140920 Queensland, Stanthorpe to Ballina

Queensland, Australia 2014-09-05--09-25
140920 dag 16 Saturday
© NF Photos 140920
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Today we are leaving for Ballina at the coast. I have been looking for the Crested pigeon for a long time now. So, this morning I got up early, at 6.00h, before breakfast to see if I could find one. They like cities and we are in a small one. I did find two, but sitting on wires. Having them from below is not that fun. From a photos point of view. On this image there are a Magpie lark and Crested pigeon. The Magpie Lark seem to have something to say.  
After breakfast, at 7.30 we left for visiting Border Range NP. We did get some highlights on the road. Like a King Parrot looking for food on the road. A quick brake let us study him quite well.  But the other birds, miners I think, did not seem to like him much.
We continued to the south part of the park.  

Border Range was nice and the drivers let us off att the highest point. Letting us walk down the slope to the Border Loop Lookout,  listening to the Bell miners. Hearing them was easy. Seeing them much harder not to mention getting a shot. I loved it. Loved the sound ringing all over the forest. When I came home I banned myself for not taking a video. But youtube is a great place to find things like that. I really recommend that you listen to it. Video is at the bottom or the post.
There was some great views from the lookout at the lowest point. An interesting railway circling a mountaintop for one. We made a few short stops along the road as we headed the south route towards the coast and then stopped for lunch in Kyogle. And sharing our lunch with....a House sparrow. It finally turned up! I think I have seen it on every trip I have made across the world.
The image shows the main street in Kyogle, without the sparrow :)

 We continued to the wetlands outside Casino. This place was fun. Beautiful wetland with lots of birds. Dusky Moorhen, ducks, egrets, stilts and  Glossy Ibis. Finally! I have seen them in several countries but never up close. Now I got decent images of them. :)

 After the wetlands we were rather close to Ballina and next nights stay. We had time to visit Flat Rock Beach. A wow place. People fishing, surfing, birding or just strolling. Enjoying their world.

At the motel, Avlon Gardens,  we went through the birdlist in one of the rooms. There was no other place available, We did see a lot of flying foxes when we were outside. But to dark for shots. We had dinner at a nearby club for war veterans. They had really great food.  
There was a coffee machine in the room so I finished the day with a shower, a cup of coffee and a whisky! Tomorrow new adventures await!

Flat Rock Beach

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140919 Queensland Girraween NP, Stanthorpe

Queensland, Australia 2014-09-05--09-25
140919 day 15 Friday
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© NF Photos 140919

Linking up with: Shadow Shot Sunday ( first two images)

Breakfast at 6.30 and then we picked up Glenn. We drove to Girraween NP and spent the most part of the morning there. The park is known for it´s large rock boulders. We saw some of them from the car and during the first part of our walk. In Sweden we say rocks like that are thrown out by a giant in ancient times. This part of the park is mostly dry eucalyptus forest. We saw some birds, lots of rocks and we tried to find a Superb Lyrebird but only saw traces of it.
 The rock on this image I thought of as being an elephant. Seen from behind.

And then our guide was taking a rest while we were looking for birds.
We continued to a wetland. And I was unlucky, I got stuck on a root,  stumbled, ans fell to the ground. Nothing broken or was hurt. Except for my pride of course.  Never happened before. Well, this turned out to be a great little pond with nice waders and other waterfowls. Red-kneed Dotterel  was among them.

We had lunch in a small village, probably Stanthorpe, and we found the library where we could use the toilet. On their lawn was a sign " CAUTION Magpies Active in this area". Had to ask our guide about that. He said that when the magpies are in breeding season they  become quite hostile so people had to be aware of that. The rest of the day we visited different places here and there. I have no idea of where on the map we were.

We were passing a lot of plantations which I think was apple trees. Covered with nets. Probably protection against too many birds. We also made a stop at a mast for phone. That´s where I heard bellfirds the first time.

