Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cairns to Iron Range Roadtrip Cape York Qld

Tropical north Queensland is a must for birding and I’ve just spent an awesome 8 days birding from Cairns to Iron Range National Park with Klaus Uhlenhut.

Rainbow Bee-eater

We started out from Cairns and headed to the Hann River Roadhouse stopping along the way  for birding. I was very happy to see Squatter Pigeon at Mt Malloy and my bogey bird – Australian Bustard as we headed towards Laura (where we also had great views of Black-backed Butcherbird).

Black-backed Butcherbird

Squatter Pigeon

Australian Bustard

The next day we enjoyed the dawn chorus sitting quietly at a dam at sunrise. We watched various birds coming in for a drink when suddenly we were visited by a Black Bittern! He landed on the other side of the dam so I’m afraid photography was challenging!
Black Bittern

We checked out Nine Mile Lagoon which is part of Lotus Bird Lodge which provided Black-necked Stork, Wandering and Plumed Whistling Duck, Green Pygmy Goose and Radjah Shelduck. 

It was then onto Lakefield National Park which provided numerous finches – Masked, Black-throated and  a flock of Star Finch! We saw over 100 of them, and considering they are the endangered race,  that was a great find! Rufous-banded Honeyeater also made an appearance.

Black-necked Stork

Star Finches at sunset

Black-throated Finch

Masked Finch

The Nifold Plains was filled with Cisticolas – Golden-headed and Zitting.  We watched the sunset before spotlighting  in the evening. Southern Boobook, Eastern Barn Owl and both Tawny and Papuan Frogmouths were seen.

We searched for Golden-shouldered Parrots. It took a couple of hrs, during which time we flushed a Red-chested Button-quail then we were rewarded with a family group who were happily feeding and then posed for photos on top of a large termite mound!
Golden-shouldered Parrot

Good views were had of Silver-crowned Friarbird at Archer River along with White-throated, Yellow and Yellow-tinted  Honeyeater.
Yellow Honeyeater

Then we were off to Iron Range National Park. We were immediately great by White-streaked Honeyeater.
White-streaked Honeyeater

Green-backed Honeyeater, Graceful Honeyeater, Dusky Honeyeater, Magnificent Riflebird and White-faced Robin all provided a show.
White-faced Honeyeater

The next few days we explored the rainforest and Chili Beach and mangroves at Portland Roads.

Highlights for me included  Great and Lesser Frigatebirds, Rose-crowned Fruit Dove, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Yellow-legged Flycatcher, Northern-Scrub-Robin, Frilled Monarch, Trumpet Manucode, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, Palm Cockatoo, Red-cheeked Parrot and Eclectus Parrot.
Yellow-billed Kingfisher

Palm Cockatoo

We also enjoyed some lovely meals at the Out  of the Blue café at Portland Roads. The staff were very friendly and the food was exceptional!
Portland Roads

Some of the wildlife we observed included House Gecko, Dingo, Agile Wallaby, Freshwater Crocodile, Gould’s Monitor, Frilled Lizard, White-lipped Tree Frog, Wood Frog, Little Red Flying Fox, Specacled Flying Fox, Common Spotted Cuscus, Northern Tree snake, Amethist (Scrub) Python which was eating a Cuscus!
White-lipped Tree Frog

Amethist Python eating a Cuscus

Klaus has over 20 years experience birding in Cape York. He knows the area extremely well and he really knows his birds. His skill and ability to share his knowledge is a true gift. He took great care to ensure I got to see as many species as possible and I feel greatly privileged to have been able to spend so much time learning from him.
I would highly recommend to anyone who wants to bird in this area to go with Klaus! You can contact him online at
Marbled Frogmouth

Frilled Lizard

Rose-crowned Fruit-dove

Bar-shouldered Dove

Portland Roads is beautiful

But don't go swimming there!!