of the Aust. Ringneck. We were told to search eucalypt lined waterways and we saw a pair at the first spot we tried! Beautiful pastel colours.
Nick and I then headed back to Lake Moondarra to try for some photos but the clouds had rolled in and the wind had picked up. We still saw some good birds including 70+ Varied Lorikeet, Crimson Chat, White-winged Fairy-wren and Silver-crowned Friarbird.Day 8: Left Mt. Isa before dawn and saw nothing until we were well past Cloncurry. At one point we had 8-10 Brown Songlark on the road, I've never seen so many in the one spot. Parrots were very common along the Gulf Development Rd with Cockatiel, Budgerigar, Varied Lorikeet and Red-winged Parrot all in good numbers. We eventually started seeing more and more Brolgas along the road and at Normanton we found a pair of Sarus Crane. Radjah Shelducks were also seen here and a Horsfield's Bronze-cuckoo heard.We booked into our accommodation at Karumba and headed to the mangroves. Yellow White-eye were very common and the occasional Red-headed Honeyeater shot past. Mangrove Gerygone called constantly.
In the ratty looking scrub behind the mangroves we stumbled upon a fair sized flock of Star Finches feeding in the seeding grasses. The huge majority of birds were juveniles which was nice to see but luckily for Rob he got to tick a good coloured male.Just before dark we headed to Karumba Point where we watched the sunset over the mudflats and ticked up two very obliging MANGROVE GREY FANTAIL, Nick's 600th species.

Day 9: Yellow Oriole was heard at the caravan park which was a bit of a surprise when we referred to their distribution maps in Slater and Pizzey. Anyone know if they're regular here?
After a fruitless attempt at Zitting Cisticola we boarded the Ferryman Cruise with Glenn and Alison. We couldn't have asked for a better morning. Brahminy Kite, Osprey and Sea-eagle soared overhead as we went from one patch of mangroves to the next. We had excellent views of Mangrove Grey Fantail, 4 Mangrove Golden Whistler, 3 Mangrove Robin, 4 Northern Fantail, 2 Little Bronze-cuckoo and 4 WHITE-BREASTED WHISTLERS! We had fantastic views of both male whistlers which really made the trip.
The afternoon was spent walking across grassy floodplains looking for cisticola. We dipped but did score 15+ Brown Quail and 4 RED-CHESTED BUTTON-QUAIL.
At the Karumba golf course we watched 100+ Red-tailed Black-cockatoo coming into roost at dusk and later that night a pair of Barking Owls calling to each other.Day 10: Heading off early paid off when two Spotted Nightjar flushed off the Gulf Development Road. Two Squatter Pigeon (race tick for me) and four Ground Cuckoo-shrike were seen east of Croydon.Cumberland Dam is a must return spot for us. We only spent 15min at a small puddle of water in the creek bed but managed to see White-eared Masked Finch, Black-rumped Black-throated Finch, Banded Honeyeater, Yellow-tinted Honeyeater and the northern Brown Treecreeper. Three race ticks in the one spot, not bad.We continued east and didn't stop until we hit the southern end of the Atherton Tablelands. Aust. Swiftlet were seen hawking south of Millaa Millaa. At a road side stop in the Wooroonooran National Park we found a very active feeding flock comprising of White-eared and Spectacled Monarch, Little and Bower's Skrike-thrush, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Grey Whistler and Varied Triller.
My main aim for the day was to see a Southern Cassowary. I missed this species last year when we were in the tropics and I was the only one in the car not to have seen one so I was pretty damn keen. Boy wasn't I surprised when we pulled up at Etty Bay to be confronted by a male CASSOWARY on the beach in front of us! What a moment. We saw three birds all up. Dusky Honeyeater was seen nearby.

