Now wending our way home to Melbourne via the coast and then the outback - woohoo! Our last two major birding destinations before we left the Wet Tropics were the TYTO Wetlands in Ingham and the Townsville Common...this is how they worked out for us. The crimson finch is a clue...
In a word, fantastic! The weather in the Tablelands had been unseasonal - often cold and wet (it feels as though 'unseasonal is the new seasonal'). So the warmth and the clear blue skies near the coast were welcome. We tried Etty Beach for the cassowaries, but the day we visited they had other plans. Still, the little beach was a spectacular lunch spot. By evening, we were installed at the Ingham Tourist Park just kilometres from TYTO. Early next morning, we were enjoying the paradise that is TYTO, having been greeted on arrival by two lovely bush stone curlews lurking in the carpark garden.
The weather was perfect, crisp and sunny, and the birds and butterflies were out in force. We managed to photograph many, though to be honest, we are still identifying some of them. That will be a project for a much cooler day back at home. Brrr!
But if we had to single out some favourites then here are out top three TYTO finds: first, the red-backed fairy wren - a lifer for us! This little fellow had found something to match his lovely red feathers.
Second, the kingfishers - there are so many, and they are always so spectacular.
And of course, the crimson finches - just gorgeous and really plentiful. They often hide in and feed in the grass, so often you see them leaving.
If you do get to TYTO, make sure you also go for a walk across the magnificent raised walk way attached to the info centre - plenty of birds and a beautiful lake, also a delightful trainee cafe serving good coffee from a high outdoor deck with a great outlook over the trees and waterways, a gallery and a library. The whole area is a real asset to the town of Ingham, in our opinion.
AND SO TO TOWNSVILLE
We made a point of visiting, having read much about the Common. We stayed nearby in Rows Bay (be warned, the night traffic can be very noisy on Heatleys Parade). But the weather gods smiled upon us once again, and we had a long and rather steamy walk around the Common, starting from Freshwater Walk, across the Lagoon Walk, and over to the coast. It was rather overcast, and the birds were slow to get out of bed, but once they did, they were everywhere.
Two honourable mentions for the day: the drongos were in fine fettle - we have only known about these birds since this trip, and we love their deep dark blue feathers, and their 'fishtails'.
And to finish: a jabiru, now known as the black-necked stork. There he was, enjoying his solitude in the wetlands. And the first we have seen on this trip.
We thought both TYTO and the Common were real jewels in north Queenslands birding crown.