Australian King Parrots
Pacific Emerald Dove
Hasties Swamp was literally 5 minutes from the Big 4 Campsite in Atherton so it quickly became my temporary local patch while I was staying so close.
And that was with good reason because every time I went it was chock full of birds!
My first visit this morning and I was greeted with the cachophony of c8000 Plumed Whistling Ducks, Purple Swamphens were wandering about on the verges and everywhere, an Azure Kingfisher was right in front of the hide and 2 Swamp Harriers were flying up and down the far bank. I set about searching through the wildfowl and quickly found a few gorgeous, if a little odd-looking, Pink-eared Ducks plus c1000 Magpie Geese, several Hardheads and Pacific Black Ducks, a handful of Australasian Grebes, 4 European Coot and another tick in the form of c5 Dusky Moorhens. There were plenty of herons about too and I recorded White-necked Heron, White-faced Heron, Great White Egret and Intermediate Egret. A Torresian Crow was only my 2nd of the entire trip too.
Plumed Whistling Ducks
Just down the road from Hasties Swamp a small roadside farm dam held more Plumed Whistling Ducks but more importantly c12 Maned Duck, Little Black Cormorant, a single Black-winged Stilt (the only one of the entire trip) and Mallard. Several Brolga flying over the road were what prompted me to stop and I was glad I did!
Maned Ducks and Plumed Whistling Ducks
Little Black Cormorant
Moving on I drove along the undulating road south to Mount Hypipamme NP. This upland site didn't really hold anything new for me as I'd previously cleaned up on Mount Lewis but it was a site it would have been a shame to miss. I'd been given the directions to a Golden Bowerbird bower which I found easily but no birds were present. Around the carpark and entrance track I did see several White-throated Treecreepers, Pale Yellow robin, Lewin's Honeyeater, Australian Brush Turkey, Grey Whistler, 4 Wompoo Fruit Doves, MacLeays Honeyeater, c6 Atherton Scrubwrens, Grey-headed Robin and c4 Mountain Thornbills so it was well worth the effort.
Pale Yellow Robin
Golden Bowerbird bower
The next site I wanted to see was a place called Springfield Road which is between Heberton and Wondecla. It took a little effort to find as my map lead me down some dodgy tracks but I was so glad I made it because it was a great place to bird. The site is famous (or should that be infamous?!) for an unsolved honeyeater conundrum which is described in the book Bird of the Wet Tropics of Queensland by Lloyd Neilsen. He suggests that the 'Heberton Honeyeaters' don't fit with either Yellow-tinted or Fuscous Honeyeater and may even be a new undescribed species. No wonder I was keen to go! Upon arrival almost the first bird I saw was indeed one of these honeyeaters. To me they look like a dull Yellow-tinted Honeyeater but I'm certainly no expert and only have my field guide for reference and no experience! In all I saw about 18 of them including juvs and managed the following photos...
Regardless of the honeyeater id there were plenty of other birds to keep me amused as well. Most noticable were a small group of c12 Dusky Woodswallows flycatching either side of the track, a Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Noisy Friarbird, 3 Bridled Honeyeaters, 2 Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Little Shrike Thrush, Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike, Grey Butcherbird, 3 Eastern Yellow Robins and 6 Noisy Miners plus 2 Little Lorikeets high up in the trees. Back at my campervan a superb Wedge-tailed Eagle and 2 Nankeen Kestrels were circling. What an amazing couple of hours!
Eastern Yellow Robin
A stop just down the road at Wondecla Showground coincided with a downpour but before the heavens opened I managed a few bits and another tick in the woods at the back left of the sports field - Brown Treecreeper was the star bird for me but I also had a plethora of honeyeaters. c15 White-cheeked Honeyeaters, 1 Scarlet Honeyeater, 1 Yellow-spotted Honeyeater and 2 Lewin's Honeyeaters.
I made my way back to Hasties Swamp for another pop in next. The birds were similar to the morning but this time I added a lovely Nankeen Night Heron roosting in the tree to the left of the hide, a Little Grassbird next to the hide and some Grey Teal. Talking to a local in the hide I got a tip off about where to look for cranes along the Malandra Road so I hot-footed it there and scooped with a flock of c100 Brolga and more importantly 5 Sarus Cranes for the ever-growing list!
Plumed Whistling Duck
Nankeen Night Heron