Day 11. Our first stop for the day was Mission Beach. Cyclone Yasi has caused horrific damage to the Lacey Creek rainforest and bird numbers were pretty low, although it did make spotting a Wompoo Fruit-dove in the leafless trees extremely easy. We saw Rufous Fantail, Grey Whistler, Black Butcherbird and Azure Kingfisher here and heard a Noisy Pitta.
Tyto wetlands at Ingham was our next stop. Yellow Honeyeaters were everywhere. Crimson Finch and Red-backed Fairy-wren added a splash of colour to the greenery. I really wanted to see White-browed Robin again but it wasn't to be so we settled with Little Bronze-cuckoo, Forest Kingfisher, Fairy Gerygone, Leaden Flycatcher and two White-browed Crake. A Buff-banded Rail was seen crossing the carpark at the information centre.
Other birds seen on the drive south included Pacific Baza, Black-necked Stork, Aust. Bustard and Pied Oystercatcher.
Day 12. Its always nice when travelling the boring Bruce Hwy to stop at St. Lawrence to tick up the resident Cotton Pygmy-geese. Such cute little ducks. Pallid Cuckoo and Horsfield's Bronze were heard calling nearby.
Pacific Baza and Square-tailed Kite were both seen as we entered Rockhampton.
We were already pushed for time but decided a side step to Inskip Point was in order to search for Black-breasted Button-quail, a tick for Rob. After 45min walking around the point Nick spotted a pair 'circling' a few metres in front of us. They allowed a fairly close approach but managed to keep a few twigs between us and them. We were all stoked with our views.
By this stage it was getting dark and we made the last minute decision to try for Ground Parrot at Cooloola. Best move we could have made. As the sun sank below the horizon 2-3 birds started calling. Unfortunately there was no hope of seeing them in the dark so we decided to leave. As we drove up the track a bright green, long tailed parrot flew in front of the headlights and Nick had ticked up his long time bogey bird. What a fluke! We decided to try our luck again so we briefly played the Grass Owl call and almost immediately had two birds flying low over the heath in front of us! Three cracking birds in two hours birding, doesn't get any better.

Day 13. We started the day at Witches Falls at North Tamborine and it didn't take us long to find a single ALBERT'S LYREBIRD feeding beside the track. Noisy Pitta, Wonpoo Fruit-dove and Fan-tailed Cuckoo were also recorded here.
We then drove to Halloran Point in an attempt to see the South Island Pied Oystercatcher recently reported there. We arrived at the right time with the tide rising quickly but only managed to see Pied Oystercatchers. The pies and tarts we had for lunch while searching were well worth the trip.
We ended the day at O'Reillys guest house. Whilst waiting for night to fall we did the beginning of the Border Track and were amazed at how tame the birds were. Yellow Robin, Scrubwrens and whipbird foraged under our feet.
We tried for Marbled Frogmouth on the main road down from the guest house and failed although we did hear two birds calling and glimpsed one. Unfortunately not a tickable look. We did see a Southern Boobook at Canungra so the night wasn't a complete loss.
Day 14: We decided to have a relaxing start to the day and didn't get to O'Reillys until 11am. We watched the free flight raptor show and had lunch in the restaurant....completely not like us at all!!! We must be getting old...or our lists are getting too big. We wandered around and took lots of pics of Wonga Pigeon, King Parrot, Logrunner, Yellow-throated and Large-billed Scrubwrens and Fan-tailed Cuckoo until once again we were standing in the rainforest at night.
We didn't get a response at the spot we had two Froggies the night before so we continued on and at our second spot got an instant response. Its amazing how busy the O'Reilly's road is at night when there are a pair of Frogmouths very close by!! After what seemed like an eternity Rob caught a beautiful MARBLED FROGMOUTH in the spotlight and all got fantastic views until another bloody car come alone. Much celebration was had and for Nick and I it was our 12th and final tick for the trip.
Day 15: Home time. Bugger. Pretty boring trip down the Pacific Hwy. Highlights included two Brolga north of Grafton, one Green Pygmy-goose at Smith Lake (NSW tick) and a few Brahminy Kites along the road.
Our last stop for the trip was at Cattai Wetlands north of Taree where Rob ticked up Southern Emu-wren (his 54th and final tick), we put Forest Raven on the year list and four Forest Kingfishers put on the Hunter Valley list.

BOP counts: Maitland - Mt. Isa - Etty Bay - Maitland.

Black-shouldered Kite = 24
Pacific Baza = 2
Black Kite = 558
Square-tailed Kite = 1
Whistling Kite = 174
Collared Sparrowhawk = 2
Grey Goshawk = 1
Brahminy Kite = 14
Osprey = 3
White-bellied Sea-Eagle = 7
Little Eagle = 3
Wedge-tailed Eagle = 29
Spotted Harrier = 1
Black Falcon = 2
Brown Falcon = 90
Nankeen Kestrel = 186
Australian Hobby = 11

Barking Owl = 2
Southern Boobook = 1
Eastern Grass Owl = 2
Tawny Frogmouth = 3
Marbled Frogmouth = 2
Spotted Nightjar = 2
Aust. Owlet-nightjar = 1

Unidentified = 60
TOTAL = 1181

Also: Australian Bustard = 31 (No reason for counting, just a cool bird!)