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25th November 1993 - 21st December 1993

25th November.

An early flight from Aukland in New Zealand to Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, where I changed planes, seeing Fairy Martin and Welcome Swallow. I boarded a flight for Darwin, capital of Northern Territory, which had a brief stop at Gove, on the coast of East Arnham, here I saw Brown Honeyeater, Black-backed Butcherbird and Torresian Crow. Continuing to Darwin I only had time to book into a hotel for the night.

26th November.

Leaving Darwin I drove south to Batchalor, on the way seeing Torresian Imperial-Pigeon, Straw-necked Ibis, Magpie Goose, Black Kite, Whistling Kite, Torresian Crow and Pied Heron.

Batchalor was the Headquarters for Litchfield National Park, so my first stop was to introduce myself to the warden, who was really friendly, but said he had no idea that I was coming! Not again!!

Then things got worst, as I told him that I had come to record the sounds of Magnetic Termite mounds, he said he had never heard that they make any sounds, but I was welcome to try. 

Batchalor, at this time, was the park HQ and a few cabins for visitors, luckily there was an empty cabin, so I booked in for a couple of days. Around the site I saw Wedge-tailed Eagle, Red-winged Parrot, Yellow Figbird, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and Australian Ibis.

Later, I drove into the park, stopping in the area of Magnetic Termite mounds, an amazing sight. I had brought with me several devices developed by engineers at the BBC to record infrasound, the theory was that as the sun moved to shine on one side of the mound to the other side, the termites inside would move across to keep cool, and, that this action produced a deep hum. I set up and tried the devices to see if they worked, but nothing. I decided that I needed to spend several hours at the right time of day to fully test this theory, so, would return the following day.

During my time in the park I saw Red-backed Fairy-Wren, Tawny Grassbird, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Long-tailed Finch, Magpie-Lark, White-lined Honeyeater, Square-tailed Kite, Pied Butcherbird, Silver-crowned Friarbird, Black-faced Woodswallow and Masked Plover.

Back at the cabin in Batchalor I saw Double-barred Finch, Galah, Yellow-throated Miner, Little Corella, Bar-shouldered Dove, Pacific Swift and towards evening a growing roost of lots of Red-collared Lorikeets.

Right & below: Magnetic Termite mounds.

Bottom: Masked Lapwing & Little Corella.

Magnetic Termite Mound 04a, Litchfield,
Magnetic Termite mound 01a, Litchfield,
Magnetic Termite mound 03a, Litchfield,
Magnetic Termite mound 05a, Litchfield,
Magnetic Termite Mound 06a, Litchfield,
Masked Lapwing 01a, Australia, 26_11_93.
Little Corella 06a, Kakadu, 29_11_93.jpg

27th November.

This morning, around the cabin there was a Black Falcon, Sulphur-crested Cuckoo, Red-collared Lorikeet and Little Corella.

I returned to Litchfield National Park, visiting several areas, then set-up back at the Magnetic Termite mounds to wait for the sun to transition from one side to the other on one of the mounds. This took a few hours, and, although I tried all the devices I had with me, nothing, not a sound, so, that theory dismissed!

In other parts of the park there were other impressive termite mounds from one of the 360 species of termites in Australia.

Seen in the park today were Partridge Pigeon, Chestnut-backed Button-Quail, Pacific Baza, Red-backed Fairy-Wren, Restless Flycatcher, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Red-collared Lorikeet, Crimson Finch, Helmeted Friarbird, Little Friarbird, Pied Butcherbird, Whistling Kite, Spangled Drongo, Bar-shouldered Dove, Antilopine Wallaroo, Red-backed Button-Quail, Frilled Lizard, Pheasant Coucal, Olive-backed Oriole, Dollarbird, Little Pied Cormorant, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Black-breasted Buzzard, Forest Kingfisher, Northern Fantail and Rufous Whistler.

Later, I went to nearby Rum Jungle Lake seeing Masked Lapwing, Little Egret, Comb-crested Jacana, Australian Ibis, Australian Darter, Little Black Cormorant, Little Pied Cormorant and Dollarbird.

Back in Batchalor I saw a Brown Goshawk, Little Corella, Red-collared Lorikeet, Yellow-throated Miner, Bar-shouldered Dove, Blue-faced Honeyeater and a Great Bowerbird.

