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2009: Kingfisher Park, Queensland

Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher

The Park was obvious from the Mount Molloy to Mossman road but had only the one last remaining pitch: it was hosting a get-together of the North Queensland branch of Birds Australia. Their annual long weekend field trip meant maximum occupancy so I just squeezed in. This was a double good thing: now someone could tell me what I was looking at!

The participants had to get back from the coast first, being in Mossman, barn swallow hunting. They drew a blank but some had gone on to Cairns for a laughing gull. Ah, these commonplace birds!

In the interim I’d walked the grounds and found a much more exotic emerald dove. My ramble snaked through an old orchard to Bushy Creek, where platypus were reputed. Here I met a Yorkshireman, like you do. Many years removed from his native country, he was happy to chat and swap grapevines while we waited. It was luxury: knowledgeable company to pass the birding minutes. That hadn’t happened since Goolwa, South Australia.

What with also encountering the Hasties Swamp hide the day before, it seemed my trip might have been easier the other way round. Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands could have helped me back into Australian birding mode, ready for the tougher challenges that lay ahead all the way to Adelaide.

The creekside vegetation was busy with birds, most of them old friends until lifer number 1,012 popped up. It was a monarch but no longer of the Monarcha genus as Morcombe had it. The IOC has moved it into Symposiachrus, the more equatorial group of these flycatchers. The colour scheme of rufous breast and white underparts does mark spectacled monarch as different to the black-faced that I had already seen. But colour ain’t everything when it comes to classification.

I bet the species was happy it hadn’t slotted into the Arses genus! Who thinks these names up?

Kingfisher Park though is aptly titled, for the buff-breasted paradise kingfishers that breed there. Half a dozen pairs were on site so they weren’t going to be difficult to see. Were they?

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