Wednesday 26 April 2017

Down Under Part Three: Birding Queenland 2 - Atherton Tablelands

We spent three days in the Crater Lakes NP in the vicinity of Yungaburra and Lake Eacham, staying at Chambers Wildlife Lodges. Chambers was a fantastic location with lodges right in the rainforest. They had a nocturnal mammal viewpoint where honey was smeared on trees nightly to attract Gliders and Possums. It was a short walk through lovely rainforest to Lake Eacham and a short drive to the Curtain Fig and Yunguburra.

Chambers Rainforest Lodges. This is the pool and sundeck by the reception area. The lodges were in the forest to the right of this view.

The impressive Curtain Fig.

Birding was fantastic though tough at times as many species were not calling due to it being autumn. Consequently, some birds such as Tooth-billed Bowerbird which are apparently easy in spring had become nigh on impossible to track down and others had moved on like Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfishers. Nevertheless, some birds were still vocal, noticeably the superb Eastern Whipbird, whose regular call continually astonished me due to its power and brilliance. Chowchillas were heard a number of times, sometimes quite close but proved elusive. Alan helped me track down some good wet tropics endemics, including Bridled and MacLeay's Honeyeaters and Bower's Shrike-thrush. Two others, Victoria's Riflebird and Grey-headed Robin, were fairly common around the area. One of the highlights was chucking a bit of chopped apple out on our deck, which attracted common stuff such as Lewin's Honeyeaters and Brush Turkeys but also Victoria's Riflebird, Spotted Catbird and Black Butcherbird. Nice!

Barred Cuckooshrike feeding on figs outside the Yungaburra highschool. This tree was full of Metallic Starlings and Figbirds, along with a few Cuckooshrikes and Blue-faced Honeyeaters. Best of all - and thanks to Alan for the tip - was a single Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, like a tiny vivid green, blue and red bullet. A cracker! Nearby, a Pacific Baza gave awesome prolonged views as it hunted over the village.

Double-eyed Fig-Parrot - endemic subspecies. Photo courtesy of Tracksforfree.

 Black Butcherbird - seen from the balcony at Chambers.

Brown Cuckoo-dove. Common in the Lake Eacham area.

Lewin's Honeyeater. The most regularly seen and heard honeyeater in the Lake Eacham area.

Figbird. Very common and usually in flocks with Metallic Starlings on fruiting trees.

Pale Yellow Robin. Commonly seen in the rainforest around Lake Eacham.

Grey-headed Robin. A wet tropics endemic and reasonably common in Crater Lakes NP.

Very pleased to regularly see Victoria's Riflebird, my first Bird of Paradise. Sadly the males were not displaying, but were still strikingly handsome with bright yellow mouths and iridescent blue tails, crowns and neck patches.

Spectacled Monarch, at the Curtain Fig. This species and Black-faced were seen commonly around Crater Lakes NP. Sadly the wet tropics endemic Pied Monarch eluded us, but we fortunately caught up with a couple at Daintree later in the trip.

The only bowerbirds I saw were Spotted Catbirds. They were fairly common around Crater Lakes NP and occasionally visited the balcony at Chambers.

Orange-thighed Tree Frog (I think). At Chambers.

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