After dusk I did a night drive in the park with one of the wardens, seeing a Northern Quoll, 2 Large-tailed Nightjars and 5 Short-eared Rock Wallabys.

Right & below:

Termite mounds in Litchfield National Park.

Australian Termite mound 01a, Litchfield
Australian Termite mound 02a, Litchfield
Australian Termite mound 05a, Litchfield
Australian Termite mound 03a, Litchfield
Australian Termite mound 04a, Litchfield
Little Pied Cormorant 04a, Litchfield NP

Little Pied Cormorant.

Comb-crested Jacana 01a, Australia, Nov'

Comb-crested Jacana.

Masked Lapwing 02a, Australia, 27_11_93.

Masked Lapwings.

28th November.

Having found that Magnetic Termite mounds make no sound, I still had 3 days before flying to Sydney. I decided to move to Kakadu National Park, so drove north towards Darwin, then east on Arnhem Highway seeing Australian Kestrels along the way.

Then I made a detour to Fogg Dam where there were 1,000's of Magpie Geese even though much of the wetland didn't have a lot of water. Also seen were 3 Little Eagles, Grey Butcherbird, 4 Brolga Cranes, Radjah Shelduck, 3 Yellow-billed Spoonbills, Willie Wagtail, Black-faced Woodswallow, Whistling Kite, 2 Blue-winged Kookaburras, Gould's Goanna, Wandering Whistling Duck, 2 White-bellied Sea Eagles, Little Egret, Yellow-billed Egret, Little Black Cormorant, Little Pied Cormorant, Pacific Heron, Pied Heron, Restless Flycatcher, Green Pygmy-Goose, Whiskered Tern, Glossy Ibis, Black-winged Stilt, Black-necked Stork, Pacific Black Duck, an Oriental Plover, Australasian Purple Swamphen, Royal Spoonbill, Great White Egret, Comb-crested Jacana, Australian Darter, a White-browed Crake, Little Corella and Olive-backed Oriole.

I continued into the national park, seeing more Magpie Geese, another 3 Brolgas, Little Corella, Glossy Ibis, 3 Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, Torresian Crow and a White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike.

Reaching Kakadu I booked into the lodge for a two night stay.

Black-necked Stork 01a, Fogg Dam, Aust,
Magpie Goose 02a, Fogg Dam, Australia, 2

Magpie Geese.

Black-necked Stork 02a, Fogg Dam, Aust,

Black-necked Stork.

Green Pygmy-Goose 01a, Australia, 29_11_

Green Pygmy-Geese.

Red-tailed Black Cockatoo 01a, Kakadu, 2

Red-tailed Black Cockatoos.

29th November.

I spent all day in Kakadu National Park, driving east and stopping in suitable places to sound record. I saw Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Torresian Crow, Red-winged Parrot, Rainbow Bee-eater, Double-barred Finch, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher, Grey Whistler, Willie Wagtail, Large-billed Gerygone, Grey-crowned Babbler, Brush Cuckoo, White-throated Honeyeater, Olive-backed Oriole, Rufous-banded Honeyeater, Long-tailed Finch, Brown Honeyeater, Cicadabird, Little Corella, Pheasant Coucal, a Dingo, Black-necked Stork, Little Egret, Masked Lapwing, Knot, Pied Heron, Australian Grebe, Green Pygmy-Goose, Black-bellied Buzzard, Forest Kingfisher, Australian Koel, Pacific Swift, 3 Antilopine Wallaroos, Magpie Geese, Australian Ibis, Radjah Shelduck, Great White Egret, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Gould's Goanna, Restless Flycatcher, a Collared Sparrowhawk, Peaceful Dove, Mistletoebird, White-gaped Honeyeater and Rufous Whistler.

I stopped for lunch by a large billabong, after, taking a boat trip around the lagoon, mainly to see Estuarine or Saltwater Crocodiles. In this area I also saw Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike, Black-tailed Treecreeper, Partridge Pigeon, Royal Spoonbill, Comb-crested Jacana, Yellow-billed Egret, Azure Kingfisher, Merten's Water Monitor, Jacky Winter, Rufous Night Heron, Australian Darter, Rufous-throated Honeyeater, White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike, Tree Martin, Wood Sandpiper, 2 White-bellied Sea Eagles and Australasian Purple Swamphen.

