Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Queensland Road Trip 7: Atherton to Mt Carbine - Sarus Crane, Black-throated Finch

Black-throated Finch
After our visit to Malanda (see following post) we left the rainforests and wet red soils behind for a two-day stay in the Big 4 Woodlands Caravan Park outside Atherton. Bridled Honeyeater was common here but there was little else of interest birdwise.

Bridled Honeyeater
We enjoyed a visit to the nearby historical town of Herberton. Hasties Swamp was checked out a couple of times but nothing of interest there (many thousands of Magpie Geese and Plumed Whistling-Ducks) and I could not find any Sarus Cranes in fields in the area. Red-tailed Black Cockatoos were unusually feeding in large numbers on the ground in open paddocks.

Red-tailed Black Cockatoos
Leaving the Atherton Tableland, we headed north to Mareeba for 2 nights at the Kerribee Park Rodeo camping ground on the Dimbulah Road – a huge complex (Mareeba hosts one of Australia's biggest rodeos) with a pleasant outlook over ranges to the south.

Mareeba woodlands
 The area was surrounded by termite-studded savannah woodland. I saw a single Black-throated Finch a couple of times at soaks at the back of the complex but failed to photograph the bird.

Little Bronze-Cuckoo
I had more success with an obliging Little Bronze-Cuckoo.

Yellow Honeyeater
Yellow Honeyeater was common.

Bush Stone-Curlew
Bush Stone-Curlews were also about.

Agile Wallabies
Large numbers of Agile Wallabies and Eastern Grey Kangaroos were on the grounds.

Australian Bustard

We visited the Mareeba Wetlands Centre in the morning, failing to see Black-throated Finch but Australian Bustard and Emu were both up close. Few waterbirds were about.

Dave's Dam
We drove further north for an overnight stay in the Mt Carbine Caravan Park on the Cooktown road, camped on a ridge in ironbark woodlands. On the way we passed Lake Mitchell and the famed spot where Buff-breasted Buttonquail are allegedly seen, but didn't bother to stop (why is another story for another time).

Sarus Crane

Sarus Crane
In the heat of the afternoon I drove north to Daves Dam, a small lagoon on the Hurricane Road 25km north of Mt Carbine. This was a good move.  I was greeted by a pair of Sarus Cranes, a species I expected to see on the tableland.

Black-throated Finches
The next bird I saw was a Black-throated Finch, and I was to see about 30 of these smart finches coming into drink. 

Black-throated Finches
Thanks to Kath Shucliff and Dave Houghton for information on this and other sites. The handful of species seen at this site can be found here. Sadly, the Mt Carbine Hotel is pale shadow of its former glory; don't bother eating and drinking here if you can possibly avoid it!

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