Category Archives: Day excursions

Winter Update

The wet season has drizzled to a close through June and we are now experiencing some dry weather with mostly sunny days and quite cold nights. River mist is often a feature of these cold, clear mornings as we experienced yesterday at the start of a tour with Murray the Daintree Boatman. In spite of the cold it was a wonderful morning excursion and we were able to enjoy lengthy observations of a Great-billed Heron both on the main river and in Barratt Creek. It was peaceful on the water in the early morning, watching the bird with only occasional quiet talk and the whir of camera motor-drives breaking the silence.

Murray heading in to pick up his passengers
Fabulous reflections in the still water as we waited for the Heron to move into better light

Back at Wild Wings & Swampy Things …… early June a little flock of Spotted Whistling ducks arrived and stayed for a few weeks. We watched their movements with interest as they shared a pond with Betty Barratt, the crocodile who frequently enjoys our hospitality. The larger and apparently more senior Spotted Whistling Duck, which we took to be the male, kept a very close look-out after one of the flock went missing.

Spotted Whistling Ducks in the background – living dangerously.

Betty continues her quiet life in our ponds while they hold sufficient water for her to feel comfortable. She is becoming a little more adventurous this year with more frequent movements between ‘Graham’ and ‘Rupert’ (all our ponds have names) leaving a muddy track on the bund wall separating the two ponds.

Many of the ‘bush birds’ have been a little quiet in the last week, possibly due to cold and sometimes windy weather. A few Magpie geese have been hanging around recently and several days ago, having noticed some trampled sedge, I was able to observe an adult goose with at least four, possibly five goslings. My dusk sighting didn’t enable a good view so Allen and I went out the next morning to see what was happening. We walked to Graham’s hide first; no visible goose activity but Betty was sunning herself amongst the waterlilies looking distinctly satisfied.

Is that a self-satisfied gleam in her eye?

We walked down to the ’07 ponds (never properly named!) from where we could hear geese. There were several lookout birds honking from surrounding trees and nervous parents on the water with only two goslings. As Allen saw both a Sea Eagle and a Brahminy Kite having a go at the goslings later in the morning he was loath to blame Betty but the next morning only one gosling remained.

One gosling closely guarded

This morning the geese were sounding very unsettled, Betty was swimming around below the trees in which they perched and there was no gosling to be seen. There was, however, a Black Bittern skulking around on a small island in between the sedge plants (Rhynchospora corymbosa). It’s fun to have the opportunity to observe a BB without being seen although I didn’t see any dramatic action. Their ability to hold a pose for minutes on end with no apparent movement is extraordinary.

Female Black Bittern in typical pose on Crake Island in Graham’s Pond

And so life on the ponds continues, a visiting friend today suggested that a renaming of the property to Wild Wings & Bitey Things might be appropriate as we await our official Crocodile warning sign! My mind immediately thought of the Faulty Towers television series and the fun we could have with an easily altered sign.

Early morning on the beach

We rose early and checked the sky, decided that the scattered cloud cover still gave us a chance of a decent view of the eclipse and so we drove down the road to Wonga Beach.  Too many trees at Wild Wings for a decent view of the lower regions of the sky!   We eventually chose a position on the grass overlooking the sand and settled in our chairs with some Mangosteens and a cup of tea.

Allen was in charge of the camera – the photos taken through the welding shield  had a rather eerie green tinge  so I’m pleased he managed some without!

This is about as dark as it became but that was enough to excite the children in front of us, one of whom had dressed in his Spiderman outfit for the occasion. The parents of these children were enjoying champagne  and some others further along the beach looked like they had been readying themselves on a variety of substances since the night before! However, there was plenty of space for everyone and it was very peaceful.

In spite of grey clouds obscuring the sun we did manage some good glimpses at various stages of the eclipse although it did not become as dark as I remember it during the total eclipse in Melbourne in the mid 70’s.
On that occasion I was the one enjoying the champagne along with many others at a rather good afternoon party.
There are many ways to experience a solar eclipse.

Away from our patch

Last week we happened to be in Ingham for a couple of days  so naturally we managed to visit the Tyto wetlands, in fact I spent quite a while there while Allen was attending a Wet Tropics Community Reference Panel.

And I did have the pleasure of meeting Tyto Tony and sharing some time with him on ‘his patch’.   He has recently mentioned Wandering Whistling ducks on the lagoons and there were lots about with ducklings of a variety of ages, plus several young Jacana, Intermediate Egret, Coots  AND a Little Bittern.   Then there were the bush birds to enjoy, particularly those gorgeous Crimson finches, Red-backed Fairy Wren and a delightful view of a white-browed Robin singing in the afternoon sun as Allen and I enjoyed a walk through the vegetation near the lagoon.  I’m not going to list every bird we saw and I’ll leave photos of Tyto to Tony as he does it so well but we had great fun and it was good to see that the birds are managing in spite of the evident cycone damage.

The Little Bronze-Cuckoo that landed in this tree decided not to stay ……….

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Dingo Hill

We left the damp, tropical lowlands of Daintree for some higher ground yesterday.  An hour’s drive to meet our good friends, Rupert and Juliana, at Mt Molloy and then we travelled together along the Cooktown road for another 30 minutes.  The sky was slightly overcast but the light was good and the temperature comfortable – best of all it wasn’t raining!

As well as enjoying a pleasant walk together Rupert wanted to show us some Continue reading