The Great Australian Birding Adventure
(20th anniversary version with photos)


by Ned C. Hill
(text & photos)
 Milt Moody
(web adaptation)

(Originally published as a series in the Utah County Birders Newsletters in 2002)

|   1. Cairns  |   2. Carns & Atherton Tablelands   |   3.Mareeba Kingfisher Park & the Diantree River  |
|   4. Binna Burra Lodge & Lammington NP   |    5. Iluka & Oakhampton  |    6. Kiama & the South Coast  |


   Part 1: Cairns

Planning the Trip

In February 2000, my wife Claralyn and I were invited to go to Sydney, Australia, in connection with my assignment at Brigham Young University. When our very gracious host (Jonathon Fisher, a BYU graduate) asked us what he could do to make our stay more pleasant, without hesitation I told him we would like to do a bit of birding. After a few phone calls-the first to a zoo where he was told we probably didn’t want that kind of birding experience-he found a bird tour guide, Richard Jordan of Emu Tours. We ended up spending three full days with Richard in and around the vicinity of his home in Jamberoo, a couple of hours drive south of Sydney. We were able to see nearly a hundred Australian birds during those three days and we were completely hooked on the country, its people and its wildlife. Richard proved such a wonderful guide that we asked him to propose a tour we could share with Utah County Birders. When we suggested it to our UCB friends, many seemed interested in exploring Australia, too. After trying out various dates and itineraries, we finally settled on August to allow the maximum number of our friends to attend and to accommodate Richard’s busy tour schedule.

BYU’s Kerri Strout helped us find a great price on tickets through a consolidator. In July, we hosted a picnic at our home for all participants so we could talk about what to bring and how to prepare. We even learned the meaning of the words to “Waltzing Matilda” and listened to a few of the bird sounds we might encounter. We also pondered the fact that virtually all snakes in Australia are poisonous and that many of the spiders in the country are deadly. Australia also hosts the most toxic animal on earth-the box jellyfish. Hmmmm. In spite of these interesting bits of information, 15 brave souls had signed up by the time the tour began on August 8th.

The first leg of a trip to Australia is not too bad-just Salt Lake to San Francisco. But the next leg is one of the longest non-stop flights in the world: 15 hours from San Francisco to Sydney. Not only that, when you cross the International Date Line somewhere in the Pacific, you lose a whole day. Having had some business in Sydney beforehand, I had arrived two days earlier and met the group the morning of the 10th at the airport. They were easy to find-all of them had their binoculars up intently studying the grassy area between the runways looking for their first Australian birds: some Common Mynas and a few distant Cattle Egret. Some of the group reported they had enjoyed 8 hours of sleep on the way over. All were present and accounted for: Ivan Call, Milton Moody, Bert and Sylvia Cundick, Donna and Mary Anne Thorum (from Salt Lake), Ed and Beula Hinckley, Alton and Ardith Thygerson, Flora Duncan, Leila Ogden, Junece Markham and Carol Nelson. We boarded a flight to Cairns (pronounced “cans”) in the northeast part of the country, about a 2 hour flight.



Richard Jordan and his assistant Rozlyn met us with the soon-to-become-very-familiar brown Emu Tours bus-a 20 passenger Mercedes with a luggage trailer attached to the rear. All our luggage arrived safely and, as we exited the terminal, a Brown Honeyeater was noisily waiting for us in a flowering bush-one of the many species of honeyeater we would find in Australia. A Willie-wagtail walked around wagging his tail (how’d he get that name?) in the grass near the bus. The terrain around Cairns is much more mountainous than we had expected. It was very green and warm-realize that Cairns is as far south of the equator as Guatemala is north. The city is on the coast and has become quite popular as the place from which to visit the Great Barrier Reef and a favorite spot for backpackers on long vacations.

Before taking us to our hotel, Richard drove us through a cemetery. That seemed a little odd at first until we spotted the target bird he wanted us to see, a Bush Stone-Curlew (or Thick-knee), a large, rare shorebird only found in a few reliable places around here. We were to be quite impressed on this occasion and many more with the distinct advantages of a local guide who knows the area well! We also found Yellow Honeyeater, Brown-backed Honeyeater, and the very colorful Rainbow Bee-eater and Forest Kingfisher.

Our hotel was a mid-range one called “Inn the Pink, Hotel in the Round.” It was definitely both pink and round. After a brief chance to rest and wash up from the long trip, we boarded the bus and went to the nearby Centenary Lakes Park for birding and a picnic lunch. Lunch was always pretty much the same routine: Richard and Roz would prepare fixings for sandwiches and lay out canned vegetables, citrus drink, peanut butter, cheese, etc. They were always worried about providing herb teas for us but no one in the group had developed much of a tea habit. Richard is British and liked to set out a proper meal complete with tea. While they prepared lunch, we explored the park and located a Spangled Drongo that liked to fly down to the pond to catch insects. Richard joined us and showed us both Yellow (Green) Oriole and Olive-backed Oriole. High in the trees, we found Helmeted Friarbird, Varied Triller, White-throated Honeyeater and the improbably beautiful but common Rainbow Lorikeet. Our necks began to stiffen into a permanent upward tilt. Of course, we saw-as we did every day of the trip-Australia’s national bird, the Laughing Kookaburra. Many times we heard its uproarious laugh to cheer us on our way. But we did wonder, “What’s so funny?”

"Our necks began to stiffen into a permanent upward tilt"

Laughing Kookaburra

A Brahminy Kite soared over the trees and White-breasted Woodswallows, Welcome Swallows, Pied Currawongs and Common Mynas were on the poles and wires. The ponds held Pacific Black Duck, Dusky Moorhen, and Australian White Ibis. As we walked back to lunch in a picnic shelter, two Orange-footed Scrubfowl were walking along scratching at the undergrowth. We later learned that these unusual birds build huge mounds up to fifteen feet high in which to place their eggs. A large sign by the river near our lunch read: “Danger: Estuarian Crocodiles Inhabit the River.” None of us went swimming.

Dusky Moorhen

Orange-footed Scrubfowl

We drove over to the Esplanade or water-front near our hotel. The tide was out and we saw Far Eastern Curlew, Whimbrel, Great Knot, Curlew Sandpiper, Great-crested Tern, Caspian Tern and the beautiful and ever-present Silver Gull with bright red feet and bill. We capped the day with a delicious barramundi (fish) dinner at Willey McBride’s. Everyone slept unusually soundly that night.

