Friday, November 10, 2006

Cairns then home

This little critter (or more plausibly a distant relative) I encountered in a pocket of rainforest near Atherton in Queensland while travelling for the second time through some of the most interesting countryside in Australia. In a group of four we were mainly looking for birds in a group led by Ben Bluett of Cassowary Tours but we did see Eastern waterdragons and Spectacled flying fox - the latter being abundant around Cairns.

The interesting thing about this countryside around Cairns is the way it shifts from coastal rainforest with mangroves to savanna country in a matter of a few kilometres. The close proximity of such a variety of habitat types creates a rich biodiversity.

We saw 107 bird species over about 10 hours birding - actually I saw 108 since I got a final Jabiru in the wetland next to Cairns airport as I drove in - I left the tour (and 33 degree C temperatures) directly for a flight back to Melbourne (and 8 degrees C). Hot is better don't believe lies to the contrary!

Among the interesting bird species I saw were Squatter pigeon, Mountain thornbill, Chowchilla, Victoria's rifebird, Spotted catbird, Tooth-billed bowerbird, Bower's shrike-thrush and what what certain the sighting of the day, a pair of Painted snipe at Hasties Swamp. All in all it was a great final day in Cairns. The APSAD Conference I had attended was very useful and I had also managed to enjoy the local environment.

I could very easily settle and live in the Cairns area and one-day I might. The locals are easy going. There is certainly enough of a town to provide the personmade creature comfits and the natural landscapes (and waterscapes) are astoundingly diverse.

It was back to work today and my heart was not entirely in it.

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