Friday, 22 January 2010

Australia - Instalment 3 - Cairns and The Wet Tropics

Cairns is fantastic, no doubt about it. Within a half hour or arriving we were stood on a viewing platform at the world-famous Esplanade, gazing out across the mudflats at hundreds of Asiatic waders: Great knot, Terek sandpiper, Lesser and Greater sandplovers, Red-capped plovers, FE curlews, Red-necked stints, ST sandpipers, Bar-tailed godwits and Greenshanks as well as Royal spoonbills, Eastern great egrets, Striated herons, Australian pelicans and ibis. The mud was crawling with crabs and mudskippers.

The trees and bushes along the Esplanade held Rainbow lorikeet, Varied honeyeater, Pied pigeons, Figbirds and Little and Black-faced cuckoo-shrikes, the grass lawns had a pair of feisty Masked lapwings, and the mangrove edge to the north gave us Mangrove robin, Yellow oriole and a pair of Collared kingfishers. Several White-throated needletails powered by.

Cairns is an ideal base for trips out to the Barrier Reef as well as the rainforest areas further north. One of the highlights of the entire trip was our morning with Chris Dahlberg on the Daintree River. In a 2-hour boat trip we racked up loads of lifers, many at extremely close-range. Bird of the trip was easily the monster Great-billed heron that flew over the boat at about 10 feet, but we also had great views of Black bittern, Double-eyed fig-parrot, Shining flycatcher, Brown-backed honeyeater and a Papuan frogmouth and chick on the nest.

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