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Archive for January 28th, 2019

We decided in Australia that we wouldn’t take any organized bird watching tours. We figured we could see enough birds on our own while out and about. The one organized tour we did take was an evening cruise on the Daintree River. Now you may or may not know that this is in the Daintree Rainforest … there are really big crocodiles here. As a matter of fact, many times when out and about on our own, we would see these signs.

Suffice it to say, come to find out, Deb was terrified the whole time we were in Australia — of the spiders, snakes, critters, jellyfish and especially the crocodiles. Actually she was eaten by crocodiles … every night in her nightmares. You should have seen how relieved she looked when we finally landed in New Zealand. But I digress. Let’s get back to the birds!

When we first arrived in Port Douglas we went for an evening walk. We saw several birds over the next several days right in town.

Appropriately enough, this bird is a Rainbow Lorikeet.This is the Pied Imperial Pigeon.Here is a Magpie Lark.The Laughing Kookaburra.A beautiful Bush Stone-Curlew.Willy Wagtail.The Helmeted Friarbird.The Orange-footed Scrubfowl. Funny story about this bird. We were walking up a hill kind of in the woods when we saw one of these walk across the path. I tried to get a picture but my camera wasn’t cooperating. I was lamenting the lack of a photo when Deb said, “Don’t worry … you’ll see it again.” To which I replied “You never know, this could have been a once-in-a-lifetime bird.” We walked back to town and, guess what, they were all over the place. We laughed pretty hard about my once-in-a-lifetime bird. I was able to see it again … and again … and again.This is a Figbird.The lovely Peaceful Dove … we saw this right at the airport.These Lorikeet were so colorful! And there were hundreds if not thousands around the town. They are considered pests to some extent.

The next day we had an evening Boat Tour scheduled for what we thought would be birdwatching … more on that in another post. We decided to spend the day birding in that direction (the Daintree Rainforest). Every place we went it seemed we would be thwarted … we saw the odd bird here and there (heck, they were all new to us!) … but I wouldn’t call it a “Big Day.” Here are a few of the highlight birds from the trip:

This is known both as the Spur-winged Plover or the Masked Lapwing. We thought it looked more like one of those masked Mexican wrestlers … Nacho Libre! This is an Oystercatcher.Check out these old man looking birds … terns.This is an Australian White Ibis.This is a Nankeen Night Heron. Almost the last bird we saw that night on the river.

The next day, the weather was a little untidy, so we had to adjust our timetable a little. We wanted to have a successful birding outing after the previous day’s attempt. I had read online that there was great bird-watching at the Kingfisher Park Bird-watching Lodge in Julatten. We showed up there around 1620 to see if we could get in a little evening viewing. As we turned in the driveway it was quite dark in the woods. We crept up to the house … it looked deserted. We knocked on the door and this guy came out like Lurch from the Munsters. He gave us this ‘what do you want look’ and basically said, “Can’t you read our signs.” Apparently, it is a very welcoming place … if you pay … and if you show up on time … neither of which we did. Not too welcoming. Not to be deterred, I cheerfully asked if he knew of somewhere close to birdwatch. He sent us on down the road and, to his credit, it was a good bird-watching location. Here are a few of the birds we saw there:

Chestnut-breasted MannikinSulphur-crested Cockatoo.Royal Spoonbill.Pacific Black Duck.

These were cool, but we knew we had to be on to some good birds. We didn’t want our previous two outings to color our opinion of the area, so off we went the next day … back to the tablelands. We stopped in 4 different places … and again … we weren’t having great success. It was getting late in the afternoon and we had to make a decision. We decided to press on to one more location … Mount Carbine. We drive for 1/2 hour in that direction and I realized I missed the town. As we were attempting to turn around, I saw a place named Mount Carbine Caravan Park. I kind of remembered this listed in a couple of the birding blogs I’d seen as a place to visit. Once again, we took a chance and drove in. We stopped at the office and the lady was very friendly! She said, “Sure, for $5 you can walk around and look at the grounds. We have a lot of birds here!” She was right! They even had one of the birds I’d wanted to see on the whole trip but didn’t think I would get to see it — the Frogmouth. This was a fantastic locale and we definitely hit the jackpot here. I told her I was very close to my 1,000th bird on my life list. She was so excited she walked us around and pointed out the different birds. She was really nice … Here’s a sampling of these birds:

The Pied Butcherbird.A White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike.This is a Tawny Frogmouth … the male … sitting on the nest! Awesome!This is a Bower bird … it builds a bower to attract the female.Here is the bower it builds … the red objects are to entice the ladies!!The beautiful Galah.Here it is with it’s top-notch extended.This is a Noisy Friarbird … slightly different than the Helmeted.This is the Blue-faced Honeyeaters.Here he is up close and personal with a Kookaburra. The Straw-necked Ibis … we had seen these earlier in the day.Here is a family of frogmouths! Can you see all four of them?Here’s a closer shot of an adult and the child is looking at us.The child was really curious. Apparently, the juveniles will stare at you because they are curious but the adults will ignore you. So cool …Finally, as we were getting ready to leave, the really nice owner put us on to a location to see the Australian Bustard. We went over and, yes! We added that lovely bird to the list as well. Here’s another shot of one … just hanging out in the farmer’s field.

This finished up a great outing for us in Port Douglas and the Tablelands. It broke the ice for seeing more birds too. Once we made it to the Blue Mountains and Sydney we kept seeing more birds. Here are a few photos we saw there:

There were plenty of these Australian White Ibis in Sydney.We saw this Crimson Rosella in the Blue Mountains.This Noisy Miner was also in Sydney.The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo was a frequent visitor to Katoomba.

Overall, we had an excellent time birding in Australia. We saw around 93 birds with 77 of those new to me! I even went over 1,000 on my life list. It was a great way to hit my number and enjoy a few birds.

Here’s a short video … of me birding and Deb looking for crocodiles!

Not sure we’ll ever go back to Australia.

Stumbling Piper

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