Yellow billed Kingfisher


This Australian Birding Safari has been designed to see many of the birds and animals possible in two great Australian birding regions; the Wet Tropics centred on Cairns, NQ and Cape York Peninsular.
Highlights include
  • Cairns esplanade, Mangroves, Centenary Lakes, Cattana Wetlands
  • Michaelmas Cay Boat Trip
  • Atherton Tableland Crater Lakes – Lake Eacham and Barrine – plus Famous Fig Trees and their surrounding rainforests    
  • Boat trip on the Daintree
  • Spotlighting for Wet Tropic endemic mammals
  • Mt Lewis birding
  • Mt Molloy and Mt Carbine for dry country bird species
  • Quinkan Aboriginal Art near Laura
  • Lakefield National Park
  • Iron Range National Park for all the Cape York specialties; birds, mammals and reptiles
  • Weipa 
Little Kingfisher in Cairns [Ken Cross]

Birds possible include Cassowary, Greater and Lesser Frigatebirds, migratory waders, Spotted Whistling Duck, Green Pygmy Goose, Pied Heron, Great billed Heron, Brolga, Sarus Crane, Black-necked Stork, White-browed Crake, Red necked Crake, Australian Bustard, Emu, Orange footed Scrubfowl, Red Goshawk, Lesser Sooty Owl, Rufous Owl, Barking Owl, Papuan and Marbled Frog-mouths, Large tailed Nightjar, Palm Cockatoo, Red tailed Black cockatoo, Double eyed Fig Parrots [both Marshall’s and Macleay’s sub spp]. Eclectus Parrot, Red cheeked Parrot, Golden shouldered Parrot, Squatter Pigeon, Superb and Rose crowned Fruit Doves, Torresian Imperial Pigeon, Blue winged Kookaburra, Yellow billed Kingfisher, Little Kingfisher, Australian Swiftlet, Chowchilla, Fernwren, Atherton Scrubwren, Tropical Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Fairy Gerygone, Large billed Gerygone, Red browed Pardalote, Lovely Fairywren, Honeyeaters [including Varied, Yellow,  Graceful, Yellow spotted, White gaped, Bridled, Brown backed, Bar breasted, Rufous banded, Rufous throated, Banded, Red headed, Green backed, White streaked, Macleay’s and Tawny breasted], Helmeted and Silver crowned Friarbirds, Black and Black backed Butcherbirds, Victoria’s and Magnificent Riflebirds, Trumpet Manucode, Spotted Catbird, Tooth billed Bowerbird, Golden Bowerbird, Great Bowerbird, Fawn breasted Bowerbird,  Yellow Oriole, Broad billed Flycatcher, Frill necked Monarch, Pied Monarch, Yellow breasted Boatbill, Northern Fantail, Lemon bellied Flycatcher, Yellow legged Flycatcher, White faced, Grey headed, White browed and Mangrove Robins, Northern Scrub Robin, Grey Whistler, Bower’s Shrike thrush, Olive backed Sunbird, Metallic Starling, Crimson Finch, Star Finch, Masked Finch, Black throated Finch; to name a few!

Day 1 – Meet in Cairns                                        o/n Crystal Garden Resort Cairns
Day 2 – Michaelmas Cay trip                      o/n Crystal Garden Resort Cairns
Day 3 – Cairns birding                                o/n Crystal Garden Resort Cairns
Day 4 – Atherton birding                                   o/n  Malanda Lodge or similar
Day 5- Atherton birding                            o/n  Malanda Lodge or similar
Day 6 – Tableland birding   via Mt Lewis                        o/n Mossman
Day 7 –  Mossman via Daintree to Laura                             o/n  Laura
Day 8 – Laura to Musgrave via Lakefield NP       o/n Musgrave 
Day 9 – Musgrave area                                           o/n Musgrave 
Day 10 - Musgrave to Iron Range NP                                o/n Iron Range Cabins
Day 11 – Iron Range National Park                                    o/n Iron Range Cabins
Day 12 - Iron Range National Park                               o/n Iron Range Cabins
Day 13 – Iron Range to Weipa                                        o/n Weipa
Day 14 – Weipa birding                                                         o/n Weipa
Day 15 -                                                 Fly Cairns

Itinerary in Detail

 Day 1 – Meet in Cairns                                                
Meet in the foyer of our hotel at 6pm for introductions. We plan to go for a short drive to enjoy a drink and a fish and salad dinner.
o/n Crystal Garden Resort & Restaurant, Cairns

