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Archive for February 14th, 2019

If you looked at my beer mentor page (www.beermentor.me) you would have seen a couple of posts for Sydney already. This is such a diverse city it would be difficult to categorize it.

As mentioned in one of the birding posts, we started our stay in Australia up above Cairns in a small town called Port Douglas. This gave us access to the Daintree Rainforest and to the Atherton Tablelands. Here we had 3 different environments to explore — the beach (with crocodiles/Jellyfish), the Rainforest (with crocodiles/spiders/snakes), and the Tablelands (spiders/snakes/but no crocodiles). We were happy to have only seen one snake and one crocodile while there.

It was fun walking on the beach and checking out the shells and rocks.We also saw these tiny crabs all over the place.And yes, we saw some Jellyfish washed up on the beach.The rainforest was beautiful.And up on the tablelands we saw either Kangaroos or Wallaby. We weren’t sure what these were–pretty sure Kangaroos.We are pretty sure this was a Wallaby!Beautiful views up on the Tablelands….

We had a rental car in Port Douglas so we were able to drive to all of these different places … that made it easy — however, driving on the left side of the road did take a little getting used to!

From Port Douglas we drove to Cairns and then flew to Sydney. We didn’t stay in Sydney at first — we took the train to Katoomba (up in the Blue Mountains). We wanted to hike (and eventually bike [see previous post]). So no rental car here — we just hiked/walked all over the place. It was an amazing location–we stayed right near the canyon rim wall and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Off in the distance you can see the Three sisters … this is all sandstone so it continues to get shaped and reformed. Our Bed and breakfast was very near those pillars.As you went down into the valley you sometimes had mist roll in … it would be clear then misty …We took the steepest train in the world down into the valley … this shot doesn’t doo it justice for how steep it is!We also hiked on some pretty incredible structures …Always having to stop for the view, because you don’t want to walk and look here.Reminded me of a green Grand Canyon.Looking out the roof of the train … gives you a little perspective on how steep it was.Here is the train platform …

It was such a beautiful area to hike and walk …

We took the train back to Sydney and hiked (with our 40 lb bags/packs plus our other backpacks) to our hotel. We were staying down in the heart of the city so that we could get around easier. Again, without a rental car we walked/hiked all over the place. We did take a taxi to Bondi Beach (and back) because we had a tight schedule that day. Otherwise we wandered around the city on foot. It was fabulous. We ended up spending a good deal of time in the Botanical Gardens.

This is over in the old quarter of the city … a view out to the harbor bridge.One of the displays at the Botanical Garden was on carnivorous plants … these are Pitcher plants.Of course, we had absolutely stunning views of the Opera House.And many other interesting things that show up in a harbor town.Looking from the botanical garden over to the opera house.

On this trip through Australia, we took planes, trains, and automobiles! Haha. It was such an amazing trip … I loved all the birds we saw and the scenery was spectacular.

On to New Zealand for the final leg of this Southern Swing!

Stumbling Piper

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While in Australia we decided a visit to the Daintree rainforest, north of Cairns, would be a good idea. I had wanted to drive up through the forest to Cape Tribulation to possibly see some Cassowaries but didn’t think we had the time. We decided to book an evening cruise on the River instead. I had hoped to have an opportunity to see the six different kinds of Kingfishers and possibly a Frogmouth or two. We made a day of it and leisurely drove up to the quaint village of Daintree. On our way, we made a few stops to see if we could identify some shore birds.

Once again, we were in the dreaded area of the Crocodile. I was completely oblivious to the fact that Deb was terrified (see previous posts) of these things. When we stopped at the mouth of the Daintree river to look for some birds one of the locals told us that a 20 foot crocodile usually hung out by the sand bar but they hadn’t seen it for a couple of days. I decided a jaunt over to the beach would be a good idea … and it was from a birding standpoint! Saw a couple of terns, an oystercatcher, and a couple of other shore birds. Deb was constantly watching for the croc … no sighting! Whew.

Here’s an osprey we caught at the shore … a different version than my normal one, so a new bird for me. Yes!My previous bird post for Australia has images of the birds we saw … This reef egret was a little bit of a loner.This guy was trying to sneak away so I only got a “Sasquatch-style” photo … but enough to identify him — an Eastern Curlew.

We drove up to Daintree and then poked around a couple of the roads there looking for birds. We didn’t have great success … there was the odd bird here and there. Just really enough to whet my appetite.

This stone curlew was always a pleasure to see.This Metallic Starling was pretty cool.

Around 5pm we were at the pier waiting for our guide to show up and take us for our river cruise … I was excited to see the birds. I saw a couple as we were waiting:

This is a Forest Kingfisher … one of six! This is an olive-backed sunbird … beautiful!

Well… let’s just say that it was us and the tour guide and he wasn’t really a birdwatcher. He wanted to just cruise us up the river, look for a few “animals,” show us the bats and return.

I was pretty disappointed initially. While Deb did see the most rare of Kingfishers, the Little Kingfisher, I was constantly just missing whatever birds there were and about 45 minutes later it was too dark to spot birds anyway.

Here we are cruising up a narrow section between the shore and an island.I did catch this little guy snooping around … a Brown -backed Honeyeater.I also saw this “leaf bird.” Haha. From a distance, I would swear that yellow stem was a bill on an a nice orange bird.And here was my problem … it just started getting too dark to identify any more birds.

As we cruised along, Dan, our tour guide, pointed out a crocodile cruising down the river … he wanted to know if we wanted to get closer … it was about 12 feet long. We said “Heck no!”

I kept asking myself why I was so disappointed … we were out on a boat in a river in Northern Australia doing something that few other people do … it was actually pretty amazing. I perked up and we saw an amazing display of these very large fruit bats leaving the roosting area for their nightly dinner.

It was a mass migration of thousands of bats. As we sat there, the only boat in the area, the bats would swoop down to the river and bounce in the water. They were collecting water in their fur so they could land and drink it. We had these bats flying overhead, bouncing on the water (right by the boat) all in the stillness and the quietness. I was happy that I had perked up and was just enjoying the moment. Check out this video of all the bats. And look at that sky! Wow!

I guess things sometimes don’t go they way you expect but they still turn out pretty nice. On the way back, we spotted a Nankeen Heron and a Radjah Shelduck … both new birds for me. A great way to end an excellent cruise on the river.

Stumbling Piper

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