It was late afternoon when I started back, as the light faded I could see what looked like a dark cloud covering the road ahead of me, then it enveloped the car, dark hail crashing down making a terrible sound, but, it wasn't hail, it was beetles, millions of them, I had to stop as I couldn't see to drive. After what seemed an age which was probably only a couple of minutes the noise stopped and could see beetles all over the road, in front of and behind the car, but not for very far, possibly less than a hundred yards. I waited and they began to clear, so I continued back to the lodge at Kakadu.

Gould's Goanna or Sand Monitor. 

Little Corella 05a, Kakadu, 29_11_93.jpg

Little Corella.

Sand Monitor or Gould's Goanna 01a, Aust
Collared Sparrowhawk 02a, Kakadu, Oz, 29
Collared Sparrowhawk 05a, Kakadu, Oz, 29
Collared Sparrowhawk 03a, Kakadu, Oz, 29
Collared Sparrowhawk 04a, Kakadu, Oz, 29

Collared Sparrowhawk.

Rufous Whistler 01a, male, Kakadu, 29_11
Rufous Whistler 02a, female, Kakadu, 29_

Male and female Rufous Whistler.

Estuarine Crocodile 02a, Kakadu, 29_11_9
Estuarine Crocodile 06a, Kakadu, 29_11_9
Estuarine Crocodile 04a, Kakadu, 29_11_9
Estuarine Crocodile 05a, Kakadu, 29_11_9

Estuarine Crocodile.

30th November.

Leaving Kakadu, I drove back to Darwin, on the way seeing Whistling Kite, Pacific Baza, Black Kite, Black-bellied Buzzard, Pacific Harrier, Australian Hobby, Australian Kestrel, Little Corella, Red-winged Parrot, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Forest Kingfisher, Magpie Geese, Pied Heron, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Yellow-billed Egret and Masked Lapwing.

Little Corella 01a, Kakadu, 29_11_93.jpg
Little Corella 04a, Kakadu, 29_11_93.jpg
Little Corella 03a, Kakadu, 29_11_93.jpg
Little Corella 02a, Kakadu, 29_11_93.jpg

Little Corella.

1st, 2nd & 3rd December.

A flight from Darwin to Sydney, where I checked into a central city hotel and met up with BBC cameraman Gavin Therston, this time I was expected! On the way saw Silver Gulls, Welcome Swallows and Common Mynas.

Over the next two days we were working in the concert hall at the Sydney Opera House, filming and recording an opera singer on stage. The idea was that during a performance a Green Grocer Cicada, one of the loudest insects in the world, would fly in and land on some prop foliage and would drown out the singer. These cicadas do reach a sound of about 120 decibels, but they hadn't emerged in Sydney yet, although I did see and hear them a few days later in Cairns and they are very loud. When the film was all cut together, it did sort of work.

Photos: Right & below: Sydney Opera House.

Below right: Green Grocer Cicada in Queensland.

Sydney 01a, Opera House, 11_93.jpg
Sydney 02a, Opera House, 11_93.jpg
Green Grocer Cicada 05a, Australia, 12_9

4th December.

I had a free day, so an early start to visit the Royal National Park south of Sydney, on the drive through the park I saw Dusky Moorhen, Silver Gull, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Pacific Black Duck, Maned Duck, Willie Wagtail, Australian Darter, Magpie Lark, Little Pied Cormorant, Australian Raven, Beautiful Firetail, New Holland Honeyeater, Pied Currawong, Crimson Rosella, Laughing Kookaburra, Satin Bowerbird, Brush Wattlebird, Brown Gerygone, Eastern Spinebill and Mallard.

On the way back into the city, I saw Spotted Turtle-Dove. Later, I drove east into the Blue Mountains, stopping at view points along the road, seeing Australian Raven, Pied Currawong, Crimson Rosella, White-throated Treecreeper, Brown Thornbill, Striated Thornbill, Grey Shrike-Thrush, Red-browed Firetail, White-browed Scrubwren, White-eared Honeyeater, Buff-rumped Thornbill, Flame Robin and a group of White-winged Chough.

Photos: Right & below: Laughing Kookaburra.