 Day 2 Michaelmas Cay Boat Trip
After an early breakfast we will board a Seastar vessel on a trip to Michaelmas Cay and then on to the Outer Barrier Reef. This boat trip offers great opportunities for snorkelling while on the sand cay you can see Common Noddy, Lesser Crested, Crested, Black naped, Sooty and Bridled Terns plus Masked and Brown Boobies and the chance for both Greater and Lesser Frigatebirds.
After our reef day trip we will walk to dinner at a nearby Thai restaurant. Here we will have our first all-important bird call!    
Sooty Terns on Michaelmas Cay [Ken Cross]

Day 3 Cairns birding
Much of this day will be spent birding within the greater area of Cairns city.
We will bird a variety of sites – the order being determined on the day. The Cattana Wetlands, a nature Conservation park established in 2009, should show us our first Green Pygmy-goose, Black Butcherbird, Orange footed Scrubfowl and Crimson Finch. If we are very lucky we could see some Spotted Whistling Ducks – a species that relatively recently started immigrating to Australia from New Guinea – as it has been recorded here previously.
The nearby Centennial Lakes and Flecker Botanical Gardens are home to a variety of species; Olive backed Sunbirds, Yellow Honeyeaters, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Orange footed Scrubfowl – to name a few.
And we’ll visit the Cairns Esplanade; surely one of the best paces in Australia to see migratory waders. The esplanade is also home to Double-eyed Fig Parrots.
At the northern end of the Esplanade which provides us the opportunity to see Torresian Kingfisher, Shining Flycatcher and Mangrove Robin.
o/n Crystal Garden Resort & Restaurant, Cairns
Bush stone Curlews in Cairns

Day 4 – Atherton Tableland Birding
Straight after breakfast we will leave for the southern Atherton Tableland and we should be able to see some new species.
We will visit Lake Barrine and then onto the nearby Lake Eacham. These two crater lakes are surrounded by rainforest and we will search for such species as Grey-headed Robin, White-throated Treecreeper [sub specie - minor], Chowchilla, White-eared and Pied Monarchs, Fernwren and Yellow-breasted Boatbill and Barred Cuckoo-shrike. On the waters of Lake Barrine there are usually good numbers of Great Crested Grebe. 
We plan to visit the Nerada Tea Plantation in the afternoon and perhaps even enjoy a cuppa of tea [or coffee]. Plantings at this plantation have attracted the attention of Lumholtz’s Tree-Kangaroo and with luck we will find one or two of these amazing animals dozing in trees nearby.
Also on the agenda will be a quick hunt for platypus near Yungaburra before dinner at the Yungaburra Hotel.
o/n Malanda Lodge
Lumholtz’s Tree-Kangaroo

Day 5 – Atherton Tableland Birding
This morning straight after breakfast, we will meet our local guide for the day [and night], Alan Gillanders. Allan is one of Australia’s greatest naturalists and he will be taking us to some of the best birding locations within the wet tropics. We will target remaining Wet Tropic endemics; Grey-headed Robin, Bridled Honeyeater, Mountain Thornbill, Atherton Scrubwren, Fernwren, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Spotted Catbird and Golden Bowerbird.
This evening after dinner at our lodge we plan to take a spotlighting excursion, searching for both birds and mammals.   Wet Tropics endemic mammals should be in the menu; Green, Herbert River and Lemuroid Ringtails plus the chance of Lumholtz’s Tree-Kangaroo.

Spotted Catbird

Day 6 – Malanda to Mossman via Mt Lewis
Today we pack up and reluctantly leave our Lodge.
Our first stop, unless we see some birds enroute, will be Hastie’s Swamp. Here is an excellent variety of waterfowl plus a good range of bushbirds.
After lunch we will make our way up towards Mt Lewis National Park. This park, with Higher altitude rainforest, is home to all the 12 “Wet Tropic” endemic species. There is also the possibility of Blue-faced Parrot Finch.
The afternoon will see a little roadside birding around the base of Mt Lewis before travelling down the range to the small town of Mossman.
o/n Demi View Motel, Mossman

 Day 7 – Mossman to Laura via Daintree
Daintree is famous for its birdwatching river trips and rightly so. Our first task this morning is to drive for an hour to the Daintree River for a boat trip at 6-30am! We will divide into 2 groups and we will alternate between the boat trip and birding around the village of Daintree. Great-billed Heron, Little Kingfisher and Black Bittern are some of the target species and are regularly seen on the river. Other sought-after species include Double-eyed Fig Parrot, Little Bronze-Cuckoo, Wompoo Fruit-Dove, Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, Beach Stone-Curlew, Lovely Fairy-Wren Large billed Gerygone and Yellow Oriole. Keep your eyes open for crocs!
We will have breakfast in the Daintree Village before a little birding around the township.
After our late breakfast we will start our drive north. As we drive northwards we will move through dry savannah habitat. A key target will be the Australian Bustard however we will keep our eyes open for raptors and parrots. We’ll also keep our eye open for good flowering habitat as we could hope to encounter some of the more migratory species of honeyeaters.
In the afternoon, upon arriving at Laura we will take a tour to see some of the splendid Quinkan Art Galleries. Famous for its rock art, Quinkan Country contains a large and dramatic body of prehistoric rock paintings. These galleries have been identified as being between 15,000 to 30,000 years old and have been included on the Australian Heritage Estate and listed by UNESCO as being among the top 10 rock art sites in the world.
o/n Laura Motel
Helmeted [Hornbill?] Friarbird

