Queensland, Australia - November 2022
My friend Jan and I went on a self-organized 12-days birding trip to Queensland, Australia.
In a few intense weeks in Eastern Australia you can expect to walk away with more than half the continents birds, and a healthy dose of mammals too. Most of the good birding spots are in Queensland. Venturing within a 200 kilometers radius of Cairns in Tropical Far North Queensland will take you through the most diverse range of habits that Australia has to offer. The area is the richest in flora and fauna on the entire continent. You have the possibility of spotting many of the over 440 bird species that have been recorded in the North Queensland region. Of these recorded bird species, 13 are endemic to Queensland's "Wet Tropics". The region also boasts 9 out Australia's 10 kingfisher species, all 24 of Australia's diurnal raptor species and 7 of the 9 owl species in the country. A whopping 38 species of honeyeater have also been recorded.
In addition to these birds, there are many other birds that are distinct sub-species to the region, these include the Pale-yellow Robin, the Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, Lovely Fairy-Wren, Southern Boobook, and Bassian Thrush. October (and November) is a prime time for birding in Queensland especially. First light is around 05.00am (Brisbane) and 05:30am (Cairns). Sunset is around 06:00pm (Brisbane) and 06:30pm (Cairns).
Tropical North Queensland is serviced by an excellent road system and for the most part, a normal two wheel drive vehicle will get you to all the birding sites in the region you may wish to visit.
26 Oct 18:00 – 3 Nov 11:00 (8 days): Airport - SUV: Euro 780
3 Nov 14:00 – 6 Nov 14:00 (3 days): Airport – SUV: Euro 150
Birds ID App
Familiarize yourself with the peculiar sounds of the Eastern Whipbird, Green Catbird and Paradise Riflebird. The sounds of these birds fill the forest and you will be wondering to yourself, “what the heck is that bird?” for most of the day, unless you figure it out prior. Use the Merlin Bird ID iPhone App to identify birds and their sounds along the way.
The male Eastern Whipbird usually starts with a long ‘whuuuuuhhh whistle’ and then followed by the ‘whip’ of the female!
The Green Catbird sounds like a screaming cat.
Paradise Riflebird sounds like the louder and harsher call of a Greenfinch: ‘kkkkkrrrrriiihhhh’.
Pocket Field Guide to Birdlife of Queensland by Michael Morcombe, Steve Parish
Adjustments to the book: https://www.birdforum.net/threads/pocket-field-guide-to-birdlife-of-queensland-by-michael-morcombe.371402/
We have taken the following loop in the Cairns area: Cairns, Wonga/Newell Beach, Daintree, Kingfisher Lodge, Mount Lewis, Julatten area, Mount Carbine, Lake Mitchell, Mareeba Wetlands, Atherton area, Wongabel, Yungaburra, Crater Lakes and back to Cairns for a trip out to Michelmas Cay and the Great Barrier Reef.
Then we took a plane to Brisbane to visit Lamington NP. Back to Cairns for return flight to Amsterdam.
- Cairns: Coral Tree Inn, 166-172 Grafton Street, 4870 Cairns (24 Oct – 27 Oct, 3 nights); GPS: -16.918630, 145.771217
- Cairns: Cairns Plaza Hotel, 300m from Cairns Esplanade (1 night on 2 Nov); GPS: -16.915885, 145.772320
- Daintree: Daintree Wild Bed & Breakfast (1 night on 27/28 Oct); GPS: -16.317785, 145.403875
- Julatten: Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge (4 nights on 28 Oct – 1 Nov); GPS: -16.593364, 145.340748
- Lake Eacham: Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodges (1 night on 1 Nov); GPS: -17.286393, 145.635390
- Lamington NP: O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat (3 nights on 3-6 Nov); GPS: -28.230669, 153.136031
- Day 6 – Thu 27 Oct: Guided birding morning tour with Del Richards of Fine Feather Tours: Half day: AUD 185 / EUR 124. Meeting point in Mossman: GPS: -16.465729, 145.372578
- Day 7 – Fri 28 Oct: Early morning Daintree River Trip (AUD 65 p.p.)
- Day 8 – Sat 29 Oct: Full day (up to 10 hours) guided tour with Carol Iles (AUD 380 for two)
- Day 8 – Sun 30 Oct: Night Walk (1.5 hours) with Kahleana Stannard at Kingfisher Park (AUD 50 p.p.)
- Day 12 – Wed 2 Nov: Boat trip to Michaelmas Cay (AUD 240 p.p.)
Day 1 – Sat 22 Oct: Flight Amsterdam (11:15) – Singapore
Day 2 – 5: Arrival and Birding Singapore
Day 5 – Wed 26 Oct: flight Singapore (08:45) to Cairns (17:25), Pick-up rental car and to hotel. Night at Coral Tree Inn, Cairns
Day 6 – Thu 27 Oct: Early morning drive (75 min) to Mossman (arrival 07:30). Guided half day birding morning tour with Del Richards of Fine Feather Tours. Afternoon: Newell Beach, Wonga Beach, Daintree Village. Night at Daintree Wild Bed & Breakfast (near Daintree Village)
Day 7 – Fri 28 Oct: Drive to Daintree Village (12 min from Daintree Wild B&B). Early morning Daintree River Trip (Start: 06:30; AUD 65 p.p.). Afternoon: Daintree Rainforest: Jindalba Boardwalk, Madja Boardwalk. Night at Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge
Day 8 – Sat 29 Oct: Full day guided tour with Carol Iles. Night at Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge.
