Rowes Bay wetlands

I took my camera down to the wetland boardwalk behind Rowes Bay Sustainability Centre and the (new) Landcare Nursery a week ago. It was a very hot day but I found a good shady spot with views to nearby swamp and perches, and waited for the birds to forget I was there.

They did, and I got nice photos of half a dozen species. The best of them have already been shared online so I will just post links to them as they appear on iNaturalist: Sacred Kingfisher, Masked Lapwing, Koel (female), Hornbill Friarbird, and Pheasant Coucal.

But I’m a bug-hunter too, so here are some of the smaller creatures I saw from the boardwalk.

Leaf beetle
Leaf beetle

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Metallic Starlings

We stopped at the park in the middle of Innisfail for a short break on our way to Chillagoe and were unexpectedly delayed by a spot of birdwatching. A large tree right on the highway was loaded with big untidy nests and, we soon realised, their makers.

They were Metallic Starlings, Aplonis metallica, which are rarely seen in Townsville. Their nominal range is along the coast from about Mackay to Cape York but most sightings (scroll down to map) are between Ingham and the Daintree, i.e., in the Wet Tropics.

Metallic Starling nests
Metallic Starling nests in outer branches of an old tree

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Chillagoe

Chillagoe is a hauntingly beautiful, intriguingly odd place which we liked twenty years ago but hadn’t revisited since then because it’s a bit out of the way even by outback Queensland standards (more on its location later).

The town has a population of only a few hundred people these days but it was an important mining centre a century ago and has significant remnants to show for it. It also has improbable limestone bluffs riddled with caves, and our camping ground featured the best dawn chorus of our two-week northern journey, easily beating Cape Trib and Cooktown.    Continue reading “Chillagoe”

Daintree River wildlife

What the visitor sees on a wildlife safari or cruise depends on the wildlife and the weather, but also on the guide’s interests and local knowledge. Daintree River Wild Watch advertised “Bird Watching and Photography Cruises” which ticked the boxes we wanted, and we were well rewarded.

Crocodiles are top of the list for most tourists, and we did see one, but the highlight for us was the Jabiru (Black-necked Stork, Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus) prancing around in the shallows to scare up his breakfast.

Birds

Jabiru
Prance

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