Saturday, 8 July 2017

Cape York Peninsula: Rinyirru (Lakefield) NP, Pt 1

In mid-June, I went on a birding trip to Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) and Rinyirru (Lakefield) NPs led by Tonia Cochran and Steve Davidson. There were eight other birdwatchers on the trip, all of them much better at spotting and identifying birds than me. And it was amazing.

We saw some very good birds and I took some very bad photos of them, as you will see. (I also contracted a shocking cold, so skipped a couple of night walks, which meant that I only saw one marbled frogmouth.)

These were our destinations:

The gang at Chilli Beach, Kutini-Payamu NP, looking at black-naped terns.

It turns out that I mostly took photos of birds in the drier areas, so here are some images from Julatten to Rinyirru NP.

This is a northern fantail at Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge. I hadn't seen this species before my recent trip to Cooktown, but now they're everywhere.

The Julatten -- Mount Molloy area is also an excellent spot for great bowerbirds.

The bitumen disappears north of Laura (although it reappears in places). The Peninsula Developmental Road is wide in quality. This is a good stretch, but it's not always this smooth.

Rinyirru National Park is an extraordinary place. It includes extensive mangroves, wetlands, heathlands, open woodlands, and savannah full of termite citadels.

Apart from a few scrubby trees, the magnetic termite mounds are the highest perches on Nifold Plain. This brown falcon kept an eye on us from the top of one of these edifices. Spotted harriers were also abundant here.

The road was a good spot for birds. I saw my first Australian pratincoles here. Yep, they were lifers.

Adult Australian pratincole

Juvenile Australian pratincole

I ticked a lot of lifers on this trip, including black-breasted buzzard. This one was waiting for us to move on, so it could return to its meal of road kill.

Birds weren't the only animals we saw. Apart from agile wallabies, antilopine wallaroos, striped possums, and melomys, there were also reptiles. This black-headed python started crossing the road, then decided that the car looked like a more interesting destination. We persuaded it to resume its original journey.

To be continued...*

*The trip report, that is, not the python's wanderings.

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