Hello all... Lorne again... with the second half of my report...
It's well worth the trip to the Daintree if you are based in Cairns or
Port Douglas. Daintree National Park and all the World Heritage sections
are incredibly beautiful, although quite sparse birdwise.
Nevertheless... the enormous mountains shrouded in vapor and cloud, a
kaleidoscope of green everywhere you travel, the darkened sparkly
creeks, all the signs cautioning you of estaurine crocodiles and
cassowaries!!! Sensational!!! Cape Tribulation's rainforest is gloomy,
wet and very evocative in a natural gothic way!!! My wife (not a birdo)
spotted a female SHINING FLYCATCHER there, pecking at insects on the
seats surrounding the path to the beach. There's a great little ice
creamery south of Cape Trib. too. There were also interesting walks and
botanical gardens, which I didn't investigate, but looked enticing.
Daintree Village is small, interesting, but really just a sideshow to
the river itself. I was too late in the day for a Chris Dahlberg trip
unfortunately, so went with a generic outfit. A wonderful 1 and a half
hr. trip. Saw COMB-CRESTED JACANA, PAPUAN FROGMOUTH, LARGE-BILLED
GERYGONE and other more common species. Went up Barrett's Ck. which was
mysterious and reminded me of dense Louisianna bayous - the deep south,
with all the tangled vines and thickets spilling into the water and
beasts lurking below!!!! I've never actually been to Louisianna. This
thin section had the frogmouth and hundreds of Spectacled Flying-foxes.
I was hoping for Little Kingfisher and Great-billed Heron, but
alas!!!!!!! There was this gorgeous breeze flowing throughout the trip,
adding to the dreamy feel.
When back on land, I tried Red Mill House in Daintree again for the
Little Kingfisher, which is meant to be easy to see there. Didn't see
it!!!!! GRRRR!!!!!!! I did see an AZURE KINGFISHER and RUFOUS
NIGHT-HERON there instead. Also, wild Peacocks. I recall Edwin Vella
saying he got the Little every time he went to Redmill's tiny pool when
he was up there in September of 97!!!!!
The Daintree River Teahouse is worth stopping at. My wife and I had a
serene time there with banana splits, swaying palms, scrubfowl gurgles
and some Mareeba coffee!!! The owner was odd, but nice enough. This is a
great place for foliage, this towering mountain threatening the
teahouse, and birds... ORANGE-FOOTED SCRUBFOWL, SPOTTED CATBIRD,
YELLOW-SPOTTED HONEYEATER, METALLIC STARLING, MACLEAY'S HONEYEATER and
other common individuals.
Went to Kingfisher Park, that 'babylon', that 'Eden' up north, only for
a short time. Said hello to Ron Stannard and his wife. If you're reading
this Ron; G'DAY, THANKS FOR THE LAUGHTER AND BIRD ADVICE and YES... I AM
DEFINITELY MALE!!!!! I saw SPECTACLED MONARCH and PALE-YELLOW ROBIN
here. Heard SUPERB FRUIT-DOVE. EMERALD DOVES were everywhere. Saw
pademelon too. The views from the outskirts of the park towards Mt.
Lewis and sugar cane stretchs was awesome. This is a sensational
highland place and I miss it now as I type. Oh well, I shall return
I was going to go up to Mt. Lewis but it was raining on and off and the
road was muddy, and we were dubious the hire car would make it. I saw
most of what I wanted up there back in '96 however, so wasn't upset,
although Fernwren and Tooth-billed Catbird would've been ace. I birded
about the creeks that one crosses between the tavern and the ascent to
the mountain. I crossed my fingers for Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, but no
luck!!! Saw GREY WHISTLER in area, which was new for me. Bower's
Shrike-thrush about. Quandong was scattered by the road. Probably good
area for cassowaries! Platypus in creeks supposedly.
I spent a bit of time at Mossman. It's a great area. Whites with
aboriginals (good to see a visible mix - hopefully harmonious), greenery
maximus, sugar cane railway, the white architecture of the old hospital,
massive trees with serpentine branches at northern end of main drag, a
good Woolworths, low cloud, polite folks. I tried for Pacific, Barn and
Red-rumped Swallows at Newell Beach, but was let down again.
Probably bird of the trip was a RADJAH SHELDUCK - Wild one on the
Rainforest HABITAT site, outside the actual avaries, but present with
the roos and wallabies. Accompanied by many PLUMED-WHISTLING DUCK and
the odd WANDERING WHISTLING-DUCK at a pond. I asked a keeper at the park
who said all the ducks are free to come and go when they want, and are
not part of thh HABITAT collection. The two Brolgas there are captive
JABIRU - Lake Mitchell, Cairns Airport (in winding channel near
DOUBLE-EYED FIG-PARROT - Kuranda shops, rainforest boardwalk area near
Centenary Lakes etc. Easy-ish.
BLACK BUTCHERBIRD - Centenary Lakes.
SUNBIRD - everywhere
WHITE-BREASTED WOODSWALLOW - everywhere
BLACK KITE - everywhere
OSPREY - three birds at nest in mangroves to left of Collins Ave. to
Centenary Lakes. At fork in the road and near railway lines. Also seen
south of Port Douglas on coast road- flying with fish in talons.
BRAHMINY KITE - Over Radisson Treetops, Daintree River.
YELLOW ORIOLE - everywhere
BUSH THICK-KNEE - By side of road near mangroves and ponds of Centenary
Lakes... circa 6pm one day... calling.
FRIARBIRDS - Cairns botanical gardens, Radisson Treetops.
YELLOW-SPOTTED HONEYEATER - Kingfisher Park, in gardens adjacent to
Radisson Treetops etc.
BROWN-BACKED HONEYEATER - Centenary Lakes, paperbarks out the front of
the Radisson's reception.
FOREST KINGFISHER - three or more at Centenary Lakes.
Anyway... a BRILLIANT trip. A wonderful honeymoon. It wasn't a birding
holiday, but I fitted enough in to have fun. Thanks to my wife,
Caterina, for endless patience and humour and for pointing out many
raptors when on the road, even if they were only Black Kites. I'll get
you one day B.B.Buzzard and Red Goshawk!!!!!!
Cheers and tripping in full effect on greenery,