After a nice little drive we arrived at our first major destination, a cattle station called Manangoora which provides basic camping spots on the river. Camping spots were pretty basic, just a bit of ground that the grass had been slashed. You need to bring your own everything including fresh water, the toilet was a hole in the ground with a tin can and a toilet seat set up behind a termite mound it did have a great view though. Being one of the first few after the wet there were not that many other people around other than the local crabbers. A perfect place to camp!
Driving in to the place there was lots of activity around and I was excited about what the next few days would bring. I didn’t have to wait long with a new tick before we even set up camp. A Blue-winged Kookaburra caught our eye as the sun reflected of its distinctive blue feathers. Aussie bird number 283.
The rest of the day was spent getting the camp set up, boat organised etc.
Manangoora – 3 April 2018
I got up early for a quick look around the camp area before we headed out fishing. The Red-backed Fairy-wren (sub species: cruentatus) is the only Fairy-wren found in this area and I was able to find a pair first up.
After a good first days fishing I headed out for another quick walk around before it got to dark. Unfortunately my blisters from the previous couple of days were proving a problem so I had to walk around in socks, not ideal in that country but it did make for a quiet foot fall.
A Whistling Kite and a Black Kite had a continual battle the whole time we were there over who had first dibs on anything our camp site produced. The Whistling Kite was the bravest, happy to sit in the tree right beside us providing some great photo opportunities.
Another bird I had already seen but not the local subspecies of was the Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike. There was also a number of Black-faced and White-breasted Woodswallow around but I was not able to get a decent shot.
My next good sighting was another new tick. It proved difficult to get a decent shot as it was very busy so I left myself plenty of room for an upgrade but tick number 284 is the Rufous-throated Honeyeater.
I had hoped to see a few of the different finch species but was only able to find one at Manangoora. Another new one for me the Long-tailed Finch (Aussie bird number 285). The Long-tailed Finch was a lot more accommodating than the Rufous-throated Honeyeater and I got some really nice shots.
I don’t know if there is anywhere in Australia where you don’t get a Willy Wagtail popping in to see what you are up to and Manangoora was no exception. Also buzzing around were Fairy Martin but flying up to high for any decent photos. Not a new bird but one I was happy to see for the chance to get some better photos of was the Peaceful Dove. These guys were everywhere so I got a few opportunities for some upgrade shots.
A distant small raptor had me excited at the remote possibility of a Grey Falcon or a Letter-winged Kite so I did a little bit of off track walking scaring up a couple of different birds but nothing of great interest and no decent photo opportunities. Finally I got close enough to get an identifying shot of the raptor at full zoom and then cropping in. Not one of my dreamed species, instead a pair of Black-shouldered Kite. Still not a bad bird to see but again no decent photo ops.
Heading back to the camp my last encounter was a little bit different with a Cann’s long-necked turtle walking down the path. A new reptile for me.
Day one at Manangoora done and without doing any real serious birding I had scored 3 new ticks.
Manangoora – 4 April 2018
The next day we were up early and out fishing catching a few nice ones including some barra. We returned to the camp at about 3:00 and the Black Kite and Whistling Kite soon appeared to see if there were any scraps for them.
A brief flyby by a Pied Heron provided my first tick for the day (286). I wasn’t intending to do any photography at the time so only got a poor back shot but here is the shot for the record. I wasn’t to concerned though as they were pretty commonly seen whilst out fishing so was confident I would get a better opportunity later.
After it had cooled down a bit I headed out for another look around the area. This time my first sighting was an exciting one with one of the birds I had wanted to see located. A Little Bronze-cuckoo had caught a grub and I was able to get some nice shots of Aussie bird number 287.
The black-faced Woodswallow were around again but still no decent shots along with more Peaceful Dove and Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike. A few Rainbow Bee-eaters were also around. A common bird around home they are still always good to see.
A White-throated Honeyeater gave me some nice views providing me with some good upgrade shots.
A pair of Brolga did a flyover as I was walking along.
The Little Corella were everywhere filling up a couple of the trees behind our campsite that they came to roost in at night. With lots of young birds they made a hell of a racket in the evenings and first thing in the morning as the sun came up.
I wasn’t venturing to far from camp trying to stay within radio distance in case I got in to any trouble. On my walk I did find a freshwater waterhole that looked promising but given the risk of crocodiles I didn’t get to close. There were a few birds around with more of the Little Corella, Peaceful Dove, Brown Honeyeater and a couple of others that I didn’t manage to get a decent look at. I thought that there would be more birds returning for a drink after the heat of the day but after waiting around for a little while the only sighting was a Pied Heron that decided to get a flying drink on the far side of the waterhole. The fact that he didn’t want to land perhaps indicated that I was smart not to get to close to the edge.
