Saturday, 29 August 2020

Lawn Hill Gorge National Park – Birding site on our North West Safari 2021

One of the creek crossings enroute between Mt Isa and Lawn Hill Gorge National Park.
Our North West Queensland Birding Safari for 2021 visits a variety of great birding sites across the breadth of North Queensland.

Although many sites are stand outs, Lawn Hill Gorge or Boodjamulla National Park, is worth a special mention. This ia one of our destinations between our visit to the fishing town of Karumba, perched as it is on the southern coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the mining town of Mount Isa.

This place is indeed a sanctuary; a tranquil oasis of palms and water – a complete contrast from the surrounding arid and dusty plains and the equally dry and hot ancient sandstones that ridge them.
For anybody, any traveller, the cool waters of the gorge would bring a relieved smile to their face but birders, believe me, have more to smile about as this national park is an oasis to birds as well. And from a Queenslander’s birder’s perspective the birds are that little bit more special.

Why?

Because in this area there are bird species that are basically unable to seen anywhere else in the state of Queensland. To put it another here are a small stack of Northern Territory birds; birds more widely distributed across the NT, and in some cases beyond in WA, whose range has extended by a finger into the north west corner of Queensland.
Purple crowned Fairy wren - female

The Purple crowned Fairy Wren is perhaps my favourite example. This specie, like all the fairy wrens are beautiful but in this specie the female begins to give the male some competition in the attractive stakes. The eastern sub specie’s range extends from the Northern Territory into riverine habitat in the extreme north west of Queensland.

A few species of parrots, Northern Rosellas and both Varied and Red Collared Lorikeets, also creep over the border into this area. And all of them are pretty and pretty special.
Varied Lorikeet
Northern Rosella
Red collared Lorikeets

The Sandstone Shrike Thrush is an Australian endemic and a top end specie, that has adapted, as its name suggests, to areas of sandstone across a sweep of northern Australia. Like other Shrike thrushes it is usually heard before being seen.
Sandstone Shrike thrush
The Buff sided Robin was once a mere sub specie of White browed Robin but a few years ago it was elevated to full specie status. It is a striking bird and commonly found along the riverside margins of the Lawn hill area.
Buff sided Robin

Long tailed Finch is one of the finch species we may see around the Mt Isa area; Lake Moondarra in particular however if we miss it there we will catch up with it at Lawn Hill or at one of the beautiful creek crossings enroute.
Long tailed Finch
Crimson Finch - another riverine finch specie

Paperbark Flycatcher - a smaller tropical cousin to the Restless flycatcher. Again a specie whose distribution extends across the top end into NW Qld.
Other notable fauna within the park includes the Rock Ringtail Possum, like many of the birds on the eastern part of its range, Purple necked Rock Wallaby and Freshwater Crocodiles.
Freshwater Crocodile - pic taken near Mt Isa
Purple necked Rock Wallaby
Common Wallaroo


The local indigenous people, the Waanyi, who have lived in the gorge area for at least 17,000 years,  know this place as Boodjamulla or Rainbow Serpent country. The Gorge is sacred to Waanyi and many artefacts; Midden heaps, grinding stones, and rock art emphasise their connections to country. Today local aboriginal people help manage the park on behalf of all Queenslanders.

If you are interested in visiting and birding Boodjamulla, as well as many other great places in Queensland’s north west please contact Ken Cross at friarbird43@bigpond.com

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