Inala - Queensland Cape York/Wet Tropics Tour - Wet season specialities 7-14 th February 2022

Inala Nature Tours - Black-winged Monarch - Alfred Schulte
Inala Nature Tours - Black-winged Monarch - Alfred Schulte
Tour date: 
Monday, 7 February 2022 to Monday, 14 February 2022
Duration: 
8 days
Price: 
AU $6,100 per person twin share - single supplement AU$470
Highlights: 
This eight-day tour is designed to target far North Queensland in the Wet Season where we have the best chance of a small number of very special migrants from Papua New Guinea, birds that have a short migration window and which visit our shores for a few months only.
Overview: 

(TWO PLACES LEFT) This eight-day tour is designed to target far North Queensland in the Wet Season where we have the best chance of a small number of very special migrants from Papua New Guinea, birds that have a short migration window and which visit our shores for a few months only.

We take in the lowland rainforests of the incomparable Kituni-Payamu (Iron Range National Park), followed by a couple of days in the Wet Tropics, just inland from Port Douglas.

The birds we will be seeking in Kituni-Payamu are the Red-bellied Pitta, Black-winged Monarch and Buff-breasted Paradise-kingfisher. The kingfisher can also be found in the Wet Tropics further south and we’ll have a chance for them there too. Of course, there is a suite of additional amazing birds in this region that we’ll also target, like Palm Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Magnificent Riflebird, Frill-necked Monarch, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Trumpet Manucode and Northern Scrub-robin, to name a few. Several of the species at the tip of Cape York occur no further south, as well as in Papua New Guinea, and represent an ancient avifauna that harks back to the last Ice Age, when there was a land bridge between Australia and PNG.

Around the Wet Tropics area our main target is Blue-faced Parrot-finch, at that time of year found in the highland rainforests. Here we will also look for other high-altitude specialties like Golden Bowerbird, Victoria’s Riflebird, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Bridled Honeyeater and Fernwren, amongst others.

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

Inala Cape York/Wet Tropics  Queensland - Wet season specialties (Fly up, fly back)

7-14 February 2022

(TWO PLACES LEFT)

This eight-day tour is designed to target far North Queensland in the Wet Season where we have the best chance of a small number of very special migrants from Papua New Guinea, birds that have a short migration window and which visit our shores for a few months only.

We take in the lowland rainforests of the incomparable Kituni-Payamu (Iron Range National Park), followed by a couple of days in the Wet Tropics, just inland from Port Douglas.

The birds we will be seeking in Kituni-Payamu are the Red-bellied Pitta, Black-winged Monarch and Buff-breasted Paradise-kingfisher. The kingfisher can also be found in the Wet Tropics further south and we’ll have a chance for them there too. Of course, there is a suite of additional amazing birds in this region that we’ll also target, like Palm Cockatoo, Eclectus Parrot, Magnificent Riflebird, Frill-necked Monarch, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Trumpet Manucode and Northern Scrub-robin, to name a few. Several of the species at the tip of Cape York occur no further south, as well as in Papua New Guinea, and represent an ancient avifauna that harks back to the last Ice Age, when there was a land bridge between Australia and PNG.

Around the Wet Tropics area our main target is Blue-faced Parrot-finch, at that time of year found in the highland rainforests. Here we will also look for other high-altitude specialties like Golden Bowerbird, Victoria’s Riflebird, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Bridled Honeyeater and Fernwren, amongst others.

ITINERARY OUTLINE:

Day 1. Mon 7 Feb 22. Arrive Cairns.
Day 2. Tue 8 Feb 22. Fly Cairns to Lockhart River, Iron Range NP.
Day 3. Wed 9 Feb 22. Iron Range NP.
Day 4. Thu 10 Feb 22. Iron Range NP.
Day 5 Fri 11 Feb 22. Iron Range NP. Fly Lockhart River to Cairns.
Day 6 Sat 12 Feb 22. Cairns to Atherton Tablelands
Day 7. Sun 13 Feb 22. Atherton and Windsor Tablelands.
Day 8. Mon 14 Feb 22. Atherton Tablelands to Cairns and depart. 

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 1. Mon 7 Feb 22. Arrive Cairns.
We will meet in Cairns this afternoon and check in to our accommodation. If time allows, we can have a look along the Esplanade for shorebirds and other tropical species. In the evening we will enjoy dinner at a local restaurant before retiring early in readiness for the flight to Lockhart River the next day.
Accommodation: Cairns hotel (en suite rooms). Meals included: D

Day 2. Tue 8 Feb 22. Fly Cairns to Lockhart River, Iron Range National Park (Kituni-Payamu).
This morning we will board a flight to Lockhart River on the boundary of one of Australia’s most treasured, yet remote, birding destinations: Kituni-Payamu , which is home to a host of range restricted species found nowhere else in the country. On arrival we will collect our vehicle and settle into our accommodation. If time allows, we’ll head off into the national park for a look around, hopefully picking up a few birds including Black-winged Monarch, Trumpet Manucode, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, Yellow-billed Kingfisher and hopefully, hear a Red-bellied Pitta calling.
Accommodation: Portland Roads House (shared toilet/bathroom).  Meals included: B, L, D.