At the very end of the day se spotted a bird in the setting sun. It was a Australian King-Parrot. More red then ever in the light of the setting sun. Well worthy of being a christmas tree decoration. 
When we was gathering for dinner I stumbled again and fell in the diningroom. Now I was worried. Not good. I did not feel dizzy or anything but remebered the foot being stuck. So I took a look at the shoes. Yea, it was broken. A piece of it was loose and that was the reason why my foot was stuck at something and made me fall.  Next day I changed to another pair and I was good again.
After dinner we went through the bird list in the Motels reception as the diningroom was all occupied with other guests.
I was tired and fell asleep with the computer in my knee. No shower that evening :)

One of the boulders in Girraween NP

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140918 Queensland Cairns-Brisbane-Stanthorpe

Queensland, Australia 2014-09-05--09-25
140918 day 14 Thursday
© NF Photos 140918
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We were picked up at 4.00 for transfer to the airport. The plane for Brisbane was due at 5.30 and landed in Brisbane at 7.30. I had a window seat on the right side overlooking the ocean.  And had the opportunity to enjoy a really gorgeous sunrise. See image at the bottom of  the post.
Our new local guide was waiting for us. The first thing to do was to get two new rented cars. When that was done we was finally on our way. We were now rather hungry. Even me as what was offered on the plane was not much. But we had to get out of Brisbane before we stopped for breakfast.

But,oops, what was in that juice on the plane?  Is it supposed to look like that?
OK, it is now obvious that we are in a much more civilized area. Did not see anything like this in the north.

We are now heading south to Stanthorpe where we will be for two days. That is where our new guide/s are living. A distance of about 200km.
We made a few stops for breakfast, lunch and birding. We found a lot of ducks in the pond to the left but I think there was even more fences. They were all over the place.

This is not a cloud, it is smoke from a fire. It turned out to be a common sight in this area of Queensland.  
After settled in HighStreet Motor Inn, Stanthorpe, and making it quick, we headed out to pick up Glenn. He was the one who should have been our guide for the entire tour but he got sick so it changed the plans. But as this was his home territory he wanted to share it with us. He had made huge plans for us but as we were late it became stressful. Still we were out in different locations until it darkened. We drove Glenn home and went to the Motell for dinner and todays bird list.

 It´s been another long day and it was nice to close the door to be on my own.  Took a shower and uploaded the images as usual. Then bedtime.

Sunrise between Cairns and Brisbane

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140917 Queensland, Coral Reef day

Queensland, Australia 2014-09-05--09-25
140917, day 13 Wednesday
© NF Photos 140917
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Woke up early for breakfast 6.30 and then, at 7, we took a taxi to the harbour and  Seastar Cruises . Bringing bathing suit, towel, sunscreen and whatever would be needed during the day. As we were rather early we had to wait at the harbour before entring the catamaran.
At 8 we left the harbour to go the 40 km trip to MICHAELMAS CAY. It was a smooth trip with almost no waves.
As we are birders they drove our group into the little island so we could check out the birds before we started to scubadive. That little island is a heaven for seabirds. And a sanctuary. We were only allowed to be an a rather small area and the birds on the rest. Some of the birds we encountered: Great Frigatebird , Lesser Frigatebird, Brown Booby, Brown Noody and Sooty Tern.
That was fun.

A pair of Brown Boobis among lots of other birds. So close you have hard to see which one is which. The pair seemed to be in courtship. (?)
Being very nice to each other. Many other of the birds seemed to have nesting instincts going on as well.  Fetching nesting materials, in this case mainly seaweed from what I could see.

After a little more then an hour we were picked up to go to the boat to start diving. That is fun. I choose to swim without safety vest today. It is not really needed as the water is lifting you up. As long as you are careful.

I had my little waterproof camera tied to my wrist so I had fun swimming around trying to see nice things to take shots of. Well, hey, it´s me. Can´t be without the camera. A friend took the image with my other camera back on the boat. The big one is not waterproof. :)

Then somebody came and told me it was time for lunch.  Lunch? Do I have to?

Afterwords I was regretting going up to eat. When I went down to scuba dive  the second time I got cramps in my right calf after only 10 min. And then I could have had use of a safety vest. But I had to go up then. Can´t swim with cramps.

Later on it was time for a tour with the Glassbottom boat at the HASTINGS REEF. Not far away. That was a bit dissapointing. Not much to see really.


Around 3 clock we started the tour back to the harbour and Cairns.

We started to walk back to the hotel passing the park to look for the owl. And now we found it, the Rufous Owl, sitting high up in a tree. It was quite fun as people were stopping wondering what we were looking at. We told them and I also showed my images to some kids so they could find the owl in the tree. Knowing what to search for.

 Later on I was once again stopped at the Esplanade. People were curious about us as we spoke a different language and thought Pelicans are cool birds. :)

There was plenty of time to enjoy the Esplanade, the people and different features along the Espanade. And of course the birds. I also found a skateborad park and it was fun to compare it with the new one in my town. There are some artwork along the Esplanade as well. Loved to check it out.

