Sunday, 21 August 2011

Daintree River to Mt Lewis

Up before dawn on Saturday morning and off to Daintree Village to join Murray on his 7am birding boat cruise. Passing Rocky Point the sun is just a red ball peeping over the horizon. The Daintree river is shrouded in mist as we cast off. Our first sighting is a dead tree poking out of the mist covered in Cattle Egrets with a Little Pied Cormorant perched right at the top. As the mist begins to clear we head for a spot where Great Billed Heron have recently been seen. No luck. We see an Azure Kingfisher and Shining Flycatcher. These Flycatchers seem quite common here. Small flocks of Metallic Starlings and Topknot Pigeons fly overhead as the sun finally starts to warm us.

A flash of blue and white as a Little Kingfisher crosses the River. We move slowly closer for a better view and some photo's. We ended up seeing 10 of these birds! Up in the branches of an overhanging tree Murray points out a Papuan Frogmouth. Eyes closed and beak pointing to the sky pretending to be a dead branch. 4 of these birds where seen. Still no Great Billed Heron.

We also saw Macleay's Honeyeater, Double-eyed Fig-parrot, Whompo Fruit-dove, Little Egret and Osprey. Our total number of species for the boat trip was 38.

On the way home I stopped to see what was at the Barramundi Farm near Wonga Beach. Many Black-winged Stilt, Great Egret, pacific Black Duck, Black Fronted Dotterel, Sacred Kingfisher, Gull-billed Turn, and Brahminy Kite. Total number of species was 14 all in a 10 minute stop.

Up bright and early again on Sunday morning and off to Julatten. An hour at one of my regular stops yielded 3 Cotton Pygmy-goose, Darter, Pacific Black Duck and Australian Grebe. Also seen where Golden-headed Cisticola, Topknot Pigeon and Spectacled Monarch. Total 27 species.
Cotton Pygmy-goose on far left center.
(Awful photo - use imagination!)

Next stop Mt Lewis. The drive up the track was enjoyable as always with many Grey-headed Robin flitting across the road in front of my truck. The clearing at the 10km mark was cold and semi overcast and very quiet. I started off down the track to the dam at about 9.30am. After a few meters I stop in the gloom and listened. Nothing. Oh well, a quiet day then. I listened some more and sure enough there was a rustle of leaves nearby. Peering into the gloom I made out a Bower's Shrike-thrush bludgeoning a grub to death on a branch. Soon I also made out a Mountain Thornbill and Atherton Scrubwren.

Futher down the path all was still very quiet. A soft pattering of debris falling to the path alerted me to the presence of something in the tree above. Scanning with my binoculars I caught a movement of brown. A Brown Cuckoo-dove. There to the left, a flash of black. Slowly the bird moved into a good viewing position. A male Victoria Riflebird with his irredesant blue-green throat-shield!

Working slowly along the track listening for rustles in the leaves I was also able to locate 2 groups of Chowchilla both of which were accompanied Yellow-throated Scrubwren. Finally I heard a Spotted Catbird calling and was able to track it down. Also seen where Large-billed Scrubwren, Pale-yellow Robin, Grey Fantail, Bridled Honeyeater, Shining Bronze-cuckoo and a tiny Musky Rat-kangaroo. A total of 18 species. Not bad for variety and a very quiet morning!

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