Day 3 & 4. Wed 9 & Thur 10 Feb 22. Kituni-Payamu.
We have 2 full days to search the environs of the Iron Range NP, searching for the migrant Red-bellied Pitta, Black-winged Monarch & Buff-breasted Paradise-kingfishers. Other specialties of the area include Magnificent Riflebird, Noisy Scrub-robin, Palm Cockatoo, Red-cheeked & Eclectus Parrots, Trumpet Manucode, Black-eared Catbird, Frill-necked Monarch, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, Green-backed, Cryptic, Tawny-breasted & White-streaked Honeyeaters, White-faced Robin, Yellow-legged Flyrobin, Tropical Scrubwren, Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Double-eyed Fig-parrot (race marshalli), Noisy Pitta, Fairy Gerygone (race personata), Spectacled Monarch (race albiventer), Shining Flycatcher, Pied Heron, Black-naped, Sooty & Lesser Crested Terns, Great & Lesser Frigatebird and Spotted Whistling-duck.

At night we’ll try for a few night-birds like Marbled Frogmouth, Large-tailed Nightjar and Rufous Owl, as well as some mammals found nowhere else but here and PNG, such as Common Cuscus and Spotted Cuscus. The incredible Green Tree Python is also a possibility in the rainforest, as well as Spotted Python, Amethystine Python, Brown-headed Snake and Orange-naped Snake.
Accommodation: Portland Roads House (shared toilet/bathroom) for 2 additional nights.  Meals included: B, L, D each day.

Day 5 Fri 11 Feb 22. Kituni-Payamu. Fly Lockhart River to Cairns.  
According to current flight schedules, we should have some more time in the morning to do a bit of catch up birding if we are still missing any of the targets before we catch our flight back to Cairns. We’ll spend the night in a Cairns hotel.
Accommodation:  Cairns (en suite rooms).  Meals included: B, L, D.

Days 6 & 7. Sat 12 & Sun 13 Feb 2022. Atherton and Windsor Tablelands.
Today we’ll head up onto the Tablelands ‘behind’ Cairns. We’ll look for birds en route and head up into some high attitude rainforest to target Blue-faced Parrot-finch, as well as Victoria’s Riflebird, Golden Bowerbird, Fernwren, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Atherton Scrubwren, Bower’s Shrike-thrush, Pied Monarch, Mountain Thornbill, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Bridled Honeyeater, Spotted Catbird, Lovely Fairywren and Macleay’s Honeyeater. Other species in the area include Pale-vented Bush-hen, Red-necked Crake, Double-eyed Fig-parrot (race macleayana), Barred Cuckoo-shrike, Cotton & Green Pygmy-goose, White-browed Crake, Great Bowerbird, Northern Fantail, Black Bittern, Grey Whistler, Black-faced, Spectacled & White-eared Monarchs and White-cheeked, Lewin’s, Scarlet, White-throated & Brown-backed Honeyeaters.

At night we can try for Lesser Sooty Owl and possibly the rainforest-inhabiting lurida race of Australian Boobook, known as Little Red Boobook. Nocturnal mammals include a range of different possums like Green Ringtail, Striped, Lemuroid, Herbert River Ringtail Possums and Long-tailed Pygmy-possum, and gliders such as Yellow-bellied and Sugar Glider.
Accommodation: Atherton Tablelands for 2 nights (en suite cabins). Meals included: B, L, D each day.

Day 8. Sun 14 Feb 2022. Atherton Tablelands to Cairns and depart.
This morning we will have time for more early morning birding for any targets we may still need to chase down, before we head back to Cairns, arriving around midday where the tour will end. Flights may be booked from 13:00 today (not included in tour price). Accommodation: none. Meals included: B.

 PRICING AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Tour Price: AU$ 6,100 per person for a group size of 4 participants with one specialist guide/driver in one 4WD vehicle.

Single supplement: AU$470.

Price includes: All accommodation as per the itinerary, specialist guide and transport, return flight between  Cairns to Lockhart River, all meals, entrance fees and activities as mentioned in the above itinerary. Includes GST.

Price does not include: Airfares other than the Cairns - Lockhart River return flights, airport transfers, alcoholic beverages, snacks, internet, tips, laundry or other items of a personal nature.

Please note: 

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.

Click here for a separate online doc that answers many of the frequently asked questions about Small Group Tours.