Day 9 – Sun 30 Oct: Mount Lewis, McDougal Road, Abattoir Swamp area, Wetherby Road, Mount Molloy Village, Mary Farms. Night Walk with Kahleana Stannard at Kingfisher Park. Night at Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge.
Day 10 – Mon 31 Oct: Mount Lewis, Abattoir Swamp area, Wetherby Road. Night at Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge.
Day 11 – Tue 1 Nov: Granite Gorge, Hasties Swamp, Mount Hypipamee, Lake Eacham. Night at Chambers Wildlife Rainforest Lodges
Day 12 – Wed 2 Nov: Early drive to Cairns (70 km). 07:30 – 16:15: Boat trip to Michaelmas Cay (booked), Late afternoon: Cairns Esplanade (High tide: 17:24 so be there 2-3 hours before). Night at Cairns Plaza Hotel.
Day 13 – Thu 3 Nov: Botanical Gardens + Centenary Lakes. Return rental car at Cairns Airport. Flight from Cairns to Brisbane (11:40 – 14:00). Pick-up rental car at Brisbane Airport. Visit JC Trotter Memorial Park. Drive to Lamington NP (approx. 100km; 1:45 hour drive). Stop at the Flying Foxes Roost at Canungra. Night at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
Day 14 – Fri 4 Nov: Birding O’Reilly’s area. Night at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
Day 15 – Sat 5 Nov: Birding O’Reilly’s area. Night at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
Day 16 – Sun 6 Nov: Drive to Brisbane (112 km; 2 hour drive). Return rental car. Flight Brisbane to Cairns (13:40 – 16:00). Flight Cairns (18:10) to Singapore (23:05). Night at Ramada by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park, Singapore.
Day 17 – 18: Birding Singapore
Day 19 – Wed 9 Nov: Arrival Amsterdam (06:45).
Birdings Hotspots in Cairns City
1. Cairns Esplanade (GPS: -16.909365, 145.767515)
Many waders here: Great Knot, Grey-tailed Tattler, Far Eastern Curlew, Sharp-tailed, Terek and Curlew Sandpiper, Red-capped Plover, Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit, Lesser and Greater Sandplovers and Red-necked Stint, Double-banded Plover, Marsh and Broad-billed Sandpiper, Asiatic Dowitcher, Australian Pelican, Royal Spoonbill. Peak time to see them is September to March; best time to visit is the last 2-3 hours before high tide.
The Esplanade is probably the easiest place in Australia to find Varied Honeyeater. When flowering, they particularly like the Frangipani along the boardwalk. Other birds here include Brown, Yellow and Lewin’s Honeyeater, Spangled Drongo, Helmeted Friarbird, Pied Imperial-Pigeon, Peaceful Dove, Australasian Figbird, Olive-backed Sunbird, and Nutmeg Mannikin, and it’s not uncommon to see Doubled-eyed Fig-Parrot and Rainbow Lorikeet flying up and down through the trees along the Esplanade.
2. Botanic Gardens (GPS: -16.899596, 145.748138)
The Cairns Botanic Gardens is known for its gorgeous plants, but beautiful birds also abound here. The entry is free and there is a free guided walk every day at 10am by Friends of Cairns Botanic Gardens (60-90 min). It doesn’t require booking, so just walk up to the guide outside the Friend House. Olive-backed Sunbirds (only sunbirds in Australia), Yellow Oriole, Metallic Starlings, variety of Honeyeaters, Double-eyed Fig-Parrot. Best place to see Red-necked Crake. There is a little café, good for a coffee and light meal.
3. Centenary Lakes (GPS: -16.903730, 145.749865)
Just south of the Botanic Gardens. Centenary Lakes consists of two lakes, one freshwater the other saltwater, alongside Greenslopes Street, North Cairns. Several walks take you around the lakes and a boardwalk traverses a lowland swamp forest to the botanic gardens along Collins Avenue. The boardwalk is best walked in the very late evening or at dawn for a chance to see or more likely hear Red-necked Crake (we didn't see it). The backwaters of the freshwater lake are worth investigating for Black Bittern and Little Kingfisher. Double-eyed Fig-Parrots and Brown-backed Honeyeaters also occur here in the trees around the lake. The gardens are good for Yellow Oriole, Black Butcherbird (I found one near the play garden) and Olive-backed Sunbird. Other birds: White-browed Crake, Radjah Shelducks, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Royal Spoonbills, Striated Heron and Rufous Night Heron.
