Mareeba and Surrounds

Great Egret prepares to roost for the night

 

Greetings from Mareeba,

It seems we have gone from one extreme to another…the van site we had in Cooktown was one of the hardest spots we have had to get into and here at the Trinity Plains Tourist Park we are in a huge paddock, all by ourselves.

Incredible to have so much space around us and the sky here is just enormous. We haven’t got any trees around us so no shade which makes it quite hot in the afternoons but the mornings are fantastic.

We also have the added bonus of the hot air balloons rising above the morning fog outside our dining window so it’s great to watch them while we are having our morning cappochinos.

 

 

With all this big sky around it’s a great spot for watching all the birds of prey.

So far we have seen numerous Black kites which are nesting here, the Black shouldered Kite, Whistling kite, Wedge tail Eagle, Brown Goshawk, Nankeen Kestrel and Little Eagle.

There seems to be a few squabbles going on too between them which is great to watch but not close enough for photos though Anthony is trying his hardest.

 

Whistling Kite at rest on a Termite mound
That Piercing stare of a Black-shoulderd Kite

 

Emerald Creek Falls is one of our favourite waterfalls in the area to visit.

You can climb right to the top where there’s a beautiful view .

Also lots of bottlebrush flowering with heaps of Honeyeaters feasting but extremely hard to get any photos as the birds just didn’t want to show themselves. It’s still great though just to hear them and be in their presence with the sound of water in the background, blissful and it’s only about 10 kms from the van park.

 

Emerald Creek Falls
The top of the Emerald Creek Falls

 

 

This morning we revisited Granite Gorge which is always a fantastic place in nature, we just love it there.

We didn’t see too many birds but there’s plenty of Dragonfly action…..an unbelievable amount of Orange thread tails, and you have to eyeball all of them just in case it’s something different.

I took a photo of Anthony almost crawling up a rocky wall backwards, just like a Goanna …..trying to get photos of a Archtail dragonfly.

It looked quite amazing so please enjoy.

 

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Its all about getting the shot !!!!!

Below is that shot …. I thought it was worth it.

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Archtail Dragonfly

 

And a few more ….

Female Tropical Rockmaster

 

Male Fig bird feasting in a Mulberry Bush at Granite Gorge
Every afternoon we walk around the back of the park grounds here where there is a
small waterhole.
Also a huge family of Curlews hiding in a young Eucalyptus Plantation and truck loads of Double barred finches on the edge of the trees. where they can quickly hide after feasting in the paddocks surrounding the plantation.
There’s a bit of birdlife around the big trees on the edge of the property so Anthony has been getting some amazing photos as the big sun is going down.
We are here for a few more days yet so hope to see plenty more critters.

Pale-headed Rosella this is the Northern Race
Double-barred Finch
Hoping to visit Kuranda tomorrow…..we used to live there so it’s always a bit of nostalgia going back.
Please enjoy the pics, no video as yet as I’m still working on it,
Bye for now Steph and Anthony.

A Mareeba Sunset

Cooktown NQ

Mud Frolicing

 

Hello from Cooktown.
Our road trip here was ok, though seemed rather long.
It was only about 2 and a half hours but we were hoping to stop at either the Palmer River roadhouse or at Lakeland for a cuppa break etc….
Well Palmer was on the wrong side so we decided to keep going to Lakeland and as we were approaching we thought at first the enormous rest area with loos on the left was the roadhouse, so started to pull in there with another car up our clacker which always makes us nervous when looking for somewhere to pull in.
We realised our mistake and pulled out again to realise we hadn’t even looked on the right side of the road and tucked away from the highway was the Lakeland servo……we had totally missed it.🤨🤨
We couldn’t turn around so had to keep going, I suggested we pull over at the next rest stop where I would cook us up some brunch and cappuccinos but there was no rest area big enough for us, which is unbelievable considering the big message out there. Stop Rest Revive to stay alive etc.
With no cuppa fix we were a bit frazzled when we rocked up to the Cooktown Caravan Park.
The site they had kept for us was heaps big enough but no room to manoeuvre….
With juggling other people’s vehicles and yours truly on the hand held uhf we did get in much to the dismay of a ex Truckie who said we would never get in there.🙄🙄

