Monday, June 20, 2016

Cairns and Tinaroo

So much has been happening over the last few months that it is only now that I am finding time to write blogs that date back to March. The first blog to do is for a trip to Cairns and the tip of Cape York that was a lead-in to a larger trip to the islands of Torres Strait.

Our adventure started with four of us, Mel, Joy, Barb and I, flying into Cairns and renting a car. As there were birds to be found, and some that were going to be new for us, we headed to the Botanic Gardens in the hope of finding a Pale-vented Bush-hen for me. This was a bit of a long shot because it was the middle of the day and the Bush-hen is the ultimate skulker that prefers wandering around early in the morning. As it was just on lunch time we wandered into the cafe in the gardens only to find three people with binoculars, always a good sign, so we wandered over and asked about Bush-hens. As the conversation continued the pennies started to drop and we realised that we are were all actually part of the group for the Torres Strait trip, and we were all going to be in Bamaga at the same time before the trip as well.
The swallows were right at the top of this image from Google Earth, just before the boat-ramp.

They couldn't help with the Bush-hen but did tell us that they had seen Red-rumped Swallows up at Lake Tinaroo near Yungaburra. This would be a new bird for Mel so we cancelled the Bush-hen hunt and headed for the swallows. The drive up onto the Tablelands is an amazing climb and our rental car struggled a bit with the four of us and luggage but it was worth it. As we drove down toward the lake, wondering where we should start looking, we saw Welcome Swallows on the powerlines above the cabins of the caravan park ... and then we saw they were not all Welcome Swallows, some were Red-rumped.

Job done we drove back down the unbelievably steep and twisty road and into Cairns and headed for our next target, the Rufous Owl in the fig tree at the corner of Grafton and Hartley Streets. We got vaguely lost in Cairns on the way but suddenly there was the tree, right in front of us. After wandering in circles around the tree for some time Mel finally said the magic words, "Got It". It is amazing how a large owl can hide in the middle of one tree.
Rufous Owl with the remains of dinner, a  Torresian Imperial Pigeon

It was now time to check into the Ibis Styles hotel, which I can recommend if you are looking for somewhere reasonable to stay. There is only limited off-street parking at the hotel so when we went out for dinner we left the car there and walked down to the Esplanade. Thousands of Spectacled Fruit-bats were leaving their roosts and care had to be taken on the footpath as the little darlings occasionally peed down from above. Dinner was OK but I find the hordes of tourists more than I can take so I was glad when we finally got back to the room and got ready for our Skytrans flight the next morning to Bamaga.

All text & images © Jenny Spry

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