4. Mount Whitfield (GPS: -16.892083, 145.750746)
Just north of the Botanic Gardens; the most immediate area to become familiarized with many sub-montane passerines including Noisy Pitta, Rufous Fantail, Monarchs and Macleay’s Honeyeater. There are two walks: the Red Arrow loop (1 hour) and the longer Blue Arrow, (3-4 hours).
5. Cattana Wetlands (GPS: -16.829292, 145.703194)
These wetlands are situated about 15km North of Cairns, accessed from Dunne Road near Smithfield. They cover about 80 hectares and include a series of lagoons, swamps, grasslands and rare Feather Palm forest. There are a series of walking tracks, picnic areas and bird hides overlooking the lagoons. There is also an elevated boardwalk through the palm forest. Good place to see Green Pygmy Geese and Comb-crested Jacanas.
Birdings Spots North East Queensland
6. Newell Beach (GPS: -16.433171, 145.406068)
Here is an excellent high tide wader roost, visible from the beach. You may see rarities like Little Curlew, Oriental Pratincole and Sanderling.
7. Wonga Beach (GPS: -16.342240, 145.415832)
This beach forms part of the Daintree Valley and is accessed from the Mossman Daintree Road. It is a reliable place for Beach Stone-curlews.
8. Daintree Rainforest (GPS: -16.249877, 145.318306)
110 km north of Cairns. More than 400 bird species can be found in the Daintree region of far north Queensland. Keen birdwatchers can see nine out of 10 Australian kingfisher species along with honeyeaters, herons, robins, parrots and cassowaries, and saltwater crocodiles! Check out east of Daintree Village: Jindalba Boardwalk (GPS: -16.237546, 145.429227).
Take an early morning cruise (6:30 am) along the Daintree River for guaranteed sightings. Best man for the job is Murray Hunt, he runs Daintree Boatman Nature Tours. Duration is 2 hours; cost are AUD 65 p.p. (https://www.daintreerivertours.com.au/): GPS: -16.249262, 145.317080.
A little north-east of Daintree Rainforest: Cooper Creek Mouth Madja Boardwalk ,
9. Cape Tribulation
It is worth visiting Cape Tribulation just for the beautiful drive and ferry ride across the Daintree River. It is also one of the best spots to see Southern Cassowary. Keep an eye out on the road between the ferry and the township because they are often seen crossing the road so make sure you drive slow. A nice place to see birds is at the Dubuji Boardwalk (GPS: -16.088883, 145.462374).
10. Daintree Village / Stewart Creek Road (GPS: -16.311645,145.324336)
One of the best areas for birding is along Stewart Creek Road, which starts in Daintree Village. There is excellent birding for the first few hundred meters as there is dense vegetation here.
Then at the very end of Stewart Creek Rd, 8 km from the Daintree township, where the road is blocked by a gate (GPS: -16.311645,145.324336): Stewart Creek Valley. You drive through open green grasslands and through patches of rainforest. Rainbow Bee-eaters, Pheasant Coucal, many Honeyeaters, Egrets, Masked Lapwings, Pied Imperial Pigeons, Metallic Starlings and many more. The beautiful Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfishers usually return around October. Also Pied and Spectacled Monarch, Shining Flycatcher, Black Butcherbird, Spangled Drongo and Blue-winged Kookaburra.
11. Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge, Julatten (GPS: -16.593364, 145.340748)
This is a famous lodge for birders and a ‘must’ to stay for a few nights, because it has a lot of special birds which come close so it is great for photographers. It is a rainforest patch with its own goodies, and handily placed for other good sites nearby. Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge has feeders, alive with honeyeaters, firetails, robins and lorikeets and a stream which is home to Duck-billed Platypus. No bird call playback is allowed anywhere on the property. The use of high powered spotlights is not allowed around the Lodge grounds as these can disturb sleeping birds and dazzle nocturnal species, temporarily impairing their vision.
The lodge is at an altitude of 440m and the climate means there is no need for air conditioning. Children under the age of twelve are not allowed. The lodge has no restaurant, so for dinner go to the National Hotel in Mt. Molloy , 10km along the Rex Highway, towards Mareeba. They serve good pub food at reasonable prices, lunch and dinner daily plus beer and wines, which you can also takeaway. You have to purchase your food supplies before you arrive as Julatten has no shops. A little north of Julatten is a Woolworth's supermarket in Mossman: GPS: -16.466921, 145.372937. There is a laundry in the amenities block. It has a washing machine (cold wash only), a dryer and a large sink.
Mammals at Kingfisher Park: Striped and Green Ringtail Possum, Fawn-footed Melomy, Long-nosed and Northern Brown Bandicoo, Platypus and Prehensile-tailed Tree Mouse.
Butterflies: Cairns Birdwing and Ulysses Butterfly.
Daintree is about 50 minutes' drive from Kingfisher Park.
Book a full day birding tour with Carol: for 2 people a full day (up to 10 hours) is AUD 380; a half day (up to 5 hours) is AUD 260. Or a Morning Walk with Carol around the Lodge and adjacent areas. You can expect to identify around 40+ species on the walk. The price is AUD 60pp, minimum 2 people, and you are out about 2.5 hours. The walk is open to other guests too.
