We had a great half day tour yesterday, originally for four guests but one could not make it. Pick-up time was 7am at the Sheraton Mirage in Port Douglas where I met Judy, Brian and Lindy. None had binoculars with them so we decided to go for the big birds and to use the spotting scope. The first stop was along the Captain Cook Highway just south of the Mowbray River where we viewed the Eastern Osprey on their newly constructed nest. We spied a third Osprey in the distance and found him to be feasting on a Garfish. Across the road in the fallow cane paddock, we saw a pair of Bush Stone-curlew standing statue like in the tall grass and several Masked Lapwing foraging in and around muddy puddles. The air was full of the calls of Golden-headed Cisticola but alas we could not get one in the spotting scope. A pair of Olive-backed Sunbirds paid us a very brief visit before we moved on.
Our second stop was in Port Douglas where we sought the Eclectus Parrots. A lovely walk down a shaded road next to the golf course. We inspected the Eclectus nesting hollows and nearby perches and found nothing. We observed a Wandering Whistling Duck in one of the shallow ponds along the golf course fence. The poor fellow was missing one of his feet. Great views of a pair of Radjah Shelduck nearby were had. We had some really close views of a Comb-crested Jacana who stood still long enough for everyone to get great views through the spotting scope. A pair of Rainbow Bee-eaters were located on a hunting perch and the scope was very usefully to see them come and go as the pursued insects in flight. The Eclectus Parrot was heard calling and we hurried back to the nest hollow where two females where perched. We had great views through the scope before a Magpie-lark took exception to their presence and flushed them.
Warri Park with its lagoon and water lilies was our next stop. Here there were Dusky Moorhen and Australasian Swamphen as well as more Masked Lapwing. We got the scope onto a beautiful yellow breasted male Australasian Figbird and had a brief discussion about the Looking-glass Mangroves that grow around the edge of the lagoon. Another interesting find was a fallen tree trunk that had Double-eyed Fig-Parrot nesting hollows bored into it.
Time for a break and a cup of tea at a shady picnic area along with a discussion of the birds seen thus far.
Next stop Newell Beach beginning with a visit to the sand spit at the mouth of the Mossman River. The scope was set up and we found Crested Tern, Little Tern, Bar-tailed Godwit and a couple of Great Knot. We had a majestic flyby from a Great Egret and a few minutes later a Grey Goshawk passed overhead. We took in the landmarks of Snapper Island, Low Isles and the Port Douglas headland to help orientate where exactly we were standing. Moving on to a patch of bushland we had magnificent views of an extremely confiding male Lovely Fairywren accompanied by a male Mistletoebird in his bright red waist-coat, several Olive-backed Sunbirds and a couple of Dusky Honeyeaters.
Heading back to Port Douglas we paused at a small private dam and were treated to a Pied Heron, Pied Stilt and some Australian White Ibis. We stood for awhile under the Golden Penda trees marvelling at the call of the Brown Honeyeaters. After a bit of “pishing” they came out and had a look at us along with a pair of Yellow Honeyeaters. Interestingly the White-breasted Woodswallows also came in for a look flying low around our heads.
All good things must come to an end and we headed back into Port Douglas with a final stop at my Papuan Frogmouth day roost. We were treated to two of these wonderful creatures quietly sleeping on their favourite branch. We then found a shady spot at the Sheraton and filled out the bird list for the morning and bid each other farewell. Thankyou Judy, Brian and Lindy for a wonderful morning and some interesting conversation.