On the Esplanade

Dinner at Willey McBride’s

Great Barrier Reef

90-foot catamaran

Common Noddy with Sooty Terns

The Great Barrier Reef is 2/3’s the size of the entire state of California. It is one of the largest reefs in the world and the home to a huge diversity of sea life. It is also one of Australia’s most popular tourist attractions. We arose early, had a light breakfast in our rooms and then got on a bus for the Pier-a huge waterfront shopping center and jumping off point for reef tours. Richard did not join us for this day-he’s been on that trip on many occasions and he said he gets seasick. In addition, there are not likely to be too many pelagic birds to identify. Our vessel was a 90-foot catamaran powered by its own engines or sails. It held about 150 people and was close to capacity. We went out about 20 miles (2 hours) to Michaelmas Cay, a very small sandy island surrounded by parts of the reef. The sea was fairly calm but a few in our group were feeling a bit woozy by the time we arrived. We were amazed by the lack of bird life en route to the island. We managed to see a few Brown Boobies perched on buoys but no shearwaters, petrels, etc. Richard told us later that pelagic bird life is much better further south in colder waters. On the Cay, we saw clouds of Common Noddies and Sooty Terns. They nest on the island. Bridled Terns evidently come in later-we saw none. We also saw a Greater Frigatebird and tried vainly to make it into a Lesser (since many of us had seen the Greater in Hawaii).

From the catamaran, we boarded a semi-submersible craft that held about 20 people. This permitted a wonderful underwater view of the reef. We circled the island and saw a rich variety of coral, fish and other sea life. I was surprised that the colors seemed mostly brownish-I had expected a wider range.

In the semi-submersible

View from the semi-submersible

After a sumptuous onboard buffet luncheon, we took the small launch or “Beach Buggy” ashore. We could get very close to the roosting/nesting terns and noddies. We studied the Common Noddies carefully looking for a Black Noddy. We finally found a likely candidate but they are so difficult to tell apart. This one had a thinner bill and seemed a shade blacker. There were many Crested Terns and Silver Gulls around, too. Our guide took us in the Beach Buggy around the island to see if there were any other kinds of birds. We found one Black-naped Tern. That excursion around the cay cost us the time we would have spend snorkeling so I missed one of my objectives of the trip. Milton Moody did manage to quickly change and get in the water to snorkel for a few minutes. On the trip back to Cairns, the wind picked up forcing most of us inside. As we came into the harbor, a juvenile Australian Darter was perched on the seawall. After a great Italian dinner at Al Capone’s, we all went to bed exhausted from our long day.



Next: We search for the prehistoric-looking Cassowary.

|   1. Cairns  |   2. Carns & Atherton Tablelands   |   3.Mareeba Kingfisher Park & the Diantree River  |
|   4. Binna Burra Lodge & Lammington NP   |    5. Iluka & Oakhampton  |    6. Kiama & the South Coast  |



   Part 2: Cairns & Atherton Tablelands

This is the second part of the birding adventure 15 Utah County Birders experienced in eastern Australia during two weeks of August, 2001.

The Cassowary Hunt

Boardwalk through a mangrove swamp

We arose early in our hotel in Cairns. We were at the esplanade (coastal walkway) at first light scoping the mudflats when our guide Richard became very excited. A Beach Stone-Curlew (Thick-knee), quite a rare bird, was standing just off the walkway. He hadn’t seen one for some time. A thick-knee is a large, heavy shorebird. We also added Great Egret (yes, the same species we have in the U.S.), Striated Heron, Red-capped Plover, Red-necked Stint, and Common Greenshank to our list. In the trees we found the colorful Green Figbird and Varied Honeyeater. Near the Cairns airport is a boardwalk through a mangrove swamp. We walked it and saw a beautiful Mistletoebird — a brilliant black and red bird that is responsible for distributing the seeds of mistletoes throughout Australian forests. We also found a Yellow-bellied (Olive-backed) Sunbird, many Brown Honeyeaters, a Sacred Kingfisher and heard but could not see Mangrove Robin. After a buffet breakfast at McBride’s, we went to Centenary Lakes again and found a nice picnic area in which to hold a short Church service. It was a peaceful setting with the voices of birds all around us. The only new bird we added was a Black Butcherbird with a distinctive call.

Everyone wants to see a Southern Cassowary when they are in northern Australia. This unusually large, prehistoric looking bird is becoming quite rare. In previous years, Richard could almost guarantee a Cassowary at one of our later stops but that individual died recently — victim of a hit-and-run. That left Mission Beach as the only possibility for finding a Cassowary anywhere near our tour route. So, we all agreed to change our plans and head south about 70 miles.

Underway we saw fields filled with sugar cane and passed several mountains rising to about 3,000 ft. As we approached our destination, we encountered road signs warning motorists to watch out for Cassowaries crossing the road. We had lunch at an area designated “Cassowary Protection Area.” Above our heads we heard and then saw the very unusual Wompoo Fruit Dove. Its call sounds like a little old man in a puppet show and its colors are green and pink. A walk through the rain forest produced some great birds: Pied Monarch, a striking and rare find, Spectacled Monarch, Little Shrike Thrush, and Eastern Yellow Robin. We fanned out to look for the Cassowary with the instruction that anyone finding it would holler, “Coo-ee, coo-ee!” That is an old Australian signal I once read about in a Sherlock Holmes adventure. Several of us went across the road to look and we met a couple coming up the trail who said they had seen a pair of cassowaries a few minutes ago. We hadn’t walked far down the track when we heard the call from Richard, “Coo-ee!” We began racing back to the road where we found Richard reporting that someone had just seen the birds walking in the stream. We ran at varying speeds depending on physical shape until we met up with Roz and others——but no Cassowaries. They had sauntered up the stream and disappeared.

We drove to another cassowary protection area a few miles away. A determined walk through tracks in the area produced some warm cassowary dung but not the bird that left it! We did see a Spotted Catbird and heard its haunting catlike call. While several doves had to be listed as “heard only” that day, our Cassowary had to go down as “dung only.” It was dark when we returned to our hotel. Birding is full of surprises: both the positive and negative kinds.

Atherton Tablelands

Atherton Tablelands

Ivan and I arose at 6:00 a.m. the next morning to get one last walk to the esplanade to look for shorebirds. In the beautiful sunrise, we found a colorful little shorebird, a Black-fronted Dotterel and a Caspian Tern. The others chided us for finding a new bird without them — but we found the dotterel a day or so later for all to see. We loaded up the trailer and headed up into the Atherton Tablelands above Cairns — a well-known area for birds. This was one of our very best days for adding new birds. The road rises steeply into the mountains. At one turnout, Richard stopped the bus and quickly heard the call of a Scarlet Honeyeater (Myzomela) in the trees. Everyone got a good look but me! Then a Fan-tailed Cuckoo perched on a low limb.

