Monday, August 31, 2009
Vacation 2 - Daintree
Our second stop was Daintree village, in the Daintree World Heritage Area. We arrived mid afternoon, and took a drive along the Upper Daintree Road that runs alongside the Daintree River. There were hundreds of Cattle Egrets in the fields including this one taking advantage of a raised viewpoint. Further along we found a small group of Rainbow Bee-eaters. Back in the village we decided to take a river trip looking for Crocodiles. As I parked the car, a raptor flew across and up into a tree. Instinctively, I knew it was a Pacific Baza, and my first new bird of the trip. As we pulled away from the boat ramp, I noticed a lot of flowers floating down the river. The guide explained that they are from the native Hibiscus, and all of the flowers drop off each evening, and are replaced by fresh blooms the next morning. We saw two crocs loafing on the sandy river edges, this 3m (10ft) female, and a 5m (16ft) male known locally as "Fat Albert". Next morning we were booked on Chris Dahlberg's boat trip. This is my second trip with Chris, and I cannot recommend him highly enough. He is a terrific guide, very knowledgeable and keen to help experienced birders and novice nature watchers alike. Please take a look at his website, and if you are ever in the Daintree area, don't miss out on this great experience. My target birds were Little Kingfisher and Great-billed Heron. We saw both, but the light was pretty poor so I had to crank up the ISO and the images are very grainy. We saw four species of kingfisher, Little, Azure, Forest and Sacred. This is the gorgeous Azure variety. A pair of Shining Flycatchers gave us the run around, but we eventually got a really good look at both. This is the female. Chris's "piéce de resistance" were a pair of Papuan Frogmouths happily roosting on a branch over the river.