Wednesday Night

Cassowary House, Kuranda


I have moved on now, to a well-known birders accommodation place.† It is called Cassowary House, but I donít really expect to see cassowaries, here.† I donít need to, though, as I saw four different ones in Mission Beach.† I am somewhat disappointed, though, because there was supposed to be wireless internet access here, but it turns out that it is broken at the moment.


I got here about 1:30, and got settled into my room.† I signed up for dinner and brekkie, so I donít have to worry about feeding myself here.† I only have a single bed to sleep in, but I knew that coming in, so it wasnít a surprise.† The bed is an inch or so longer than I am, so that should be marginally OK.† It is very firm, though, and I donít know how I will do in a single bed, with my rather large body.† There isnít any air conditioning, but I knew that too.† I have a sink and shower in a little alcove, but the toilet is in a tiny room off the balcony, with a door that I have to duck to get through, which is interesting.† Taking a leak in the middle of the night will be an adventure.† Maybe it would be easier to just go off the balcony, but that probably wouldnít be very polite.† ††


We are in a rainforest here (again Ė I have spent a lot of time in rainforests on this trip) at an elevation of about 1000 feet.† It was about 80 degrees when I got here, but it must be very humid, because I started sweating and just couldnít stop.† I tried a little birding in the rainforest, after getting my stuff moved in (upstairs again, more exercise for the old guy, in the heat), but I didnít see anything, and the sweat was just running off me.† So, I went out and about, more about that later.


When I got here, the hostess, Sue (same name as the last hostess) was defrosting the fridge.† There were actually ice cubes when I got here, but by the time I needed them, they were water.† I think the fridge still thinks it is on defrost.† I have tried to tell it otherwise, but it doesnít seem to be getting cold.† Oh well, so I had my Bundy rum and orange-mango juice without ice.† It still tasted good.† My beer is not cold, but I can live with that, too.


Time to go down to dinner, Iíll continue here when I have eaten.† Dinner is down on the main house veranda, not in my room, as I would have preferred.† It is down to 76 in here now, so it should be fine tonight for sleeping.


OK, back from my dinner with Phil and Sue.† It was nice to eat with them and have some conversation.† Shepherdís pie, one of my favorites.† Yum.† Sue made an attempt to get my refrigerator running, too, so maybe my fridge stuff will survive the night.† It is about 74 degrees in my room now, with a nice little breeze.† Feels good.


So, after I gave up on my rainforest birding here this afternoon, I went on in to the local village of Kuranda, to look for internet access.† It is an unbelievably touristy little place, chock-a-block full of shops and tea rooms and restaurants I wouldnít be caught dead in.† There is a ďSkyrailĒ ride you can take from down at sea level, to get here, like the Disneyland Skyway ride, or you can take the train.† In addition, the tour busses seem to pour in, full of tourists who want to browse around through the little shops.† Not my cup of tea, but Iím sure that many, if not most, of the visitors love it.† I went to the Tourist Information place and asked about Internet Access.† The woman there told me about a place, but I couldnít understand her accent.† Later I decided it was ďArt Co-opĒ that she was saying.† She also mentioned the library, so I went there.† I couldnít hook up with my own computer, of course, but I was able to check email and send a couple of emails.† Christina had emailed me that my Ramglings22 wasnít working right, so I looked into that.† I saw that I had made a mistake, and it wasnít immediately obvious how I could correct with the library computer, but I actually found a way, which I am proud of.† With anything about computers, there are always several ways to do anything, and I found a way to fix the problem with Ramblings22, I think.


After that, I went down to the river, in the hopes of seeing a bird that I had heard was down there.† That involved more downhill and uphill walking than I am used to, but it was no doubt good for me.† In the process, I saw the people lined up for the Skyrail (the last train of the day had left by then), and it looked like people in line for a ride at Disneyland.† Definitely not my thing, although the ride would no doubt be very interesting.† It must be several miles long, over rainforest, and I think there are a couple of stops, where you can get off and read informative stuff about the rainforest.† There may be shopping opportunities at those stops, too, I donít know.† One popular thing to do is to take the Skyway in one direction and the train in the other direction.† Just not my kind of thing to do, and I am probably the poorer for it.


