Around and about …

We spent a few days in the Cooktown region. Overall it was a very productive time from a wildlife perspective. The sighting of Bennett’s Tree Kangaroo was the crowning moment. If you are considering a visit, some of the places to include are the McIvor River, Mt Webb National Park, Keatings Lagoon, Black Mountain and Little Annan Gorge.

The McIvor River can be reached at a couple of spots, the easier place is via a bitumen road. On the way from Cooktown to Hopevale turn left 10 km prior to Hopevale in the direction of Laura. There is a second crossing not far downstream from there  that can be reached via a dirt track from Hopevale airstrip or from the crossing on the made road via a commercial plantation a little further in the direction of Mt Webb. Good birding in pockets of riverine rainforest can be had at both.

Flowering tree

There are no real facilities at Mt Webb but you can get off the main road and poke around. We saw White-eared and Black-winged Monarch here, the latter is a summer migrant to Cape York and this is just about its southerly limit. I photographed this Little Shrike-thrush here …

Little Shrike-thrush

Also had good views of an Amethystine Python which I was about to photograph when the Black-winged Monarch flew by. I chased it and ended up without good photos of either. A snake in the hand or a bird in the bush?

A little further north on the east side of the road you can explore a heathy area that looks productive.

There are foot paths and a hide at Keating’s lagoon. It was good for water birds and is surrounded by some dry forest that yielded Silver-crowned Friarbird and other passerines. Magpie Geese …

Magpie Goose

Our main target at Black Mountain and Little Annan Gorge was Godman’s Rock Wallaby but in that we were unsuccessful.


Flying-foxes …

We wandered around Cooktown in the early afternoon. In the mangroves along the Endeavour river we found a large camp of Flying-foxes. As far as we could tell there were two species present, Little Red Flying-fox and the larger Black Flying-fox.

Flying-foxes feed mainly on nectar and fruit rather than insects and do not use echo-location. They are capable of long journeys on the wing and it is not unusual for them to cover 50 km a night.

People are rather mixed in their response to these creatures. They do harbour a virus that can be infect humans, although transmission is a rare event. The camps tend to be rather smelly and noisy.  And some people just find them particularly creepy. The aborigines ate them and it is said that they are very tasty.

We met a guy whose response was one that we had not encountered previously. He had wandered out of the RSL with a beer in hand, clearly not his first for the day. It is an inescapable fact that some of the males sport very impressive gonads. This was something that our gentleman was very keen to discuss. In fact, in making a comparison with his own, it seemed that he felt considerably inferior. I suspect that the next logical step, dropping his trousers so that passers-by could make their own comparison, was only a beer or two away.