Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Kingfisher Lodge ~ Part One

The following was written over the last three days. It might be confusing, or not. It begins like this…

We are here. This is now the second morning that I am sitting on the veranda in the dark outside the office of Kingfisher Lodge. It is 4:50am and I am having coffee and listening to the sounds of rainforest creatures that I cannot identify, but I love. I just love this place.

Within an hour of arriving here Monday mid-morning, I beheld a Papuan Frogmouth (I have now seen two others) the first night I marveled at two Lesser Sooty Owls. And then there was Bridled Honeyeater, Grey-headed Robin and Spotted Catbird all in the first afternoon and evening.       
Papuan Frogmouth... Old Red Eyes
Yesterday produced other wonders in the gorgeous Barred Cuckoo-shrike, Yellow-breasted Boatbill and the surprisingly beautiful Squatter Pigeon. But the biggest thrill occurred in mere seconds yesterday evening.
Barred Cuckoo-shrike 
Yellow-breasted Boatbill (backlit and blurry- alliteration photo) 
My favorite pigeon de jour... Squatter Pigeon.         
I first heard of Kingfisher Lodge when I read Sean Dooley’s book, The Big Twitch. This area of far north Queensland is a birders paradise. But although this lodge is named for the Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, possibly its most famous bird is the Red-necked Crake. This bird will sometimes come down to a little pool just before dark behind the lodge. You sit very quietly and watch this little pool. We did that the first night until it was stone dark without success. So of course we were back again the next night and at just about 6pm, as four of us sat watching, this wonderful crake ran across the ground just in front of the pool. We all saw it. I have now beheld the Kingfisher Lodge Red-necked Crake. I am so very grateful.

This is now the third morning and yesterday was wondrous. We spent the late morning through mid afternoon hiking up Mt. Lewis with Andrew showing us stuff. He is brilliant and a joy to bird with, and to be able to share this with my girl is phenomenally wonderful. I am so grateful that words fail me. Here are just a few photos from the last few days...
Golden Bowerbird "selfie" (Robert took it) The GOBO is just above my head in the back.
Macleay's Honeyeater (I do kind of like this shot)
Spotted Catbird
Lesser Sooty Owl
Tooth-billed Bowerbird
Golden Bowerbird
Bridled Honeyeater
Mountain Thornbill
There is a bat grabbing moths just above me on the veranda. God, I love this place. I am going to get this posted with a bunch of photos and I will do another blog later in the week. There are more photos that I wish to post but time and internet are limiting. I am so grateful for this experience! I will keep you posted.

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


We are in Far North Queensland or FNQ as it is called. After just one night at Etty Bay with its incredible views of the water and even views of the wondrous Southern Cassowary, we headed on. It is school holidays and that caravan park was a circus of feral children and noisy adults (it really wasn’t that bad, just tiny sites and very crowded).

A bit too crowded for us. 
But the views were gorgeous, even in the rain.
We headed up to have a look at the Esplanade in North Cairns for the Mangrove Robin and we got it! Thank you again, Anne! I am indeed grateful. It is a delightful little robin and we found it in amongst the mangroves looking beautiful in its shady home.
Mangrove Robin in the mangroves, as it should be.

Then we had a look at the flats. And there were waders, they are the reason God made telescopes. We got ours out and soon we had two more life birds in the Greater Sand Plover and the Great Knot. Yes it was great! And I am grateful!
                   Greater Sand Plover                         
Great Knot
We continued on the insanely gorgeous drive up the coast and we are now in a very nice caravan park just outside of Port Douglas, QLD. It’s nice, but nice in sort of a golf course kind of way. It does have excellent amenities! We also saw a lovely pair of Bush Stone-curlews. The male was lying flat about ten meters from where the female was (we think) sitting on eggs. We did not disturb them, but I made their photos. There was also a Yellow Oriole above us as we walked back to Matilda, a new bird on the trip list. I am grateful.
Ms Bush Stone-curlew on eggs we think. 
Mr. Bush Stone-curlew lying flat and being invisible, but not far from the Mrs. 
Yellow Oriole 
Today we head to Kingfisher Lodge. I am quite excited and grateful. Stay tuned, I will keep y’all posted as best I can. We do love having y'all along.

