Cape York Tour 3-12 August 2020

Palm Cockatoo - Photograph by Pat Kelly - Inala Nature Tours
Palm Cockatoo - Photograph by Pat Kelly - Inala Nature Tours
Tour date: 
Monday, 3 August 2020 to Wednesday, 12 August 2020
Duration: 
9 days
Price: 
Tour Price: AU$ 6,560 per person twin share based on a minimum of 4 participants. Single supplement: AU$750
Highlights: 
Enjoy searching for specials and endemics in far north Queenland's top three birding destinations: Iron Range National Park, Lakefield National Park and Kingfisher Park and surrounds The rich diversity of species includes: Golden-shouldered Parrot, Red Goshawk, Palm Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Magnificent Riflebird, Yellow-billed Kingfisher and many more!
Overview: 

This tour visits some of the most remote, bird-rich areas in Australia. In the country's far north eastern corner, the distinctive Cape York peninsula juts out into the tropical water of the Coral Sea and is home to the largest unspoilt patch of rainforest on the continent. This adventure includes 4 full days birding in the Iron Range National Park for a host of species found nowhere else in Australia including Palm Cockatoo, Frill-necked Monarch and White-faced Robin. We also explore the riches of Lakefield National Park where Golden-shouldered Parrot and Red Goshawk will be likely highlights. And we also bird in the area around Julatten, a region widely regarded for it's abundance of species. Simply put, this tour is hard to beat: it covers the highlight areas in this region and we travel at a comfortable pace. This tour is also one of our best sellers and you are welcome to join us on this next trip.

Start Location: 
Cairns QLD
Australia
Finish location: 
Cairns QLD
Australia

Inala’s Cape York Specials Tour  - Special and endemic birds of the Cape York Peninsula - 3-12 Aug 2020

This tour visits some of the most remote, bird-rich areas in Australia. In the country's far north eastern corner, the distinctive Cape York peninsula juts out into the tropical water of the Coral Sea and is home to the largest unspoilt patch of rainforest on the continent. This adventure includes 4 full days birding in the Iron Range National Park for a host of species found nowhere else in Australia including Palm Cockatoo, Frill-necked Monarch and White-faced Robin. We also explore the riches of Lakefield National Park where Golden-shouldered Parrot and Red Goshawk will be likely highlights. And we also bird in the area around Julatten, a region widely regarded for it's abundance of species. Simply put, this tour is hard to beat: it covers the highlight areas in this region and we travel at a comfortable pace. This tour is also one of our best sellers and you are welcome to join us on this next trip.

This itinerary has been designed to adjoin our  After The Rain - Gulf Country / Outback Queensland Tour with a night in Cairns to allow participants to join both sections if they wish.

ITINERARY OUTLINE:

CAPE YORK (3 August – 12 Aug 2020):

Day 1 (= Day 14). Mon 3 Aug 20. Arrive Cairns.
Day 2. Tue 4 Aug 20. Cairns to Julatten
Day 3. Wed 5 Aug 20. Julatten area.
Day 4. Thu 6 Aug 20. Julatten to Musgrave.
Day 5. Fri 7 Aug 20. Musgrave-Lakefield National Park
Day 6. Sat 8 Aug 20. Musgrave to Lockhart River.
Day 7. Sun 9 Aug 20. Lockhart River.
Day 8.  Mon 10 Aug 20. Lockhart River.
Day 9. Tue 11 Aug 20. Lockhart River.
Day 10.  Wed 12 Aug 20. Fly Lockhart River to Cairns. Depart Cairns.

Enjoy searching for specials and endemics in far north Queenland's top three birding destinations: Iron Range National Park, Lakefield Nation al Park and Kingfisher Park and surrounds The rich diversity of species includes: Golden-shouldered Parrot, Red Goshawk, Palm Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Magnificent Riflebird, Yellow-billed Kingfisher and many more!

This tour visits some of the most remote, bird-rich areas in Australia. In the country's far north eastern corner, the distinctive Cape York peninsula juts out into the tropical water of the Coral Sea and is home to the largest unspoilt patch of rainforest on the continent. This adventure includes 4 full days birding in the Iron Range National Park for a host of species found nowhere else in Australia including Palm Cockatoo, Frill-necked Monarch and White-faced Robin. We also explore the riches of Lakefield National Park where Golden-shouldered Parrot and Red Goshawk will be likely highlights. And we also bird in the area around Julatten, a region widely regarded for it's abundance of species. Simply put, this tour is hard to beat: it covers the highlight areas in this region and we travel at a comfortable pace. This tour is also one of our best sellers and you are welcome to join us on this next trip.