A tree in one corner of the waterhole provided my next new tick with a couple of young Rufous-banded Honeyeater using it as a safe perch before dipping into the water for a drink. New bird number 288. I found out later that this was an unusual sighting for this area at this time of the year.
My walk back provided fleeting glimpses of Brown Quail, and then a different type of quail that with only a quick glimpse my best guess would be a Red-backed Button-quail. I searched around for about 15 minutes until I started running out of light with no further sightings. Walking back to the camp in fading light, through long grass with only a barely formed track to follow in bare feet was fun.
Manangoora – 5 April 2018
Another successful morning on the water catching some barra and a return to the camp early arvo as it got very hot. After a couple of hours rest and as it started to cool a little we went back out in the boat with the purpose of getting some photos. Whilst fishing I had seen and heard the Great-billed Heron and was keen to get some shots. Unfortunately the tide and wind was wrong by this stage and there was no site of it.
I did still manage to get some shots though, firstly stopping at a small island that we had previously collected live bait from. On the first visit I noticed a Mum, Dad and baby Red-capped Plover which was surprising as virtually every fishing boat stopped on this little island to get bait so it would have been getting disturbed quiet a bit. For my visit with the camera there was only the female, who posed nicely for me.
A mob of ducks was of interest for something new but turned out to just be Grey Teal with a single Hardhead among them. I was just about to go when a couple of larger ducks circled and came in to land. Another one of my targets for the trip the Radjah Shelduck had turned up and I had tick number 289.
Back in the boat we did a little diversion down a creek. A Mangrove Golden Whistler was spotted a couple of times darting across the creek but it was unfortunately not possible to get a shot. A Red-headed Honeyeater was more accommodating however popping out of the mangroves for a moment allowing me to get a nice photo of Aussie bird number 290.
The wind had picked up a bit and it was starting to get dark so we headed back towards camp on the way seeing the usual Great and Little Egrets, Australian Darter, Striated Heron and a few other water birds. I was pleased to finally get a better shot of the Pied Heron with a couple up on the bank feeling safe in the grass they stayed put as the boat got me a little bit closer.
The end of another day at Manangoora with a couple more new ticks and some great fishing.
Manangoora – 6 April 2018
My final day in Manangoora so I got up a bit earlier to see if I could get a few shots around the camp before we headed out to catch a fish. The first cab of the rank was the Torresian Crow that hand around the camp area. I had previously ignored them but thought I should get a record shot.
A couple of Blue-winged Kookaburra were also around but were a bit shy moving locations whenever I raised the camera. Eventually I managed to get some shots.
The Paperbark Flycatcher had proven a little elusive but this morning I found a couple that where more interested in sunning themselves than me so I was able to get a few nice shots.
In the same location I also found another Red-headed Honeyeater, Brown Honeyeater and a White-throated Honeyeater but only got OK shots.
I decided to take the camera on the boat this time. Being a small tinny keeping it dry and cool enough was a bit of a concern but I wanted to try again for the Great-billed Heron. Once again I dipped out but did rustle up a Black-necked Stork (Jabiru).
Surprisngly whilst we were fishing we only got to see one crocodile. This was most likely due to the water being so warm that they were happy to sit deep in the mangroves not needing to come out to sun themselves. The one croc we did see was attracted to the same thing as we were, the barra splashing in the shallows. This one was not at all concerned about us being there only reluctantly leaving at the last moment.
The end of a few awesome days at Manangoora. It was great to camp more remotely without phones or other electronics in such an awesome looking place. We caught a few nice fish and had a good chance to unwind. Maybe a shower would be nice but a saltwater bath with a sponge off with freshwater from the melted ice did the job. (Although the bath in the freshwater back at the river crossing on the way out felt really good).
Over the few days there without being serious about the birding I managed to get 8 new ticks and saw a few other new ones. The twitchers out there will hate me for it but my main passion is the wildlife photography side so I only count them if I get a photo.
- World Bird Count: 437
- Australian Bird Count: 290
- Blue-winged Kookaburra (new – #283)
- Red-backed Fairy-wren
- Whistling Kite
- Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
- Black-faced Woodswallow
- White-breasted Woodswallow
- White-throated Honeyeater
- Rufous-throated Honeyeater (new – #284)
- Long-tailed Finch (new – #285)
- Willie Wagtail
- Fairy Martin
- Peaceful Dove
- Black-shouldered Kite
- Black Kite
- Pied Heron (new – #286)
- Little Bronze-cuckoo (new – #287)
- Rainbow Bee-eater
- Bar-shouldered Dove
- Little Corella
- Rufous-banded Honeyeater (new – #288)
- Brown Honeyeater
- Intermediate Egret
- Grey Teal
- Red-capped Plover
- Radjah Shelduck (new – #289)
- Red-headed Honeyeater (new – #290)
- Australasian Darter
- Torresian Crow
- Whiskered Tern
- Paperbark Flycatcher
- Black-necked Stork