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Lake Mitchell - BirdForum Opus

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Australia, Queensland


Lake Mitchell (also known as Southedge Dam) is a huge 3,290 ha lake located on the Mitchell River. It is readily visible to the west of the Peninsula Development Road which runs between Mareeba and Mount Molloy on the Northern Atherton Tablelands. Here it is possible to observe a variety of wetland and dry country species.

The area is also known as being one of the most reliable sites for the localised and scarce White-browed Robin.


Notable Species

Birds commonly encountered here include: Brown Quail, King Quail, Wandering Whistling Duck, Plumed Whistling Duck, Australian Wood Duck, Black Swan, Magpie Goose, Radjah Shelduck, Cotton Pygmy Goose, Green Pygmy Goose, Hardhead, Pacific Black Duck, Pink-eared Duck, Grey Teal, Australasian Grebe, Australian Darter, Great Cormorant, Little Black Cormorant, Little Pied Cormorant, Black-necked Stork, Australian Pelican, White-necked Heron, White-faced Heron, all four Egrets, Nankeen Night Heron, Striated Heron, Glossy Ibis, Royal Spoonbill, Yellow-billed Spoonbill, Black-shouldered Kite, Pacific Baza, Whistling Kite, Collared Sparrowhawk, Brown Goshawk, Osprey, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Swamp Harrier, Spotted Harrier, Brown Falcon, Australian Hobby, Sarus Crane, Brolga, Buff-banded Rail, other Crakes and Rails; Australasian Swamphen, Dusky Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Australian Bustard, Bush Stone Curlew, Painted Buttonquail, Red-backed Buttonquail, Latham's Snipe, Common Sandpiper, Black-fronted Dotterel, (other waders often turn up when water levels drop), Black-winged Stilt, Whiskered Tern, White-winged Black Tern, Bar-shouldered Dove, Crested Pigeon, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Brush Cuckoo, Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo, Pheasant Coucal, Forest Kingfisher, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Rainbow Bee-eater, Dollarbird, Red-backed Fairywren, Striated Pardalote, Little Friarbird, Noisy Friarbird, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Scarlet Honeyeater, Lemon-bellied Flycatcher, White-browed Robin, Grey-crowned Babbler, Leaden Flycatcher, Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, White-winged Triller, Olive-backed Oriole, Great Bowerbird, Double-barred Finch, Mistletoebird, Australian Reed Warbler, and Welcome Swallow.


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Birds you can see here include:

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Other Wildlife

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Site Information

History and Use

Lake Mitchell was created in 1986 by the Southedge Daintree Pastoral Company reportedly as an agricultural water source with tourist potential. It has remained unused till this day, despite various propositions to develop this resource. Birders count among its main visitors.

Areas of Interest

The lake itself can be viewed from the main road and can yield a number of good wetland species. The surrounding bushland can also be very productive.

Big Mitchell Creek: This site is one of numerous creeks that cross under the Peninsula Development Road often before flowing into the lake itself. It is fringed by a thin band of Riparian Forest. This site is famous as one of the most reliable sites in the area to find the scarce and localised White-browed Robin.

Creeks here are typically signposted from roads that cross over them and this one is no exception. Look out for the signpost from the Peninsula Development Road and pull over on to the verge. The creek is often dry or reduced to isolated pools. It is advised to climb down into the creek and walk along it in both directions to try and sight this shy species. Sometimes several can be observed along here, but at other times it can be difficult to locate.

There have been reports of recent sightings of Buff-breasted Buttonquail on the surrounding dry slopes. These records need to be viewed with caution as this species is exceedingly rare and can be easily confused in flight with the much commoner Painted Buttonquail.

Access and Facilities

The lake and Big Mitchell Creek are both easily accessible via the Peninsula Development Road which here runs between Mareeba township and Mount Molloy. Near the southern end of the lake is a large gate barring a road that goes along a causeway over the lake. One can open the gate and drive along it to the end. Beyond is another gate that one can negotiate on foot to access a track that goes beyond the lake into the dry woodland beyond.

There are no facilities in the immediate area, though many birders typically stay at Kingfisher Park near Julatten, about 25km to the north.

External Links