Day 8 – Laura to Musgrave via Lakefield National Park

Today we will enjoy a drive through Lakefield National Park on our way to Musgrave. Lakefield is the second largest national park in Queensland, after the Simpson Desert. The dominant vegetation in the park is eucalypt woodland and gallery forest associated with waterways. Countless lagoons and waterways throughout the park provide many opportunities for wildlife watching and the park is well known for its populations of waterbirds such as the Brolga, Sarus Crane, Black-necked Stork, Comb-crested Jacana and Magpie Geese and, of course, crocodiles. In the woodland and grassland area the Agile Wallaby, Northern Nailtail wallaby and, if we are very lucky, Spectacled Hare Wallaby. 
We will stop and bird when we can; specifically we will visit 'Old Laura' and 'Red Lily Lagoon' for the White-bellied sub-species of the Crimson Finch. We will search for Star Finch at Nifold Plain. Australian Bustard may also be found.
o/n Musgrave Roadhouse

Day 9 -  Musgrave to Lakefield NP to Musgrave
In the morning we will visit the Artemis Station, south of Musgrave. Here we will see one of Australia’s rarest parrot species – the Golden shouldered Parrot. Other species will, no doubt, keep it company.
Later we will again turn east towards Lakefield NP and search for missing species.
O/n Musgrave Roadhouse
Golden shouldered Parrot

Day 10 - Musgrave to Iron Range NP
In the morning, we may have another chance of any targets missed. We’ll then drive the Peninsula Development road through Coen to Iron Range National Park in the afternoon. Before we bed down at night we will hopefully see our first Cape York specialty species. PLEASE NOTE – Lockhart River and surrounds are a dry community; meaning absolutely no alcohol!
Papuan Frogmouth

Day 11 & 12 – Iron Range National Park
We will spend the entire two days in and around Iron Range National Park, one of Australia’s premier wildlife refuges. From tall forest to heath to coastal bush, Iron Range has a diversity of habitat and a range of wildlife found nowhere else in Australia. We shall target such species as Northern Scrub Robin, White faced Robin, Yellow legged and Lemon bellied Flycatchers, Magnificent Riflebird, Trumpet Manucode, Frilled Monarch, Black winged Monarch, Tawny breasted, Green backed, Yellow spotted and White streaked Honeyeaters, Tropical Scrubwren, Yellow billed Kingfisher, Chestnut breasted Cuckoo, Fawn breasted Bowerbird, Red cheeked and Electus Parrots and the magnificent Palm Cockatoo. There is a large variety of other species that inhabit this area as well so bird call could take a while this evening…
Nocturnal Species abound as well. We will target Frogmouths and Nightjars as well as two cuscus species. 
Double eyed Fig Parrot

Day 13 Iron Range to Weipa
A final morning birding the rainforests of Iron Range National Park picking up any species still needed and no doubt seeing more of the species we’ve seen on previous days. We then travel west across the Cape to the town of Weipa.
Weipa on the far north-west coast of Cape York Peninsula is a great birding location with access to a variety of habitats. There are coastal dunes, wetlands, mangroves, patches of vine forest, gallery forests along the major rivers as well as the tall open Darwin Stringybark forests of the Weipa plateau.
A highlight of visiting Weipa is the only known mainland roost of frigatebirds. Large numbers of both Great and Lesser Frigatebirds roost on the western Weipa peninsula. Many come down to roost after sunset, just on dark, along the main road into town between the port facilities and Evans Landing. Visitors also come to Weipa to see Spotted Whistling Ducks and Cape York specialities like Magnificent Riflebird. Local Stringybark forests are a refuge for the disappearing black-backed form of the Brown Treecreeper.
O/n Albatross Bay Resort, Weipa

Day 14Weipa Birding
We will spend the better part of the morning birding the Uningan Nature Reserve; here is the habitat of quite a few of the Cape York specials.
After lunch we will drive northwards to an area of woodland where we hope to find, among other species, the black backed sub species of Brown Treecreeper.
O/n Albatross Bay Resort, Weipa

Day 15 Weipa flight to Cairns                      
A little lie in for those who need it this morning as the only real business is to breakfast before transferring to the airport before a flight to Cairns where our tour ends.

Olive backed Sunbird

For bookings or further information for 2021 please email Ken at friarbird43@bigpond.com

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