Sunday, August 14, 2016

Birds seen on trip

Species Name Comments
Magpie Goose
Plumed Whistling-Duck Everywhere, sometimes in  in huge numbers
Wandering Whistling-Duck
Greylag Goose (Domestic type)
Domestic goose sp. (Domestic type)
Black Swan
Radjah Shelduck
Muscovy Duck (Domestic type)
Green Pygmy-Goose
Cotton Pygmy-Goose Surprisingly common.  Lifer
Australian Wood Duck
Mallard (Domestic type)
Pacific Black Duck
Mallard x Pacific Black Duck (hybrid)
Grey Teal
Australian Brushturkey
Orange-footed Scrubfowl Few sightings
Brown Quail
Australasian Grebe
Great Crested Grebe Tablelands Lakes
Black-necked Stork Burdekin River only
Little Pied Cormorant
Great Cormorant
Little Black Cormorant
Pied Cormorant
Australasian Darter
Australian Pelican
White-necked Heron
Great Egret
Intermediate Egret
White-faced Heron
Little Egret
Eastern Reef Egret
Cattle Egret
Australian White Ibis
Straw-necked Ibis
Royal Spoonbill
Black-shouldered Kite (Australian)
Square-tailed Kite
Wedge-tailed Eagle
Swamp Harrier
Spotted Harrier
Grey Goshawk
Brown Goshawk
Collared Sparrowhawk
Black Kite often in largeish numbers
Whistling Kite
White-bellied Sea-Eagle
Australian Bustard Two sightings
Pale-vented Bush-hen  Lifer
Australasian Swamphen
Dusky Moorhen
Eurasian Coot
Sarus Crane 2 sites near Yungaburra
Brolga Huge flock at Mazeppa NP
Bush Stone-curlew Very common at Yungaburra.  Heard other sites
Black-winged Stilt (Australian)
Australian Pied Oystercatcher
Masked Lapwing
Comb-crested Jacana
Eastern Curlew
Bar-tailed Godwit
Ruddy Turnstone
Latham's Snipe
Silver Gull
Gull-billed Tern
Caspian Tern
Crested Tern
Rock Dove
White-headed Pigeon
Brown Cuckoo-Dove (Australian)
Pacific Emerald Dove Garden bird at Yunmgaburra
Crested Pigeon
Peaceful Dove
Bar-shouldered Dove
Wompoo Fruit-Dove Nesting at Curtain Fig Tree
Pheasant Coucal
Shining Bronze-Cuckoo
Fan-tailed Cuckoo
Barn Owl
Australian Swiftlet
Laughing Kookaburra
Blue-winged Kookaburra Mount Garnet
Forest Kingfisher Common at Yungaburra
Sacred Kingfisher
Rainbow Bee-eater
Nankeen Kestrel
Australian Hobby
Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo
Little Corella
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo
Australian King-Parrot
Red-winged Parrot Several sightings
Australian Ringneck
Pale-headed Rosella
Red-rumped Parrot
Double-eyed Fig-Parrot  Lifer, Bird of the trip
Little Lorikeet
Rainbow Lorikeet
Scaly-breasted Lorikeet Several sightings around Yungaburra
Spotted Bowerbird
Superb Fairywren
Red-backed Fairywren
Eastern Spinebill
Yellow-spotted Honeyeater
Lewin's Honeyeater
Yellow Honeyeater
Yellow-faced Honeyeater
Noisy Miner
Yellow-throated Miner
Bridled Honeyeater Endemic 
Spiny-cheeked Honeyeater
Red Wattlebird
Singing Honeyeater
White-plumed Honeyeater
Dusky Honeyeater
Scarlet Honeyeater
Brown Honeyeater
White-cheeked Honeyeater
Blue-faced Honeyeater
Macleay's Honeyeater Endemic 
Helmeted Friarbird
Noisy Friarbird
Striated Pardalote
Yellow-throated Scrubwren Lake Barrine
Atherton Scrubwren
Large-billed Scrubwren
Mountain Thornbill  Lifer
Fairy Gerygone  Lifer
White-throated Gerygone
Brown Gerygone
Grey-crowned Babbler
Chowchilla Endemic  Lifer, Lake Barrine
Eastern Whipbird
White-breasted Woodswallow
Dusky Woodswallow
Grey Butcherbird
Pied Butcherbird
Australian Magpie
Pied Currawong
Barred Cuckooshrike Lifer Mather Rd
Black-faced Cuckooshrike
White-bellied Cuckooshrike Several sightings at Yungaburra
Varied Triller Once on Mather Rd
Grey Shrikethrush
Bower's Shrikethrush  Lifer, several sightings around Yungaburra
Golden Whistler
Rufous Whistler
Olive-backed Oriole
Australasian Figbird Very common around Yungaburra
Spangled Drongo
Willie Wagtail
Grey Fantail
Black-faced Monarch 1 sighting at Curtain Fig
Spectacled Monarch Quite common at Yungaburra
Pied Monarch 1 sighting on Petersons's Creek
Leaden Flycatcher
Torresian Crow Everywhere on the Tablelands
Little Crow Western/Central Queensland
Australian Raven
Little Raven
crow/raven sp.
Victoria's Riflebird Curtain Fig Tree, Lifer
Pale-yellow Robin
Eastern Yellow Robin
White-browed Robin
Grey-headed Robin  Lifer Lake Barrine
Welcome Swallow
Fairy Martin
Tree Martin
Australian Reed-Warbler
Tawny Grassbird
Golden-headed Cisticola
Common Blackbird
Metallic Starling One sighting of 2 birds in Garden.
Common Starling
Common Myna
Olive-backed Sunbird
Australasian Pipit
House Sparrow
Red-browed Finch
Crimson Finch
Double-barred Finch
Scaly-breasted Munia  Lifer, Cairns Esplanade
Chestnut-breasted Mannikin

