Plumed Whistling Duck
Jon Morrison

Trip Report: Queensland, A Birder's Quest

Trip Report: Queensland, A Birder's Quest

Jul 11, 2016|BirdingHolbrook in the Field| by Camilia Epps

Jon Morrison of Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge and Stephanie Kowacz, Holbrook's Chief Operating Officer, recently traveled to Queensland, Australia to familiarize themselves with the birding opportunities and natural wonders the area has to offer. Jon gave us a glimpse into their trip and information about a future birding trip to Queensland that anyone can join below: 

I was honored to be a part of a Fam Tour to Queensland, Australia this past June. The trip was primarily an introduction to the land, sea and people. I added ‘air’ to it as I organize birding trips through Holbrook as fundraisers for the Friends of the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Queensland has 630 of the 898 species of birds found in Australia.  I went, not knowing what to expect, and came back eager to return to Australia as soon as possible.

Masked Lapwing

Our first two nights were in Townsville and waiting to welcome us to The Ville Resort were Rainbow Lorikeets, Masked Lapwings, Bush Stone-Curlew, and the bower of the Greater Bowerbird (more on the bowerbird later). We took a short drive up Castle Hill to look down on the city of Townsville and saw the Pheasant Coucal, Blue-faced Honeyeater and Australian Magpie. The next day we went to the Billabong Sanctuary and saw Spangled Drongo, Woohoo Fruit Dove (a truly spectacular bird), and Plumed-Whistling Duck.

Greater Bowerbird

The next day was a trip to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, which was spectacular. A trip there would not have been complete without a few bird sightings, including Nankeen Night-Heron, White-Bellied Sea-Eagle and Brown-footed Booby.

On the following day, we went to Hidden Valley, which was located on the west side of the mountains.  There we saw Chowchilla, Bush Turkey, Victoria’s Riflebird, Square-tailed Kites. We also spotted platypus feeding in a mountain stream. The next day we headed to Ingram-Mungalla Station, an Aboriginal station where we met, talked and enjoyed a meal with Australian aboriginals. While there we saw Satin Flycatcher, Forest Kingfisher, Dollarbird, Straw-necked Ibis, Lewin’s Honeycreeper, Red-backed Fairywren, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin and Barking Owl.

Barking Owl

Back to Townsville and across the bay to Magnetic Island, we saw Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Laughing Kookaburra, Sulfur-crested Cockatoo, Figbird, Jabiru, Wedge-tailed Eagle and a Pied Currawong. We also saw Koalas in the wild.

On the 26th, we went to Victoria Station, a cattle station in the Outback. It was a working station that teaches sustainable grazing land management. There were Apostlebirds (looked like 12), and Willie Wagtail.

Our last night in Townsville was back at The Ville Resort, where we were greeted by three Greater Bowerbirds, two males and either a female or immature. They were fighting over the bower and making quite the racket.

As an extension, we went to Sydney to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens, adding Little Corella, Darter, Chestnut Teal, Fork-tailed Swift and Noisy Miner to the list of birds we saw.

In all, we saw 74 species.

Magpie Goose

Birding-wise, we just touched the surface as our days were packed with as many sights and meetings as possible. Holbrook and I are now in the process of developing a trip back to Queensland for all who are interested in birding and all the natural wonders that make this a special place. It is tentatively planned for September 2018. This is the beginning of the best birding season in Queensland, and as Bones said on Star Trek, “There be whales.” The trip will be for 10-14 days with possible extensions to Sydney or New Zealand.