Richard with local guide Glenn Holmes

Australian Brush-turkey

Wandering Whistling Duck

At Lake Barrine Australian Brush-turkeys awaited us in the parking lot as we climbed off the bus. These birds have bright red heads and bright yellow wattles and were quite tame in most of the areas we visited. Here we met our local guide Glenn Holmes, a true “Crocodile Dundee” type of fellow with a gray beard and ponytail who knows the woods and the birds better than he knows his own house. He quickly showed us a Wandering Whistling Duck, Lewin’s Honeyeater, and Large-billed Scrubwren. On the lake were Black Swans, Hardheads (White-eyed Ducks), Little-pied and Black Cormorants. A nice little tourist shop tempted many in our group to part with some of their spending money. Above the shop, several of us found Dusky Honeyeater (Myzomela) and White-throated Treecreeper.

Glenn had Richard drive our bus to a hedge near an open field. In the hedge we found an unbelievable variety of Honeyeaters (Scarlet, Dusky, Yellow-faced, White-throated, White-cheeked). Richard, Roz and Glenn were so patient with us, making sure everyone got a chance to see each bird whenever possible. An Australian Hobby flew overhead — I dashed out of the bus to get a better look but by then it was gone. Sarus Cranes flew overhead and a Spotted Harrier did some acrobatics for us. Around the shores of Lake Tinaroo we found Comb-crested Jacana — with very long toes for lily pad walking — and two tiny geese: Cotton Pygmy-Goose and Green Pygmy-Goose. The rest of the group also got to see the Black-fronted Dotterel missed earlier along with a flock of striking Plumed Whistling Ducks. A small group of Scaly-breasted Lorikeets (or as Richard says, “Sky-lee”) were in a tree and we found our first of many Whistling Kites.

The name "Atherton Tablelands"  turned out to mean something we didn't expect.

Stopping for lunch in a forested picnic area Glenn said he heard the distant call of a Riflebird — one of those very unusual Australian birds that sometimes poses proudly with head thrown back and wings drawn into a circle. We all hoped it would come near and Glenn built up our expectations by saying it often used a perch close to where we were eating. One species of Riflebird up in New Guinea actually sounds like a rifle, he told us — but this one sounded more like a metallic rasp. The sound got nearer. After lunch we all walked to a grassy area and began scanning all possible open perches — the sound was very close. Suddenly Glenn pointed out a black-looking bird perched on an open limb not too far from us. We all got a great look at a feeding male Victoria’s Riflebird with its subtle green and purple colors. A female came into view, too. Then we heard the unusual call of the Eastern Whipbird —“wheeeeeee-rip, chunk, chunk.” The first part of the call is the male and the answering “chunk chunk” is provided by the female. Generally they are very difficult to see since they remain in the thick undergrowth. But to our surprise, one bird walked right out on to the grass then got up on the picnic table! Richard and Glenn were amazed. From that grassy area surrounded by tall eucalypts we also saw Bridled Honeyeater, MacLeay’s Honeyeater, Rufous Whistler, and Rufous Fantail.

We checked into a little motel with lots of personality in Yungaburra, a small town on the Tablelands. Before dinner, Glenn took us on a walk down to a gently moving stream. In the fading light we saw a dark blue bird streak up then down the stream — an Azure Kingfisher. As we lined up along the stream very quietly to watch the water’s surface, a white-phase Gray Goshawk flew by — evidently, from Glenn’s excitement, a rare find up here. We soon saw what we were looking for — the water started to ripple and a strange looking bill attached to a small head, dark body and flat, beaver-like tail came to the surface and rolled back down below. It repeated this three times: a Duck-billed Platypus! It was only about two feet long and didn’t stay around very long. One of only two species of egg-laying mammals, this monotreme is nocturnal and lives in dens in the river banks. It uses underwater openings to the dens so it is seldom seen during the day. At dusk, this stream is one of the places one can reliably find the platypus.

We returned to a wonderful dinner made by the people who own the motel — we were their only guests. After dinner, we went through our nightly ritual of reviewing all the birds we had seen that day — about sixty species! I also reported on some of rare birds I had encountered but that were generally missed by the group: Black-faced Cookie Strike, White-centered Oreo, Victoria’s Secret Riflebird, French Friarbird, Peanut Butter and Honeyeater, Wampoo Fruit Bar, Strangled Drongo, Stoned Curlew, Scrawny-necked Ibis and the Duck-billed Platitude.

Protective fence around a poisonous plant

We tried “spotlighting” after dinner — where you drive around in the bus using a powerful spotlight to illuminate the trees in search of eyes looking back at you. No success except for a few Brown Bandicoots crossing the road. But the stars!! None of us had ever seen the Milky Way look as brilliant as it did out on that dark country road far from city lights.The next morning, breakfast was brought to our small patios right outside our rooms. The cacophony of bird sounds was wonderful: Helmeted Friarbird, Lewin’s, Brown and Scarlet Honeyeater and Yellow-bellied (Olive-backed) Sunbird. A pair of Nankeen (Australian) Kestrels were on the roof of a church across from the hotel and Bar-shouldered Doves perched on wires.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

We packed up the bus and drove to the larger town of Atherton to pick up Glenn at his home. In his little yard he reported seeing some 220 species! He took us to a street where we could get good looks at Eastern Spinebill (another honeyeater) and White-faced Honeyeater. Then out into the country where he showed us the nest of a White-bellied Sea Eagle with the bird soaring nearby — far away from the sea. In the distance, we saw a huge flock of black birds — on closer inspection they were hundreds of migrating Red-tailed Black Cockatoos. As they spread their tails before landing in a tree, we could pick out the brilliant red on the tails. Over an open stubble field we flushed four Australian Bustards into lumbering flight. These are Australia’s heaviest flying birds. In that same field was a flock of the common Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and overhead was a circling Wedge-tailed Eagle. Suddenly the eagle plunged into the cockatoo flock and grabbed one of the birds. It flew up to a low limb and proceeded to devour its catch — something Glenn and Richard had not seen — and, of course, we hadn’t either.

Next — we find a bird even Richard has never seen.

|   1. Cairns  |   2. Carns & Atherton Tablelands   |   3.Mareeba Kingfisher Park & the Diantree River  |
|   4. Binna Burra Lodge & Lammington NP   |    5. Iluka & Oakhampton  |    6. Kiama & the South Coast  |



   Part 3: Mareeba Kingfisher Park & the Daintree River

This is the third part of the birding adventure 15 Utah County Birders experienced in eastern Australia during two weeks of August, 2001. In this part we are still in the higher lands west of Cairns in northeastern Australia.