Bottom: Maned Ducks & Australian Raven.

Laughing Kookaburra 01a, NSW, Oz, 4-12-9
Maned Duck 02a, Australia, 12_93.jpg
Laughing Kookaburra 03a, NSW, Oz, 4-12-9
Laughing Kookaburra 02a, NSW, Oz, 4-12-9
Australian Raven 01aa, Sydney, 4_12_93.j

5th December.

A flight from Sydney north to Cairns, Queensland. After picking up a hire car I drove to Lake Placid Park, on the Barron River, which is situated on the northwest edge of Cairns. Here I met BBC producer Wendy Darke and cameraman Kevin Flay who were filming a rain forest spider, I had the chalet next door.

After settling in and unpacking my equipment, I had a look around the area seeing Yellow-bellied Sunbird, Metallic Starling, Welcome Swallow, Common Myna, White-breasted Woodswallow, Magpie Lark, Spotted Turtle-Dove, Peaceful Dove, Green Oriole, Australian Swiftlet and a Saw-shelled Tortoise.

In the evening there was a Giant Tree Frog on the balcony and lots of Cane Toads on the grass and roads.

Giant Tree Frog. 

Giant Tree Frog 03a, Cairns, Queensland,

6th December.

At Lake Placid Park I got my first sight of the set Kevin had built to film the spider. There were twigs with a web suspended between them and a small spider at the centre. When the web was touched the spider vibrated so fast it was almost invisible, and, it was this vibration that was supposed to make a high frequency sound. I used all the specialised gismos I had brought, but nothing registered, another theory disproved!

So then, I explored Lake Placid further seeing Graceful Honeyeater, Dusky Honeyeater, Metallic Starling, Pacific Black Duck, Hardhead, White-faced Heron, Australian Swiftlet, Yellow-bellied Sunbird, Green Figbird, Torresian Imperial Pigeon, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, Silvereye, Spectacled Monarch and Sulphur-crested Cockatoo.

Later, I drove to Barron Falls where I saw Australian Magpie, Spangled Drongo, Rufous Fantail, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, Dusky Honeyeater and Silvereye.

From there to Cedar Park where there was Pale-headed Rosella, White-naped Honeyeater, Rufous Whistler, Scarlet Honeyeater, Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, Red-browed Firetail, Little Friarbird, Noisy Friarbird, Grey Fantail, Laughing Kookaburra and Peaceful Dove. 

Back at Lake Placid, towards evening I saw Long-nosed Bandicoot and Rufous Bettong.

Pacific Black Duck 01a, Australia, 12_93

Pacific Black Duck

7th December.

With me not needed to record spiders, today I started recording around Lake Placid seeing Australian Swiftlet, Pacific Black Duck, White-faced Heron, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Dusky Honeyeater, Yellow-bellied Sunbird, Metallic Starling, Yellow Oriole, Noisy Friarbird and Large-billed Gerygone.

Later, I went to nearby Machans Beach where I saw Siberian/Grey-tailed Tattler, Marsh Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint, Ruff, Rainbow Bee-eater, Brush Cuckoo, Sacred Kingfisher, Brahminy Kite, Brown Honeyeater and White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike.

8th December.

Most of the morning at Barron Falls, seeing Spotted Catbird, Red-browed Firetail, Silvereye, Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, White-throated Gerygone, Varied Triller, Little Shrike-Thrush and Pale-yellow Robin.

Later, a drive south of Cairns to Garadunga, on the way I saw Golden-headed Cisticola, Australian Bushlark, Pallid Cuckoo and Pacific Heron. At Garadunga I visited the Australian Insect Farm, a place the insect series had already filmed in, it held hundreds of native weird and wonderful insects.

Photos at the Insect Farm:

Right: Mueller's Stagbeetle.

Below: Giant Prickly Stick Insect.

Giant Prickly Stick Insect 01a, Queensla
Mueller's Stagbeetle 01a, Queensland, 12
Giant Prickly Stick Insect 02a, Queensla

9th December.

A return to the coast, this time to Holloways Beach where there were lots of Rainbow Lorikeets, Helmeted Friarbird, Green Figbird, Australian Swiftlet and Lesser Frigatebird.