The testing of pies

Over the last couple of trips I have taken to reviewing the pies I have had for lunch most days.  On this trip I have also discussed the offerings with Frances and think I can offer a summary of the factors considered in arriving at a rating.  I will also see if can attach scores to each factor.

  1. Basic taste according to style.  This gets a maximum score of 3 points.  If a plain meat pie has a very good taste it can score 3, whereas a pepper pie has to taste of pepper, and a steak and kidney pie has to have both steak and kidney.
  2. Was there some decent meat in there or just mince meat?  +1 for chunks of meat, -1 for only mince meat.  On further consideration if it is only a plain pie, steak should not be expected so a score of 0 is awarded for mince in a basic pie.
  3. What is the ratio of meat to gravy?  Overall chewy +1, bit runny 0, could be eaten through a straw -1.
  4. How about ratio of crust to filling.  Solid crust holds the deal together +1.  Crust a bit weak and collapses under the weight of filling, 0.  Volume of crust greater than filling -1.
  5. Texture of crust.  Flaky and crisp 1.  Burnt or under-cooked 0, indistiguishable from cardboard -1
  6. Nicely warm indicating freshly made +2.  Very hot indicating pie which has been nuked  +1.  Barely warm-1
  7. Is it basically a home made pie or something commercial.  Home made +1.  Origin unclear 0.  Anything involving cellophane -1.
Here is a score sheet using my memory of the best and worst pies encountered on the trip.

Category Quincan café Chillago
Taste 3 1
Meatiness 1 -1
Gravy ratio 1 0
Crust ratio 0 1
crust nature 1 -1
Warmth 2 1
Artisanality 1 -1
Total 9 0

This pretty much comes out where I did at the time, although I think I gave Chillago a score of 3, knowing this to be logically unsustainable.

An overview and index

The idea of this post is to give an overview of the trip and provide a consolidated way of navigating around the set of posts.

