Hastie's Swamp lies a few kilometres south of Atherton. It's a seasonal swamp, so should be dry at this time of year. But unseasonable rainfall following Cyclone Larry has kept it nicely topped up. Waterbirds on the Tablelands must find it difficult to pick a place to hang out.
This spot seems to be top of the list for plumed whistling-ducks (Dendrocygna eytoni). During the day, anyway. They feed in paddocks and grasslands at night, leaving the swamp in small flocks, whistling and twittering constantly to keep in touch with one another. They're rather handsome ducks with upswept white plumes on their sides.
National Parks have built a splendid two storey hide on the water's edge. It's a great place to sit with a pair of binoculars, a camera and/or a sandwich and gaze out at the ducks and other birds. Apart from the ducks, I also saw white-necked herons (Ardea pacifica) and magpie geese (Anseranas semipalmata) among others. (Look here for a full list of birds recorded at the site.)
The magpie geese were difficult to photograph. They kept themselves to themselves at the northern end of the wetland, where there was plenty of grass to feed on. They were very stand-offish. I remember a couple of wet seasons in Townsville when magpie geese gathered in huge flocks on the flooded oval at the Weir School. The playing fields were one huge bugling, piebald carpet of feathers.
I'm not sure who Hastie was or why the swamp is named after him (or could it be her?) but I'm going to have a go at finding out.