On a warm, sunny day, we stopped in Mareeba, a moderately large town in the Atherton Tablelands. Here we saw our first Blue-winged Kookaburra, the tropical and much less common Kookaburra. It flashes azure blue patches on its wings. In the middle of the municipal golf course, we were delighted to see our first wild kangaroos—a couple of dozen Eastern Grays. They were leisurely resting under some trees and let us get quite close. They are fairly tall, perhaps about five feet. This was evidently a family gathering as there were some little ones also. Near the kangaroos, we saw a small flock of Apostlebirds—so named because they go around in groups of about twelve. A pair of Gray-headed Babbler was up in a tall tree.

Bower of a Great Bowerbird

Under that same tree, our guide Glenn showed us the bower (house) of a Great Bowerbird. These unusual birds create a display area on the ground by forming a "runway" lined with tall grass stalks and then decorating it with any white, silver or yellow things decide to strew on the ground leading up to the runway: screws, shells, pebbles, buttons, plastic, feathers, etc. The bower is developed under a bush and is calculated to be quite an attraction to lady bowerbirds. A female chooses her mate based in part on how fancy the bower is. The nest is made elsewhere up in a tree. Each species of bowerbird—there are eight in Australia—is attracted to different colors. The Satin Bowerbird common further south is partial to light blue trinkets. I guess we humans aren’t the only ones who try to attract mates with material offerings.

Along the streets of Mareeba we observed many Aborigines—but, like most of our Native Americans, they appeared to have been assimilated into the local society, wearing modern clothes and Michael Jordan basketball shirts. Aborigines arrived in Australia perhaps as long as 50,000 years ago—no one knows their origin. They drove off the first explorers in the 1500’s but could not resist the British who settled in the Sydney area during the late 1700’s. Their history has paralleled that of our Native Americans. Aborigines now have seats in parliament and one even won a gold medal in the recent Sydney Olympics.

Pausing for a proper British picnic lunch in Mareeba, we found a tree literally filled with Flying Foxes or fruit bats. They dangle from branches during the day and then forage for fruit at night—no, they don’t drink human blood in spite of their ominous appearance. We also got a look at a Pacific Baza (a raptor) flying over the picnic area and finally saw several Great Bowerbirds. Before leaving Mareeba we found one of our favorite birds of the trip, Pale-headed Rosella with a lovely blend of yellow, blue and white with a touch of bright red under-tail coverts. Driving along the highway, we stopped at Lake Mitchell where we found Glossy Ibis (same species as in the eastern U.S.), the striking Magpie Goose and Yellow-billed Spoonbill.  At the Abbotour Swamp we walked along a boardwalk to a blind. There was not much out on the water, but we found a Northern Fantail in the trees. Then Richard spotted a Gould’s Bronze Cuckoo and a Lemon-bellied Flycatcher for us. Most of us got good looks at the colorful and melodious Rufous Whistler.

Kingfisher Park

Blue-faced Honeyeater (in photo above, too).

Red-necked Crake

Orange-footed Scrubfowl jointed us for dinner

Late in the afternoon our Emu Tours bus carried us to one of the most memorable stops of the trip: Kingfisher Park, a lodge catering almost exclusively to birders. The owners have maintained several acres of rainforest and also set out various kinds of feeders that attract birds. Before even checking into our rooms, we found the large and beautifully colored Blue-faced Honeyeater frequenting one of the feedersWe just sat sipping lemonade at a table in the shade and watching the display. Graceful Honeyeaters were also plentiful. The owner called us over to see check out a drip tube where he had scattered seeds and small bits of cheese. It was near some dense shrubs. Tiny Red-browed Finches came in flocks, but the real treat—the rarity of the entire trip—was a Red-necked Crake. This secretive rail is almost never seen as it inhabits thick marshes. Our guide, Richard, who has seen virtually every bird in Australia, had never seen this bird until that afternoon. As we watched—almost not breathing—the crake cautiously walked into view and carefully pecked at the cheese bits allowing us to get a picture. An Emerald Dove was perched in our outdoor dining room. Glenn led a walk around the rainforest grounds where we found another great bird: Noisy Pitta. This bird of improbable colors (green, yellow, red, brown, black, blue, and white) was walking in the grass like a robin and gave us great looks. Glenn also showed us a Metallic Starling nest surrounded by several birds that had just returned on migration. In an old, overgrown orchard on the property, Milton found a star-fruit tree and had us all sample its sweet citrus taste. At dinner an Agile Wallaby (a small-sized kangaroo) scampered around under our tables begging for food.

After dinner most of the group was ready to call it a day. But a few hardy souls joined Richard and Glenn for some spotlighting and owling just a short distance from the lodge. Our main target was perhaps one of the rarest owls in Australia—if not the world—the Lesser Sooty Owl. This owl is related to the Barn Owl and is one of the only owls Phoebe Snitzinger (who saw over 8,000 birds in her lifetime!) did not see—although she visited Kingfisher Park for five days. Richard is fundamentally opposed to using tapes; but, thankfully, he is not opposed to whistling. So Richard and Glenn stood under some very tall trees next to a playing field and whistled a perfect Lesser Sooty Owl call. They tried for several minutes and we finally heard a reply in the form of very strange hissing, electronic sounds penetrating the darkness. More whistling. More strange sounds from the trees. Glenn shined his flashlight up through the trees and finally located the owl very high in the treetop. We all got a great look but could not get it to come any closer. What a great find! Glenn and Richard are magicians. For most of us, this day provided the highest life list total of the trip. Before departing for our rooms we bade farewell to Glenn, truly an amazing man with a sixth sense for birds.

Daintree River

We left Kingfisher Park very early for the drive down to a much lower elevation north of Cairns. As we approached the Daintree River the night sky was just beginning to lighten. In the twilight, we saw dozens of Spectacled Flying Foxes heading for their daytime roosts. Casting lots, half of the group went on the early river cruise with Chris Dahlberg while the other half went with Richard to look for Lovely Fairy-Wren and other birds. We failed to do more than hear its call but we did find Osprey (yes, the same species we have in Utah), Little Friarbird, Mistletoebird, Fairy Gerygone, Spectacled Monarch and Yellow (Green) Oriole. After a hearty English breakfast—with a month’s supply of tasty cholesterol—we greeted the returning, early group and learned they had been successful in finding a rare Little Kingfisher. The wind picked up as the second group started the cruise. Chris is an engaging, energetic guide and able pilot of our 20-foot river craft. We left the roughness of the main river and went off into a calm tributary and were very excited to find above our heads a Papuan Frogmouth (an owl-like bird) sleeping on a limb looking very much like part of the tree. We also found Shining Flycatcher, plenty of Azure Kingfishers and a pair of Pacific Baza—but we failed to find the Little Kingfisher. As we passed under a fat tree limb, Alton spotted a large python curled around a large knot right above us—it was not there when we returned a few minutes later (that’s a bit disconcerting). We found Water Dragons and even a small crocodile along the shore. The river was most picturesque and relaxing. We were sorry to have to return to the dock—especially after missing the kingfisher and our only shot at Great-billed Heron. Near the dock, another boat signaled to Chris where to find a large crocodile. We changed course and got to see a 12-foot Estuarian Crocodile sunning itself on the shore. Word has it that they are very fast when they want to be. We did not test that theory.

