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Published: July 26th 2018
We checked out of our Atherton accommodation in the late morning as our final two nights in the tablelands would be in a different place at Chambers Wildlfie Lodge at Lake Eacham which is just down the road. The whole tableland is a very small area.
Before going on though, I had to buy some warm clothes from Atherton. I will be borrowing warm clothes from relatives in Perth and I hardly brought any warm clothes at all since I usually am ok in warm weather clothes even down to single digit temperatures but I seem to have lost my temperature regulation ability with this illness so I needed some warmer clothes.
We then headed on towards Lake Eacham with a brief stop at the Curtain Fig and then a longer stop at Lake Barrine. The Curtain Fig is a very small patch of rainforest with a very large and impressive strangler fig in it but Lake Barrine is a much larger area of forest surrounding a crater lake. I did a decent bit of birding at Barrine, picking up a couple of rainforest species that I was still missing. The whipbirds here also seemed so much showier
than normal whipbirds and I actually got proper views of several.
We then went to check in to our accommodation at Lake Eacham, Chambers Wildlife Lodge which I will discuss later, before going back into Yungaburra town for a late lunch. A wildlife attraction in Yungaburra is Platypus Creek, a small tree-lined creek that goes along the edge of town where you have a good chance of platypus. In the very early morning or at night they're pretty much guaranteed but there's a good chance during the day as well. With about 30 minutes looking along the creek at 4PM I did manage to get a brief view of a platypus although I wasn't quite enough on the camera to get pictures. There were some King Parrots too which are cool and large numbers of turtles pretending to be platypuses.
We then returned to the accommodation for the rest of the afternoon and we will probably stay here all day tomorrow since we've gat a two night stay. Chambers Wildlife Lodge is quite a cool place. It's in the rainforest and is contiguous with the large rainforest area of Lake Eacham in Crater Lakes National Park.
They are wildlife focused but aren't actually exclusively for mad birders and wildlife watchers and hence doesn't attract the associated price premium but it's really nice accommodation right in the forest itself with trails into the national park and a bird viewing veranda. What makes the place even more interesting though is that they have a nocturnal wildlife viewing platform where they put out a sugary mixture every night at 7:15 to attract possums and gliders.
In the afternoon I walked around a bit and got a particularly excellent view of a catbird which is normally a difficult bird to see but one that you hear a lot. It sounds a bit like a cross between a cat and the haunted demonic soul of a murdered child. The real excitement thought was at the nocturnal feeding. At 7 the suggary mixture was spread over the trunks of two well-lit trees next to a viewing platform and instantly came the animal that I was most excited to see here and one that is basically guaranteed: a Sugar Glider. This is another zoo/petting zoo mammal that you never think about being wild in a forest and this one was sat
there on the tree trunk at eye level, maximum one metre away from me just licking constantly at the sugar/honey. It really was just the absolute cutest thing ever sat there all fluffy facing downwards flat against the bark perfectly still apart from its tongue licking and it's head moving occasionally. I watched here for about an hour, the sugar glider stayes about half this time, and also showed up were a (Northern) Long-nosed Bandicoot and a Cape York Rat.
At 8 I then went to try the next spot which was probably my best chance for the basically impossible and probably imaginary Long-tailed Pygmy Possum. This was at a small patch of rainforest on Thomas Road suggested by the Wait-a-while Tour guide who I spoke to yesterday who said that 'a colleague saw one a couple of weeks ago'. I wouldn't call that a guarantee exactly but it was by far my best shot. This little patch of rainforest was less than 15 minutes drive away, so it was worth a go. There was an absolutely insane density of coppery and common brushtails as well as what looked to be some hybrids. There was a Common Ringtail
too but unfortunately that was it on the possum front. No pygmies. The thing is though that when searching for something really difficult like that, the only guarantee is if you don't try you definitely won't find one. If you do try, you almost certainly won't find one. But there's that tiny other possibility that makes it worth doing.
There were also some Pademelons, a Whit-tailes Giant Rat and, rather excitingly a Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo that I found myself by eyeshine which I was pleased with. They have really small eyeshine for their size, much smaller than a possum.
It became very foggy as we drove back, making for difficult driving, bit it was about 10 when we got back and the nocturnal viewing deck lights stay on until 11 so I went for another stake out. The sugar glider was back, the adorable little licky thing, and hiding on the other side of the tree was a striped possum. I have seen a lot of these now, the striped-black-and-white-common-as-muck-rat-possums but they really are stunningly marked, especially up close, and I cannot get tired of seeing them. There were at least two different sugar gliders because
one had a rather nasty injury on its side, the poor thing and I got to see a glider glide which was pretty spectacular. I hadn't used the flash up to this point because I hate using the flash on animals, but some other people were and the glider just continued licking as normal regardless so I did get a couple of pictures with the flash. The lighting is perfectly sufficient for viewing but you have to slow the shutter just a little for photography which results in blur since I'm handheld.
New Birds: Mountain Thornbill
Eastern Long-eared Bat
Musky Rat Kangaroo Sugar Glider Cape York Rat
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