Overall I rated the trip very successful.  We avoided 6 weeks of Carwoola Winter, saw many interesting things and new places and got to 'know' Yungaburra a bit.
  • Bird of the trip: There are three categories now.
    • The prime award goes to Double-eyed Fig-Parrot as it is cute and was a lifer.  The runner up award goes to Chowchilla: also a lifer and very difficult to see on the floor of the rainforest at Lake Barrine.  
    • In the flocks category it is very hard to choose between the Plumed Whistling Ducks at Hasties Swamp and the Brolgas at Mazeppa.  The latter just win as the flock had dispersed somewhat when another birder had a go, and thus our sighting of the Brolgas was special.  (Frances went for the PWDs as they were evident in more places
    • The ubiquitous award can only be applied at the end of the trip.  Several contenders here, with the Gold Bogie going to Masked Lapwing.  Seen everywhere (a fair definition of ubiquity) and often initially mistaken for some thing else,   Second was Australian White Ibis, but it is not good to see the ultimate bin-chook win.  Black Kite was common everywhere north of the Mitchell Highway but not on the first or last days.  Cattle Egrets were in large numbers everywhere East of the Divide, but that rules out about 7 days.  Magpie-larks were everywhere but in smaller numbers than the other contenders.
  • Vegetation of the trip:   In the "native" category I put the rainforest around Lake Barrine as the winner, with the regeneration at our friend's place at Daintree and the vegetation along Peterson's Creek at Yungaburra as tied for second place.  The 'agricultural' award goes to the ubiquitous sugar cane.
  • Memorable moment:  Finding the chewed spud in the car, showing that the rat was in there.
  • Comment of the trip: The two contenders were both at the caravan park in St Georgeearly in the trip:
    • I think the winner was an exchange between two folks on the Monday morning.  "In a weeks time I'll be back at work." "Good: someone's gotta pay for our pension!".
    • The second place award again featured two people but on the Sunday night.  As the party was breaking one one of the members said "Well we'll see you later somewhere.  I probably won't recognise you but I'll say g'day any way.
  • Pie of the trip: The plain pie from the Quincan cafe wins out for being such a welcome change from the rather poor offerings of most places in Queensland.  It was pretty good anyway, and would have been even higher rated if the crust had the strength needed to contain the huge amount of filling. The most memorable is a tie between the offering at Chillago - barely edible - and one Frances had at Proserpine which included a whole hard-boiled egg (also barely edible).
  • Troppo moment of the trip. Tinaroo man, with his strange clothing and undertaking the most tropical of activities, mowing a very extensive lawn.
In terms of statistics:
  • We covered 8300km of which about 5200km were towing the camper.  We averaged 11.7 litres /100km (or 23.9mpg). The average cost per litre was $1.246 (with a range from $1.299 in Mackay to $1.129 - including discount - on the outskirts of Townsville).
  • I recorded 194 species of birds (including 4 species of domestic waterfowl).  10 of these were lifers.

Our overall route is shown in blue on a clip from Google Maps:
The dashed green line is our original plan which I changed as a result of finding out that there was a large RV Rally and "Henley on Flinders" event at Hughenden (marked with a red cross).  I'd still like to visit Longreach (but not in Summer).

Following a question from a friend I realise I didn't complete the circle on the dog-scone situation.  Here is the full story:

Basically both vets that looked at her started by saying that her teeth were in fine.  The second guy - the one in Atherton - thought that there were two options: 
​​1  the infection had got into bone; or
2 some form of cancer.
When he had her asleep he looked at x-rays and ruled out 1.  He then looked at the serum under the microscope and ruled out 2.  He then had a very close look at her teeth and found a couple of back molars were, in fact, rotten and were the source of the problem.  He yanked them.  
He also sent a sample away for culture and this turned out to show that the bacterium involved was a rather nasty variety that was resistant to the antibiotics he'd provided.  It sounded as though she had got that from the dirt in which she buries her bones.  He gave us some boss antibiotics which together with the yanking, seem to have fixed the business up.  Although she missed the rat when she had a chance.

The following is a set of links to the daily posts.

