We are on a bird watching tour near Port Douglas, in Far North Queensland….and this little family are called Wandering Whistling ducks
They have loud whistling calls, and their wings also make a whistling sound as they fly..so roosting flocks have a continuous high-pitched whistling noise, interspersed with twittering calls. In other words, they are a noisy bunch!
We have exchanged the very cold Canberra winter for the warm Far North Queensland coast, and today we have driven from Palm Cove to Port Douglas, to meet our tour guide, Del.
I love the morning light wherever we are, and this is a fine start to the day…
It is a cold morning, by local standards, 7 degrees C… and the locals are in shock, because it would usually be double that on a June morning.
…but this is very pleasant for Canberrans, living in the south of Australia, as our temperatures are often about 11/12 degrees maximum in winter.
We do a tour around some of the suburbs of Port Douglas, where tropical trees and shrubs and water are all part of the landscape, and bring bird life from far and wide.
Our local guide book says,
“‘Sacred Kingfishers are often seen sitting on lamp posts and goal posts around Port Douglas,
and, sure enough, Del, points out this little fellow on the goal post…looking a bit like a young kookaburra..
…and nearby, equally slow to start on this cool morning is a Rainbow Bee Eater, almost luminous in the warm sunshine.
These little birds eat flying insects, but have a real taste for bees. They are immune to the sting of a bee, but instinctively rub the bee’s stinger against their perch before eating the bee.
The trees and shrubs are full of berries, fruit and flowers, and in the early morning, it is like bird supermarket….so much choice.
Here are two Tawny Frogmouth, sleeping peacefully in a palm tree between holiday townhouses. With such great camouflage, tourists and locals are completely unaware of them.
This is a Freshwater Mangrove shrub, with a stunning flower…
Everything is enormous in Queensland, even the seed pods….
A family of Bush Stone Curlew have taken up residence under the trees near the supermarket.
….they spend most of the warm days settled under the trees with half shut eyes, and then have a high pitched wailing contact call to other curlews at night.
That call could wake the dead! However, I’m sure, for locals it is one of the familiar sounds of home.
(These birds reminded Paul and I of the Hadedas in Cape Town, and I’m sure they are a relative. While we were visiting we noticed Hadedas seem to spent a lot of time trampling around in gardens and messing in trees, but are affectionately tolerated in the city….and, as one gardener said, they aerate the lawn!)
The colours of the tropics are bedazzling when surrounded by water, and there are many small reserves and nature trails..
Monet in the tropics..
These Magpie Geese, tend to gather in aquatic vegetation, are very common in some parts of Queensland and the Northern Territory.
They are considered pests by mango farmers as their crops are often damaged by these birds…
…. looking at their strong beaks, legs and feet, it is easy to see how they could damage crops.
This Comb-crested Jacana, and her young are sometime called Lily trotters, as they live in floating vegetation of tropical wetlands..
Here are the Wandering Whistling ducks again, enjoying the sun…but what are they all collectively looking at?
are they alerted, but not alarmed in their lakeside resort…..
Just then, Del points out, in that laid-back Far North Queensland way, that there is a crocodile in the water, not far from the birdlife..
…he tells us that he is pretty sure the (approx.) 12 foot croc is getting its food from fish coming down from the river, and so the croc hasn’t bothered the birds during the few weeks it has been in this area. However, Del says, in a matter of fact way,
”he can move like a flash when he wants to..”
We are standing on a slight mound of grass nearby, and Paul and I are silently measuring the distance between this croc, and us, not far really…..
We stroll back to the car, keeping a watchful eye on the croc, yet not wanting to look like wimps from the city. When we are safely back, I’m hoping one of us took a photo of the croc, not quite what we were expecting on a bird-watching tour!
With hindsight, we were lucky to see a crocodile in a relatively undisturbed natural setting, and none of it was staged for tourists (something that, unfortunately happens a great deal in Australia and Africa.)
However, having said that, I’m a bit of a peaceful Monet girl myself, so these scenes below are the ones I love best..
A typical winter’s day in Port Douglas, not far from the town centre.
Fish and chips and a glass of wine, while looking at the view, all in a day’s work of bird watching!
It is about two years since I started my blog, Canberra’s Green Spaces….many thanks to all visitors, local and overseas who have visited, whether casually or regularly.
I appreciate all visits, and comments and, in turn, enjoy the many blogs I follow. Blogging has broadened my horizons immensely..
Copyright: Geraldine Mackey All Rights Reserved.