( This report is from a similar area of the state, but not all locations match exactly )

Inala’s Cape York ( Fly Up - Drive Back ) Queensland Tour Trip report  8-15 June 2021
Guided and written by Steve Davidson, Inala Nature Tours 

The 8-day tour across the incomparable lowland rainforests of Iron Range National Park and onto the vast Cape York Peninsula was nothing less than a complete success, with multiple targets achieved and a plethora of other critters out and about to assault the senses. The tour commenced at Lockhart River airfield, with the group having caught a flight from Cairns early on the 8th June.

Trip summary

Day 1. Tue 8 June 21. Fly Cairns to Lockhart River.
Day 2. Wed 9 June 21. Lockhart River.
Day 3. Thu 10 June 21. Lockhart River.
Day 4. Fri 11 June 21. Lockhart River.
Day 5. Sat 12 June 21. Lockhart River to Musgrave.
Day 6.  Sun 13 June 21. Musgrave-Lakefield National Park
Day 7. Mon 14 June 21. Musgrave to Cairns.
Day 8. Tue 15 June 21. Depart Cairns.

Day 1. Tuesday 8 June 2021 and our intrepid band of five hit the ground running. With bags dumped we set off, starting our birding in some vine scrub alongside a tropical lagoon, picking up the first of our Iron Range endemics in the form of Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, a pair of the astonishing Frill-necked Monarch, singing White-streaked Honeyeater, and a brief but unsatisfying view of a Yellow-billed Kingfisher as it left the premises. We saw a female Cicadabird here also, our only one of the trip, as well as Azure Kingfisher, Fairy Gerygone, Lemon-bellied Flyrobin and a beautiful male Shining Flycatcher.

After a midday break, we moved into the rainforest of Iron Range NP proper, which gave us incredible views of a pair of Double-eyed Fig-parrot feeding on cauliflorous figs on the trunk of a roadside Cape Fig, Ficus nodosa. They were quite unconcerned by our close presence and continued to munch away. As we drove slowly through what can only be described as a little bit of paradise, we started picking up a few more of the special birds here, with fly-over Eclectus Parrot, Red-cheeked Parrot, Tawny-breasted Honeyeater, Cryptic Honeyeater, Yellow-breasted Boatbill and Orange-footed Scrubfowl. Northern Scrub-robin called from deep within the forest but was loathe to present itself. Dinner at Out of the Blue Café in Portland Roads is as always, an amazing experience, both gastronomically and visually; the sun setting over the Coral Sea was just beautiful. Our night drive back to our accommodation was punctuated by multiple sightings of Papuan Frogmouth, a Sugar Glider and best of all a Large-tailed Nightjar, perched up nicely in the spotlight.

Day 2 Wednesday 9 June 2021 saw us back into the rainforest, and early morning as always, produced the most activity. In our first couple of hours, we saw an incredible male Magnificent Riflebird feeding close to the roadside in a fruiting tree, Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, a party of four Green-backed Honeyeater, Yellow-legged Flycatcher, Rufous Shrike-thrush, Little Bronze-cuckoo, Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, Varied Triller, Black Butcherbird, Spectacled Monarch, Wompoo Fruit-dove and 3 separate Yellow-billed Kingfishers which unfortunately were heard only.

Down at Lockhart River township there was a lovely adult Brahminy Kite, plus nesting Eastern Osprey way up in the telecom tower, Large Sand-plover, Lesser Sand-plover and Red-capped Plover down on tidal flats, while Lesser Crested, Gull-billed and Great Crested Terns loafed on the rocks.

Later in the day we stopped en route to Portland Roads again at a nearby campground, and had Eastern Reef Egret, Bar-shouldered Dove and Sacred Kingfisher on the offshore rocks. Just out to sea past those very rocks was a big feeding flock of birds consisting of Brown Booby, Common Noddy, Sooty Tern and Black-naped Tern. A Lesser Frigatebird pirated its way through at one point, chasing a Great Crested Tern. At nearby Chilli Creek we had brief views of a Palm Cockatoo. Once again dinner at the Portland Roads Café was no less than sumptuous…

Day 3. Thursday 10 June 2021 started super early with a visit to the site we’d heard the Northern Scrub-robin previously. The plan was to sit tight and wait and see if the robin would go about its normal early morning activities on the forest floor and thus allow us unfettered views.  The plan worked, with the result being an amazing experience for us observers of an adult Northern Scrub-robin mere metres away, allowing incredible looks at this normally extremely difficult species. Also here was a pair of impossibly cute White-faced Robin and more views of Yellow-legged Flycatcher.

Trumpet Manucode called off in the middle distance, a phenomenon that was to become ominously repetitive… Later that afternoon we had our first Tropical Scrubwrens in the rainforest understorey, plus a reasonably good view of a pair of Eclectus Parrots nest prospecting.

