Utah County Birders Newsletter
July 2002


 MEETING:

Thursday, July 25.

Evening Bird Walk

Meet at 7:00 PM
in Orem under the flag at the Harmons Grocery on 8th North.

We will car pool up Provo Canyon and have an evening stroll below the
Deer Creek Dam. Bring your Binoculars and some finger food snacks.

Note different date and place.
We will not meet at the Bean Museum this month.


FIELD TRIPS:

Eastern Tooele County
July 27th
6:30 A.M.
Meet at the Orem Center Street Park and Ride


River Lane
August 24th
7:30 AM
Meet at the Provo Sam’s Club parking lot
 


The Great Australian Birding Adventure
Ned C. Hill

Part 4: Binna Burra Lodge and Lammington National Park

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!

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.


Field Trip Report

Owling - June 20th
by KC Childs

For the Owling trip we headed up Payson Canyon to look for Flammulated Owls and Saw-whet Owls. On the way up the Canyon some of the group got to see a Great Horned Owl along the road. At the top of the Canyon we went and looked
for the Saw-Whet Owl and the Flammulated Owl. We played the tape of both owls. We didn't get any response from the Saw-whet. We did hear a Flammulated Owl from where we parked. We walked about 100 yards into the Aspens too find the owl. We could hear it all around us. After about 25 minutes of it calling around us Dennis found it in an Aspen Tree with
his spotlight. It stayed and called for at least ten to fifteen minutes. The whole group got a good look at it. We tried several other spots for other owls without any luck. Until we got to the bottom of the canyon we did find a Western Screech-Owl at the Payson Canyon Park. A wonderful look at it.

About 20 people showed up for this owling trip. Dennis did a great job of finding our owl.