Sunday Night



Paluma is a very nice little village at the top of the Paluma Range of mountains, a little over an hour north of Townsville.† It is located in a patch of virgin rainforest, and it is well known among birders for the birds that live here.† I stopped here very briefly on my first Aussie trip, in 2002, but I wanted to spend more time here this time.


By the time I got packed up and checked out, and had gassed up the car, it was about 9 when I hit the road this morning.† I stopped a couple of places (pictures to follow, eventually), and I got here about 11, I think.† The road up from the main highway is very narrow and twisty.† It isnít single lane, anyway, but at some points, it seems like it is.† I met about 10 or 12 vehicles in the 30 minutes it took me to cover the 12 miles from the main road.† My average speed was about 25 miles per hour, I guess.


There were a lot more people around the village than I had expected, but it was a beautiful Sunday in school holidays, so I guess that added to the crowd.† They had some kind of market thing going on at the village green, too, but I didnít stop to check it out.† It was too early to check into the motel/restaurant place I had booked , so I drove and walked around the village a bit, looking for birds.† I got Grey-headed Robin, a trip bird, almost at once, and I saw a lot more of them later in the day.†† I walked a bit down the Rainforest Track and I picked up Victoriaís Riflebird and Spotted Catbird, two more trip birds, and I also got good looks at Spectacled Monarchs.† I had seen a Spectacled Monarch with Judith on my first day, and it was a lifer, but today I got much better looks at them, and that was nice.


After that, I drove to Paluma Dam, stopping at the track to Birthday Falls to look for Golden Bowerbird, which was supposed to be along the track.† I heard a bird making a lot of noise, and it was definitely bowerbird type of noise, so I thought it must be the Golden Bowerbird, but I couldnít get onto him, to see him.† I eventually gave up and drove on up to Lake Paluma (Paluma Dam), where I had some peanut butter and crackers, and a protein bar to top it off.


It was a pleasant spot, but there werenít any birds to speak of, so I headed back to town.† I stopped again at the track to Birthday Falls, and again heard the loud bowerbird calls.† This time I was able to get onto the bird fairly quickly, but it wasnít a Golden Bowerbird, as I had expected from what I had read.† I got great looks at it, and even some pictures, and then I looked it up in my field guide, and it was a Tooth-billed Bowerbird, which was a lifer for me.† Iíll have to try to get Golden Bowerbird later in the trip, but getting the Tooth-billed one now was great.


I got back to my motel/restaurant about 2, and I checked in.† Nice big room, built only a couple of years ago, should be a nice place to stay.† No phone and no internet, though.† I had expected that, so it wasnít any surprise.† I am writing this in Paluma, but I wonít be able to post it until tomorrow night at the earliest.


While I was getting settled in and was sort of looking around the garden area, I spotted another trip bird, a Black-faced Monarch.† Very attractive bird, and I got a good look at it.† After that, I went out and cruised the village, looking for birds.† I walked the short nature walk through the deep rainforest, but saw nothing.† I then went back to the Rainforest Track and walked the whole thing (about Ĺ mile).† I saw Spectacled Monarchs again, and glimpses of other birds, but nothing to add to my list.† It sure was nice in the Rainforest, though.† Most of the crowd had left by then, and it was very quiet, except for bird and insect sounds, and the occasional car driving by on the road, which wasnít all that far away.† As usual, it was very hard to spot birds in a rainforest, even when I heard them nearby.† The Catbirds were calling again, a sound like a cat that is mad about something, maybe about to start a cat fight, but I didnít see any this time.† You can see how they got their name, though.


So, I went back to my room about four or so.† I sat out in front of it and enjoyed the view of trees and garden, and when it got late enough to have a drink, I went over to the restaurant and got a bowl of ice.† I was out of orange-mango juice, and Woolworths outside of Townsville didnít open until 11 on Sunday, so I was out of both orange juice and cheese, and my mixed nuts were very low.† Oh, the hardships of traveling overseasÖ


Anyway, I had some Bundaberg and Diet Coke, followed by a beer or two, and sat out there and looked at the trees, looking for birds, finishing off my nuts in the process.† There wasnít much action for a long time, but all of a sudden, about 5:30, there was bird action.† I added Bowerís Shrike-thrush, a lifer, and Pale-yellow Robin, a trip bird, in fairly rapid order, then it slowed down again, although I did get more looks at Black-faced Monarch.


As it was starting to get a little dark, I saw a small bird on the lawn of the property next door.† I jumped up and got the binoculars on it, and it was a quail-like bird of some sort, obviously a lifer for me.† I watched it for a couple or three minutes, trying to memorize the colors and patterns, and trying to get closer.† When it went under a fence and out of sight, I went back to my field guide.† I decided it was a Painted Button-quail, a species I never expected to see, and certainly one that seems very unlikely up here at 3000 feet, in a rainforest.† But, that is the only thing it could have been, as far as I could see, so I counted it.† I would love to know what button-quail species have been seen up here, to confirm my identification, but all the things I saw were consistent with only the Painted Button-quail.