Date Area Topic and hyperlink
02-Jul To Gilgandra To Gilgandra
03-Jul To St George To St George
04-Jul To Roma To Roma
05-Jul To Emerald Roma,  Emerald
06-Jul Emerald Emerald
07-Jul To Charters Towers Clermont, Charters Towers
08-Jul To Mt Garnet Charters Towers, Mt Garnet
09-Jul Mt Garnet Mt Garnet, Atherton
10-Jul To Yungaburra Mt Garnet, Platypus
11-Jul FN  Queensland Tour of Tinaroo
12-Jul FN  Queensland Yungaburra
13-Jul FN  Queensland Tinaburra
14-Jul FN  Queensland Cairns
15-Jul FN  Queensland Atherton
16-Jul FN  Queensland Lake Barrine
17-Jul FN  Queensland Yungaburra
18-Jul FN  Queensland Yungaburra
19-Jul FN  Queensland Daintree
20-Jul FN  Queensland Daintree
21-Jul FN  Queensland Yungaburra
22-Jul FN  Queensland Innisfail
23-Jul FN  Queensland Yungaburra Market 
24-Jul FN  Queensland Mt Hypipamee
25-Jul FN  Queensland Mareeba
26-Jul FN  Queensland Mount Hypipamee 
27-Jul FN  Queensland Curtain Fig Tree
28-Jul FN  Queensland Lake Eacham
29-Jul FN  Queensland Atherton
30-Jul FN  Queensland Chillago
31-Jul FN  Queensland Yungaburra
01-Aug FN  Queensland Car non-sevice Atherton
02-Aug FN  Queensland Lake Barrine
03-Aug FN  Queensland Yungaburra, Malanda
04-Aug FN  Queensland Mareeba, Skybury
05-Aug FN  Queensland Nerada Tea, Car service Mareeba
06-Aug FN  Queensland Lake Barrine, Yungaburra
07-Aug To Alva Beach Alva Beach
08-Aug To Mackay Mackay
09-Aug To Rockhampton Rockhampton
10-Aug To Goondiwindi Mount Morgan, Goondiwindi
11-Aug To Wellington NW NSW
12-Aug Home That’s all folks
Overview Pie testing Pie rating methods
Overview The Rat A saga
Overview Observations Birdlist
Overview Observations Animal list

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Animals of Northern Trip


Orchard Swallowtail
Ulysses Swallowtail
Cairns Birdwing
Varied Eggfly
Bordered Rustic
Common Jezabel
Red-banded Jezabel
Common Grass-blue

Other invertebrates

Plecia sp.
Huntsman spider


Eastern Grey Kangaroo
Agile Wallaby
Lumholtz Tree-Kangaroo
Red-necked Pademelon
Musky Rat-Kangaroo

Long-nosed Bandicoot
Northern Brown Bandicoot

Coppery Brush-tailed Possum
Common Brush-tailed Kangaroo
Lemuroid Ring-tailed Possum
Striped Possum
Yellow-bellied Glider
Sugar Glider
Feather-tailed Glider


Red-throated Rainbow Skink

Other Vertebrates

Spectacled Fruit-Bat
Little Red Fruit-Bat
Dingo (former, on the road to Charters Towers)
Feral pigs
Echidna (former, on the road somewhere on the way home)

Friday, August 12, 2016

The saga of The Rat

I have covered parts of this in various daily posts but thought it was an important enough part of the trip - in terms of the number of days it affected - to get a full post of its own.

The story began on August 4 as I delivered the Pajero to a dealership in Mareeba to get some important work done.  The main street of Mareeba is limited to 40kph and there are quite a few pedestrian crossings.  Each time we approached a crossing with peiople on it they'd point at the front of the car and look worried.  I assumed this was because fluids were leaking (part of the reason for the work) smiled, and carried on.

The next day we turned up to collect the car (all work done) and the mechanic commented on the big rodent in the car.  He then explained that when they were working under the car (on 4 August) they had suddenly found a large rat looking at them.  They got a bit vocal at this point - to the extent that the receptionist went to see what was causing the fuss.    However the rat disappeared and they didn't know where it had gone: was it somewhere in the car or somewhere in the workshop?  ( I suspect that the rat was hanging 20 on the front of the car and that is what the folk in the Mareeba street were pointing at!)

It was suggested the rat was a White-tailed Rat Uromys caudimaculatus and had invaded the car from a rainforest.  We had seen warnings about them around Lake Tinaroo and were aware that
"The Giant White-tailed Rat loves to chew all sorts of materials such as plastic, rubber, electrical wires, leather, tin and canvas. They will often bite cans open and consume the contents. Some people even believe the rats can read the labels! They have been known to damage and disable vehicles too by biting through fan belts and water hoses."  
This was not good if it was still evident.  See also this story from the ABC.