Then a walk along Cairns Esplanade from where I saw Eastern Curlew, Pacific Golden Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Terek Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint, Australian Pelican, Gull-billed Tern now split and called Australian Tern, Silver Gull, Royal Spoonbill, Great White Egret, Grey-tailed Tattler, Lesser Sand Plover, Peaceful Dove, Spotted Turtle-Dove, Greenshank, Bar-tailed Godwit, Australian Ibis, Whimbrel, Little Egret, Yellow-billed Egret, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Tern, Yellow Honeyeater and Torresian Imperial Pigeon.

Later, I drove towards the airport and walked along the Mangrove Boardwalk seeing Australian Ibis, Whimbrel, a Latham's Snipe, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Green Figbird, Yellow Oriole and Crested Tern.

Photos: Australian Pelicans and Crested Tern.

Australian Pelican 01a, Cairns,
Australian Pelican 02a, Cairns,
Crested Tern 02a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust,

10th December.

I returned to the Mangrove Boardwalk only seeing Whimbrel, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Scarlet Honeyeater before the mosquitoes got the better of me.

Then I drove inland to Kuranda Forest where the only new bird was Eastern Yellow Robin. I returned to Cairns and walked along the esplanade again seeing Varied Honeyeater, Eastern Curlew, Whimbrel, Lesser and Greater Sand Plovers, Red-necked Stint, Bar-tailed Godwit, Terek Sandpiper, Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Willie Wagtail, Silver Gull, Gull-billed Tern, Little Tern, Australian Pelican, Royal Spoonbill, Little Egret, Yellow-billed Egret and Great White Egret.

Then I went to nearby Cairns Cemetery where there were 10+ Bush Thick-knees and 2 Eastern Ospreys a recent split. Across the road was the Botanic Gardens where I saw Black Butcherbird, Wandering Whistling-Duck, Green Pygmy-Geese, Pacific Black Duck and towards dusk 1,000's of Spectacled Flying Foxes flying over, heading inland.

Wandering Whistling-Duck. 

Wandering Whistling Duck 02a, Cairns, 11

11th December.

Today, I left Cairns with Mike McGuire, who I had met with visiting BBC producer Paul Reddish a few days ago, Mike was also a sound recordist with a passion for recording birds. Although he lived in Cairns, he also had a house and land on the Atherton Tablelands which he was renovating, one of several people who had all bought adjoining plots to conserve the rain forest in the area.

We headed southwest from Cairns taking a break at Lake Barrine, where we saw Australian Pelican, Coot, Dusky Moorhen, Rufous-tailed Bush-hen, Australian Brush-turkey, Wandering Whistling-Duck, Hardhead and Pacific Black Duck.

Queensland 01a, Mike McGuire, 11_93.jpg

Mike at Lake Barrine with a Pacific Black Duck and a Dusky Moorhen.

Dusky Moorhen 01a, Australia, Dec'93.jpg
Dusky Moorhen 03a, Australia, Dec'93.jpg

Dusky Moorhens.

Dusky Moorhen 02a, Australia, Dec'93.jpg

Dusky Moorhen

Australian Brush-Turkey 03a, Queensland,
Australian Brush-Turkey 02a, Queensland,

Australian Brush-turkey

Australian Brush-Turkey 01a, Queensland,

Australian Brush-turkey

Continuing, we headed towards Malanda, then southeast onto dirt roads to Topaz, which is an area not a place, the dirt road became a track which lead to Mike's house, bordered on two sides by forest with an open area which Mike was planting with trees. In the area around the house we saw Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, Grey Goshawk, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Lewin's Honeyeater, Pale-yellow Robin, Australian King Parrot, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Silvereye, Large-billed Scrubwren, Grey Fantail, White-throated Treecreeper, Mistletoebird, Brown Gerygone, Little Eagle, Spangled Drongo and in the evening Red-legged Pademelon, Musky Rat-Kangaroo and Fawn-footed Melomys.

12th December.

An early start around the house, where we saw Australian Brush-turkey, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Silvereye, Mistletoebird, Emerald Dove, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Grey Fantail, Red-browed Firetail, Grey-headed Robin, Rufous Songlark, Buff-banded Rail and Little Grassbird.

