Tuesday Afternoon


I’m staying in Daintree Village, but I am typing this in a sort of coffee shop in Mossman, which is about a half hour south of Daintree Village.  Read on to find out why, but in the meantime, let’s flash back to Monday morning, leaving Cairns.


As I mentioned in the last Ramblings, my birdingpal, John, had offered to take me out again on Monday morning.  It would have been a great opportunity, but I’m glad I passed on it.  I needed some time on my own, and another early morning would not have helped me any.  I got on the road by about 9 or so, and headed north, up the coast.  I had a ham and cheese sandwich (naturally) before I left, but just to be sure I wouldn’t starve, I also stopped at a Mickey D’s and got an egg and bacon McMuffin, just north of Cairns.  I also went through a drive through “bottle shop” and picked up another bottle of Over-Proof Bundaberg rum.  I think that New Orleans is the only place in the US that I have seen drive through liquor stores, but there are probably ones in other states, too.


It was a very pretty and very pleasant drive up the coast.  Some of the time, the road is by the ocean, and sometimes it goes inland.  There are a lot of sugar cane fields along the way.  To the west are “mountains”, and it is all very green and beautiful.  I’m not sure that I took any pictures, but I should have.  I checked out the little beach town of Newell Beach, looking for Barn Swallows, which aren’t very common over here.  I didn’t see any, but they may not have come back yet this spring.  They migrate to and from the islands and places north of Australia.


Outside of Newell Beach, I did see some swallow-like birds flying around, and I stopped to look at them.  It was hard to tell which of two species they were – Fairy Martins or Tree Martins, but I finally decided they were Tree Martins, which was a trip bird for me.   I thought I might well get skunked on Monday, so it was good to see them.


I got into Daintree Village before noon, which was too early to check into my B&B.  Their website says 2 PM check in, so I got a steakburger and chips in the village and hung out for a while.  After I ate, I drove on a gravel road that goes up a valley north of the village, and it was very beautiful.  I do have pictures of that valley, with lots of cows and lots of green pastures.  There were a few birds along the way, but nothing new for me.


Shortly after 2, I checked into my new digs, Red Mill House B&B.  The owners, Andrew and Trish, are birders, and it is well known among Aussie birders.  They have about an acre and a half of land, and it is nicely landscaped with native trees and plants, so it gets a lot of bird action.  There are 4 or 5 guest rooms, and I have an upstairs one.  Before I could even get my stuff moved up to my room, Andrew was calling me over to look through his scope at an Azure Kingfisher.  It is a beautiful little bird, and a trip bird for me.  That was my last one of the day, though, so I added two trip birds yesterday, but no lifers.


It was hot.  I was dripping with sweat after three trips up and down the stairs, moving my stuff in.  My room has a nice shared balcony (veranda to them) in front of it, and there was a small breeze, so I sat out there, but it was hot.  They have air conditioning, which I had been really looking forward to, but they are into lessening their “carbon footprint” and other things “green”, and they ask that the guests not use the a/c “unless they really have to”.  Bummer.  I had really been looking forward to having a/c.  I gave in to the social pressure, though, and didn’t use it all afternoon and evening.  It was in the mid-80’s and very humid, so I was hot all day.  Today is even hotter, in the 90’s, and just as humid, which is not unconnected to the fact that I am writing this in a coffee shop a half hour down the road, but more on that later.


So, the a/c situation was the bad news.  The good news was that they have a wireless network, so I could have internet access in my room or on the veranda (with battery power).  I did take advantage of that for the rest of the day, doing email and catching up on some web stuff.


When the time came, I had my Bundy rum and orange-mango juice drink.  There was actually ice in the guest refrigerator, to my surprise.  They said they get a lot of international visitors, and ice is often requested, so they provide it.  The second piece of good news.


Red Mill House is a very nice B&B (other than the a/c policy, and I respect their decision to be as green as possible).  Andrew and Trish are very helpful with regards to setting things up for their guests and giving advice about birds and other activities.  Through them, I had booked an early morning river trip (two hours) with a well known operator who is very knowledgeable about birds, and I had also booked a two hour afternoon nature walk on a property just outside the village – both for today, Tuesday.