This itinerary has been designed to adjoin our  After The Rain - Gulf Country / Outback Queensland Tour  21st July – 3rd Aug with an extra night in Cairns to allow participants to join both sections if they wish.

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1 (= Day 14 of Gulf Country/Outback Qld Tour). Monday 3 August 2020.
Arrive Cairns Airport and own transfer to the Cairns waterfront hotel in time to meet the group at 18:00 for a welcome dinner and briefing on the tour
Accommodation: Waterfront hotel Cairns (en suite rooms). Meals included: D.

Day 2 (= Day 15 for those on both tours). Tuesday 4 August 2020. Cairns to Julatten.
There is plenty to see in and around Cairns. A wealth of tropical habitats here supports one of the richest assemblages of birds and wildlife in Australia. Not far from the town centre are the Botanical Gardens with adjoining wetlands and conservation areas, offering a fine mix of water and bush birds. Australian Brush Turkey, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Superb and Wompoo Fruit-Doves, Double-eyed Fig Parrot, Australasian Figbird, Black Butcherbird, Green Oriole, the stunning Noisy Pitta and Lovely Fairy-wren may all been seen here as might Spectacled Flying Fox. In the wetlands of the area we will search for Comb-crested Jacana, Radjah Shelduck, Green Pygmy Geese, White-browed Crake and the handsome Crim son Finch.  Nearby mangrove habitat is home to Mangrove Robin, Shining Flycatchers and the odd-looking Beach Stone-Curlew. This afternoon we will travel to our accommodation at Julatten.
Accommodation: Julatten (en suite cabins). Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 3. Wednesday 5 August 2020. Julatten area.
Today will be a full day exploring the Julatten area. Birds here include Golden Bowerbird, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Chowchilla, Bridled Honeyeater, Mountain Thornbill, Fernwren, Bower’s Shrike-thrush, Grey-headed Robin, Atherton Scrubwren, the rare and localised Blue-faced Parrot-finch, Red-necked Crake, Noisy Pitta, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Graceful, Yellow-spotted, Brown & Dusky Honeyeaters, Leaden Flycatcher, localised North Queensland race of Bassian Thrush, Grey-headed Robin, Yellow Oriole, Spangled Drongo, Little Bronze-Cuckoo, Little Shrike-thrush, Emerald Dove, White-cheeked Honeyeater, Cicadabird, Red-browed Finch, Papuan Frogmouth & Pale-vented Bush-Hen.
Accommodation: Julatten (en suite cabins as for last night). Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 4. Thursday 6 August 2020. Julatten to Musgrave.
This morning if time permits, we will travel up the famous Mt Lewis Road and search for some high-altitude rainforest specialists such as Golden Bowerbird, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Chowchilla, Bridled Honeyeater, Mountain Thornbill, Fernwren, Bower’s Shrike-thrush, Grey-headed Robin, Atherton Scrubwren and Blue-faced Parrot-finch. We will then travel to Musgrave, our home for this evening.
Accommodation: Musgrave (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 5. Friday 7 August 2020.  Musgrave-Lakefield National Park.
This morning we will try to catch up with some of Cape York’s open woodland birds, one of which is found nowhere else - the Golden-shouldered Parrot. We will meet a cattle station owner who should be able to connect us with a number of these incredibly beautiful birds on her property. Also in the region are Black-backed Butcherbird, Pheasant Coucal, Grey-crowned Babbler, Banded Honeyeater, Little & Black-faced Woodswallows, Silver-crowned & Little Friarbirds, the very rare  Red Goshawk (maybe nesting with any luck!), Black-breasted Buzzard, Masked, Double-barred & Black-throated Finches, Great Bowerbird, Diamond Dove, Bar-breasted, Banded, Rufous-throated, Rufous-b anded & Yellow-tinted Honeyeaters, Red-browed Pardalote, Varied Sitella and White-throated Gerygone.  Mammal possibilities include Antilopine Wallaroo, Agile Wallaby, and if we are really fortunate, the Cape York Rock Wallaby.
Accommodation: Musgrave (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 6. Saturday 8 August 2020. Musgrave to Lockhart River.
Today will be mostly a day of travel but we will do some birding towards Lakefield National Park hoping to pick up any birds we might be missing (such as Red Goshawk) before heading north. Our target for this evening is Lockhart River in the Iron Range National Park.
Accommodation: Iron Range (en suite cabins). Meals included: B,L,D.

