Locums for a Small World Blog

Never anger a male cassowary, and other lessons from a bird-loving South African locum

Posted by Saralynn White

Written by Kenneth Goulding, MD

australia-cassowary-eyeBeing a bit of a bird-watching fanatic, I found the outback of Queensland an amazing place - we managed to see 285 different species and learn a lot of new calls during the year. I am sure that a more diligent and more clued up observer could easily improve on that tally! I experienced the adrenaline rush of meeting the endangered, angry, male cassowary on a narrow path in the Atherton Tablelands, and then being chased back down to the creek. Later in the trip we were fortunate enough to see 9 more cassowaries, including a male with 3 chicks.

In the Angela National Park, it was exciting to hear and find a noisy pitta
- a very colorful forest bird. In the same park we saw platypus busy in the river at midday, which was rather unusual. We had seen them before, but only at dawn or dusk! From the boat during a conducted tour of the Mareeba Wetlands, we saw pigmy geese and jacanas amongst the flowering lotuses. We were shown the captive breeding, gouldian finches - most colorful little birds. Whilst in Mt. Isa during the hot summer, we were privileged to see swarming black clouds of hundreds of thousands of budgerigars coming in to drink at the lakes edge.

black-swan-australiaA walk around the Apex Park lakes would regularly yield 30-40 species, including a majestic pair of black swans with 7 cygnets and hundreds of plumed whistling ducks. I will really miss the colorful parrots and the rousing dawn chorus of the kookaburras, magpies, crows, currawongs and the ubiquitous "kamikaze pilots" of the Australian skies, the rainbow lorikeets!

I would strongly recommend this itinerant locum stint in Queensland for any nature loving doctor wanting to get to know the avifauna of Australia more closely.


Dr. Kenneth Goulding is an MBCHB (General Practice) physician from Port Alfred, South Africa. Dr. Goulding has worked as a locum for Global Medical three times - twice in Australia and once in New Zealand. He's a proud grandfather and travels frequently, but he doesn't go by the slick travel brochures - he takes his pages from the Birdwatcher's Handbook.

Topics: Birdwatching, Dr. Kenneth Goulding, Angela National Park AU, Atherton Tablelands AU, Apex Park AU, Mt. Isa AU, Queensland AU, Locum Tenens

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