Sunshine Coast Birds

Birding and other wildlife experiences from the Sunshine Coast and elsewhere in Australia - and from overseas - with scribblings about travel, environmental issues, kayaking, hiking and camping.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Queensland Road Trip 10: Great-billed Heron & Daintree River

Great-billed Heron
After our visit to Cooktown (see following post) we headed south to the village of Daintree for a 2-night stay in the Daintree Riverview Caravan Park, located pleasantly beside the famed Daintree River. We had considered returning by the coastal Bloomfield track but decided that our vehicle and campervan would have trouble on the steep sections in the wet conditions.

Daintree River

Our main plan here was an early morning boat ride up the river with Murray Hunt's Daintree Boatman Nature Tours.

Rainbow over the Daintree

While unseasonal wet weather continued to plague us, we managed a relatively fine couple of hours on the river which, as usual, never disappoints aesthetically.

Great-billed Heron
A Pale-vented Bush-hen flushed from near the boat ramp before departure and flew across the river. Not a bad start. 
Daintree River
Soon after we found an adult Great-billed Heron on the southern shore of the river; this was our main objective.

Great-billed Heron
The herons had nested on Stewart Creek – check out Murray's videos on his Facebook Page – and a single youngster had recently fledged. However, the parents had not been seen for some time so to find an adult – and at such close quarters - was an unexpected bonus.

Papuan Frogmouths
We saw Little Kingfisher briefly a couple of times along Barratt Creek. Here we also saw an adult female Papuan Frogmouth and 4 well-grown youngsters perched side-by-side a couple of metres from her.  

Amethystine Python
Other species included Azure Kingfisher, Shining Flycatcher, Large-billed Gerygone, Black Butcherbird and White-bellied Sea-Eagle.  A large Amethystine Python was curled up in the top of a tree. It is a matter of regret that not everyone on the boat saw the python because Murray failed to stop, apparently because of the presence of a rival tour boat operator nearby.

Great-billed Heron juv
Then we motored up Stewart Creek, finding the recently fledged Great-billed Heron – much browner and plainer than its parent - perched on a creekside palm. Full list of birds can be found here.

Great-billed Heron in flight 

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