On the way home we stopped at a roadside stall and bought a sack of Atherton spuds (nice fresh spuds at a good price).  This was left in the car overnight. on 6 August we started to pack things up and I noticed that the sack had been gnawed, as had a spud.  Obviously Mr Rat was still in the car.  The sack was moved to a secure area in the (rat-free as far as we knew, and still know) camper.  The remains of the munched spud were donated to the bantams.

So we called in to the supermarket in Yungaburra and acquired some Ratsak.  This was placed around  inside the car the next night.  In the morning it looked as though a few bits of bait had been nibbled but there wasn't a corpse.  So we headed off on our way home.

Our first overnight was at Alva Beach.  More Ratsak was distributed.  On the 8th I inspected the baits and they appeared to have been untouched but a few rodentish turds were evident.  As we got in the car to drive off Tammy started digging into the back seat: she knew where ratty was!  Unload the entire car and there was the target between the back seat and the tray in the boot.  Tammy was inserted but looked the wrong way and Rat departed for parts unknown.

So we drove off towards Mackay hoping that it hadn't chewed through anything.  Never had warning lights been studied so closely.  Of course, our noses were also twirching in case it had croaked behind some bodywork - in view of O'Reilly Law (which basically reads  "Murphy was an optimist") it was bound to go somewhere inaccessible to die and subsequently rot.

On getting to Mackay without a major system failure or an olfactory explosion, I eventually found a Bunnings (Coles, K-Mart and Woolworths all failing to have rat traps) and they provided some suitable spring-loaded devices.  Frances had suggested buying 2, but I got 3 to cover all parts of the car!  They were baited with cheese and spread around the car.

On the morning of the 9th the cheese had gone but the traps hadn't fired.  No ratsak taken.  Drive on, to Rockhampton again watching the warning lights, and sniffing frequently  That night I tried some peanut butter on one of the traps, which might induce trap firing.  No siree!

By this stage I was beginning to get desperate about how to get rid of the damn thing.  Suddenly I thought about using a glue trap.  We tried a couple of spots on our way to Goondiwindi but they only had mouse sized glue traps which wouldn't slow this beast up.  More cheese consumed in Goondiwindi but the next morning the Home Hardware store in Goondiwindi had some large, rat-sized glue traps.  When I explained why we needed them I was asked to ensure I took the rat away with us.

So the next (last of the trip) night a couple of glue traps were put out when we set up in Wellington.  A little after dark I looked through the window into the boot and the trap there had been overturned.  On opening the boot area the rat was still attached to the trap.  A couple of minutes of (I regret to say, enjoyable) violence then ensued with the result that the Rat was no longer a problem.  Finally.
My belief is that it wasn't in fact a White-tailed rat but just a fairly large black rat (Rattus rattus).  Alan Gillanders has subsequently identified the beast from a photograph, as a Fawn-footed Melomys (Melomys cervinipes) and noted that they can be very destructiveIt doesn't seem to damaged anything other than munching some of a dessicated specimen which Frances was bringing home for scientific and artistic study.  The damn rodent effectively messed up 6 days of our trip (and a potato)!

Ding-dong, the rat is dead

With the assistance of a glue-trap our rodent companion was captured last night.  It was then dealt with appropriately.  A full write up of the saga is here and Ratty is there:
As I type, at 6:44 on 12 August at Wellington NSW it is well below freezing.  Please explain why we left Yungaburra!  Apparently the overnight low was -2oC.  We forced ourselves out to start packing and completed this by about 9am and were on the road soon after.

The drive was basically a drive.  From Wellington to (about) Cowra we were impressed with how green the country was.

 In some places canola had been plated and was fully flowering, giving patches of bright yellow.
More yellow was evident from the wattles beside the road.

As we started to climb from the plains up to the Tableland the green-ness started to decline to the frost-burnt brown of a Monaro Winter.  While there there was plenty of canola planted between Cowra and Boorowa it was only just starting to flower.  This was a sure sign that things had been cool.  Probably not a pleasant time for these sheep to have misplaced their overcoats.
 At least the little lambs were capering well (although Frances noted a few in another paddock that appeared to gone to check on Ratty).