Then we went to Malanda Falls seeing Australian Brush-turkey again, Rainbow Lorikeet, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Eastern Whipbird, Brown Gerygone and Grey-headed Robin.

From there to Bromfield Crater where there were 2 Sarus Cranes, Grey Teal, Pacific Black Duck, Australian Grebe, White-faced Heron and Masked Plover.

On to Tomoulan Forest seeing Forest Kingfisher, Sacred Kingfisher, Noisy Friarbird, Grey Shrike-thrush, Dollarbird, Agile Wallaby, Laughing Kookaburra and Noisy Miner. Then to Ravenshoe Forest where we saw Noisy Miner, Noisy Friarbird, Spotted Pardalote, Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Brown Treecreeper, Rufous Whistler, Leaden Flycatcher, Red-backed Fairy-Wren, Pied Currawong, Dollarbird, 2 Wedge-tailed Eagles, an Australian Kestrel, Sacred Kingfisher, White-throated Honeyeater, Brown Honeyeater, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Blue-winged Kookaburra, White-browed Crake, Straw-necked Ibis and Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike.

Our last stop was Millstream Falls where there was Yellow-faced Honeyeater, Eastern Yellow Robin, Scarlet Honeyeater, White-throated Needletail and Little Friarbird.

13th December.

Today, Mike and I spent most of the morning recording around his house and then on trails deeper into the forest, emerging at the next door property of Clifford and Dawn Frith. During this excursion we saw Superb Fruit-Dove, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Silvereye, Grey Fantail, Grey-headed Robin, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Lewin's Honeyeater, Golden Whistler, Pale-yellow Robin, Musky Rat-Kangaroo, Red-browed Firetail, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Emerald Dove, Brown Gerygone, a male Satin Bowerbird by it's bower, 4 King Parrots, Mountain Thornbill, Bower's Shrike-thrush, Little Shrike-thrush, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, and deeper in the forest we watched a male Golden Bowerbird at it's bower, also seen were Little Kingfisher, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Australasian Pipit, 2 Buff-banded Rails and Zitting Cisticola.

Later, we returned to Tomoulan Forest where we saw Forest and Sacred Kingfishers, Laughing Kookaburra, Noisy Miner, Noisy Friarbird, Grey Shrike-thrush, Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike, Spotted Pardalote, Grey Fantail, Grassland Melomys and Crested Pigeon. On the way back, between Melanda and Topaz we saw a Lewin's Rail, 2 Australian Kites, a Spotted Harrier and an Australian Kestrel.

Back at the house, Mike announced that we had been invited to diner by another neighbour, the renowned wildlife artist Bill Cooper and his wife Wendy. Relaxing in their garden, Bill opened a pot of mealworms and held some in his open hand and in flew a male Victoria's Riflebird landing on his hand and taking a grub. It did this several times, even with me, a heavier bird than I was expecting, a female also appeared in the garden but wasn't as tame. Also seen were Macleay's Honeyeaters

Later, Mike and I did a night walk along from his house, recording and seeing a Herbert's River Ringtail Possum, 2 Common Ringtail Possums, a Common Brushtail Possum, a Long-nosed Bandicoot and a Bush Rat.

14th December.

Our last morning at Topaz and a dawn start to record near the house, seeing Spotted Catbird, Bower's Shrike-thrush, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Emerald Dove, King Parrot, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, 2 Chowchillas, Grey-headed Robin, Grey Fantail, a female Satin Bowerbird, Silvereye, Pale-yellow Robin, Musky Rat-Kangaroo, Brown Gerygone, Golden Whistler, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Australian Swiftlet, Red-browed Firetail, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Lewin's Honeyeater, Macleay's Honeyeater, White-throated Treecreeper, Spangled Drongo, Varied Triller and Yellow-throated Scrubwren.

On the way back to Cairns we detoured to Emerald Creek Falls where we saw Squatter Pigeon, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Spangled Drongo, Forest Kingfisher and Yellow-faced Honeyeater.

During the drive from Topaz to Cairns we saw Brown Quail, Cattle Egret, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, Green Figbird, Buff-banded Rail, Laughing Kookaburra, Grey Shrike-thrush, Black Swan, Pacific Black Duck, Hardhead, Australian Grebe, Comb-crested Jacana, Australian Darter, Little Pied Cormorant and Australian Kestrel. Back in Cairns I booked into a motel near the esplanade.

