Leaving Townsville, we drive a hire car up the coast northward to our next stop, the Tyto Wetlands Centre in Ingham. Birders had told us this was a must visit place and we were not disappointed seeing several lifers, the first being the Crimson Finch, pictured above. These tiny birds were constantly flying and landing in the tall grass where they find their seed diet. The male is bright crimson and the female mainly around the head and tail. and juveniles mainly grey/brown. Click on photo to enlarge it.
The name Tyto is named after the rare Eastern Grass Owl (Tyto capensis) which is found there in the grassland during the latter part of the year. This wetlands is well cared for by the local council and has well marked walks, including crocodile warnings, which concerned my wife, though the only croc we saw while up north was a baby one in Reef HQ (the largest coral aquarium in the world, at Townsville). Crocs are river dwellers mainly, and can get washed out into coastal areas during the wet season.
Walking the circuit we saw several types of habitat including bush, open forest, grassland, lake, and pandanas forest.
The red-backed Fairy-wren was again a great delight.
One of the common birds seen up here quietly sitting in trees is the Spangled Drongo, which is usually identified by its classic tail and shimmering bluish/black metallic plumage.
We were surprised to find two kinds of Shrike-thrush next to each other in the woodlands both different races of Little Shrike-thrush, both lifers. These races (subspecies) are found only in this part of Australia.
I had wondered where the Rufous Whistlers had gone during the drought, finding one here.
But another lifer brought excitement to my wife, the White-browed Robin which is only found in Far North Queensland, her namesake. The English have a Robin but we have 17 different species of Robin. No these are not the same photos notice the tail, a feature of the robins is how they flick their tails up and down while perched.
Another bird only seen this far north was this White-gaped Honeyeater. I guess when you have over 70 honeyeaters and many have white markings on their face, it gets difficult to name them accordingly, so this one is gaped.
Another passerine lifer was this Brush Cuckoo, which has the feature of looking like a cuckoo but without the usual white tips on the upper tail being obvious. If you look closely you can detect bands showing through the brown upper tail, this can make it difficult to call.
The most prolific bird seen here by the lakes is of course the Forest Kingfisher, beautifully attired in his bright blue vest, standing out against the brown mud and reeds. I managed to convince him to fly so you can appreciate his full beauty.
Other classic waterside birds included the Australasian Darter and the Intermediate Egret, one we do not see much of down south.
So we come now to the lakes, the actual wetlands. Here is a panorama of the area, which includes the Comb-crested Jacana who was my first bird seen here on the water, and quickly hid from me.
But the most exciting find on the water was not the Hardheads which were close to shore, but the unusual looking birds afloat, way out in the middle of the lake, well away from us. My wife trained her trusty binoculars, which she proudly purchased from the London Wetlands Centre a few years ago, on these birds which turned out again to be lifers. The Green Pygmy-Goose and the Cotton Pygmy-Goose were peacefully together with the Hardheads and the Wandering Whistling Ducks. The Cotton Pygmy-Goose was a lifer for me not just in the wild but ever.
Notice the black eye marking of the male Cotton Pygmy-Goose and the lack thereof in the females, one fore and aft of the male.
And of course, there is always one lone Australasian Grebe, this one with some breeding plumage, in the lake. I am sure there are others somewhere else.
Our visit here had been a great delight, though the fear of crocs was a little off putting for my wife. We had seen several lifers. We would now make our way further north to the rainforest areas visiting Mission Beach and the Atherton Tablelands for some very unique birdlife, but that will be in my next post.
Check out my NEW Special Sightings page. which shares special local birding highlights, unique and rare sightings. See my latest shots of the Powerful Owl with prey. Check out my HomePage for more birding tips, inspirational and info pages.
At Reef HQ in Townsville we saw many species of coral and tropical fish including the most unusual Clownfish which spends most of its time swimming in among the tentacles of the Sea Anemone. Sea Anemones are predators that attach themselves to rocks or coral. There, they sit and wait until a fish swims close enough to attack with its tentacles. Clownfish are one of the only species that can survive the deadly sting of the Sea Anemone.
By making the anemone their home, Clownfish become immune to its sting. These fish will gently touch every part of their bodies to the anemone’s tentacles until it no longer affects them. A layer of mucus then forms on the clown fish’s body to prevent it from getting stung again. This relationship reminds me of living under my Father God’s loving care. As I grow from a child to an adult I am initially disciplined so as to learn to live a good life.
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?” – Hebrews 12:7
As I remain under the care of our loving Father we remain protected from the Enemy, that is not the Anemone, who we are warned, lurks about the world around us, seeking to lead us to destruction.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8
Abnormal, selfish, destructive addictive behaviour results when I make myself vulnerable to bad decisions and thoughts. I am only safe in my loving Father’s own prescriptive plan for a good life, which he designed and created for,when I remain in his loving protection close to Him, knowing He is always close to me. His Love Letter the Bible contains all I need for His best for my life.
‘Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. “I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.” – Psalm 16:1,2
Check out my book “What Birds Teach Us” on my Birdbook page.
Now that I have cut back from full-time work, my second book is under way, featuring more Australian birds and their unusual characteristics. In a similar way to the first book, it is set in a counseling context, but for families, many of which are also in crisis and need of life skills to assist them with proven life experiences and life skills for making good life decisions. This book “Birds of a Feather – Family Forever.” will again be a unique work presented in a simple readable format similar to my first book. I have been greatly encouraged by many important people in my life, who are awaiting this much needed work, and hopefully will become another non-confronting counseling tool for all ages. This book will be an asset for young adults planning for relationship and family giving helpful tools and insights for a Together Forever life.
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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