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Port Douglas and Daintree

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 13 January 2020 | Views [149]

Sunrise near Port Douglas

Sunrise near Port Douglas

PORT DOUGLAS IS PROBABLY MY FAVORITE TOWN in Queensland.  From the cute main street to the glitzy marina and tropical Four Mile Beach, it is nearly perfect.  And Lychee Tree Holiday Apartments is a wonderful place to stay, thanks to hosts, Leo and Edward. Our one-bedroom apartment shows its age but has everything one could ask for, including an oven and washing machine.  We like it so much we will return after our four-day visit to Cooktown.


                  Lychee Tree — dated but wonderful

We’re not the only ones who will be returning.  Each year dozens of bird species return from Papua New Guinea to breed in the Port Douglas area — birds like Spotted Whistling Ducks, Channel-billed Cuckoos and our target, Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfishers.

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   Black Bittern                                      Channel-billed Cuckoo

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                  Male Shining Flycatcher                     Female Shining Flycatcher

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                                     Morning on the Daintree                             "Salty"

On Saturday we took an excursion on the Daintree River with Murray, Daintree’s resident wildlife guide.  With his electric motor purring quietly, he pointed out a Black Bittern, Radjah Shellducks, dozens of Cuckoos and a nesting pair of Shining Flycatchers.  We even saw a couple of crocodiles, big males that would have done Steve Irwin proud.  But no Paradise Kingfishers.


                 Forest Kingfishers, very obliging

Undaunted, and with a little help from Matilda, Connie directed us up onto the Tablelands where Paradise Kingfishers had been reported on eBird.com.  Kingfishers, as a whole, are generally very accommodating.  Their call is unmistakeable. They are brightly colored and easily seen as they perch in the open, the better to see — and be photographed.  Even in poor light, their profile is unique, as if puffing on a fat Havana.  


               Buff-Breasted Paradise Kingfisher (courtesy of eBird.com)

But the Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfishers are contrarians.  They are shy and sly — more often heard than seen.  We actually heard several on Sunday but did much better early this morning  The couple who stopped to talk were also birders and shared some local skinny with us.  Following their directions we saw a total of six Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfishers, including two males with the distinctive long white tail.  But no photos — yet!


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