Thursday, 10 October 2013

Chasing Rainforest Chooks

Next stop on our day in the rainforest (see previous post on Daintree River for the early morning river cruise) was Cape Tribulation. We didn't do any dedicated bird-walks here as the weather looked like it was going to turn nasty with dark grey clouds approaching but a quick walk to the lookout over the beach was worth the risk of rain.

Cape Tribulation, Qld

We did manage to find a pair of Orange-footed Scrubfowl scratching for food in the leaf litter around the picnic area and path from the car park to the beach. They were obviously acclimated to humans so they were easy to approach. The dense rainforest vegetation made it very dark so I was shooting at a very low shutter speed (1/25th sec), completely blurring the leg movement.

Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Cape Tribulation Qld

To try and overcome this I fitted the flash and had another attempt.

Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Cape Tribulation Qld

The reflections from the surrounding leaves make the birds plumage look a little weird but it was the best I could manage before the bird wandered deeper into the understorey.

As I was photographing this bird, a busload of tourists arrived and headed for the beach, straight past the bird. The tour guide stopped to watch, opening the conversation with a rhetorical "Chasing chooks, huh?". He informed us that these two were here nearly every day. It's always feels a bit odd being so excited about your first encounter with a new bird when the locals treat them as common pests.

Our next chook chase for the day occurred at the beautiful Mossman Gorge. We arrived there late afternoon, not long before the visitor centre (and shuttle bus) shut down, but decided to have a quick look. We were quickly disappointed that we had not left more time to explore this beautiful place but there are only so many things you can squeeze into a day (we did start at 3:30 AM!) and it's always good to want to come back for more another time. The 1 km walk through the rainforest

Rainforest creek, Mossman Gorge

culminated in views of the spectacular Mossman Gorge.

Mossman Gorge

As I turned around after taking the photograph above, an Australian Brush Turkey walked over the boulder behind me, slowly enough for me to capture one shot.

Australian Brush Turkey

There are 19 species of 'megapods' worldwide and three of them live in Australia--the two photographed today + the Malleefowl that lives in the mallee of the SE and SW. I had never seen the Orange-footed Scrubfowl before today so another life tick and I don't often photograph birds with a 20mm lens so, despite the low number of birds, it was a fun and rewarding day in the tropical rainforest that finished with a view of the coast from Rex Lookout at sunset.

...stay tuned for more rainforest tomorrow...

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