I have been in Australia for almost two weeks now, visiting my brother in Sydney. I have also tried to get in as much birding as possible with a trip up to Cairns and the surrounding areas. The time of year wasn't the best but have been happy so far, getting great views of most of my target birds. Lots of waders on the mud right below the promenade were a nice surprise. This thick-knee was one of two on Wonga beach, a reliable site for them, but a long walk in hot weather!
These thick-knees were a little more co-operative, 2 of 3 that spent the days under a tree in a quiter area of the centenary lakes in Cairns.
I was delighted to finally find my first pitta in cairns, on the blue arrow trail overlooking the city. The hike wasn't the toughest, but the 'viewpoint' was very disappointing, completely enclosed by tall trees blocking the view of Cairns below! Fortunately I had already seen what I went for, this was one of 2 seen really well on the trail.
Sacred KingfisherSacred Kingfishers were quite common, this was one of a pair in the Centenary lakes park in Cairns. I think I saw all the kingfishers in Queensland at this time of year, and was lucky to get great views of them all.
I went on one of the tourist boats to the reef, stopping off at a sea bird colony off-shore. I was really hoping for bridled terns, but despite searching I had to settle for a few thousand sooty's, noddy's, booby's and a couple of lesser frigatebirds. Had great close and pro-longed views of 3 green turtles, shame I don't have an under water camera!
I had some gen on where to find the bustards from staying in the Kingfisher lodge near Cairns, driving a few dirt roads eventually led to my first, followed quickly after by several more. The bird above was one of a pair that refused to move off the road!
I had been hoping to find my own croc by searching from lay-by's over looking rivers but had no luck, eventually I gave in and travelled on a tourist boat from Daintree. I had told them I hoped to see birds and after a quite first trip, I was offered a free trip on the next one where we got great views of this 4 1/2 metre croc plus little and azure kingfishers, Brahimy kite and a few other great birds.
Upto 75 great knot were on the sea front in Cairns at high tide everyday. Most were in winter plumage, but a few showed some advanced summer plumage. On my final evening I picked up a red knot with the naked eye, delighted at how obvious the bird was, will hopefully be as easy when I find a great knot in Ireland someday! With the knot, there was good numbers of bar-tailed godwits, grey tailed tattlers, red-capped plovers, black-fronted dotterels, lesser sandplovers, whimbrel, 2 terek sandpipers and a sharp-tailed sand. It must be a fantastic location in winter when there are huge numbers wintering here.