December 14, 2015: Lamington National Park, Australia —Del dropped me at the Cairns airport after dinner on the waterfront last night. The rest of Australia awaits! We had a fantastic five days in the greater Cairns area. If you’re ever looking for someone to go birding with there, Del Richards is sharp, laconic, friendly, and a top-class birder (http://www.finefeathertours.com.au), and I've really enjoyed our few days.
I took a short flight south and landed in Brisbane at about 1:30 a.m. this morning. Jeremy Ringma, a friend from a field season in the Kimberley a few years ago, was waiting with Megan Barnes and Nick Leseberg, all keen birders. The four of us drove straight through the rest of the night into the dry interior 250 kilometers west of Brisbane, where we were in position at dawn today to begin an intense 36 hours of birding.
Jeremy and Nick had worked up an ultimate strategy based on the bird species I am still missing to blitz the Brisbane area in a day and a half. Our group hopped from one target to the next all day, birding hard without intermissions. We added a couple dozen new sightings before 6:30 a.m. and the pace didn’t slow down—an unusual Little Woodswallow was a nice bonus, though my favorite was probably the diminutive and beautiful Diamond Firetail which afforded good views!
Running on adrenaline with no sleep, we pushed through the day and kept birding long past dark to try for several nocturnal species. We found an Australian Masked-Owl, a pair of Marbled Frogmouths, and an Australian Owlet-Nightjar before pitching tents at Lamington National Park at 12:30 a.m., after 23 nonstop hours of birding. Dawn comes in a couple of hours. The big year doesn’t sleep, and neither do I…
New birds today: 46
Year list: 5813