We drove back to Cairns and tried birding at Centenary Park but the wind was strong and the birds few. Richard took some of us over to the mangrove walk near the airport. We whistled the simple call of the Mangrove Robin and finally heard a response. We kept whistling and the call would seem to come closer then back off. Finally, a few of us got to see the bird before it flew back deeply into the mangroves. What an elusive little fellow!

We returned to our hotel "Inn the Pink" and turned in earlier than usual. We were all a bit exhausted from the long and exciting days we’ve had lately. Tomorrow would come early as we have an early morning flight for Brisbane. Poor Roz was tasked to drive the bus down the coast the necessary 1000 km but the rest of us got to fly. She would catch up with us in a day or so.

Next: Part 4, The Brisbane Area and Lammington National Park

|   1. Cairns  |   2. Carns & Atherton Tablelands   |   3.Mareeba Kingfisher Park & the Diantree River  |
|   4. Binna Burra Lodge & Lammington NP   |    5. Iluka & Oakhampton  |    6. Kiama & the South Coast  |


   Part 4: Binna Burra Lodge & Lamminton NP

This is the fourth part of the birding adventure 15 Utah County Birders experienced in eastern Australia during two weeks of August, 2001. In this part we move south down to the Brisbane area and visit one of the most famous birding areas in Australia—Lammington National Park.

Binna Burra Lodge

Up at 4:00 a.m. to prepare for a 6:00 flight to Brisbane. We all fit into a couple of large taxis for the short ride to the Cairns airport. The plane landed a bit late because of heavy smoke from some large bush fires fairly close to Brisbane. These can be quite severe in Australia. Richard, who had flown down last night, met us with a bus and took us south and west into the mountains above the Gold Coast. Lammington National Park is one of Australia’s top birding hot spots. It is home to many Australian specialties including the very elusive Regent Bowerbird. It is a beautiful place to bird with tall trees, streams, hiking trails and quite a spread in elevation. Our rooms at the sixty-year-old Binna Burra Lodge—located inside the park—looked rustic from the outside but four-star from the inside. The food was also four-star. No weight loss programs possible here! From our high vantage point we could see below us expansive forests stretching to the tall buildings of the Gold Coast. The blue of the ocean was clearly visible. Egg Rock, a sharp pinnacle with a boulder on top, rose into the sky from the slopes below us. Mixed eucalypt/evergreen forest surrounded us. Bird sounds were everywhere. Birding heaven!

Now that we are out of the tropical areas around Cairns, the flora and fauna have changed considerably and a whole new set of birds can be found. As we waited to check in, Noisy Miners (another in the Honeyeater family) flew around our heads proving why they’re called “noisy.” A Pied Butcherbird perched on a railing on the main lodge building. We were surprised when it disappeared through a door into the building. A caretaker told us it liked to fly into the pantry to get a taste of cream! Pied Currawongs were calling everywhere. These black and white corvids have strange calls that sometimes sound like “currawong, currawong.” Richard took us on a brief orientation walk around the area before lunch. We found our first Brown and Striated Thornbills (Australia’s LBJ’s), Eastern Spinebill (another honeyeater), Crimson Rosella, Brown Gerygone (pronounced “gur rig’ oh knee”) and the ever-present Laughing Kookaburra.

After a huge buffet lunch, Richard assembled us for a more extensive rain forest walk up one of the many trails in the area. Our main target was the almost impossible to see Logrunner—a bird that rarely leaves the protection of the leaf-covered ground. On this walk, most of us were able to hear them but not ever see one. We also heard meowing of the aptly named Green Catbird. I found I could imitate the call and we amused ourselves by getting them to answer and move in closer—although they stayed very high up in the trees. We also found Large-billed Scrubwren and located several Satin Bowerbirds. Richard located a bower for us and pointed out the sky blue objects the male had collected for display. Amazing. Mary Anne sometimes stayed at the end of our line of birders as we walked through the wooded trails. This gave her an opportunity to sometimes find birds that eluded the noisier group. She was able to find Noisy Pitta—that most colorful and unusual bird of the forest floor.

On our return from the trail we found a Gray Shrike-Thrush on a lawn behaving much like our robin. We also found some Brown Cuckoo-Doves perched in a tree. These doves are very often heard in the forest but not often seen. A White-headed Pigeon was perched in a tree near the clearing. Eastern Whipbirds could be heard throughout the forest making their very characteristic whip-like calls.

As we walked along the trail here in this somewhat remote area, Richard’s cell phone rang. It was for me! Hard to believe someone from Provo could reach me in an Australian rain forest to discuss a problem so far away. What a world we live in.

After another sumptuous meal in the lodge, we got together for our nightly ritual—reading the list. We go over all the birds we have seen for the day. Then most of us accompanied Richard for spotlighting in the dark. Lammington is a great place to find owls and frogmouths. We found Pademelons—small kangaroos—walking about on the lawns but no other marsupials. On the way back to the lodge we found a Southern Boobook (owl) perched right over our trail. It is always thrilling to see an owl. This one is named after the sound it makes: “Boo book---boo book.” However, we struck out on frogmouths—while often seen here, we couldn’t find one.

At 6:15 am the next morning, Junece Markham pounded on our door. Ivan and I thought that something terrible must have happened to someone in the group. We quickly dressed and opened the door. “We’ve got frogmouths right outside our room!” Junece excitedly reported. We ran a couple of doors from our room, went out on Junece’s and Carol’s balcony and, sure enough, there were two Tawny Frogmouths sleeping away on a low limb just a few feet from next room’s porch. One was large and the other small—probably an adult and a juvenile, Richard said. They were oblivious to us and all the other
birders in the lodge who paraded in to see them. They did not move the entire day!

