Wildlife Spotting in Nth Queensland

Tropical North Queensland is a great place to view wildlife in their natural habitats. Many different species can be found without having to go too far off the beaten track.

The area between Cairns and Cape York is a natural wonderland, with a variety of habitats to choose from including rainforest, reef, mangrove, and grassy hinterlands. Below are just a few of the more interesting encounters I have had over the last few years.

Cassowary - Kimberly Beach

The highlight of my wildlife experience was spotting a pair of cassowaries near Kimberly Beach in the Daintree. They were crossing the dirt road leading from the beach to the main road to Cape Tribulation. They strolled into the nearby forest and I, not knowing the risks, foolishly left my car and followed them, taking the above photo. At one point I got too close to the large bird and he made a deep thumping noise to warn me away, which worked very well. I later found out cassowaries can be dangerous, and approaching one to take photo’s is not very wise. More detail here

Jabiru - Iconic bird of Northern Australia

My family stays at Port Douglas each year, and I usually visit them for a few days when I can get away. On a recent sojourn we went on a family drive south to the Atherton Tableland.

On the way we stopped at a bistro in Mt Molloy, where I had one of the best hamburgers you could imagine. The beef burgers in the Queensland outback are really world class.

On the way back, we took a detour down Pickford road just north of Mareeba and visited a swampy park which is home to the Jabiru Safari Lodge. Here we went on a tour in a small boat of the manmade lake, which was home to a variety of birdlife, including the iconic Black Necked Stork, affectionally known as the Jabiru.

Black Ibis in Flight

The area around the lake makes for great bird watching, and I will return to the area one day to explore it more, next time I will stay overnight at the lodge.
The sun was already setting over the cane fields as we left the park and made our way home. Dusk is a vibrant time for wild life and we saw many kangaroos and birds as we drove carefully back along the dusty track in dimming light, including these Glossy Black Ibises. Up here they are considered a bit of a nuisance bird, but they are a rare variety back in Sydney and even the standard Ibis is considered exotic in Japanese zoos.

Crocodile Waiting for Lunch

Large Saltwater Crocodiles are everywhere in the north and just because you cannot see one does not mean he cannot see you. You should respect them and not enter their environment without due care. This mostly includes swimming in areas posted as croc risks, but can mean any river or beach.

We encountered the above croc after we rented a small fishing boat and motored up the river that runs inland from Port Douglas. Packers Creek is wider than it sounds, especially during the wet season, and makes for an interesting tour, though the fish were sparse. As you cruise up the waterway you pass the odd sunken yacht, presumably wrecked in one of the regular cyclones that pass through.

We were on croc alert, and constantly scanned the mangrove foreshore in search of the elusive reptiles, finally spotting the above guy close the to end of our rental period. Needless to say, we did not go for a swim in the invitingly cool water, although it was a hot and humid afternoon.

We had also heard tales of a semi trained kite, a large eagle like bird,  that would come to you if you whistled and accept small fish from you, but although a large kite flew over us once, we were unable to entice him closer.

Banded rail on Green Island

Another area of interest near Cairns is Green Island. We did a day tour out to the island recently and spotted a whale on the 45 minute trip there.

Green Island is very small, you can see most of it within a 15 minute walk, but it makes for a relaxing day out nonetheless. Banded Rails are common on the island, and unfortunately have become over accustomed to humans and will approach you for food if you offer it, or even if you don’t. They are a curious bird and amusing to watch from the beach as you absorb your daily vitamin D dosage.

Green Island has its own little reef, easily accessible from the shore, with fish also accustomed to being fed. They congregate in large schools under the pier, darting around the spooky shadows cast by the underwater structure.

Snorkelling Green Island Pier

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One Response

  1. Kate (@AdventureMumma) June 18, 2015

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