15th December.

Today, I drove to Cassowary House on the edge of Kuranda Forest near Barron Falls. Unfortunately, I just missed seeing a Cassowary which had come for food to the kitchen door and had now returned to the forest! I was here to meet-up-with BBC producer Nigel Marvin and cameraman Mike Potts, who were making a Wildlife on One film on kingfishers.

While I was waiting for them to get their vehicle loaded, I had a look around the garden and local area, seeing Spangled Drongo, Red-browed Firetail, Yellow-bellied Sunbird, Dusky Honeyeater, Graceful Honeyeater, Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, Macleay's Honeyeater, Helmeted Friarbird, Little Shrike-thrush, Yellow-eyed Cuckoo-Shrike, Emerald Dove, Peaceful Dove, Australian Brush-turkey and Grey Goshawk.

We drove southwest to an area of scrubby woodland north of Mareeba, where we met the owner of a large goanna, then we carried the equipment a little way into the bush, to a tree with a Laughing Kookaburra's nest hole. there were chicks in the nest and the adults were calling nearby. We set up quickly and set the goanna on the tree's trunk, immediately the adults flew in calling loudly and knocked the monitor off the tree, all to the whirl of a high-speed camera, a problem for the sound! I changed position and we gave it another go, it was better and the kookaburras even louder. Nigel wanted another go, but the battered goanna was very reluctant, so we decided we had got enough and left the kookaburras in peace, and the goanna was fine.

I stayed for a while to look around the area seeing Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, 8 Apostlebirds, Australian Magpie, Grey-crowned Babbler, White-throated Honeyeater, Rainbow Bee-eater, Rainbow Lorikeet, Red-backed Fairy-Wren, and by a small stream Royal Spoonbill, Pacific Black Duck and Little Egret.

16th December.

I started with an early walk along Cairns Esplanade seeing Australian Pelican, Silver Gull, Little Tern, Crested Tern, Eastern Curlew, Whimbrel and Little Curlew or Whimbrel, Red-necked Stint, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, a Great-billed Heron, Great White Egret, Greenshank, Lesser Sand Plover, Terek Sandpiper, Gull-billed Tern, Yellow-billed Egret, Black-tailed Godwit and Little Egret.

Then I left for another kingfisher recording trip, travelling west to Mareeba, then north to Jalatten, along the way seeing Magpie Geese, Straw-necked Ibis, Australian Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Cattle Egret, White-faced Heron, Masked Plover, Black Kite, Australian Raven, Australian Magpie and Pheasant Coucal.

I arrived at Kingfisher Park in Jalatten and booked into a room for the night, then I had time to explore the garden which was bordered by a crystal clear stream and pool. I saw Emerald Dove, Peaceful Dove, Bar-shouldered Dove, Rainbow Lorikeet, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Spectacled Monarch, Laughing Kookaburra, Little Shrike-thrush, Pale-yellow Robin, Grey Goshawk, Red-browed Firetail and the bird I had come to record Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher. These kingfishers winter in New Guinea and return to Queensland to breed in October, they then start to excavate a tunnel and chamber in small termite mounds, of which there were several in the garden, once completed they leave to let the tunnels harden for a couple of weeks. Apparently, they had only just reappeared, and, although they were calling there were too many people around to record at this time.

Also in the garden, were Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Metallic Starling, Varied Triller, Green Figbird, Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, Brush Cuckoo, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Graceful Honeyeater, Long-billed Scrubwren, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, Spangled Drongo and Macleay's Honeyeater. Later, I sat by the pool and eventually a Red-necked Crake showed, then a shape in the stream came towards me and into the pool, a Platypus, which gave excellent views.

In the evening I joined a night safari which drove around the local area, seeing a pair of Bush Thick-knees with a chick, 2 Northern Brown Bandicoots, a Green Possum, a Barking Owl, 2 Large-tailed Nightjars, 2 Australian Masked Owls, an Eastern Barn Owl, an immature Black Bittern and Spectacled Flying Foxes. Back at the accommodation was an Australian House Gecko and in the room an Asian House Gecko.

Asian House Gecko 02a, Queensland, 11_93

Asian House Gecko

17th December.

