Cairns

At the start of our trip we had three nights in Cairns.

Arriving from Singapore by JetStar at 9:20 am, fortunately our accommodation at Villa Marine had two of our rooms available for early check-in, so we were able to get in some serious relaxing after our all night journey.  The proprietor, Peter, was very used to birders, being one himself, and was very helpful in recommending spots to visit.

Villa Marine

Pretending to read a bird book …. ūüôā

Relaxing

It was hot, so later in the afternoon we went to check out downtown Cairns and the Esplanade.¬† The Esplanade is a really good bird watching spot for waders.¬† Around 4:00 pm is when the birders gather to see what the tide has¬†brought in, this is perhaps the best time as the afternoon is starting to cool off from the peak heat of the day, and the sun is behind your back lighting up the waders on the mudflats.¬† Here is one of our guys getting serious about bird photography ūüôā

On the boardwalk

There were lots of Lesser Sand Plovers, Red-necked Stints, a few Broad-billed Sandpipers, Curlew Sandpipers, Terek Sandpipers, Grey-tailed Tattlers; and of course the common Silver Gull, and a pelican or two.  Some birds that are difficult to see in Singapore were present.  Here we could easily see several Eastern Curlews with their amazingly long bills.

Eastern Curlew

And there were lots of Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, here is one in fresh juvenile plumage.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

And here is a Gull-billed Tern.

Gull-billed Tern

The next day we had our trip out to Michaelmas Cay, and then the following day we explored a couple of spots within Cairns.  Starting a dawn at the cemetery we first encountered a family of three Bush Stone-curlews, with their large eyes for nocturnal activity.

Bush Stone-curlew

And we got a Yellow Honeyeater, which is a good bird to get, as it range is limited to just Cairns and Cape York.

Yellow Honeyeater

Then one of the highlights of the entire trip turned up, a pair of Double-eyed Fig Parrots came to feast for a long while on a fruiting tree, right in front of us at eye level, in good morning light.¬† What a delight, such a colorful bird, it’s the smallest parrot in Australia at just 14 cm, about the same size as our Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot.

Double-eyed Fig Parrot (male)

The cemetery was really good for us, we also got Laughing Kookabura, more honeyeaters, sunbirds, lorikeets, imperial pigeons, a good variety of species.  Later in the morning we went to Centenary Lakes and the Botanic Gardens.  The lakes had the usual mix of common Australian water birds, magpie geese, ducks, cormorants, no luck with kingfishers here.  Another afternoon at the Esplanade, and then an evening on the beach near Villa Marine.

Sunset Beach

We’d heard that there were some Beach Stone-curlews that came out at dusk, but instead we got an oystercatcher.

Australian Pied Oystercatcher

And then a dinner at the local yacht club.¬† One thing about Australian meals is you won’t leave the table hungry !

Yikes!

The next morning up early for the sunrise …

Sunrise at Yorkeys Knob

And then some morning¬†birding in Cattana¬†Wetlands.¬† More sunbirds, friarbirds, scrubfowl, ducks, grebes, jacanas.¬† Although a common bird the Metallic Starling does have a stunning sheen and brilliant red-eye¬†which you can’t fix in Photoshop!¬† The Metallic Starling is range limited to NE Queensland and annually migrates to and from New Guinea.

Metallic Starling

And then some fun with the common Welcome Swallow, trying to capture this fast mover in flight.

Welcome Swallow

After our morning birding we head off to our next destination, Daintree by about 10 am.

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