When we had our camping/birding trip earlier this year we entered Queensland from the Northern Territory at the border near the small outback town of Camooweal. It is in fact such a small town that they permit camping on the edge of town in the busy months alongside what remains of the Georgina River. Lake Francis and Lake Canellan offer the perfect place to set yourself up for a night or two to explore the local area, although it can get rather overcrowded in the height of the tourist season. We chose to camp at the far end of Lake Canellan to be as far away from others as possible and to enjoy the bird-life in the area. There was a great selection of waterbirds including Australian Pelicans, Straw-necked Ibis, White Ibis, Eurasian Coot, Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Royal Spoonbills, Yellow-billed Spoonbills, Australasian Darters, Little Black Cormorants, Little Pied Cormorants, White-necked Herons, White-faced Herons, Black-necked Stork and Australasian Grebes.
Little Pied Cormorant, Yellow-billed Spoonbills, Royal Spoonbills, Willie Wagtail and Little Black Cormorant
Ducks were also well represented by Pacific Black Ducks and Australian Wood Duck. Black-fronted Dotterels, Magpie-larks and Willie Wagtails ran along the muddy edges where there was evidence of feral pigs. Brolga, Crested Pigeons, Peaceful Doves, Little Corellas, Zebra Finch, Cockatiels, Budgerigars and Galahs were present early in the morning and late in the afternoon when they came in to drink.
Australian Wood Duck
A lone Black-winged Stilt arrived on our second afternoon and then moved on after feeding for a while. White-Plumed Honeyeaters, Yellow-throated Miners and Paperbark Flycatcher ensured there was not too much peace and quiet in the bush and an Australian Owlet-nightjar appeared out of a hollow above our camp after dark!
A visit to the nearby Camooweal Caves National Park was along a gravel road, but of fairly good quality and offered most of the same bird species and a few other species that we had not observed on the edge of the lakes. Pink-eared Ducks and Grey Teal were using the waterhole and also a Red-backed Kingfisher was observed as we approached the main area where the caves are. We encountered our first Spotted Bowerbird for the trip and thankfully it was rather inquisitive about our presence. We were the only people in the National Park that morning with most people choosing to stay closer to town on the bitumen! Raptors are well represented in the area with Black Kites, Whistling Kites, Nankeen Kestrels and Wedge-tailed Eagles.
Camooweal may be a small outback town, but it has numerous bird species to enchant you before you head either 190 kilometres/118 miles east towards Mt Isa or 470 kilometres/292 miles west to Tennant Creek. There are some long empty roads in this part of Australia, but stopping anywhere there is water is rewarding if you are hoping to find birds!