Days 7-9. Sunday 9, Monday 10 and Tuesday 11 August 2020. Lockhart River, Cape York Peninsula.
Iron Range National Park contains the most extensive example of lowland tropical rainforest remaining in the country, and its avifauna is indicative of a time when Australia and Papua New Guinea were connected during the last Ice Age and we will spend 3 days exploring this amazing area. There are  around 18 species of bird restricted to Cape York Peninsula that have more extensive distributions in PNG, and it’s these we will be concentrating on whilst we are here. These birds are as follows: Palm Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Red-cheeked Parrot, Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Green-backed, Tawny-breasted and White-streaked Honeyeaters, Northern Scrub-robin, White-faced Robin, Yellow-legged Flycatcher, Tropical Scrubwren, Frilled-necked Monarch, Trumpet Manucode, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird and the incredible Magnificent Riflebird. ( Red-bellied Pitta and Black-winged Monarch are mostly summer visitors, so we will most likely miss them at this time of year. )

Other specialties in this region are almost as good, with birds like Southern Cassowary, Spotted Whistling-Duck(rare), Double-eyed Fig-parrot (race marshalli), White-eared Monarch, White-browed Robin, Sooty & Bridled Terns, Common Noddy, Great Frigatebird, Rose-crowned Fruit-dove, Forest Kingfisher, Grey Goshawk, Eastern Reef Egret, Beach Stone-curlew, Grey Whistler, Pacific Baza, the small northern race of Brown Goshawk and Pied Heron.  Red-headed Honeyeater, Striated Heron, Large-billed Gerygone, Mangrove Robin, Varied Honeyeater and Little Kingfisher can be found in the Mangroves in the coastal areas. A night drive with spotlight may reveal Marbled & Papuan Frogmouths, Rufous Owl, Large-tailed Nightjar, Spotted Nightjar and Masked Owl.

There are a few mammal specialties here as well with the chance of Spotted & Common Cuscus, Striped Possum, Northern Quoll, Red-cheeked Dunnart, Rufous Spiny Bandicoot, Red-legged Pademelon and Cape York Melomys. At night we may be lucky enough to see some of the tube-nosed and blossom-feeding bats around Portland Roads, as well as flying foxes of various species. Some encampments of Little Red and Black Flying-fox can number literally in the millions.
Accommodation: Iron Range (en suite cabins). Meals included: BLD each day.

Day 10. Wednesday 12 August 2020. 
This morning you will travel to Lockhart River airport and transfer to your flight to Cairns. The guides will say goodbye to you here as they will need to drive back to cairns in the vehicles over the next 2-3day period. On arrival at Cairns airport, arrange own transfer to your onward flight. (The transfer to Lockhart River airport is included).
Accommodation: none. Meals Included: B

CAPE YORK TOUR
Cost: AU $6560 per person twin share AU $750 single supplement

This itinerary has been designed to adjoin our After The Rain – Gulf Country / Outback Queensland Tour 2020 24th July – 1st Aug 2020
Starting with a group size of 4 pax ( 1 driver/guides ) if interest is strong, then we shall run a group max of 8 pax ( 2 driver/guides)

GULF COUNTRY / OUTBACK QLD
Cost: AU $9065 per person twin share AU $1175 single supplement

BOTH TOURS
Normally AU $15,625 – Now with a HUGE $1,000 discount for taking both tours = $14,625

Inclusions: ccommodation and specialist guiding for day and night tours as outlined above, all meals as outlined in the itinerary, land transport and National Park entry fees. Also includes Cairns to Lockhart River flight on the Cape York tour.

Exclusions: alcoholic beverages, personal expenditure or other flights to and from Cairns.

Please note: 

Meals and drinks: Breakfast generally consists of a continental style breakfast with cereal, fruit and yoghurt and tea/coffee.  Full cooked breakfast is not generally offered at most locations.  Lunch will generally consist of a packed lunch style meal eaten in the field, with sandwich/filled roll, fruit, and a drink.  Dinner usually consists of several options for main with the choice of either an appetiser or dessert. Drinks (soft and alcoholic) are generally not included but at lunches and breakfasts juice may be made available.