Part of the new Wharf Precinct
Picturesque Cooktown

 

Black Kite over Grassy Hill
Our front electric legs on our van had meanwhile just stopped. We weren’t sure if it was the motor, the switch or absolute horror… maybe the legs are bowed.
We had to manually winch the van off the truck ..not helping, our site was sloped towards the back, so we had to unwind the legs right down, which took forever.
I tried to help a bit, but started getting blisters really quickly from the handle so poor Anthony was stuck with that task. I suggested we at least have a cappuccino first but the power was out at the park……funny how there is always “icing on the cake “.
The rest of the afternoon was taken up with phone calls and we have ordered a new switch and are praying that is the problem otherwise we may be stuck here for a while….There is no way we will be able to winch 5 tonnes of van back on to the truck.
😖

The Endevour River

 

So the last few days we have been in better spirits and have been checking out our surrounds.

Well we really like it here. Cooktown is small but nicely laid out on the Endevour River. There’s lots of history here of course being James Cooks first landing etc so there is plenty to see in the way of monuments and old buildings, also a museum which will be interesting.

There’s a beautiful botanical garden with walks to a lookout and beaches.


Common Glider in flight over Keatings Lagoon

 

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Press Play to View Stephanie’s Video Snippets from 

Keatings Lagoon

 

The Lagoon
We have visited Keatings Lagoon twice, just south of Cooktown and have seen quite a few critters there.
We haven’t seen much elsewhere, but still plenty of places to check out.
The Spider (hunting) Wasp was enormous…..wow you wouldn’t want to get stung by one. I didn’t realise he was tackling a spider till I was filming for a while…..apparently they use the spider as a host to incubate their eggs how bizarre is that?.
I almost trod on the Green tree snake….he was pretending to be a blade of grass, absolutely beautiful green blue colour.
Also the goshawk was a bonus. I think we will be spending quite a bit of time at the Lagoon.
Pity about the Mozzies there, they are just bearable with plenty of spray.

Some amazing Paperbarks here
Female Brown Goshawk

 

Magpie Geese at rest after a frolic in the Mud

 

Enjoy the pics and video, I got great footage of the Spider (hunting) Wasp.

Cheers Steph and Anthony.

 

 

 

Birds of Mt Carbine Caravan Park

If Looks could Kill : Blue-winged Kookaburra
Well it’s very windy this morning here at Mount Carbine Caravan Park lots of clouds about. We had a quick look for birds but we are also in a hurry as we have to pack up and head off to Cooktown, not a good combination when trying to spot birds.
The Great Bowerbird has been fantastic to watch here, he has only just started tending his bower so I will try to get more video footage when we come back on our return trip. He does some pretty groovy dance moves I would love to capture but missed out this time. Anthony also got some great photos. Some of the bird tours around the area bring their customers here as the birdlife is very reliable.

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Great Bowerbirds are everywhere here

Tending his Bower

 

White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike

 

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Press Play to view Stephanie’s Video Snippets

 

A sleeping Tawny Frogmouth

 

The Tawny Frogmouths are always perched near the lights over the loos…..they don’t have to go far for insects at night time.
The owner here, Nicky also keeps an eye on what birds are where according to flowering and fruiting trees so it’s a really nice relaxing place to hang out for a few days.
And if you have a cat in an enclosure……well all the birds will just come to you to sound off their warnings🙄🙄
Have a great day whatever you are up to…..we are off to Cooktown shortly.
Cheers Steph and Anthony.

Common Glider Dragonfly

Birding on the Daintree

Little Kingfisher
The Jewel of the Daintree : Little Kingfisher

Wow wow wow, what an amazing time we have been having😃😃 Our short road trip to Mount Carbine went well. The Mount Carbine caravan park is nice, we really feel like we are outback now. The terrain is very dry and crispy, we are hooked up to bore water here ( not so good ). There is a lot of birdlife around the park but we will do a separate blog just for here when we have finished our stay because I really need to tell you about the awesome day we had today.

