Parting of the ways …

We greeted the new day with heavy hearts, the lovely Gayle would be leaving us today.

Bird watching would not be totally neglected but our most important tasks today would be to get her to the airport on time and to resupply for the next leg of the trip. An early morning stroll in the Barron Gorge National Park was more sombre than usual.

Between us and Cairns Airport was the Cattana Wetlands and there was just enough time to do them justice. From Speewah it is a fairly steep descent to the coastal strip at Smithfield  just north of Cairns. Right at the roundabout then left at the next one takes you towards Yorkeys Knob. Third road on the left is Dunne Road and will take you to the gate, avoid the temptation to take Cattana Road it will not take you to the gate.

There are a number of ponds, a boardwalk, picnic facilities and even a bird hide or two. It’s not been open to the public for very long but the recently planted trees are big enough now to give a reasonably natural feel to the place.

A male Green Pygmy Goose was reasonably approachable …

Green Pygmy Goose

as was this even more attractive Comb-crested Jacana …

Comb-crested Jacana

We disturbed a Lace Monitor along one of the tracks which promptly ran up a tree. They always head for the other side of the trunk, you can sometimes get a photo by staying still and having a companion go around to the other side although by the time you’ve done that it may be way up high …

Lace Monitor

… and while you’re looking in the trees, look out for these …

Ant Plant

They are Myrmecophytes or Ant Plants. There is quite a diverse array of them, this particular type, in the family Rubiacaea, provides a dwelling place in that bulbous base that ants inhabit. The technical term for such structures is domatia. In return the ants keep leaf eating insects away. You can see from the photo that these are growing on another tree and have rather palatial domatial swellings. They are  therefore tuberous epiphytic rubiaceous myrmecophytes, any of which might come in handy at your next trivia night.

By the time I’d finished explaining all this to Gayle she was quite ready to hop on the plane.

And so to the Smithfield Shopping Mall to resupply … at Dan Murphy’s bottle shop.

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