The itinerary: Whilst we aim to follow the itinerary as planned, please note that the itinerary provided should only be used as a guideline.  Depending on individual trip circumstances, weather, and local information, the exact itinerary may not be strictly adhered to.  The guides reserve the right to make changes to the itinerary as they see fit.

Remoteness: Please note that for much of this tour we will be birding in a wonderful yet remote part of Australia. Most of the roads are unsealed and rough and travel will be in 4WD vehicles. If you have medical conditions or health concerns it is important you make us aware of these in advance of this tour.

Inala’s Cape York Specials Tour Trip Report - September 2019
Guided by Ben Blewitt

Special and endemic birds of the Cape York Peninsula
30 August – 7 September 2019

This very successful tour visited two of the best birding destinations on Cape York Peninsular, Iron Range and the Musgrave/ Lakefield area. We also had two nights at Julatten in the extremely diverse Wet Tropics region. Overall the weather was fine with fairly strong wind building up on some days.

Day 1. Friday 30 August 2019. Fly Cairns to Lockhart River, Iron Range National Park.

The group arrived on the afternoon flight from Cairns into Lockhart River and after a quick turnaround we headed to the rainforest for some birding.  Although the rainforest suffered severe damage from Cyclone Trevor earlier in the year, the birds were all still around.  We soon had views of our first of the Cape York endemics in the very showy Frill-necked Monarch. A visit to the Eclectus Parrot nest tree produced a stunning female at the nest cavity, and great excitement as two Palm Cockatoo’s gave low fly by views. A great start to the trip

Day 2. Saturday 31 August 2019. Iron Range National Park.

Early morning we drove through tropical woodland towards the community searching for Palm Cockatoo. Before too long we spotted one of these iconic birds perched up on a tall tree. We all enjoyed prolonged views and many pictures were taken. A visit to the Farm Dam was excellent with plenty of bird activity. As we observed a large Saltwater crocodile, a Yellow-billed Kingfisher began calling, and after a short battle was seen well by all the group.

Later, in the rainforest there were some good sightings including Tawny-breasted and Green-backed Honeyeater, and Lovely fairywren. Late afternoon we reached the beach where we picked up a few waders and Great Frigatebird. Around dusk the Metallic starlings put on an absolutely stunning show with thousands of birds joining a massive swirling display. After dinner at a café we drove back to the rainforest and managed to spot a Marbled frogmouth. This cryptic and often elusive bird was sitting quite low which allowed exceptional views and even some pictures.

 Day 3. Sunday 1 September 2019. Iron Range National Park

This day was spent mainly in the best parts of the rainforest in search of the local specials. It proved difficult at times, but with patience and persistence we managed our first looks at Magnificent Riflebird, White-faced Robin, Tropical Scrubwren, and Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo.  Late in the afternoon our hard work was rewarded with absolutely crippling views of a pair of Yellow-legged Flycatcher.  These tiny birds can be very hard to locate so it was a real treat to have such a close sighting.

 Day 4. Monday 2 September 2019. Iron Range National Park

There was an early morning return to the rainforest for Northern Scrub-robin. This species is a cryptic skulker and proved very difficult, with brief or obscured views only.  In the mangroves at Portland Roads we found the bower of the Fawn-breasted Bowerbird (our best sightings of this species were at the cabins). The Bridled and Black-naped Terns were a good pick up at Chilli Beach.

One of the absolute highlights of the day was encountering a pair of Spotted Whistling Duck. These have been scarce in recent times.  A return to the rainforest resulted in a number of good sightings including extended views of a male Magnificent Riflebird. We watched this bird foraging for around twenty minutes and there were some nice pictures taken.

 Day 5. Tuesday 3 September 2019. Iron Range National Park to Musgrave.

In the morning we called in to say goodbye to the Eclectus Parrots and were very lucky to have a male Red-cheeked Parrot feeding at eye level.  This was very welcome as we had only obtained flight views previously. In the hills as we left Iron Range we stopped to look for White-streaked Honeyeater, a Cape York endemic.  The birds did not disappoint with good numbers of these and other species feeding on Fern-leaved Grevillia.