Mary Anne, Flora and Bert on a boardwalk in the forest

We hiked with Richard a mile or so down through the woods to a clearing where the staff had prepared a wonderful breakfast of English porridge, sausage and eggs cooked over an open fire. Freshly squeezed orange juice, too. The morning was wonderful—cool and sunny. On the way down we all got incredible views of the brilliant Australian King Parrot. This is a large slender bird with a red body and green wings. We also saw Spotted Pardolote and Yellow-throated Scrubwren. Leila’s and Beula’s legs were giving them problems so the cook, Barry, gave them a ride back to the lodge. Carol was bold enough to try the zip line that the staff had set up in the clearing. The rest of us went birding at the edge of the forest. We finally found a Logrunner scratching in the leaves—very difficult to see as it moved in and out of the shadowy undergrowth. Richard yelled out, “Topknot” and pointed up to the tops of the trees. His eagle eyes had seen the rare Topknot Pigeon streak across the sky and land in a tree. It was well hidden and only visible from certain angles so only a few of us got to see this bird with the unusually flaring head. We also heard the very strange call of the Wompoo Fruit Dove.

After a brief break in our rooms, a number of us went with Richard down another trail. Here we found one of the real treats of the trip, a male Paradise Riflebird—with gorgeously subtle iridescent colors. It was basically black until it moved into the sun revealing a green head, blue tail and purple chest. It was actively searching under the bark of a tree.

After another hearty lunch, we all voted to rest for a couple of hours. We had been going pretty hard the past couple of days. But at 4:00, we were out again searching another trail. Some of us found a Bassian Thrush near one of the sheds near the lodge—this is a large robin-like thrush that has scalloped feathering on its chest. We heard many catbirds mewing their hearts out.

After dinner we went over our lists and discovered that, as a group, we had so far on the trip seen 199 birds. And we still had the second half of our adventure to go! Of course, we realized that it will become more and more difficult to add species as the trip goes on.

The following morning one of the frogmouths was on the same branch it was on yesterday. After a hearty breakfast (I stuck with oatmeal and fruit, I’m proud to say), we had one last try at some of the endemics that are only found here (e.g., the Regent Bowerbird). No luck with them but a Logrunner ran right across the trail in front of me and most of us had our best looks ever at this secretive bird. A few reported seeing a Noisy Pitta. Roz had rejoined us with our familiar brown bus. We packed the trailer, got it unstuck from a rock and bade farewell to Binna Burra Lodge, a place we would gladly have spent another week exploring. From here it would be down to lower elevations, new habitats and new birds of the Australian coastal areas.

|   1. Cairns  |   2. Carns & Atherton Tablelands   |   3.Mareeba Kingfisher Park & the Diantree River  |
|   4. Binna Burra Lodge & Lammington NP   |    5. Iluka & Oakhampton  |    6. Kiama & the South Coast  |


   Part 5: Iluka & Oakhampton

This is the fifth part of the birding adventure 15 Utah County Birders experienced in eastern Australia during two weeks of August, 2001. In this part we move into the state of New South Wales and bird the coastal area of Iluka and then inland to Oakhampton—close to the “outback.”

Leaving Lammington National Park we descended through the forests into the lowlands and headed south. We crossed from the state of Queensland into New South Wales. Pausing to stretch at a picnic area, Richard heard the distinctive call of the much sought after Rose Robin. We all searched the trees but came up empty. We did, however, see an exuberantly singing
White-throated Gerygone at the top of a tree. We stopped in Chillingham at a highway stand to sample Richard’s favorite treats: Sapote Ice Cream and Chocolate/Nut Covered Frozen Bananas. They sold all sorts of unusual (for us) fruits and vegetables, e.g., “Buddha’s Hand” (a citrus), a starfruit, custard apples and pomellos. In one town we glimpsed a huge plastic
prawn, perhaps 30-40 feet long, on top of a building. We finally arrived in Iluka, a retirement community on the estuary of the Clarence River. We began to see Galahs (large and common pink, gray, white parrots), colorful Eastern Rosellas, Crested Pigeons and Pied Butcherbirds. Australia has some of the most colorful “common” birds in the world. We checked into pre-fab trailer cabins in the Anchorage Tourist Park. Each pair of us has large rooms with lots of beds. Ivan’s bedroom has four bunks to choose from and I get a double bed. We even have a spacious kitchen and living room.

Before it got dark, Richard took us out birding near our park. We could hear but not see Striped Honeyeater. We did see quite a few Variegated Fairy-Wrens, a few striking Red-backed Fairy-Wrens, and some managed to see a Crested Shrike-Tit. There are lots of Whistling Kites around us since we are so close to the estuary. After dinner at the local golf club, we went spotlighting. Nothing of note except for another Tawny Frogmouth.

At 6:00 am Richard took us birding behind our park and managed to scare up a difficult-to-see Tawny Grassbird. It generally stays hidden in deep grass. We also found more Red-backed and Variegated Fairy-Wrens, another Crested Shrike-Tit, Satin Bowerbird, Pied Butcherbird, and many other more common birds.

We ate well the whole time on real plates and silverware (when needed).

After a great breakfast, we headed down to the Iluka Nature Preserve, a littoral rain forest. “Littoral” means right next to the ocean (or a lake). Through our scopes we found Australian Gannets soaring over the waves and diving into the sea. In the tide pools we found Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstone, and Red-necked Stint. As we started our walk through the forest, we found several Little Wattlebirds (another honeyeater) eating figs and saw many Figbirds. Lewin’s Honeyeater would become one of our most common birds the rest of the trip. Other common birds of the forest were Eastern Whipbird, Golden Whistler, Large-billed Scrubwren, and Eastern Yellow Robin.

We held a brief church service in our spacious cabin while Roz and Richard prepared us lunch. The afternoon was spent looking for water birds on the ferry from Iluka across the estuary to Yambo and back again. We saw a soaring White-bellied Sea-Eagle and spotted a Peregrine Falcon and an Osprey. On shore, we got to compare all four Australian cormorants: Pied, Little Pied, Little Black and Great. On a sand bar was saw Pied Oystercatcher, Bar-tailed Godwit, Crested Tern, and other common shorebirds. We all enjoyed an ice cream sandwich at the ferry station.

Richard had seen Regent Bowerbirds here in the past. So we were very excited to have what we thought was one in our scope behind our trailer park. Alas, it turned out to be the more common Satin Bowerbird with a patch of sunshine on it. We did get great looks at White-cheeked Honeyeater and glimpses of Tawny Grassbird. At the end of the day, we relaxed to one of Roz’s best dinners: curried chicken, steamed cabbage and cauliflower with potatoes. Tasty!

