Monday, 13 June 2011

Port Douglas, or birds of Northern Australia

Over the Easter break we took a little trip up to Port Douglas.  This was very much a rest and relaxation holiday after the mammoth physical exertions of our last two trips.  In the end though it turned into more of a eating, drinking and telephoto lens loving holiday.  Lets just say bird watching is a lot cooler with some binoculars and a telephoto lens.

The view south from the bar area
We were staying at Thala Beach lodge, which was the best place I think I've stayed, particularly in Australia.  The staff were all so incredibly helpful and friendly.  The rooms were great too, you felt completely isolated from everyone else, perched amongst the trees, but then it was only a very short walk to the main reception.  Really good.  Every morning we would have breakfast looking out over the coast and watch the rainbow lorikeets have their morning bath. 

A young stork, bred in captivity
My favourite bird, the tawny frogmouth.  I almost walked right past these.

The first morning we went to the wildlife habitat, just on the outskirts of Port Douglas.  There were serious numbers of birds here, all completely used to humans meaning you can get really close.  I wonder if twitchers think it counts if you spot them in an aviary?
The classic Torres-Straight pigeon

Freaky looking spoonbill trying to groom itself

Mohawked water bird

Eclectic parrot, the lyrebird of the tropics

Snakes, to keep the birds on their toes

It wasn't just in the wildlife habitat where we went crazy with the birds.  Just walking around the lodge grounds in the morning we saw butterflies and birds.  The binoculars really got a work-out.

Slightly ratty looking butterfly

A much smoother looking one

What is this bird? Love the colours              

We also wandered around the grounds at dusk so got to see the wonderful tropical sunsets.  This turned out to be a bit of a longer walk in the dark than we anticipated.  I guess maps handed out by the lodge are not as detailed or scaled as topographic maps.

Aaaah sunsets

We also took a bit of a trip up to the Daintree, mainly to stop off at Mossman gorge on the way back.  That place doesn't change really.  On the way back from the Daintree, we stopped off at a family run zoo, that was a bit of a strange place, you don't come across too many family-run zoos these days, particularly ones which aren't violating numbers of animal cruelty laws.  But this one seemed OK, had a whole bunch more birds, just in case you weren't sick of them.

This parrot was crazy.  Check out it's pupils too.

I love owls.  My favourite type of birds.

The final stop on our tour of tropical wildlife was at the butterfly farm in Kuranda. Kuranda was a weird place with hundreds of bizarre tourist attractions.  There was the butterfly farm, the venomous animals zoo, the skyrail and heaps more. 

The butterfly farm was kind of cool, just to see that many butterflies flying around.  We also got to see their caterpillars.  The big butterflies had some monster caterpillars.  They were all very professional about it too.  The workers would be in a sterilised area and they washed each individual egg before placing it in with the leaves.  I'm not sure who the end buyer of the butterflies is though, whether they are used solely in the zoo, or whether there are other people buying them.  Does it count in your butterfly collection if you collected it from captivity?

This was one of the famous butterflies they had.  Something to do with living only around Cairns

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