That night a gobbling and clacking Marbled Frogmouth was eventually located with the spotlight, allowing some great views as it sat there glowering.

Day 4 Friday 11 June 2021 involved a somewhat subdued program as some low-level cloud and accompanying drizzle & rain had set in, which stymied our efforts somewhat. We did, however, see another Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, as well as the amazing sight of a pair of Red-cheeked Parrot that chose to land right in the gardens at Iron Range Cabins just as we finished lunch, merely 10 metres away from us. These are tough birds to get at the best of times, so this was particularly rewarding.

At night we tried a bit more spotlighting, but the rain meant we had to beat a hasty retreat despite an Australian Owlet-nightjar calling not too far off in the scrub.

Day 5 Saturday 12 June 2021 saw us back for one last try for Yellow-billed Kingfisher. This failed to materialize, however there was a lone Spotted Whistling-duck and a pair of Radjah Shelduck at the lagoon, which was a pleasant surprise. It was time to make our way out of the national park, head inland to the Peninsula Development Road and then south. As we passed over the Iron Range itself we had the bizarre sight of a trio of Great Frigatebird soaring high overhead on thermals. A little further on we saw our first Black-backed Butcherbird in the drier tropical woodland on the other side of the range. It was a slow old drive and it seemed there was an endless succession of creek crossings and dips, however spurred on by a majestic Australian Bustard crossing the road in front of us we eventually made it to Archer River Roadhouse for lunch, where there were more Spotted Whistling-ducks, a few Plumed Whistling-ducks, Red-winged Parrot, Black-fronted Dotterel, Blue-faced Honeyeater and Intermediate Egret. Pressing on we headed further south, bouncing our way over the rougher parts of the PDR and enjoying the newly minted bitumen when we could. We stopped at Musgrave Roadhouse for a break, before pushing on to our final destination – Artemis Station. No sooner had we met our hosts, dumped our bags and grabbed our bins than we were feasting our eyes on the main attraction here, the incredible Golden-shouldered Parrot. A male and female made a grand appearance for us right on dusk, to end a long and eventful day. Dinner was a rather social and enjoyable event with some great convo and equally great home-cooked food.

Day 6. Sunday 13 June 2021 allowed us a full day to explore the wilds of this art of Cape York Peninsula, and we headed east from Artemis and Musgrave into the vast and amazingly varying Lakefield NP, with an amazing array of habitats ranging from gallery and riparian forest, melaleuca swamps, grassy woodland and tropical wetlands through to vast open grassland plains dotted with a thousand and one termite mounds. Needless to say we made plenty of stops along the way. We go onto some great birds, and in no particular order saw Black-throated Finch, Square-tailed Kite, Black-breasted Buzzard, Black-necked Stork, Little Woodswallow, Red-tailed Black-cockatoo, Comb-crested Jacana, Green Pygmy-goose, Diamond Dove, Red-backed Kingfisher, Bar-breasted, Yellow, & Banded Honeyeaters, Red-backed Fairywren, Magpie Goose and Red-browed Pardalote. Bird of the day had to go to the incredible Red Goshawk though – a fantastic sight as it was first seen chasing lorikeets, then perched in full view for what were eventually walk-away views. A great moment indeed with arguably our rarest raptor.

Back at Artemis that night we once again had a rather uproarious time at dinner, after a beautiful sunset and the added treat of a pair of Ghost Bats flying around at dusk.

Day 7. Monday 14 June 2021, the last day of our tour, started well with our host Sue showing us an active nest of a pair of Golden-shouldered Parrot, replete with 2-3 chicks safely ensconced in their termite mound home. And we once again saw the adult birds nearby with several small parties about the place, including adults and last year’s progeny. Other birds in attendance were Silver-crowned Friarbird, Great Bowerbird, Grey-crowned Babbler, Pale-headed Rosella and both Black-backed Butcherbird and Pied Butcherbird. A fitting way to end our time here at this most amazing property.

Making our way south we picked up our first Wedge-tailed Eagle of the trip. In Julatten we stopped at some flowering eucalypts on the roadside where there was a plethora of different honeyeaters. We quickly picked up Bridled, Lewin’s, Graceful, White-cheeked, Scarlet, Macleay’s and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, as well as some fly-by Scaly-breasted Lorikeets

At Lake Mitchell were several Magpie Geese, Australasian Darter, Australasian Grebe and Little Pied Cormorant.

Sadly, the tour had ended, however after checking into our final hotel stay we toasted its absolute success that night over a pretty fancy Balinese dinner nearby. It had been quite spectacular in terms of the number of birds seen – 175 species no less, which is an above-average haul for this trip. With a few cool mammals and reptiles thrown in, plus some really great company, this tour is one to remember and included one of the guests 600th Australian Bird, a very impressive milestone.

Day 8. Tuesday 15 June 2021 we sadly parted company and went our separate ways.

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