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AUSTRALIA | Saturday, 18 January 2020 | Views [311]

Blue-winged Kookaburra, Cooktown

Blue-winged Kookaburra, Cooktown

FOLKS SAY, “IT’S NOT THE HEAT, IT’S THE HUMIDITY.”  Cooktown has both heat and humidity— in abundance! — and a bit of rain to keep things interesting.  But not much else, at least not the birds we were seeking.  Even the Botanic Garden is closed for renovations. 

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                         Gecko Guesthouse, Cooktown

When we were here in 2012 we stayed at the ritzy Big 4 Campground in our rental camper van and didn’t see much of Cooktown other than the IGA grocery store.  Now we are staying at the  Gecko Guest House and have had a chance to look around.  There still isn’t much to see, as you might expect from a town of only 2500 souls.  But Diana and Andrew have done a wonderful job with Gecko and we don’t much mind the lack of activity.


             Pygmy Geese, Keatings Lagoon

We’ve been out birding every morning searching Keatings Lagoon for the elusive Spotted Whistling Duck and walking mosquito infested trails listening for the White-streaked Honey-eater.  I have a hard time hearing bird song over the mossie’s buzzing, another sign of aging, no doubt.  Even when Connie plays high-pitched recordings of some of the bird’s like sunbirds, I can’t hear them.  My little joke is to say “I don’t hear anything.  It’s probably a sunbird.”   But there is no mistaking the laugh of a kookaburra, even today’s Blue-winged Kookaburra whose call is more of a chortle than the guffaw of the Laughing Kookaburra.


             Olive-backed Sunbird

We have been easily deterred by the frequent showers and the steam-bath heat when the sun re-appears.  I, for one, am not at all ashamed to cower in our air-conditioned room.


              Australian Bustard

Cooktown is only 100-or so kilometers from Port Douglas along the coast but nearer to 300 by road.  We were rewarded on this morning’s drive by an Australian Bustard.  Unlike the Cory Bustard of Africa, this guy can fly.  But he waited until I got a few photos.  I didn’t hear anything after he left — perhaps another sunbird?


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