We finished of the day by going to a restaurant to eat. And then an early night as we are leaving for the airport at 04.00 to go to Brisbane.

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140916 Queensland Lotus bird Lodge to Cairns

Queensland, Australia 2014-09-05--09-25
140916 day 12 Tuesday
© NF Photos 140916
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We had an early cup of coffee at 6.00h.  Then we had a walk the path around the Lagoon while the sun was rising. A very nice walk indeed. Wandering Whistling-Duck in the Lagoon, to the right.

After breakfast, at 8.00, we started our trip back to Cairns. A, roughly, 450 km trip. What was significant today was all roadworks and dust. When we went up north it was weekend and no roadwork. So, a huge difference. Our first stop was in Musgrave to fuel the cars.
And, what is it about litter and rubbish bins???? Really!
We continued south and made a few stops to streach our legs.

This fence and gate makes me wonder how often this gate is used. The tree is growing right throw it.

Seem to be popular to be out walking

This image kind of have it all for todays trip. Roadwork , dust, sunshine . And take a look at the tractors front wheels. I´m not sure I would trust it much. We actually past this place almost driving in the forest to the left. (See explanation in Micks comment below in the comment forms. )

It is hard work today. Lunch in the van is needed. Provided of our hostess in Lotus Bird Lodge.

Later in the afternoon we took a break at a bar. Roadside bar? Was easier to get a drink then having a cup of coffee. And no icecream :(
And, well, can´t help but wonder what happened to this guy.

 Back in Cairns I took a quick walk on the Esplanade before dinner and bed.
Night in Acacia Court Hotel, Cairns.

 Lotus Bird Lodge Lagoon in morning backlight

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140915 Queensland Lakefield NP and Lotus Bird Lodge

Queensland, Australia 2014-09-05--09-25
140915 day 11 Monday
© NF Photos 140915

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I woke up at 05.30 for breakfast at  6.00. And we left for our daytrip at 7.00. The agenda for today was mainly Lakefield NP and Nifold Plains MAP. The main goal of today was to find the rare Golden-shouldered Parrot. Acc to wiki there are only about 2000 individuals left in the wild. They live in open, forrested grassland with lots of Termite mounds they use for ensting in. An interesting bird and reading about it is a good thing. So, our first stop for the day was at a grassland with termites and eucalyptus trees. It did not take long before we found some of them. And also Galah on the forest floor. To the left.

Golden-shouldered Parrot
 Back on the road one of us with sharp eyes noted a nest in a tree. Three cars stopped. A Red Goshawk was sitting on a nest. I can´t help bur wonder what the birds think of us birders. We had to circle the tree to get a view of it´s head. This one is rare s well.  :)
We also saw some emu but I have better shots another day. And a widl boar, and today the birdguide did not dare to run it over as he did yesterday. Yesterday he tried to run over a piglet with a rented car full of Swedish tourists. Maybe I should not mention it but it pissed me off and it IS a part of the trip.  He said he did not like them as they eat birds eggs. But that is a bad excuse.
From the eucalyptus forest we headed to the Nifold Plains, a vast area of grass and antshills. There was also a small wetland and we spent some time there. Lots of  Termite mounds, cows, butterflies and birds. Loved it. There was several kinds of mounds in the area. Some sharp and pointy and others looking like fat little men. And they differed in colors too. :)

It is me on the image above so you can see the size of the mound.
Not much shades for the poor cows. So many gathering below the small trees.
It was hot so we drove back to the lodge to chill off a little. I took the opportunity to check out the Lotus Lagoon and it´s birds. There was lots of Comb-crested Jacana. They are both cool and beautiful. They must have the longest feet ever. :)
The Annie River
We also payed a visit to the Annie River. You could feel in the air  that we were close to the ocean. And we walked among the mangrove. It was also a place were people camped. A few seemed to actually live there.
Back to Lotus Bird Lodge rather late but in time for dinner. We were served a real feast. Fresh and nice seafood. Everyone exept for me and one other enjoyed it. I´m no fish person so I had steak.
After another long and dusty day it was great to go in the shower. Have to pack again as we go back south tomorrow. Back to Cairns. For another treat, the Coral Reefs. :)

Driving on very dusty roads. I did see a sign saying "STOP HERE  to drop dust before entering the city." I think that says it all. I think it was close to Musgrave Roadhouse when we went there to refuel. Below, dusty road with several warning signs for flooding. The creek approximately where the car is. The world of opposites.

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