Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Cairns and Jullaten September 2015

Barb, Joy and me at the start of our trip. Photo by Barb

Over a year ago Barb, Joy and I booked to go on pelagic trip to Raine Island off the far north-east coast of Cape York. It was a specially organised trip because even though people visit the island for scientific study there had not been a birding trip since about 1995.
Australasian Figbird

To round out the trip we decided to spend time in the Cairns and Julatten area before we flew north to Lockhart River and Portland Roads where we were to meet the boat and the rest of the group.
Spotted Honeyeater

Joy met me at the airport in Melbourne and we flew to Cairns where we were met by Barb. From there it was a 2 hour car ride to Julatten and the Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge where we were staying. We arrived at about 1900 and our friend Ian was waiting to join us and we then headed to the local hotel for an excellent dinner.
Dusky Honeyeater

So as not to waste time we drove up Mt Lewis as soon as we had finished eating. I had been told we could find Lesser Sooty Owls on the road up, but not this night. All was quiet. The following day we met Andrew and Carol, owners of Kingfisher Park and told them we were looking for the owl. "Oh, easy", they said, "just sit outside your cabin tonight and you should hear one call from the trees at about 1900". Sure enough the call came on time and we spent some time getting photos of a very obliging Lesser Sooty Owl. I also wanted to see a Pale-vented Bush-hen but they said it was far too early in the year and I would need to come back when they were calling. It seems I now have a reason for a return visit.
Lesser Sooty Owl

We returned to Mt Lewis for a daytime visit and we hoped for some of its specialties like Fernwren, Chowchilla and fruit-doves. The only fruit dove we could find was the Wompoo Fruit-Dove and while we heard others they kept well hidden. The other bird we wanted return views of was the Blue-faced Parrot-finch but again it was missing from its normal haunts.
Fernwren. A fast moving skulker of the dark rainforest floor and an impossible bird to get a good photo of

Chowchilla. Another skulker of the rainforest floor

Wompoo Fruit-Dove

Over the next 3 days the four of us birded around Julatten catching up with many species we had seen before but not for a long time. Many trees had fruit on them and lots of flowers and trees were in bloom so birds flitted and called everywhere. By the time we left I had 122 species on my list as well as some special mammals I had never seen before like Greater Broad Nosed Bat, Scoteanax rueppellii, and Daintree River Ring-tailed Possum, Pseudochirulus cinereus.

Daintree River Ring-tailed Possum that we found in daylight on Mt Lewis

Greater Broad Nosed Bat

Australian Brush-turkey in its mound. They monitor the mound all day, checking for temperature. As needed to maintain the optimum temperature for the eggs they add or kick out leaves and dirt

Macleay's Honeyeater

Pale Yellow Robin

Metallic Starling

Sarus Crane on left and Brolga on right. There was a lot of heat haze but the picture shows the difference between these two similar crane species

Torresion Imperial-Pigeon in Cairns on our last night

All images and text © Jenny Spry

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