Night walks here are offered by Carol’s friend and long-time neighbour Kahleana Stannard. You can contact her direct to arrange a day and time. Her email is email@example.com or phone her on 0407 128 109. The cost is $50 per person (cash or bank transfer only, no cards) and you'll be out around 1.5 hours, starting soon after sunset so don't aim to eat out that evening.
A few kilometers south is the beautiful Sweetwater Lodge, also a birdwatcher heaven (a bit expensive: Euro 185 p.n.). Sweetwater Lodge’s Nature Reserve has a variation in habitats over 160 acres. Wander at will around the various walking tracks, through mountain rainforest, down to the creek, in the open grassland and woodland, in amongst the tall eucalypts and around the honey-flora gardens surrounding the lodges. The creek here has a resident platypus. The lodge has two well equipped cabins. It is worth a visit to check the birds around.
12. Mount Lewis / Mount Lewis Road (GPS: -16.580399, 145.336655)
The Mt. Lewis Road is 1.5km from the Lodge and winds its way up to 950m where the best birding location is on the mountain. The road is only sealed for 1 km before changing to gravel for the remaining 10 km, this section can become impassable after heavy rain, especially due to fallen trees, so you need to check the road conditions before you attempt to traverse it. The road has been well graded over the last few years so a 2WD vehicle will generally be fine to take up the mountain. The clearing at the top (GPS: -16.592833, 145.275336) is the best place to see Blue-faced Parrot Finch (Nov-April) and also other upland rainforest species such as Chowchilla, and Golden and Tooth-billed Bowerbird. The clearing is also excellent for highland rainforest endemics such as Bridled Honeyeater, Mountain Thornbill and Atherton Scrubwren, as well as rainforest pigeons such as Pied Imperial, White Headed and Topknot Pigeon, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Wompoo and Superb Fruit-Dove and Emerald Dove.
From the clearing there is a walking trail (GPS -16.601662, 145.272938) to the top of Mount Lewis where you’ll find a small dam. This trail leads you to spectacular cloud forest which is the best place to see lots of endemics. Along this walking track, there is a good chance of seeing Golden Bowerbird, as well as Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Spotted Catbird, Victoria’s Riflebird, Chowchilla (listen for them rustling about in the undergrowth), Yellow-throated Scrubwren, Eastern Whipbird, Grey-headed and Pale-headed Robin, Grey and Golden Whistler, Bower’s Shrike-thrush, Bridled and Lewin’s Honeyeater, Spectacled Monarch, Rufous and Grey Fantail, Bassian Thrush, Spangled Drongo, Mountain Thornbill and Fernwren. The dam has a resident Platypus.
Mt Lewis reputably has the highest concentration and biodiversity of mammals anywhere in Australia. Most of the mammals are active only at night, so to see them you will need to spotlight along the road up Mount Lewis. It’s possible to see Herbert River Ringtail Possum (black/white), Daintree River Ringtail Possum and Lemuroid Ringtail Possum, Long-tailed Pygmy Possum and there is a chance of both Northern and Tiger Quoll. Boyd’s Forest Dragon are also reasonably common.
Pub/Restaurant: There are two great pubs close by for dinner - the Highlander Tavern at Julatten has a more modern, open feel while the National at Mt Molloy is a great, traditional Aussie pub.
13. McDougal Road (GPS: -16.603630, 145.339557)
Turn into McDougal Road. There is a private dam down on the right hand side with easy viewing of various waterbirds. Bushy Creek and Rocky Creek also cross the road further down.
14. Abattoir Swamp, Julatten (GPS: -16.636038,145.327093)
Just near Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge. Here a bird hide is accessed by a boardwalk, but unfortunately the open water has been overrun by Olive Hymenachne grass. However, the woodland area around the car park is often productive (look for Northern Fantail here) and when the paperbark trees are flowering, large numbers of lorikeets and honeyeaters are attracted to the area. You may see Spotless and White-browed Crake feeding on the water’s edge, near where some eucalypts over hang the waters. The area around the hide is also excellent for honeyeaters! 21 species have been recorded at Abattoir Swamp, with the most likely to see being Brown-backed, Yellow, Dusky, Brown, Scarlet, Yellow-faced, Graceful, White-throated, Yellow-spotted, Lewin’s, Bridled and Blue-faced.
15. Bradley Road (GPS: -16.643176, 145.331716)
Bradley Road is a small dead-end road that runs off Wessel Road. The whole of Bradley Road can be very birdy with Lovely Fairy Wren, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher, Northern Fantail, Scarlet Honeyeaters, Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Double-eyed Fig Parrots, Dusky Honeyeater, Macleay’s Honeyeater, Little Shrike Thrush, Varied Triller, Red-browed Finches, Chestnut-breasted Mannikins, Spectacled Monarch, Tawny Grassbird and Pale Yellow Robin.
