Birdwatching at Mt Lewis, Julatten, Queensland
We started our Mt Lewis trip early from Red Mill House in Daintree Village. It wasn't the best place to start from, as it's a bit of a drive, but we weren't able to book anything much closer. Kingfisher Park Birdwatcher's Lodge is at the base of Mt Lewis, and is a better location to start a Mt Lewis trip, but they had limited availability. No matter, though, because we hired the excellent guide Doug Herrington for the day, and we had a great time stopping at some good birding spots between Daintree and Mt Lewis.
Our first stop was at Newell Beach, where we saw some mudskippers, crabs, and a Gray-Tailed Tattler. I didn't get a great photo of the Tattler, as the light was pretty low and it was across the water.
There was a fruiting tree in the parking lot that provided some great views of Australasian Figbirds and a Torresian Imperial-Pigeon. We had seen many of these common birds, which are often refered to as Pied Imperial Pigeons or PIPs.
As we drove through Mossman, we stopped at the Jehovah's Witness Hall and admired the tree next to the road with hundreds of Metallic Starlings that were busy building nests. They're very common birds in Queensland, but for us Americans, they're fun and beautiful birds. After a few days in Australia, though, a bit of the novelty wears off!
We finally made our way up to the clearing at Mt Lewis, and spent some time enjoying the the Spotted Catbirds and a pair of Brown Cuckoo-Doves.
In the area, we saw the Tooth-Billed Bowerbird (Catbird). It was a really neat experience, as we were very close to the bird's bower and it really didn't seem to be that bothered by us. From our Australian experiences with bowerbirds, many of them don't seem to that afraid of humans and they will let you observe them pretty closely.
The day was pretty windy up on Mt Lewis, and that was keeping the birds quiet and out of sight. Later in the day and in a different part of the park, we came to the bower of the Golden Bowerbird.
After waiting at the bower for a few minutes, Doug identified the call of the bird and within a few seconds, it landed on a branch nearby, surveying its area and checking us out. He didn't seem too perturbed. In fact, as I was photographing the lovely bird, he saw a piece of lichen that it fancied behind me and the bird literally flew past me about just three feet away, and I could hear the gentle woooosh of its feathers.
It took the piece of lichen and went back to its bower to carefully add to his giant masterpiece. After a great viewing experience, we quietly left the area to avoid disturbing the bird any more than we already had.
On our way back to the car, we watched a juvenile Grey Fantail being fed by one of its parents next to the trail.
Even though it was windy and difficult birding, we had a great time. We next headed down the mountain with Doug to Julatten to bird at a lower elevation.