been a while since i've posted (or had anything worth posting) since the
arrival of our baby daughter.
i made up for lost time last weekend at peppers bloomfield lodge north of
cairns (30mins by light plane). it's an eco lodge on a bay near the mouth of
the croc-friendly bloomfield river and so has access to a few different
habitats chiefly woodland, gallery rainforest and mangroves.
the trip started well with an azure kingfisher being pursued by a little
kingfisher along the river's edge on our way to the lodge by speedboat.
the guide told me he'd seen a red goshawk in the Mt Finegan foothills on the
northern side of the river a month earlier.
a quick bash up the ridge behind the cabins yielded a f/imm black butcherbird,
wompoo pigeon, spangled drongos, a juvenile black-faced monarch and an
orange-footed scrubfowl within 5mins. there were plenty of white-throated
needletails overhead too. the biggest wet season in 30 years was still hanging
an afternoon river cruise turned up stunning m+f shining flycatchers, a varied
triller, osprey, helmeted friarbird, plenty of bee eaters and a lone dusky
honeyeater. but the highlight for birders and non-birders alike was two azure
KFs in courtship display on a low-lying branch. they let us get v close.
the next morning around the cabins and on the rainforest circuit there were
double-eyed fig parrots, female victoria riflebirds, a yellow oriole, gorgeous
yellow-bellied sunbirds, varied and yellow-spotted HEs, pale yellow robin,
northern fantail, grey whistler, yellow-breasted boatbill and more wompoo
pigeons and three scrubfowl engaged in a v noisy fight.
i found a bird hotspot where a few creek beds intersect and spent most of the
next day there or thereabouts. i was rewarded with great views and pix of a
spotted catbird and an overwintering juvenile buff-breasted paradise KF. the
guide's theory is that due to the extended wet season the regular nesting pair
had two broods and this one was too young to make the journey to PNG when the
others left. he was also able to show us the false nest they use as a decoy to
from my cabin after lunch i spotted a great frigatebird over the bay and there
were a group of of v contented wompoos guarding a berry-laden white cedar
behind the main bldg from figbirds.
i managed to squeeze in one more bash on the last morning and came up with a
barking owl at the creek. this one has been known to hang out by the pool at
the lodge. i looked away for a sec to grab my camera and it vanished without a
sound, not to be seen again. drats.
as for reptiles, there were a few well-fed estuarine crocs in the river, a
northern tree snake by the jetty and an amythestine python sharing cabin 1 with
a couple from sydney.
so 19 ticks in 3 days. for a "southerner" it was bit like shooting fish in a
barrel at times but who's complaining. the guides were great and very
knowledgeable about the birds, animals and especially the local aboriginal uses
for the various plants, from anti-inflammatories to contraceptives. fascinating
shane b, ascot qld
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