Thursday, 2 February 2017

Birding the Tip (of Cape York Peninsula)


The object of this trip was to see some of the Cape-York specials and see if a scheduled tour was viable.
We left Cairns on Friday 20th January at 2pm on the little 30 seater SAAB aircraft and arrived at Bamaga Airport just after 4pm. We drove out to Seisia  where we had hired a cabin. A quick beer on the veranda and we were right into the birding. Crested Terns and Lesser Frigatebird’s before we even left the veranda. Palm Cockatoo’s in the camp ground, purple wattled Brush Turkey, Friarbirds and all the usual suspects. We had dinner and an early night to prepare for an early morning start.
Australian Brush Turkey

Day 2

We headed out to Little and Big Wood Islands by boat. On Little Woody we quickly bagged the Pale and Yellow White-eye’s and had spectacular views of Mangrove Golden Whistler. It was pleasing to note dozens of turtle tracks up the beach and many fresh nests. We also saw several Mangrove Robin and had heart racing views of a Peregrine Falcon pursuing the nesting Torresian Imperial-Pigeons. On our return to the mainland we were engulfed by a nasty squall and had to take shelter in the lee of a small island along with Crested and Little Tern and a solitary Pied Oystercatcher. The rest of the day was spent poking around the local area.
Pale White-eye

Day 3

Our destination for the morning is the Lockerby Scrub. First up we searched for the Northern Scrub-robin of which we heard four and manage to get cracking views of one. Unfortunately it would not keep still long enough for a photo! Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher’s where calling everywhere as were the Magnificent Riflebird of which we got 2 male flybys and a good perched female. We heard at least 6 Red-bellied/Papuan Pitta’s calling and had cracking views of one male. Once again the light was atrocious for photography but I did manage a quick id shot.
Red-bellied/Papuan Pitta

Yellow-legged Flycatcher was heard and many Trumpet Manucode where seen and heard. We spent the afternoon exploring various settling ponds where we turned up 25 Spotted Whistling-duck’s, Magpie Goose, Common and Marsh Sandpiper, Glossy Ibis and others. Later that afternoon whilst again imbibing in a cold beer on the veranda of our cabin we just happened to notice two Beach Stone-curlew stroll by on the lawn.
Spotted Whistling-Duck

Day 4

We are back in the scrub chasing Yellow-legged Flycatcher in the rain. We had some fantastic photo opportunities with Palm Cockatoo and then went sightseeing along the east coast in the rain. After lunch and we focused on some rain-forest fringe for the local subspecies of the Spectacled Monarch (albiventris) whose buff markings end abruptly high on the breast and the Yellow-breasted Boatbill (faviventer) which has an olive back.
Palm Cockatoo

After dinner we went out spotlighting and where rewarded with six Marbled Frogmouth calling of which we were able to see three. Spectacular end to the day indeed!
Marbled Frogmouth

Day 5

Today is clear with no imminent rain showers and we head south in search of the Fawn-breasted Bowerbird. We began with a Black-backed Butcherbird, White-streaked Honeyeater, three species of Friarbird and more Palm Cockatoo sightings. We found the Fawn-breasted Bowerbird easily at his bower and spent the next two hours totally engrossed as he came and went with decorations for his bower.
Fawn-breasted Bowerbird

Later we went in the direction of Muttee, a former WWII radar instillation where we picked up Trumpet Manucode, Cicadabird, Grey Goshawk (white morph), White-streaked Honeyeater and more Palm Cockatoo. We once again spent the afternoon poking around the back roads and rain-forest pockets of Bamaga where we picked up the usual suspects and an Oriental Cuckoo.
Trumpet Manucode

Day 6

Once again a fine sunny morning and we revisited the Lockerby Scrub where I got fantastic views of a perched male Magnificent Riflebird but our main objective today was to reach the tip of Cape York, the most northerly point of the Australian Mainland.
Magnificent Riflebird

 This we did and had lovely views out to the multitude of island in the straits. Just as we were finishing up the sky blackened and the rain came down in torrents! It was still raining when we left Bamaga Airport at 4 in the afternoon.
Tip of Cape York

A 5 night 6 day fly-in fly-out birding trip from Cairns for late December this year and every year thereafter has now been planned! See the details at ! 

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