A dawn start, before anyone was around, there were several Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfishers near termite mounds in the garden, and, I recorded some excellent display calls and other calls. Also seen was a male Pied Monarch, Graceful Honeyeater, Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, Laughing Kookaburra, Metallic Starling, Red-browed Firetail, Emerald Dove, Peaceful Dove, Bar-shouldered Dove, Topknot Pigeon, Red-legged Pademelon, Green Figbird, Little Shrike-thrush, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Brush Cuckoo, Spangled Drongo, Pale-yellow Robin, Rainbow Lorikeet, White-breasted Scrubwren, Dusky Honeyeater, Macleay's Honeyeater and Spectacled Monarch.

Later, I left for the return to Cairns, making a detour to Mount Carbine and a drive along Mary Road seeing Maned Duck, Masked Plover, Straw-necked Ibis, Squatter Pigeon, 3 Australian Bustards, Pheasant Coucal, Golden-headed Cisticola and Noisy Friarbird. I continued to Cairns.

18th December.

Today I joined a dive trip which was going to Michaelmas Cay, I was the only birdwatcher onboard. The boat stopped a little way offshore of the small, flat island and while the other people prepared to go diving, the skipper rowed me ashore giving me a couple of hours before returning.

On the beach were hundreds of terns, the most numerous being Common or Brown Noddy, also lots of Common Terns, Roseate Terns, Crested Terns, Lesser Crested Terns, Little Terns, Black-naped Terns and Turnstones.

In and over the grassy centre of the island were hundreds of nesting Sooty Terns interspersed with the other terns and here I saw several Black Noddies. An overwhelming spectacle.

Later, the skipper returned and before returning to the boat, rowed around to the back of the island. Along the beach with more terns were several Brown Boobies and an immature Red-footed Booby. From the boat on the way back I saw at least 2 Bridled Terns, which I missed on the island.

Common Noddy 02a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust,
Common Noddy 03a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust,
Common Noddy 05a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust,

Common or Brown Noddy

Common Noddy 06a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust,
Common Noddy 07a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust,

Common or Brown Noddy

Common Noddy 08a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust,
Common Noddy 09a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust,

Common or Brown Noddy

Common Noddy 11a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust,
Common Noddy 04a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust,

Common or Brown Noddy

Common Noddy 10a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust,

Common or Brown Noddy

Sooty Tern 01a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust, 18
Crested Tern 01a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust,

Crested Terns

Sooty Tern 02a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust, 18

Sooty Terns

Sooty Tern 03a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust, 18
Sooty Tern 04a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust, 18

Sooty Tern

Sooty Tern 05a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust, 18
Sooty Tern 06a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust, 18

Sooty Tern

Sooty Tern 07a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust, 18
Sooty Tern 08a, Michaelmas Cay, Aust, 18

Sooty Tern

19th December.

My last day in Queensland, I drove west to nearby Lake Morris, where there were Australian Pelicans, Little Black Cormorant, Cormorant, Yellow-bellied Sunbird, Dusky Honeyeater, Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, Red-headed Honeyeater, Welcome Swallow and Forest Kingfisher. Later, I returned to Cairns and spent a few hours along the esplanade seeing more Australian Pelicans, Great White Egret, Little Egret, Eastern Reef Heron, Australian Ibis, Royal Spoonbill, Pied Oystercatcher, Pacific Golden Plover, Masked Plover, Lesser and Greater Sand Plovers, Eastern Curlew, Whimbrel, Greenshank, Terek Sandpiper, Black and Bar-tailed Godwits, Knot, Great Knot, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint, Sanderling, Caspian Tern, Little Tern, Crested Tern and an adult and immature Fairy Tern.

20th & 21st December.

A flight from Cairns to Sydney, after checking into the hotel, I went to Toronga Zoo to meet-up-with friend Paul Andrew who was working there, during the visit seeing Noisy Miner, Red-whiskered Bulbul, Laughing Kookaburra, Australian Ibis, New Holland Honeyeater and Striated Paradalote.

I spent the following day visiting Paul at his house in Bondi, seeing in the garden Eastern Rosella and Spotted Pardalote, then we went for lunch at nearby Bondi Beach. Later, I returned to the hotel to pack for the flight back to London.




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