Ivan Call - ready for the birds..

Knowing we were leaving Iluka after breakfast, some of us did not want to give up on birds we hadn’t seen at all or hadn’t seen well. Ivan and I were up at first light but found that several others, Milt, Alton, Junece and Carol, had the same idea. We all tromped around in the wet, tall grasses until we got a decent look at Tawny Grassbird and Red-backed Fairy-Wren. As we walked back to the park, we scared up a covey of Brown Quail from a burned patch in the field. Checking out the shrubbery around the park office, Ivan spotted some birds feeding on the hibiscus plants. They turned out to be Striped Honeyeaters, target birds for this stop. We quickly ran to get everyone to come and take a look. After a hasty breakfast, we loaded up the bus and headed out. Just a short distance away, Richard hollered, “Emu, emu!” He slammed on the brakes and we looked out to see a very tall, ostrich-like bird sauntering along the golf course in the early morning sunlight. Richard said it was a juvenile but definitely a wild bird. It turned out to be the only Emu we would see on our Emu Tours trip—would
Richard really have refunded our money if he couldn’t show us an Emu? Did it birdie hole seven?

We spent much of the day traveling inland to a totally different habitat. We passed through Grafton, Glen Innes and Armidale.

Ned Hill at the Golf Course (aka. "Kangaroo Park")

 Stopping at Dangar’s Lagoon we saw Bluebill, a relative of our Ruddy Duck, and Hoary-headed Grebe. Also new for the trip was Musk Duck, a duck with a strange-looking leathery flap hanging down from the male’s bill. We found our first Australian Ravens whose voices sound like small children crying. Near Manilla we found a flock of Sulphur-crested Cockatoos with some Little Corellas mixed in. The Cockatoos would become quite common further south. The terrain became much more open and dry after we crossed the Great Divide Range (about 3,500 ft.). Kangaroos became more common. As the light faded, Richard had one of us ride “shotgun” to help him watch for kangaroos. They can do quite a number on a car or bus and they’re much faster than cows! We finally arrived at our destination, Oakhampton Station (a “station” is a ranch) operated by John and Belinda Nixon. John’s family homesteaded here in 1847. We shared with John the significance of that year to Utahns—the year the Mormon pioneers came into the Salt Lake Valley. We stayed in “shearer’s quarters” where the shearers used to stay when they came through to shear the sheep. Being at a much higher elevation than we were in previous stops, the air turned quite cold after sunset. Our quarters had only one light and were quite rustic. The bathroom was in the next building. An electric heater kept us warm. In the lovely old mansion house we ate a sumptuous meal of lamb, chicken, salmon mousse and lots of vegetables. The home was originally built in the 1880’s but added to the 1930’s. It is now used basically as a “dude ranch.” However, they lease out the fields for grazing sheep.

The next morning proved to be very exciting for finding new birds. As we stepped out the door Red-rumped Parrots flew into the yard, perched on the wires, and then fed on the frosty ground. The very common “Willie Wagtail” we found in a bush and almost skipped over without a glance turned out to be—thanks to Milton’s sharp eyes—a Restless Flycatcher. In the top of the same tree were Little Lorikeets and then some White-plumed Honeyeaters flew in. In another tree we found dozens of colorful little Zebra Finches. Five lifers in about five minutes.

Local birders Russ and Jenny Watts joined us. They accompanied us to the Borah Reserve, an open forest with dry grass underneath. We found Brown Treecreeper and then a plain brown little “robin” named Jackie Winter. We heard Rufous Songlark but didn’’t get to see one for a few stops. One great find was the Turquoise Parrot, a subtly colored but shy bird of the open forest. Then we found the striking, black-and-white Hooded Robin and saw a Little Eagle soaring overhead. The latter finally landed in a tree where got good looks at it through the scope. We found yet another honeyeater, this time Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater. Common Bronzwings darted across the road (they are doves).

Our real target bird for this area is the Regent Honeyeater. They are endangered and feed primarily on the flowers of the Iron Bark Tree. Since this tree has been almost logged out of existence for fenceposts, the honeyeater is nearly gone, too, with an estimated population of only about 1,000. The Watts have worked hard to preserve this Iron Bark habitat. The birds are returning from migration right at this time. Five were reported in this area last week but, try as we might, we could not hear or see one. The “almosts” turned out to be Fuscous Honeyeaters. At our last stop for the Regent, we found a very small Weebill building a nest. This little guy is only about 9 cm—hummingbird size. As we were driving back to the station, Richard spotted some Yellow-rumped Thornbills in the field. As we got out for a look, a few of us got to see Speckled Warbler and hear its distinctive song. I think I had 18 lifers today.

After trying out the showers—a bit cold before and after—we had a delicious spaghetti dinner followed by Jenny’s plum pudding (all requested her recipe). Tomorrow we have a long drive ahead of us as we travel down the coast to Sydney and points south.


|   1. Cairns  |   2. Carns & Atherton Tablelands   |   3.Mareeba Kingfisher Park & the Diantree River  |
|   4. Binna Burra Lodge & Lammington NP   |    5. Iluka & Oakhampton  |    6. Kiama & the South Coast  |


   Part 6: Kiama and the South Coast

This is the sixth and final part of the birding adventure 15 Utah County Birders experienced in eastern Australia during two weeks of August, 2001. In this part we head south through Sydney and conclude our adventure by exploring the coastal and inland areas around Kiama.

South through Sydney

Chestnut Teal

We awoke to a cold morning in the shearers’ quarters of Southampton Station, a sheep ranch in the Australian “outback” or at least as close as we would come to it. The proprietor, John Nixon, had built a roaring fire in the common room fireplace. Although there was frost on the grass, John told us he had seen only about two snowfalls in his seventy years here. We ate a hearty breakfast and loaded our luggage into the trailer. The day was spent driving over rural roads to the coast and then down the freeway towards Sydney—all through lush green, rolling countryside. Well-kept farms dotted the land interrupted by eucalypt forest and fingers of ocean that penetrated inland at various places. Wind and rain showers punctuated the day. So far we have been fortunate in that our birding days have been perfect. We stopped a few times to stretch and have lunch but the birding was difficult in the wind. At one park we found one new bird, a Red Wattlebird—a common resident of the southern coasts and another of the honeyeater family.

