The Tropical North - Cairns and the Tablelands
April 11, 2012
A short trip with an English couple targeting the special birds of the Cairns/Tablelands area. Despite the very poor weather we were able to dodge showers most days and ended up seeing far more than at first we would have thought possible
We started in Cairns where we visited the Mangrove Boardwalk, the Esplanade, the Botanic Gardens and Centenary Lakes and what was a bit of highlight, the old cemetery where the Bush Stone Curlews amongst the graves were a big hit.We then drove up to Cassowary House- our base for the next 4 nights.
The following day we visited the area around Mareeba including Granite Gorge where the Mareeba Rock Wallabies put on their usual great show and Squatter Pigeon, Tawny frogmouth, Great Bowerbird and Blue- faced Honeyeater were also highlights. A visit to Mareeba Wetlands gave us very little in the way of wetland birds but the approach road was great with Red-backed Fairywren, Golden-headed Cisticola and the prize Back-throated Finch.
We started the third day very well with a male Cassowary and two chicks before breakfast at Cassowary House. Heading up to the Southern Tablelands we made a short detour to the Barron Falls which are truly magnificent at this time of year and well worth a visit. The Curtain Fig is an impressive tree and worth a visit in its own right but it is also a good birding spot and we saw Pied Monarch, Brown Gerygone and Yellow-breasted Boatbill there. From there we visited Lake Barrine where there is an excellent short walk through the rainforest. We ended up at Tarzali where we had excellent views of Platypus and bought some of their great smoked products.
The weather and tides persuaded us to change our Daintree dawn cruise to a Daintree lunch cruise. We visited Mt Molloy where highlights were Lovely Fairywren, Rufous Fantail, Spectacled Monarch and great views of a Great Bowerbird at its bower before travelling on to Mary Farms to see Australian Bustard. Luckily the rain stayed away for most of the cruise and we ere able to see Little Kingfisher, Shining Flycatcher and some other great birds.
The final day of the tour started with another Cassowary- this time the female - what a magnificent bird she is. After breakfast we drove up to Mt Hypipamee where we were lucky enough to catch up with Fernwren, Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Victoria's Riflebird and Golden Bowerbird. On the way back to Cairns we stopped at Hasties Swamp and admired the waterfowl from the great hide.