16. Wetherby Road (GPS: -16.651714, 145.348261)
This is good cattle country and open woodland. Heading south from Kingfisher Park Birdwatching Lodge to Mt Molloy, drive over the one lane bridge and turn left shortly afterwards (Wetherby Road). There is a small wetland close to the main homestead where you will often see many waterbirds.
17. Rifle Creek Reserve (GPS: -16.665916, 145.328609)
Rifle Creek Reserve (1 km north Mount Molloy) has an excellent bird list – look here for Emerald Dove, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Noisy Pitta, Spotted Catbird, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Black Butcherbird, Barred Cuckoo-shrike and Pale-yellow Robin, while Pale-vented Bush-hen feed along the creek line – look for the track that leads down to the creek. Raptors can be good here, with a chance of Square-tailed Kite, Pacific Baza and Little Eagle.
18. Mount Molloy (Village) (GPS: -16.673769, 145.334596)
There are some nice areas for birding around the small township of Mount Molloy. The trees and lawns around the township are a good place to spot Great Bowerbird, with a couple of active bowers (such as in the school grounds). In the towns street trees you can usually see Pale-headed Rosella, Red-winged Parrot, Blue-faced Honeyeater and Common Koel.
19. Mount Carbine (Village) (GPS: -16.526690, 145.132524)
Once you get to Mt Carbine the habitat has changes significantly from that around Kingfisher Park. Here the environment is much drier, and the birds are dry woodland species rather than forest or rainforest species. Around the town there is a chance of seeing Squatter Pigeon, Pale-headed Rosella, Red-winged Parrot, Great Bowerbird, Apostlebird, Grey-crowned Babbler, Pied Butcherbird and Black-throated Finch – look along, and around, the road that run alongside the cricket pitch.
To see the Tawny Frogmouth, go to the Mount Carbine Caravan Park. Usually, there is one or two pairs roosting in the trees. Ask people around here for these birds and they will gladly show where they are. This is an amazing place to see a variety of interesting birds! We went here twice!
20. Mary Farms (GPS: -16.583676, 145.189855)
West and South of Mount Lewis; this is much dryer area. This is a reliable site for Australian Bustard viewed from the East or West Mary Roads. A few km up the road is the McLeod River crossing (park here: GPS: -16.499471, 145.003322). You may find many species of honeyeater along the river, most notable Banded, Rufous-throated and White-gaped.
21. Big Mitchell Creek (GPS: -16.803963,145.365289)
Big Mitchell Creek is probably the best place to search for White-browed Robin. Just pull into the parking area immediately next to the bridge, drop straight down into the dry creek bed, pish several times and the bird will appear. Or park several hundred meters north along the Mulligan Hwy, and join the creek there . You may find here White-browed Robin too. Lemon-bellied Flycatcher and Northern Fantail occur in the woodlands along the creek, and you may see here Black-throated Finch, Pale-headed Rosella, Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo, Pied Butcherbird and Striated Pardalote.
22. Mareeba Wetlands (GPS: -16.915445, 145.380606)
The town of Mareeba is also known as ‘the edge of the outback’. Extensive wetland and woodland habitat. Not open to the public anymore but the road to the wetlands gate can be worth birding.
Most of the site consists of open tropical savanna woodland and grassland. This site also has extensive wetlands consisting of eight interconnected lagoons, further enhancing its birding appeal. A number of species can be viewed here more easily than other sites, such as the scarce local race of the Brown Treecreeper. Since its creation, the site has become one of the most important roost sites for Brolga and Sarus Crane (mainly winter and end of the dry season). There is an ongoing reintroduction program for the Gouldian Finch.
Access is via the Pickford Road which branches off from the main highway. The entrance road itself can produce great birds. Check ploughed fields for Plovers (including Oriental) and Pratincoles; water channels for Herons, Ibises and Crakes; and grassy paddocks for Bustards. Scan the air and exposed branches for birds of prey; the dry bush along this entrance road, both before and after the entrance sign can hold good numbers of dry country birds. Birders should be prepared to stop regularly and scan the surroundings. At the end of the road is the largest of the lakes on the reserve. The lake itself can be scanned for a good variety of water birds. The surrounding bush here and along the adjoining trails can also be very productive.
23. Tinaroo Creek Road (GPS: -17.080431, 145.502492)
Driving the length of this road near Mareeba gives a good chance of Squatter Pigeon, Pale-headed Rosella, Yellow Honeyeater, Brown Tree-creeper, Great Bowerbird and possibly Black-throated Finch.
Birding Spots Atherton Tablelands
24. Atherton Tablelands, Queensland
Located west of Cairns, the Atherton Tablelands is definitely a must-visit bird location. The dense rainforest is home to strikingly beautiful Australian birds and a perfect area to see the male bowerbirds as they charm their female counterparts during the spring and summer. Around 11 endemic bird species and several rare species can be seen feeding, playing and mating on the extensive volcanic crater lakes. Look out for seed-eating birds like the Blue- faced Parrot, as well as the Sooty Owl, Victoria’s Riflebird and Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher.
The following sites (25 - 34) are all within the Atherton Tablelands.
