Far North Queensland 12 - 25 July 2016

12 – 25 July 2016

Part 1. Atherton Tablelands

Pretour night: Cairns
12 July 2016

13 July 2016
Day 1
We start in Cairns and spend most of the first day birding the parks and gardens for lowland species such as little kingfisher, yellow-bellied sunbird, double-eyed fig-parrot, yellow oriole and varied triller. We'll also bird the Cairns foreshore for over-wintering migratory waders and other waterbirds. There's a chance for beach stone-curlew. Nearby mangroves might produce mangrove robin and collared kingfisher. We'll head up to the Atherton Tablelands for a two-night stay in the Malanda area.
Overnight: Chambers Rainforest Lodge

14 July 2016
Day 2
We'll spend the day birding pockets of rainforest for the Atherton endemics on the Tablelands. Highlights today could include golden and tooth-billed bowerbirds, grey-headed robin, Bower's shrike-thrush, Victoria's riflebird, Atherton scrubwren, mountain thornbill, Macleay's and bridled honeyeaters and southern cassowary. We'll spotlight for lesser sooty owl and Lumhotz's tree-kangaroo and assorted possums.
Overnight: Chambers Rainforest Lodge

15 July 2016
Day 3
This morning we'll bird the rainforest for any species still missing and time allowing, bird the nearby wetlands for magpie goose, plumed whistle-duck and cotton pygmy goose. Sarus crane and brolga should be about in the open farmland. The Tableland area is good for raptors and we'll be on the look out for grey goshawk, spotted harrier and square-tailed kite. After lunch we'll head to Julatten, on the Tablelands' northern end, where we'll spend three nights at Kingfisher Park. In the drier riverine forest, en route to Julatten, we'll look for the delightful white-browed robin and hopefully see out first red-tailed black cockatoos.
Overnight: Kingfisher Park

16 July 2016
Day 4
Heading up to Mt Lewis this morning. As well as being a good backup location for any species missed in the Malanda area. It's particularly good for chowchilla, Atherton scrubwren and fernwren as well as golden and tooth-billed bowerbirds. Kingfisher Park gives us opportunities for red-necked crake, blue-faced parrot-finch, pied monarch and yellow-breasted boatbill. Spotlighting here could give us striped possum and Papuan frogmouth.
Overnight: Kingfisher Park

17 July 2016
Day 5

We'll continue to bird around Kingfisher Park and surrounding area today for any species missing.

Overnight: Kingfisher Park

Those participants who have elected to do only part one will be transferred back to Cairns in the afternoon and those only doing part 2 will be collected in Cairns and transferred to Kingfisher Park for the night.

Part 2. Iron Range birding tour drive in/fly out

The rainforests of Iron Range on Cape York Peninsula are one of the most important areas for endemic birds in Australia, with around sixteen species, which, in terms of mainland Australia, only occur there. It is also a great place to see many northern Queensland rainforest species.

The dry woodland and riverine forest on our way up Cape York from Cairns presents opportunities to see black-backed butcherbird and golden-shouldered parrot and we should have a good chance of red goshawk and many other woodland birds.

We've opted to run this tour in the dry season when it is cooler and birding conditions less challenging. What we'll miss are the wet season migrants from PNG: red-bellied pitta, black-winged monarch and buff-breasted paradise kingfisher.

There are great nocturnal species to be seen on this tour, both mammal and bird, and we'll spotlight on several nights.

Day 6

18 July 2016

Kingfisher Park to Musgrave (c400 km). We'll set off early, making our way north through the dry woodland of Cape York Peninsula. Today will be mainly a driving day with some birding stops along the way. We'll be on the lookout for the northern race of squatter pigeon.

Overnight: Musgrave RH

Day 7

19 July 2016
Musgrave area. Golden-shouldered parrot is the target bird today, found in the dry woodland in the Musgrave area. There is only a small remnant population. The area is rich in other species, such as masked and black-throated finches. We should also see black-backed butcherbird and we have a chance here for red goshawk. We'll spotlight tonight for eastern grass owl and a trio of nightjars: spotted, white-throated and large-tailed. Mammals could include agile and nail-tailed wallabies. 
Overnight: Musgrave RH

Day 8

20 July 2016
Musgrave to Archer River
We'll spend the morning about Musgrave seeking out any of the specialties not seen the previous day and then move on to Archer River in the afternoon.

Overnight: Archer River RH.

Day 9 

21 July 2016

Archer River to Iron Range (Lockhart River)
We'll have several birding stops en route to Iron Range today. While it is not a lot of kilometres, it will be slow going, with many creek crossings along the way. We could pick up trumpet manucode at Wenlock River. We'll do some birding in the nearby rainforest if time allows.

Overnight: Lockhart River Cabins

22, 23 & 24 July 2016
Day 10, 11 & 12
Iron Range
We'll spend these three days birding the rainforest as well as the adjacent woodlands for the Iron Range endemics and north Queensland specialties. The mangroves and mudflats of Portland Roads will be visited on at least one occasion. This area is often the best place for fawn-breasted bowerbird and red-cheeked parrot.

Besides the above-mentioned species, we should see yellow-legged flycatcher, frilled-necked monarch, tawny-breasted honeyeater, white-streaked honeyeater, green-backed honeyeater, magnificent riflebird, palm cockatoo, eclectus parrot, red-cheeked parrot, yellow-billed kingfisher, chestnut-breasted cuckoo, northern scrubrobin, white-faced robin, tropical scrubwren and other species. Spotlighting could produce marbled frogmouth, rufous owl and common spotted and Southern common cuscuses and perhaps emerald python. Tropical butterflies abound.
Overnight: Lockhart River Cabins

25 July 2016

Day 12
Our final morning birding Iron Range before your flight from Iron Range airport back to Cairns. July 2017 flight schedule to be advised, probably in February 2017 but keep an eye on the Skytrans website. http://www.skytrans.com.au/

Cost part 1, $2,650 AUD, single supplement: $380 AUD
Cost part 2: $3,650 AUD, single supplement: $590 AUD

Cost for part 1 & 2 combined: $5,985 AUD

Single supplement if doing both sections: $900 AUD

Part 1 cost includes accommodation from pretour night in Cairns to day four at Kingfisher Park, and then on return to Cairns on day 5 for those participants leaving the tour. All meals from dinner on pretour night to lunch on day 5, transport, park entrance fees etc. Transfer back to Cairns.

Part 2 cost includes accommdation from day 5 at Kingfisher Park to day 12 at Lockhart River, all meals from dinner on day 5 to breakfast on day 13, transport, park entrance fees etc. The cost does not include the flight back to Cairns.

Flight from Lockhart River to Cairns: http://www.skytrans.com.au/

Participants are welcome to catch a ride back to Cairns with Philip and Patricia. They will overnight at Archer River and Kingfisher Park and arrive in Cairns on 28 July.

Limited to six participants.

Vehicles: Two 4WDs. Each participant will have a window seat.

Tour leader: Philip Maher
Tour & meals organiser: Patricia Maher