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Cassowary Love

I am editing and culling photos of yet another of my most favorite birds in the world, Southern Cassowaries. Saturday afternoon we saw a dad with four youngin’s on the way to Etty Bay and then we watched a female wander through the caravan park here. I took their photos and I am grateful!
Southern Cassowary, dad and the kids (there are four).             
The fourth... he doesn't keep up well and is a little special I think.
I absolutely love this wonderfully bizarre bird. It is a dinosaur. It looks like Jim Henson created it. The colors on the neck and wattles look fake. The feathers look like hair and it has a “horn” on its head! Damn. I have a difficult time deleting photos of these magnificent birds. I reckon I will somehow choose just a few for the blog.
Southern Cassowary (F) she is a wild Cassowary but she hangs around the caravan park. Regardless of all the signs asking them not to do so, people do feed them.

I love this bird.
I think she is being flirty.
As you might have heard, their feet can be a dangerous weapon.
We also stopped and looked at the Golden Gumboot in Tully, QLD. It is the rainiest spot in Oz. And yes, it was raining. Lynn took my photo standing at the top of the boot. 

Then I had a lot of fun photographing Metallic Starlings, the most beautiful Starlings I have ever seen. I saw them in FNQ 5 years ago, but that was in March and they were not in this fine breeding plumage. Their psychedelic iridescence is wondrous. I hope the camera captured it at least somewhat. Bearing in mind that it was raining and overcast, I cannot image what they must look like in bright sun! I am grateful.

Metallic Starlings... gorgeous

I now I have some internet here in Port Douglas, QLD and will post this. But first… I am going for a bird-walk around this caravan park.
And now I am back and I want to get this posted! I am so grateful (I got 3 life birds today, but that is another blog and it may be a while. Tomorrow we go to Kingfisher Lodge and I am grateful and excited!).

I will leave you with a Crimson Finch that seems a bit "chesty" to me. She really does appear to have cleavage.
At least it's a Finch and not a Tit.

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Matty In The Palms (Crystal Creek Caravan Park)

It is 4:30 Saturday morning and I am enjoying my coffee. We have spent two nights here with Matilda tucked into the palms. She has her awning out and has been resting. God knows we have pushed her hard over the last few weeks (Eungella was above and beyond). So she got to chill.
Matty amongst the palms
The awning is out, "camp" is set up and Matilda is relaxing (Lynn looks comfortable too).
Getting up before five is about normal for me nowadays and I like it. I am grateful. Thursday was quite a Lifer day. Anne Collins told us about a Brown-backed Honeyeater in a park that was just off our route. True to form, she was spot-on. We went to the park, walked to the spot, saw the bird and were back on the road in about ten minutes time. Tick. I am grateful!
Brown-backed Honeyeater
In the early afternoon we arrived here at Crystal Creek Caravan Park, which was another of Anne’s suggestions. She even made us a Google map of what she had seen where. Following her “bird treasure map,” we soon had White-browed Robin (tick), Lovely Fair-wren (tick) and Spectacled Monarch (tick for Lynn). We returned to Matilda to find Hornbill Friarbirds overhead (a split from Helmeted, so another tick for us both) and then after supper, I saw a small honeyeater. We watched it (and heard it) and it was a Yellow-spotted Honeyeater. I had my fifth life bird of the day. I am grateful!

Ms Lovely Fairy-wren. I love her.

Mr. Lovely Fairy-wren. They are not easy to photograph.

White-browed Robin     
Hornbill Friarbird, a different kind of beautiful. 


We had Lifer Pie in the form of fancy ice cream on a stick. Mine was Salted-caramel Macadamia and it was pure yum! Yesterday was a quiet kind of day birding around the campground. Lynn also did laundry and some tiding up of Matilda and I truly am grateful.
Varied Triller and a very unfortunate Praying Mantis.
Hello, Ladies... like what I have done to the place? (A Great Bowerbird's bower). 
Dusky Honeyeater and flower. 
Olive-backed Oriole 
Spectacled Monarch
A flock of Red-tailed Black-cockatoos flew over the park in the early evening. 
Yes, this is an excellent little spot. We will return. I am grateful. 

Birds. Peace. Love. Earth. Laughter. Music.