After that bit of exercise (I didnít see the bird I was looking for down by the river), I drove on out to an outlook to a waterfall, Barron Falls.† Pictures to follow, eventually.† I got some pictures of the Skyrail ride as well, across the valley.† It was cooling down a bit by then, and my time in the car with the a/c cranked up was helping me, too, so I headed back to my humble lodgings.† That is when I discovered that the ice in the fridge had turned to water, so I had my drink without ice, and my beer kind of not very cold. †


I saw a bird in the garden at that time, too, and it was definitely one of two species that look very much alike Ė Yellow-spotted Honeyeater and Graceful Honeyeater.† Either one would be a lifer for me.† I heard the call, though, and based on the description of the call in the books (and confirmed at dinner with Phil, who is a professional bird guide) it was a Graceful Honeyeater.†† I was concerned that I might not see any new birds here, so I had stopped in Cairns as I went through, and picked up a couple of easy shore birds, just so I wouldnít be shut out today.†† To keep my streak alive, in other words.† There will be 6 or 8 or 10 other new birds to get on the Cairns Esplanade (the shoreline street), but I will add them in a day or two, or maybe three.† There will be more about Cairns and the Esplanade when I am there, I hope.


So three new trip birds today, with one of them a lifer.† I was hoping for more here at Cassowary House, but I donít think it is going to happen.† Iíll go out in the morning, if I can get going early enough, but I donít have any expectations.† Brekkie is at 8, though, so I will have a little time in the morning, if I can get going early enough.† After brekkie, I will head back down to the coast, and get checked in to my Cairns apartment as early as they will let me.† I am supposed to have air conditioning, a full kitchen, and broadband access in my room.† I am planning four nights there, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that it works out as I expect.† Some things have gone a little differently than I expected on this trip, so Iím not counting my chickens before they hatch, here.† I hope to put this up from there, as I wonít have access before then, unless I decide to try the Arts Co-op in the village.


I have two Aussie birders lined up to take me out birding in Cairns, and I am looking forward very much to that.† I expect to add significantly to my lists, with their help.† I hope they are still available to take me out.† I am on my own on Thursday and Friday, though, so I hope to hit some of the birding hotspots on my own, on those days.† I have a long list of places to go around Cairns, so I wonít run out of places, Iím sure.† On Saturday morning, I am supposed to turn in my rental car and pick up another one, from a different company (it has to do with insurance coverage via my credit card Ė they limit coverage to rentals of less than 30 days, in a foreign country, so I am doing two rentals, and I decided to use two rental companies, to be safe).† After that, I am supposed to meet my first ďBirding PalĒ in Cairns.†† I hope he can help me with the identification of waders (shore birds) on the Esplanade.


Barry Downunder, without internet access in my room for the fourth night in a row, and feeling deprived


Thursday Evening, Cairns


I slept ok, although I wouldnít want to sleep on that single bed any more than I had to.† The temperature in the room was down to 70 degrees by the morning.† I was up at about 6:15 and after my morning ablutions, I went out and walked around the yard and nearby areas.† I did eventually see a few birds, including much better looks at the Graceful Honeyeater that I had seen yesterday afternoon, but nothing new at that time.† I saw a couple of Dusky Kangaroo-Rats, briefly, and saw a couple more a lot closer while at breakfast.† Cute little things, even if they did have tails like rats, with no hair. †I also got very good looks at Dusky Honeyeater, which I had seen at a distance with Ken, way back at the beginning of the trip.


At brekkie, on the veranda of the main house (my room was in a separate building), there were some birds at the feeders, and a couple of Emerald Doves came in, at different times, while I was there Ė a lifer for me, at brekkie.† A good start to the day.


After breakfast, as I was loading the car and getting ready to go, Phil offered to try to show me a Superb Fruit-dove, which would be a lifer for me.† They had been calling all around the house, but I couldnít ever see one.† They tend to be in the tops of tall trees.† I jumped at the chance, of course, and we tried for two or three of them, around the house, searching for them based on where the calls were coming from.† We tried for ten or fifteen minutes, and finally Phil was able to spot one, but before I could get my binoculars on it, it flew.† Typical.†† We tried for another one, and we knew which tree it was in, but neither of us could see it.† We must have spent ten minutes on just that one bird, and finally, just as I was thanking Phil and was ready to give up, he got onto it.† This time it stayed, and I was able to see it, too.† Not the greatest look in the world, but plenty good enough to identify it.† So, with two lifers under my belt, I set off for my day, with the plan of ending up in Cairns (only about 40 minutes away) by the afternoon.† I had a couple of places in mind, to stop on the way.


Iíll continue the story in the next installment, to be posted from Cairns.