We got home at just on 2pm having paused briefly in Boorowa for a pie.

  • Bird of the day: Pied Butcherbird: common through the trip but not in Canberra, so I had been saving the species for this day.  Flock of the day was NOT Superb Parrot, which as usual was unevident , except on various hoardings around Boorowa.  This tick goes to Little Corellas along the Macquarie River in Wellington.
  • Vegetation of the day:    Canola near Molong.
  • Memorable moment:  Swinging into our drive!
  • Comment of the day: None
  • Pie of the day: A steak and kidney item from Superb Bakery in Boorowa.  A very good offering indeed.  Everything well done.  It at least ties with the Quincan Cafe in Yungaburra for pie of the trip.  A little small so 9/10.
  • Troppo moment of the day.I was so laid back that even a pause at roadworks on the edge of Wellington didn't cause me anguish.  We were also well below the tropics!
Some overall review of the trip material will be has been generated when I have caught up on a few other things!
Back to Index page

Thursday, August 11, 2016

One sleep to go!

The penultimate kip at Goondiwindi was pretty good, although hearing rain a couple of times in the night was ungood.  No biggie however.

We were on our way before 9 and bought breakfast in the town.  We didn't hang around much as it was raining again.  I didn't even see a statue of Gunsynd to photograph.  The Home Hardware store did provide some rat sized glue traps: here is hoping!

In passing I noticed a sign for the "Goondiwindi öff-road race" next weekend.  I'm glad we aren't in town for that revhead special.  On the road I saw several trucks laden with buggies and in Coonabarrabran a bunch of utes with many trail bikes. Good we're outtathere.

The weather was basically horrible as we crossed the State border - surprisingly only about 500m past the end of the town - and drove down towards Moree.  Lots of trucks coming towards us and quite a few caravans (all Vic registered) going, slowly, our way.  The Newell Highway is after all the direct route from Melbourne to Brisbane.  At one point we were held up for about 10 minutes by some unemployables talking about roadworks.

On the one time we had been to Moree in the past it seemed rather suave.  This route took us through the industrial outskirts, so not suave.  On on towards Narrabri.  The country to the West of the road was MBF: Mind Bogglingly Flat.
 Some lumps were visible to the East.
As we neared Narrabri they turned into Mount Kaputar.
 A bit further down the road I noticed a flagpole and a bunch of brass plates on rocks.  Surely a War Memorial.  Nope done on the 100th anniversary of founding the village and the rail service to the NW.  Interestingly they gave everyone's name and when they lived in the area.
I then found another plaque referring to Lone Pine.  I reckon this is a War Memorial even though the pines seem to have died.
 Between Moonie and Goondiwindi we saw a few signs to "rig ##" but no Lock the Gate material.  Once South of the border this was a common message as we went on to Narrabri.
 They had a War Memorial!
South of Narrabri the anti CSG message changed to protecting the Pilliga.  Still basically sticking it to Santos and their ilk.

We wondered if it was worth stopping for another night or just press on.  After an interesting drive from Coonabarrabran on the Google shortest route (with some rather wet and ordinary dirt roads) we got to Wellington at 3:15 and decided that (apart from the tiredness issue) getting home at 7:30 pm or later to a cold dark house was ungood.  So we are at the Riverview Caravan Park in that town.
  • Bird of the day: Cockatiel gets the individual award, while a mob of about 80 Little Corellas get a flock guernsey.
  • Vegetation of the day:    The epicormic growth in the Pilliga.
  • Memorable moment:  Posting our Census form back at Boggabilla!
  • Comment of the day: "Please pick up the mess." Apparently the owner of the van park at Wellington has a few 'pon my sole' issues.  I assured her we would collect.
  • Pie of the day: A steak and kidney item from Narrabri.  Quite sound: the crust was a tad moist and the kidney taste was not strong, but a lot better than most offerings in QLD!  8/10
  • Troppo moment of the day. Waiting for 10 minutes at road works, which mainly consisted of 5 fat bastards standing around talking.  (In contrast in a couple of cases guys were filling in potholes, ducking out in gaps in the 110kph traffic: go figure the OHAS mentality! )