So, with that surprising sighting, I ended up with 8 species for the day, of which 3 were lifers.† Outstanding.† That brings my totals to 228 for the trip, with 42 of them lifers.


I decided to have dinner at the restaurant, since it was right here, and I was pretty much out of food and had no kitchen to prepare anything in anyway. †Three things on the menu sounded good Ė a Marinated Chicken Fillet Burger with chips and salad, a Wood-fired Pizza with The Works on it (would have been interesting just to see what The Works consisted of), or home-made lasagna with salad and chips.† I went for the lasagna partly because I loved the idea of having fries with lasagna.† Only in Australia or England, I think.† Iíve certainly never seen French fries served with lasagna in the States, and I doubt they do it in Italy.† All three were great Ė lasagna, salad, and chips.† Now I am finishing off some cookies I bought last week.† Lemon Cheesecake Slice, they are called.† I donít taste anything cheesecakey about them, but they are a nice subtle lemon flavor with a chocolate covering, and I like them.† I am drinking my last Diet Coke without caffeine, too, which I like to have after dinner.†† Iíll have to hit a supermarket tomorrow, especially since I am out of cheese and nuts now, and orange-mango juice as well.†


While at the restaurant, I ordered brekkie too, to be delivered to my room at 8:00.† Bacon and eggs and grilled tomato, presumably with toast, since they always serve toast with any breakfast.† I have bread and butter and a slice of ham left over, so I can supplement it as needed.† I wouldnít want to go hungry, you know.


One more thing, it is blessedly cool up here in the mountains.† It was in the high 60ís when I got here, and has cooled off since.† I love it.† I wonder how cold it will get overnight.† At least I have a heater/air conditioner here, so I can warm the room up if needed.† It is about 68 in here now, and it feels good.† I had to run the air conditioner in Townsville to get it down to 68, and this feels better than an air conditioned 68 degrees to me.


So, that is my story of today.†† I donít know if I will add to this or not, and I donít know when I will be able to post it, but it is all recorded now, and Iíll get it ready to go up on the website, whenever.


Barry Downunder, up at 3000 feet elevation again, in the rainforest.


Monday Afternoon, to finish up Paluma


I was up this morning about 6:15, and I wandered around outside, listening to the birds and trying to see them.† I confirmed some of yesterdayís sightings by getting better looks today, and then I went off in the car to the other end of the village and walked a little in the rainforest.† Nothing new there, but I did see Macleays Honeyeater in someoneís yard, and that was my first trip bird of the day.† I met a couple of women who had been birding, and in talking with them, they mentioned they had seen some Chowchillas just down the road.† That is a lifer bird that I had particularly wanted to see, so one of the women went with me back down the road and showed me where they had seen them.† I got great, close looks at a little group of 5 of them.† Very exciting.† After that, I had to rush back to the motel for my 8:00 brekkie, which was excellent.† After breakfast, I saw another lifer from the yard, a Barred Cuckoo-shrike.† I also decided that the large gray pigeons that had been flying overhead in pairs were Topknot Pigeons, another lifer.† I would like to get a look at a perched one, but I doní think there is any other bird these could have been, so I counted them.


I checked out and wound my way down the narrow mountain road, meeting only 7 or 8 cars in the half hour it took me to get down.† I then stopped at Big Crystal Creek, where there is a great swimming hole and supposedly some birds, too.† There actually were a good number of birds around the picnic area, and I stayed there for quite a while, but I didnít add anything new.† I didnít see either of the two lifer species that I had gone there in the hopes of seeing.† But, on the road to and from Big Crystal Creek, I saw three Little Kingfishers on wires.† The Little Kingfisher is an uncommon bird, and I was amazed to see three of them in a short time, when I hadnít been expecting it at all.† The Little Kingfisher looks quite a bit like the Forest Kingfisher, but the Forest one is much larger.† Size is hard to tell, when there arenít other birds nearby to compare it to.† I took a number of pictures, and after reviewing them, I still think they were Little Kingfishers, at least some of them, and I am going to count them as such.† I would like to show my pictures to an expert Aussie birder, though, and eventually I will.† For now, Iím counting it as another lifer.† I also plan to post to my Aussie birding mailing list, with a link to the pictures, and ask what people think.† So, I might lose a lifer, but I would like to be as sure as I can be.


By the time I got back to the highway, it was after 11:30, and the Frosty Mango was just up the road.† It is a well known place to stop on the drive from Townsville to Cairns, so I stopped and had a chicken sandwich and a mango milkshake. †Very tasty.


Iíll pick up the story again in the next Ramblings, but I wanted to finish off Paluma.† Leaving the Paluma area at about noon, I was on 233 species, of which 46 are lifers† (assuming the Little Kingfisher sticks).† My count is moving along nicely since I got up north, into the subtropics.