25. Emerald Creek Falls (GPS: -17.057974,145.546181)
Known as a regular roosting site for Rufous Owl, Emerald Creek Falls and its picnic area are located within Dinden State Forest, 14 km south-east of Mareeba. It’s surrounded by open woodland, and there’s some nice riparian rainforest along Emerald Creek. The best area for birding is around the picnic area and along the rainforest-lined creek-line. Rufous Owls are recorded along the creek virtually every year – mainly roosting in a tree directly over flowing water. Other birds here include Squatter Pigeon, Pale-headed Rosella, Scarlet and White-throated Honeyeater, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Northern Fantail, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher and White-browed Robin, and there is a chance of Square-tailed Kite.
26. Granite Gorge Nature Park (GPS: -17.041192, 145.351012)
About 14 km south of Mareeba, Granite Gorge Nature Park is worth investigating, not just for the birds, but also to see Mareeba Rock Wallaby, which are rather tame here. The birdlife here is surprisingly good, with Squatter Pigeon, Peaceful and Bar-shouldered Dove, Red-winged Parrot, Noisy Friarbird, Grey-crowned Babbler, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike: all relatively easy to see. Pale-headed Rosella is also common – the birds here are usually an intergrade form, a mix between the northern palliceps ssp (known as the ‘Blue-cheeked Rosella’) and the southern adscitus ssp (known as the ‘Pale-headed Rosella’).
The park also has two active Great Bowerbird bowers within the accommodation area. Look for Pheasant Coucal and Agile Wallaby on roadsides while driving in to the park, while Brolga and Sarus Crane (mainly winter and end of the dry season) sometimes feed in the pastures in the area.
27. Hasties Swamp NP (GPS: -17.298837, 145.476246)
Hasties Swamp National Park, four kilometers south of Atherton, is a well-known spring roosting site for Saras Crane and Brolga (mainly winter and end of the dry season), and there are usually large numbers of waterbirds such as Plumed and Wandering Whistling-Duck, Magpie Goose, Green Pygmy-Goose, Pink-eared Duck, Hardhead, Australasian Grebe, Great and Intermediate Egret, White-necked (Pacific) Heron, Royal Spoonbill, Buff-banded Rail, Purple Swamphen, Black-fronted Dotterel, Comb-crested Jacana, and, in summer, Latham’s Snipe and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper feed around the swamps edge.
28. Wongabel State Forest (GPS: -17.331665, 145.499874)
This is a nice area of remnant Mabi Forest that is dominated by Hoop Pine. It’s a good place to see White-headed Pigeon, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Wompoo Fruit-Dove, Spotted Catbird, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, White-throated (Little) Treecreeper, Atherton, Yellow-throated and Large-billed Scrub-wren, Large-billed and Brown Gerygone, Mountain Thornbill, Chowchilla, Bridled and Macleay’s Honeyeater, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Bower’s and Little Shrike-thrush, Pied Monarch, Victoria’s Riflebird, and Pale-yellow and Grey-headed Robin. There is some nice dry woodland areas around the Forest edge where you may see White-cheeked and White-naped Honeyeater, Jacky Winter and Brown (Black) Treecreeper. Wongabel State Forest also has a reputation for being an excellent night bird and mammals location, with a chance of spotting Rufous Owl, Southern Boobook, Lumholtz’s Tree-Kangaroo and Striped Possum. There's a loop walk and to spot Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroos you have to look for large dark objects resting in the forks of the larger trees.
29. Mount Hypipamee NP (GPS: -17.428355, 145.486226)
25 km south of Atherton and at an altitude of 1000 m, Mount Hypipamee National Park protects some fantastic upland rainforest. With only one main access point, the best birding is around the car park, and along the first few hundred meters or so along the walk to the Crater. Birds worth looking for at Mount Hypipamee include Golden Bowerbird, Victoria’s Riflebird, Southern Cassowary (sometimes regular around the carpark), Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Spotted Catbird, Lewin’s and Bridled Honeyeater, Chowchilla, Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill and Grey-headed and Pale-yellow Robin. Mount Hypipamee is also the great for spotlighting as I've seen Green Ringtail Possum, Herbert River Ringtail Possum (black/white), Lemuroid Ringtail and Brushtail Possum all in one night up here. Lumholtz Tree-Kangaroo can also be seen here along with the rare Long-tailed Pygmy Possum if you're lucky.
30. Curtain Fig Tree (GPS: -17.286117, 145.573670)
Near the township of Yungaburra, the Curtain Fig Tree is particularly good place to find Yellow-breasted Boatbill and Pied Monarch usually feeding in the higher areas of the canopy. It’s also a good place to see Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, Wompoo Fruit-Dove, Spotted Catbird, Lewin’s and Macleay’s Honeyeater, Large-billed Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Brown Gerygone, Little and Bower’s Shrike-thrush, Black-faced and Spectacled Monarch, Victoria’s Riflebird, Pale-yellow and Grey-headed Robin. It is a major tourist destination, and can get very busy so, if visiting, it is worth getting there as early as possible.
