Cape York Peninsula Birding Pt 3

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Cape York Peninsula Birding Pt 3
From: knightl <>
Date: Sat, 8 Nov 2003 17:37:11 +1000
Sorry for the delay in continuing the narrative which finished with an archer river burger in the last episode ...

After four nights camping in the Iron Range without a shower, it was
nice to have a hot one at Moreton Station [on the banks of the Wenlock River]. There was a bowerbird-sized bird calling incessantly around
dawn the next morning, but it tended to lurk in the canopy where it
couldn’t be seen, and the dull light didn’t make things easy when it popped out into the open. As it happened, the fauna highlight of Moreton Stn was photographing a pair of cuscus not far from the bridge before they made their way into the canopy to sleep through the day.

Following the [Heathlands] Ranger’s tip, we spent the night at Captain Billy Landing – a 1.5 hr dawdle off the main drag on the east coast. There was an extensive patch of rainforest around the turnoff, and an excellent lookout [pretty much on the crest of the Great Divide] about a third of the distance – with good views of the dunes at Shellbourne Bay to the south.

CBL is an interesting place, with a well decorated shed, deserted
beaches and an excellent headland.  There were two small flocks of
little terns wheeling over the northern beach, the odd flock of
migrating waders [eg whimbrels] flying past, and sundry waders poking
about the reefs. There are some good bush camping sites along the foot track over the headland and it is well worth having a poke around the
reefs and sea caves at the base of the headland at low tide.  I got a
nice shot of a coastal sheathtail [a hand-sized bat] perched in one of the caves.

From CPL, we crossed the Jardine and treated ourselves to a night in a
cabin at Loyalty Beach [the sort of lodge birding types are likely to
hang out – the cook seemed to know a bit about the local birds].

The next morning was Cape York time, and we drove through the Lockabie Scrub to the Tip. The walk out to the Tip is a short & pleasant stroll along a graded track / boardwalk [one of the few on the whole
peninsula] out to Frangipanni Beach.  The feature bird at FB was a
beach thickknee that was out for a morning stroll on the sandflats.

From FB, the walk to the tip follows a ridge with good views of the surrounding region. There were no boobies or other exotic birds, and
so after taking in the northernmost panorama on the Aus mainland, I
followed the mangroves back to FB.  I was keeping an eye out for
mangrove whistlers and fawn-breasted bowerbirds, but all I could turn
up were great bowerbirds and the ubiquitous bar-shouldered doves.  A
walk along FB turned up more great bbs and the odd flock of mixed terns and shorebirds. The swallows were all welcomes as well.

After lunch at the carpark, where we were hassled by mosquitoes and
thieving turkeys, we went for a stroll along the track through Roma
Flat [in the heart of the Lockabie Scrub].  There was bugger all bird
life to be observed, and we made our way out to Somerset Beach for the night.

Somerset Beach is adjacent to the ruins of the Jardine’s household, and
contains a freshwater spring and the remains of a windmill.  It has a
very pleasant outlook over the channel to Albany Island and there was a tame emerald ground dove walking around the campsites. As usual the pi pigeons flew in late in the afternoon. Overall, it was an enjoyable
spot to camp, observe Mars, and take some moonlit shots of the beach
and the lights of idyllic house on Albany Island. The next morning, an interesting bird that looked like a cross between a gull and a tern flew past, but it didn’t hang around and I couldn’t work out what it was.

We poked around Roma Flats again – still fairly quiet, but I did get some nice views of a rose-crowned fruit dove while walking up the creek bed.

We spent that night at Muttee Head – pretty quiet on the bird front, but good spot to get some moonlit beach shots looking north towards
Seisa and some fantastic sunrise shots the next morning.

We had a look at the mangroves at the boat ramp behind the Bamaga
airport for mangrove whistlers, but the only whistlers there were
rufous. Bamaga was pretty much closed down for the show holiday, but I did managed to pick up a nice pie at the well known Bamaga Bakehaus.

[to be continued - the All Blacks - Springbok match is about to kickoff]

Regards, Laurie

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