Open farmland

Stopping along the way

By mid-afternoon we crossed the famous Harbor Bridge into downtown Sydney, catching a glimpse of the remarkable Sydney Opera House. We learned there were no freeways leading around Sydney—the road traveler must go through on slow city streets. In a rare deviation from Richard’s usual custom, we stopped at a McDonalds for a snack. We arrived in Kiama, near the industrial city of Wollongong about two hours south of Sydney. All of us were amazed at Richard’s skill in backing the bus and loaded trailer from the busy street down into the narrow driveway next to the apartment complex. We checked into some very nice apartments where, for the first time, we had TV and could watch CNN and catch up on the outside world.

Kiama, Bomaderry Creek, Bass Point and Windang Beach

The forecasted rain did not materialize but the wind was still strong. We decided to do our mainly coastal birding today and hold our forest birding tomorrow with its lessening chance of wind. We stopped briefly at the bay around which Kiama is situated. We saw some Australian Gannets over the water and then spotted a Hump-backed Whale just a few hundred yards out. As we got the scope on the huge animal, we saw a second, smaller spout—a calf became visible by the side of the larger whale. What an unexpected treat!

We drove down to Bomaderry Creek State Park, a top birding spot on the south coast. Just from the parking lot we found several honeyeaters before breakfast: Yellow-tufted, White-naped, and Yellow-faced were almost abundant—all very strikingly beautiful. Some saw Red Wattlebird for the first time. Roz had prepared a full English breakfast for us after our initial birding. We then went to search for the specialty of the area—the only endemic of New South Wales: Rock Warbler, a small brown and rust-colored bird that nests in the rock walls. Some of our group remained on some benches above the canyon while the rest of us followed Roz and Richard down into the shaded gorge. We thought we heard the bird several times but could not find one. We managed to see a number of birds we had seen before but not the target. Of course, as often happens in the birding world, the outcome was unexpected: Those who rested on top saw at least four of the warblers much to the consternation of those who huffed and puffed their ways into and out of the canyon.

We then went to Bass Point Reserve, a point of land that sticks out into the ocean. Along the rocky shore, we found Eastern Reef Heron and Sooty Oystercatcher. We also spotted shearwaters flying low over the waves. We could see some white and black on them—Richard said they were likely Fluttering Shearwater. As we ate lunch, Superb and Variegated Fairy-Wrens were common in the grass around us. They have become our favorite little jewels. A Red-whiskered Bulbul sang from a bush near the picnic area—the same species that was successfully introduced into Florida.

At Windang Beach Richard spotted a Double-banded Plover, a migrant that winters here away from its nesting grounds in New Zealand. The beach also held Kelp Gull, Red-capped Plover, Black Swan, and White-necked Heron among the usual cormorants and shorebirds. The tall grasses near the beach usually harbor Golden Cisticolas, small sparrow-like birds, but the high winds kept them low and out of sight.

After a great dinner at Silo’s, we turned in, looking forward to our final day of birding in Australia.

Jamberoo, Barren Grounds, and Budderoo NP

We were sorry to leave these very nice and comfortable apartments. But we had planned some exciting birding for our final full day of our great adventure. The day was perfect—no wind or rain. We drove up to Richard’s home on Misty Lane in the woods above Jamberoo—a small town in the hills west of the coast. Claralyn and I had stayed here with Richard for three days of birding in 2000. That was where the idea for this excursion was hatched. Large trees and an abundance of birds surround the yard: Bassian Thrush, Pied Currawong, Crimson Rosella, Rainbow Lorikeet, Eastern Whipbird, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, and many more.

After breakfast, we drove a few miles up to the Barren Grounds Reserve, a large wooded and grassy area created by Richard over a period of eight years for the Australian government. The tracks (trails) through the area often produce the rare Eastern Bristlebird but we failed to even hear one—the first time Richard ever struck out on that species on this track. We did see a striking Beautiful Firetail, many New-Holland Honeyeaters and got glimpses of Southern Emu-Wren.

We drove to the bordering Budderoo National Park. In the low grasses, Southern Emu-Wren were easier for the group to see. We formed a long line across a tall grass field and started walking from one end to the other. Suddenly a greenish parrot was flushed and flew low with frantic wing beats off to the side. It was difficult to find the Ground Parrot. Most parrots, of course, are tree-dwellers. This one spends most of its life hiding in thick grassy areas. Its close cousin, the Night Parrot, is thought to be extinct. The body of one was found a few years ago in Queensland so Richard and other birders have spent many nights trying to find a live one—no success. After the excitement of finding the Ground Parrot, Richard spotted
a beautiful Scarlet Robin for us, one of the most desired birds of the trip. We got to see a male in full breeding plumage. We stopped at Carrington Falls—and we thought we had a Rock Warbler on the rocks below. It turned out to be a White-browed Scrub-Wren, a more common bird.

Stopping back at the Barren Grounds headquarters, we purchased some CDs of Australian birds and other momentos of our trip. Outside, we heard a Pilotbird but did not manage to get it to come out in the open for us to see.

Minnamurra Rainforest

"Gigantic Strangler Fig"

After lunch back at Richard’s we drove a short distance to the Minnamurra Rainforest. The walk through the main trail went along a creek surrounded by huge trees including gigantic Strangler Fig. In the creek we found several Waterdragons. After much searching, we finally spotted our target,  the Superb Lyrebird—a very unusual bird that can mimic the song of almost any other bird of the forest. Some people even claim it mimics songs of man-made things but these assertions may be exaggerated. The bird was scratching around in the leaves and let us get very close. Yellow-throated Scrub-Wrens were following closely benefiting from the insects scared up by the Lyrebird. We also heard the characteristic call of the Wonga Pigeon but failed to see one. As we were gathering to board the bus, four more Lyrebirds were just off the parking lot—amazing to see them so close and unafraid. Richard heard the call of a Rose Robin again but we searched in vain.

Homeward Bound

We bade farewell to Roz—our talented cook, driver, fellow birder and new-found friend. Richard drove us into the heart of Sydney where we checked into a hotel for the last night of our great adventure. Richard and Roz had worked very hard to make our trip a success. They had attended to our every need during these two weeks. The flight back to the US the next morning was strange indeed—we actually arrived in San Francisco (after a 15-hour flight) a couple of hours before we left Sydney. Of course, the International Dateline helped with that magic. We had seen 260 birds—most of them lifers for those who had not been in Australia before. And we had visited some of the most beautiful parts of that great country. We had become better friends with each other and had taken away memories that will linger in our minds for decades to come.

|   1. Cairns  |   2. Carns & Atherton Tablelands   |   3.Mareeba Kingfisher Park & the Diantree River  |
|   4. Binna Burra Lodge & Lammington NP   |    5. Iluka & Oakhampton  |    6. Kiama & the South Coast  |



Ivan Call, Sylvia Cundick, Ed and Beula Hinckley and  Donna Thorum




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