Monday, 12 August 2013


Radjah Shelducks at Karumba Point
 From Adels Grove, we drove to Karumba Point, stopping for lunch at the Burke and Wills Roadhouse, where Apostlebirds providee free amusement for all visitors.  This day we saw our first Emu, our first Brown Falcon and our first Nankeen Kestrel for the trip.  My memory is that we didn't see any more Emus at all, only a couple of Brown Falcons, but we ticked up 14 Nankeen Kestrels today.  Sadly, there were also 4 feral cats.  We found a productive dam beside the road at Normanton where the birding was quite good.  Diamond Doves sat innocently on the ground.  There were waders and ducks on the water, and one fat feral cat that I chased away.

In the mangroves at Karumba Point, we saw magnificent White-breasted Whistlers, Mangrove Gerygones and Mangrove Fantails.  Just to confuse us, there were Grey Fantails here as well.  Out of the mangroves, we saw Yellow White-eyes and Yellow Honeyeaters, both looking very colourful in a large tree with bright orange flowers.  On the beach a flock of Radjah Shelducks was loafing, ignoring the silly birders covered in insect repellent.  I should say, that, despite our diligent preparations, the sand flies were a total non-event.

We saw many Red-backed Kingfishers on the trip and Marsh Sandpipers more than once.  Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos put in several appearances and we saw Zebra Finches and Double-barred Finches frequently.  We saw just one Black-breasted Buzzard, which flew over most uncooperatively when we were travelling, so not everyone had good views.

At Walker's Creek, on the drive from Karumba Point to Cloncurry, we saw a Leaden and a Lemon-bellied Flycatcher.  This was a very pretty spot, well worth a few minutes of our time. 

The Curry Muster was on at Cloncurry and we were treated to a parade up the main street.  I did not witness the entire parade:  all I saw were men standing on the back of trucks with black and white balloons.  Perhaps I missed the essence of the event.

The next day we were up early to travel to the Selwyn Range to admire Rufous-crowned Emu-wrens.  I'd seen these darling little birds before, both in Queensland and in South Australia, but I don't think I've ever had such good views.  I noticed a greyish nape on the male not shown in the illustration in Simpson & Day's field guide.  And the female's eye coverts appeared (to me) to be black and white, whereas conventional wisdom is that they are blue and white.  Here we also had great views of Red-browed Pardalotes.

The next morning we visited Corella Dam, which was not at all as I remembered it.  A decade before, it had been unoccupied and attractive.  When we visited, there were so many campers, it was difficult to find a spot to look for waterbirds without feeling you were intruding into someone's private space.  Then it was on to Clem Walton Park, again a disappointment to me.  The water was reduced to a few large puddles, not at all the picturesque scene I remembered.  We saw a Spotted Bowerbird and the inevitable feral cat.  We had a picnic lunch at Fountain Springs, which I would recommend highly.  A pretty spot, no campers.

Back in Mt Isa, we searched again (and again) for Carpentarian Grasswren.  We did add Cloncurry Parrot to our birdlist - they were nowhere near as common as I remember them a decade ago.

I cannot count the trip a failure, as I achieved the one and only lifer I was after.  Accordingly, I should call the trip a 100% success.  However, the land was so dry, so many rivers and creeks were not flowing, the birds were so few and far between, I found the experience disappointing.

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