31. Yungaburra (GPS: -17.274471, 145.580675)
Yungaburra (formerly known as Allumbah Pocket) is a historic village with many cafés, restaurants, boutiques and accommodation options for travellers. Stop at the platypus viewing platform on Peterson’s Creek, near the big bamboo. Lookout for the tree kangaroo (Lumholtz’s Tree-Kangaroo) warning signs as you head out of town.
32. Lake Eacham (GPS: -17.284725, 145.625191)
At Lake Eacham some of the best birding is around the day-use area and the walk to the ranger’s office. When the fig trees are fruiting there is a chance of Barred Cuckoo-shrike and Double-eyed Fig-Parrot. The Lake Circuit Track winds its way around the lake and through upland tropical rainforest, where you may see Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Macleay’s and Bridled Honeyeater, Grey-headed Robin, Chowchilla, Bower’s Shrike-thrush, Pied Monarch, Victoria’s Riflebird, Tooth-billed Bowerbird and White-throated (Little) Treecreeper, Wompoo and Superb Fruit-dove, White-eared Monarch and Spotted Catbird. It’s a good place to see reddish smaller form of the Southern Boobook (ssp. lurida), which calls at night from within the day-use area. Birding within 150 m of the forest bordering the top carpark is worthwhile – look here for Chowchilla, Fern-wren, Yellow-breasted Boatbill and Spotted Catbird.
This area is also another good spot for spotlighting mammals such as Striped Possum, Northern Brown and Long-eared Bandicoot, the Giant White-tailed Rat, Brushtail Possum. Red-legged Pademelon, Musky Rat Kangaroo, and Yellow-footed Antechinus (most often seen during the day).
33. Lake Barrine (GPS: -17.250223, 145.635762)
Same as Lake Eacham.
34. Cathedral Fig Tree (GPS: -17.177569, 145.659592)
There is a big parking lot in front of the trail entrance leading to the tree. The Cathedral Fig Tree, like the Curtain Fig Tree, is a gigantic 500 year old strangler tree. Located in the Danbulla State Forest, the Cathedral Fig has the reputation of being the best place to hear an early morning bird 'singing' in the Atherton Tablelands. Circumnavigate the base of the tree and giant buttress roots on the easily accessible boardwalk.
35. Boat trip Great Barrier Reef - Michaelmas Cay (GPS: -16.606321, 145.973792)
For a boat trip to the Great Barrier Reef and to Michaelmas Cay, choose Seastar Cruises (https://seastarcruises.com.au/activities/bird-watching/) because they go out before any of the other operators. Take a day-cruise starting at 7:30am from E Finger at the Cairns Marlin Marina (GPS: -16.918709, 145.780321), until 4:15 pm. Cost AUD 240 p.p.
You will go snorkling the Great Barrier Reef and go to Michaelmas Cay, a small vegetated coral cay which is a protected seabird sanctuary and a major seabird nesting island in the northern Great Barrier Reef. 1.5 ha in area, and 3.5 m high, it lies 43 km north-east of Cairns.
The main breeding species are Sooty Tern, Crested Tern, Common (Brown) Noddy and Lesser Crested Tern. Occasional breeders include Silver Gull, Black-naped Tern, Bridled Tern, Roseate Tern, Black Noddy and Ruddy Turnstone while recently Brown Boobies have also been observed nesting. You may also see Little Terns, Caspian Terns, Gull-billed Terns and Great and Lesser Frigatebirds.
Birding Spots in Brisbane Area, South Eastern Queensland, Australia
36. JC Trotter Memorial Park (GPS: -27.550323, 153.177389)
JC Trotter Memorial Park is part of the Brisbane Koala Bushlands, an important eastern wildlife corridor that stretches its way to Daisy Hill Conservation Park. There are two walking trails in the park, both follow the banks of a water reserve lake that is part of Tingalpa Creek. The 2.5 km Tingalpa Creek Circuit is the nicest trail. JC Trotter park consists mainly of eucalypt forest with melaleuca or paperbarks trees growing amongst the bushland. The paperbark tree was very useful for the Aboriginal people who used the bark as bandages, medicinal purposes, cradles, sleeping mats and wrapping food when cooking.
37. Brisbane Koala Bushlands (GPS: -27.570732, 153.164037)
Brisbane Koala Bushlands are located 15 kilometers south-east of Brisbane's CBD. Brisbane Koala Bushlands were set aside primarily to protect significant koala habitat. The Brisbane Koala Bushlands offer a variety of walking tracks. An abundance of wildlife can be found in Brisbane Koala Bushlands including Koalas, Red-necked Wallabies, Swamp Wallabies, Bandicoots, Greater Gliders and Squirrel Gliders, Pale-headed Rosellas, Scarlet Honeyeaters and Sacred Kingfishers, Wedge-tailed Eagles, Eastern Water Dragons and Eastern Long-necked Turtles.