We continued south on the PDR through Coen. About half way to Musgrave we found a Black-headed Python on the road. We stopped and made sure the impressive animal made it safely off the road.
Later we were welcomed to the Musgrave area by a small group of Golden-shouldered Parrot. A real treat to see this beautiful and endangered Cape York endemic.

Day 6. Wednesday 4 September 2019. Musgrave area and Lakefield National Park.

We took a morning walk and saw Golden-shouldered Parrot and a variety of tropical woodland species. Of particular interest were Masked Finch, which is usually in small groups, and the Black-backed Butcherbird, one of the New Guinea/ Cape York specials.

By late morning we were heading for the areas east of Musgrave and the northern section of Lakefield National Park.  Just before Musgrave we had a Black-breasted Kite soaring above the trees, with the distinctive wing markings showing well. The next great sighting was a stunning male Red Goshawk perched nicely in the vicinity of an active nest. We had fantastic looks at this rare raptor without risking any disturbance to the sitting female.

Our lunch stop was at a beautiful lagoon where a good selection of wetland species put on a show. The cast included Magpie Goose, Green Pygmy-goose, Radjah Shelduck, Comb-crested Jacana, Wandering Whistling-duck, and many others. Later we reached Nifold Plain within the park. This is an amazing landscape dominated by cool shaped termite nests. Birds seen here included Australian Bustard, Black-necked Stork, and Brolga. We got back to the roadhouse for dinner and then managed to call up an Australian Owlet-nightjar.

Day 7. Thursday 5 September 2019. Musgrave to Julatten.

Today was a big travel day as we had decided to head down through the National Park to increase our chance of finding finches. We retraced our path and were rewarded with a small flock of Star Finch coming in to drink at a dam. A little further south there were several species of Honeyeater, including Rufous-banded, and Double-barred Finch bathing and drinking at the river crossing.

As we reached Laura, there were good flight views of a male Red-winged Parrot. We discovered a nice shady garden area with bird baths and feeders attracting Great Bowerbird, Blue-faced Honeyeater, Black-backed Butcherbird and others.

We arrived at our accommodation late in the afternoon and soon had our first Wet Tropics endemic, Macleay’s Honeyeater on the feeders. A walk around the grounds and down to Bushy Creek produced Grey Whistler, Pale-yellow Robin, and much to the astonishment and delight of our international visitors, a Duck-billed Platypus.

 Day 8. Friday 6 September 2019. Julatten and surrounds.

This was an exceptional birding day with sightings of all but two of the Wet Tropics endemics plus many of the special birds of the North East. We started with a noticeably quiet Noisy Pitta in the lodge grounds, where we also saw Rufous Fantail, Spectacled Monarch, Scarlet Honeyeater, Emerald Dove and many others. We then drove to an environmental park and were entertained by a pair of Northern Fantail feeding in the car park. In Mount Molloy we observed the antics of several Great Bowerbird around a very well built and decorated structure, and also found a party of Red-backed Fairy-wren with a very dashing male giving great views.

It was then time to try our luck on Mount Lewis. As we wound our way up into the ancient forest a Victoria’s Riflebird called and we soon had views of this endemic Bird of Paradise. We reached the famous clearing and had our lunch, listening to the calls of our target birds inside the forest. As we made our way out on the track we saw Atherton Scrubwren, and Grey-headed Robin. Then Mountain Thornbill and Bridled Honeyeater, soon followed by our first party of Chowchilla. A little further along we encountered Bower’s Shrike-thrush and Spotted Catbird, another party of Chowchilla, this time with a pair of Fernwren in attendance. There were no decorations on the bower of the Golden Bowerbird and we had to retreat after only hearing the strange call.  Back at Julatten we tried an area for Pied Monarch, and within minutes a quite animated individual was showing extremely well. To top it all off the elusive Red-necked Crake came for an evening bath at the feeders back at the lodge.

Day 9. Saturday 7 September 2019.  Cairns and airport.

This morning it was time to travel to Cairns to meet our conections.
We managed to add a few waterfowl and some more bush birds,including finally catching up with White-browed Robin which we had heard on the Peninsular.  We finished with the Rufous Owl at the roost in Cairns.

An absolutely great way to finish an excellent tour.
Thanks to the guests for their enthusiasm, humour, and help finding the birds.

 

 

 

 

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