 

The Rarely seen Great-billed Heron
We got up extra early…4 am to quickly have our cappochinos and head off to the Daintree River.
Quite a drive from here, just over an hour, but off course still being dark we had to drive slower and also there’s a very windy steep range road with B double sugar cane trucks using it at the moment. We didn’t want to miss the river tour we had booked, and arrived with time to spare.
We also picked a beautiful day…..blue sky, no wind and also a low tide so things were looking really good.
Luckily there were only 5 passengers today…..all keen to get photos of the little Kingfisher. Murray from the  Daintree Boatman Nature Tours happens to know where all the birds are hiding out or having their favourite roosting spots so we were certainly in for a treat.
The Majestic White-bellied Sea-eagle

 

Male Saltwater Crocodile

 

He took us straight up a little inlet off the Daintree river and being low tide with all the mangrove roots exposed, the little Kingfisher seemed like he was waiting for us. Boy was he hard to spot, such a tiny hyperactive gorgeous little bird….. we almost had to lay on the gunnels of the boat to get a clear view, he was so hidden under the mangroves. Murray kept barking positions at us which helped a lot as he was so quick……we spent half an hour just here getting some great photos and video.

 

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Press Play to view Stephanie’s ‘Best Yet’ Video

 

 

Green Tree Snake soaking up the morning Sun
Green Tree Snake soaking up the morning Sun

 

 

The whole trip was pretty action packed.
Murray has an electric motor which is so very quiet when getting close to the birds, then he switches over to the standard noisy outboard when we had to hightail it down another part of the river to where he knew another bird, crocodile or snake was visible.
The Sea Eagle at the end of the 2 hour tour put on a show for us though we felt really sorry for him as he missed out on a fish. Anthony got some spectacular photos today and
I must say…. I have put together my best video to date, I had to add music as the endless clicking of the cameras, engine noise, and our very excited squeals was detracting from the amazing wildlife.
We normally stay away from tours but thought this was our best option for seeing different birds and boy, we are so glad we did this.
Spectacular Day. Please enjoy the pics and video.
Bye for now, Steph and Anthony.
Peacock Jewel aka 4 O’clock Moth

Birds and Bugs

A male Painted Grasshawk (Seen in Stephanie’s Video)

 

 

Well we finally made the decision to move on. The weather has been very drizzly again the last few days.

Yesterday we drove back to Granite Gorge near Mareeba. You can bet if it’s cold and drizzly here in Yungaburra it’s about 5 degrees warmer and sunny over that way. As soon as you drive off the plateau north towards Mareeba you can just watch the temperature gauge increasing.

It’s a beautiful place in nature and there seems to be a lot more butterflies and dragonflies around the Gorge than anywhere else we have been so far. We did see quite a few birds there as well but we didn’t get there till nearly lunch time so could have done better with photos if we had of gotten there earlier. We will definetly go back there on our return trip.

 

We got lucky….. while touring the tablelands a flock of Sarus Cranes flew over our truck and just had enough time to grab a couple of inflight shots.

 

Grey-crowned Babbler drying off after wash
A Handsome pair of Black Swans
A female Rufous Whistler enjoying the late afternoon Sun

 

Tomorrow we are off to Mount Carbine for 3 nights before heading on to Cooktown. We are really excited to see some new places.

Not really new as we have been to these places before but now that we are always looking for critters it’s a totally different experience. It’s like our eyes are wide open now and are always scanning the trees, sky, grass etc….waiting for something to catch our eye, it’s really fantastic and makes us feel so alive.

We must have had blinkers on before in our old life as I don’t really remember seeing much wildlife when out and about.

 

It was exciting to capture this Orange Threadtail Damselfly Head on inflight.

 

Fresh Painted Grasshawk Dragonfly

 

Just a couple of Butterflies that managed to keep still for a Photo

 

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Press Play and enjoy Stephanie’s latest Video Snippets

 

Please enjoy our last video snippets and photos from the last few days and I hope we see some new and exciting things on our northward journey.

Cheers Steph and Anthony.

 

Upclose with a Peacock and Hen at Granite Gorge