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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Daintree River views

Driving north from Mossman one encounters a sign pointing right to the famous Daintree ferry and Cape Trib, or left to Daintree Village on the river a few kilometres upstream.

The Village isn’t very big – a pub, a few shops and houses, some tourist accommodation and a jetty for the boaties. We stayed there overnight so that we could take an evening wildlife-spotting cruise with Daintree River Wild Watch, which was so good that we repeated it early next morning.

Daintree Village motel
Daintree Village Lodge

I came home with so many bird photos that they need a separate post, but here are some river views for context.

Daintree River Views

Dawn and dusk are the best times for birds and for atmospheric landscape photos, and I really loved the morning mists.

Daintree Village view
Misty dawn on the Daintree

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Mud-nest Builders

Mud is a great construction material, as wasps, people and termites realised long ago. Three species of Australian birds use it to make cup-shaped nests in trees, which is a bit unorthodox, and I happened to see two of them on my recent trip up north.

The first is so well known around Townsville that I’m surprised we don’t see their nests more often. The second is a dry-country species, common enough in the west but rare on the coast.

The Pee-wit

Pee-wit on nest
Pee-wit on nest in Cooktown Botanic Gardens

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Cooktown

Cooktown, when I finally reached it after thinking about it for thirty years, was much more normal than I had expected.

In my imagination it was a romantically tumbledown jungle shantytown on the banks of a crocodile-infested river at the far end of hundreds of kilometres of rough dirt road. What I found was an attractive country town of some 2500 people, with  shire offices, schools, a good tourism infrastructure, etc, etc.

cooktown from Grassy Hill
View of Cooktown from Grassy Hill

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