This week I continue showcasing some of Far North Queensland’s birds, and in particular lifers for my wife and I. If you want an amazing birding experience, the top end is the place to go. Last week I shared how the birds came to us, which was an amazing gift, considering we had agreed to rest more than bird. This week I share how when we did hire a car and go to a few of our favorite places in Cairns we were blessed again with three lifers. The first was at the end of the famous Cairns Esplanade walk. It was textbook find, in exactly the place the birding guide told us. I of course thought ‘no way’, but as I peered into the mangroves on the northern end, my wife cries out “here it is!” and it just sat there looking at us with its back turned toward us. The Mangrove Robin which is endemic to northern Australia.
After walking the entire Esplanade walk, and my wife catching the markets just before they closed, we walked all the way back to our car. On the way we met a local birder and chatted, and he mentioned a great recent discovery that had been recently reported on ebird and many local birders were coming to Cairns to see. Again we just happened to meet the right person at the right time as the rarely seen and diminishing Rufous Owl (Rufous Boobook) was only two streets from our car, so he directed us to the tree.
As soon as I looked up into the tree I saw the pair sitting together way up top of a very large fig tree in a reserve, with one in the late afternoon sun and the other sleeping in the shade. The Rufous Owl is Australia’s only tropical owl, almost as large as the Powerful Owl. This race is endemic to northern Queensland and has the darkest rufous coloring compared with the north western race. Rufous Owl numbers are declining, like many of our other birds. If you look carefully you will notice the male has the remains of its prey. See the leg of a small bird hanging down below its talon. Of course we were very thankful to our new birding acquaintance who followed us to make sure we found it. Unfortunately, under the dark canopy, very high up made good photos a challenge, especially since each owl had different light settings. This bird was not on our list of lifers to find, but was granted a to us as a gift, we were in the right place at the right time.
While birding next day we just looked up and here was another lifer a Pacific Baza, a bird which had always eluded me and I so wanted to catch its beautiful patterning. It flue and soared over us but again I had difficulty getting focused shots, though even the blurry ones show the beautiful plumage.
These next two were not lifers but a feature of them was for us. On the morning coastal rainforest walk before we left to fly home, we happened upon a strange sound which at first sounded a little like the Orange-footed Scrubfowl, which were scratching about nearby, but it was not coming from ground level but from up in a large tree. To our surprise it was a pair of Black Butcherbirds communicating with each other. We had never heard their call, but only seen them and their young on previous visits. We love the call of both the Grey and Pied Butcherbirds from down our way but this was a new experience. Again this dark bird is difficult to photograph under a dark canopy. Here is some sound footage:
Lastly, after visiting the Cattana Wetlands near Cairns we had cause to suddenly stop the car and point the lens into the sky as several juvenile Jabaru (Black-necked Stalk) glided on the thermals, having heaps of fun, as if they had just learned to fly, and had just received their thermal gliding licence. It was a beautiful scene, too difficult to catch on video, but got some nice shots. They just kept soaring around till finally glided off in the distance. You will notice they have not yet had the dark blue-black features added to their plumage.
That’s all for now, will share more next week. Again we a thankful for our loving Creator for allowing us to be in the right place at the right time to discover these birds which we may never have seen. One of the wonders of living life in relationship with God through Jesus is that he loves to delight in us delighting in his glorious Creation. The wonderful life forms and amazing scenic artistry are all part of his Intelligent Design which declare his wisdom and power, but thankfully they come from a loving forgiving hearted Father and not a distant despotic tyrant as some see him. King David, who had a loving relationship with God, declares in one of his songs that the Creation is constantly crying out declaring the majesty and glory of God, yet without voice as we know it. The evidence declares itself and is all around us.
“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world. – Psalm 19:1-4 (NIV)
Have a wonderful weekend!
If this is your first visit to my blog please explore my Website Homepage menu for more birding tips and info. Check out my book “What Birds Teach Us”, a great easy to read gift idea, which continues to get good reviews where people share how it has helped them and how it is a unique book. If you are concerned, it has been carefully written for all cultures and beliefs and does not preach or recommend any particular belief system, but is a counselling tool that encourages good life skills by using the birds and beautiful photos of them to relate to us. People from other cultures and beliefs different to my own, have shared how they love the book. You can purchase your copy here
NOTE: All photos, videos and music used on this website are photographed, composed, performed by the site owner and remains his copyrighted property, unless otherwise stated. The use of any material that is not original material of the site owner is duly acknowledged as such. © W. A. Hewson 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019.