38. Daisy Hill (GPS: -27.623451, 153.156595)
The suburb of Daisy Hill features this beautiful parkland and the Koala Centre. The bushland area between Daisy Hill and Redland Bay is an important koala habitat, with exactly the right conditions to support a thriving community. Fittingly, Daisy Hill is home to an educational Koala Centre. At the Koala Centre, you can see koalas up close and learn all about these unique Australian marsupials.
40. Venman Bushland National Park (GPS: -27.631869, 153.204863)
Venman Bushland National Park is a tranquil portion of bushland on Tingalpa Creek abounding in wildlife: koalas, possums, gliders and wallabies. One of the largest remaining areas of eucalypt forest in the coastal lowlands near Brisbane, this park and other forest remnants in the region are important habitat for koalas and other wildlife. Two walking tracks take you to the creek.
Birding Spots Scenic Rim
40. Scenic Rim, Queensland
The Scenic Rim is home to six National Parks. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Area. The Scenic Rim’s six national parks are Mt Barney NP, Main Range NP, Moogerah Peaks NP, Tamborine NP, Lamington NP and Mount Chinghee NP. Around 300 bird species live in the Scenic Rim region in southeast Queensland and at least half of these are seen on a regular basis.
41. O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, Lamington National Park, Queensland (GPS: -28.230669, 153.136031)
The Lamington National Park is home to the Scenic Rim’s most diverse and accessible natural habitat. It is made up of two sections, Green Mountains and Binna Burra. Green Mountains section is located on the western side of the Lamington Plateau, and wraps around O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
Getting to O’Reilly’s is a journey in itself and can test one’s patience for winding roads. There’s only one way in, and it is all sealed but sometimes narrow; it’s two hours from Brisbane. If you drive from Brisbane to Lamington NP, you drive through Koala habitat! check out the eucalyptus tree areas for Koalas! They are rare but you may see them!
Driving to the town of Canungra, check out the fields around and after the town for Whip-tailed Wallabies, when they come out to graze here.
Also, there is a Flying Fox roost situated near the road bridge over Canungra Creek, only a 2 minute walk from the town: GPS: -28.016207, 153.159682. You find here both Black and Grey-headed Flying-foxes. Here you may also find Eastern Water Dragons sunning themselves on the creek banks.
O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat (https://oreillys.com.au/) has been a sanctuary for bird and other animal lovers since the early part of last century, and enjoys international recognition as one of the premier birdwatching locations in Australia. There are several walking trails which produce a variety of birds: Booyong Walk (Tree Top Walk), Border Track etc. More than 160 species of sub-tropical birds and other native wildlife make their home in the rainforest.
O'Reilly's is a great place for tame, colourful and exotic birds and taking photographs of them. There is a little bird-feeding area that has led to birdlife around the retreat becoming incredibly tame. You can get close encounters with Whipbirds, Eastern Yellow Robins, Regent Bowerbirds, Crimson Rosellas, King Parrots, Satin Bowerbirds, Red-Browed Finches, Pied Currawongs, Brush-turkeys, Superb Fairywrens etc.
In the early morning or evening in the grass surrounding the retreat you are likely to find Red-necked Pademelons. Around the retreat you may also find the Red-legged Pademelon, although this species is usually only seen briefly as when disturbed it darts into the shelter of the forest.
Walk at night on the Booyong Boardwalk with a flashlight in order to spot Ringtail Possums, Short-eared Brushtail Possums, Red-legged Pademelons, Sugar Gliders, Bush Rats, Long-nosed Bandicoots or even the Great Barred Frog, Orange-eyed Tree Frog and Leaf-tailed Gecko.
At O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat check out the following paths:
1. the bush-lined pathway between the Retreat grounds and the villas; It is quite good for birds: Rufous and Grey Fantails, Satin Bowerbirds, Eastern Yellow Robins etc.;
2. the Tree Top Walk and the Green Mountains Gardens are excellent for birds; many birds there are very used to people, and you’ll likely see Whipbirds out in the open on the boardwalk or near it. You may also see Green Catbird, White-Browed, Yellow-Throated and Large-Billed Scrubwren;
3. the Python Rock Track. The forest is reasonably dense but drier than a full rainforest. Signage is excellent and the terrain is very easy. You may see birds like White-Browed and Yellow-Throated Scrubwren, Green Catbird, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Eastern Whipbird, Golden Whistler, Crimson Rosella and Black-Faced Monarch;
4. the Moran Falls Track (4.4 km). You may see birds like Grey Shrike-thrush, Grey Fantail, Brown Gerygone, Lewin’s Honeyeater, Black-Faced Monarch and Spectacled Monarch. The track back up to O’Reilly’s from here winds its way through some dense brush and is excellent for birds like Brown Cuckoo-Dove and Rufous Fantail;
5. the Box Forest Circuit (9 km). It begins near the end of Lamington National Park road, opposite O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat. To get to the start of the Box Forest Circuit you actually have to walk along the Border Track and then the Picnic Rock Track. The track starts near Elabana Falls (3km from O’Reilly’s). The Box Forest Circuit is almost entirely shaded and offers great protection from the Australian sun.