As it turned out, the river cruise guy canceled his trip today, and so Andrew and Trish had booked me with another operator for the same type trip, at the same time – 6:30 am.  We also talked about the nature walk, and I decided that I wasn’t really up to a two hour walk in the afternoon heat, so we re-scheduled it for Wednesday morning at 7:30, which would be cooler, theoretically.


For dinner last night, I just had some peanut butter and cheese on bread.  When it is so hot, I am not nearly as hungry, which is just as well, of course.  I had had some nuts with my drink and my beer, too.  There are a couple of nice little restaurants in the village, in easy walking distance, even for me, but they are not air conditioned, and it was just too damn hot for me to want to eat out.  As I have indicated before, I don’t like sitting alone in a restaurant, waiting for my dinner, either, and service is usually very slow over here.


I turned in at 9:30, but it was just too hot for me to sleep.  It was “only” 78 in my room, but with the humidity at 100% or damn close, it was too much for me.  I gave up and turned on the a/c and it got down to about 70 fairly quickly, and I slept fairly well.  In addition to being cooler, the air conditioner takes the moisture out of the air, too, so it was really a lot more comfortable.  I’m sure I will use the a/c again tonight, and I might even turn it on earlier in the evening, since it is so much hotter today.  We will see.


So, I got up about 5, so I could be ready to leave for the boat cruise place at 6:15.  There is a family of three staying in the unit below mine, and they were also booked for the cruise.  They had offered to give me a lift over there, but I decided to take my own car, in case I saw an interesting bird on the way back.  Brekkie was served after the cruise, so we all had to be back at Red Mill House anyway.


I really enjoyed the cruise.  It wasn’t too hot out on the river, so I was comfortable.  I deliberately didn’t take my medications before we went, because one of them is a diuretic, and I had to go two hours on the boat.  That worked out fine.  The boat could carry ten passengers, and all the seats were occupied.  Our host, “Sauce” (I’ll skip the story of his nickname), was very knowledgeable and very interesting and also very likable.  We started out on Barratt Creek and went upstream for a while, then back downstream to the Daintree River, where we went a little downstream and then a bit upstream.  Sauce knew just where to look for birds, and he found a number of them.  He also talked about various plants, but he seemed to spend a lot of time on birds, which was great for me.  I don’t think any of the other passengers were birders, but they were all interested in seeing the birds.  I got some great pictures of the river and of birds, I hope.


Before we left the dock area, Sauce pointed out a Wompoo Fruit-Dove on a nest, and that was a lifer for me, before 6:30 in the morning.  Excellent start.  We saw two Great-billed Herons having what appeared to be a territorial dispute.  I hope I got some good pictures.  They are quite uncommon birds, and they aren’t usually seen on a morning cruise, but we were lucky.  They were making an incredible noise at each other.  It sounded like a crocodile more than a bird.  They are very large birds.  Later we saw several Shining Flycatchers, which was another trip bird for me.  All in all, the river cruise was very enjoyable, and I got three birds, two of which were lifers.  I was satisfied.


After our nice brekkie on the veranda, back at the B&B, I was really overheated.  I had a cold shower, which helped for a while, and I did some internet stuff, including connecting with Christina for an Instant Message session, which was nice.  It just kept heating up all morning, and at about 10:30, I decided I was hot and uncomfortable enough to try the swimming pool.  It did indeed feel really great to get into the water.  I stayed in until I was completely cooled down, and then got out and wrote in my journal by the pool.  I stayed comfortable after that for about an hour, I think, which was nice.


While sitting out on my veranda, I picked up Yellow-spotted Honeyeater, too, a lifer.  I didn’t think I would get it, especially without help, because it looks very much like the Graceful Honeyeater.  People tell them apart by their calls.  Well, I had learned the Graceful Honeyeaters call, which is easy to remember, and this bird made a different call when I was looking at it, so I knew it was a Yellow-spotted.  The Old Rambler is getting to be a better Aussie birder, identifying birds by their calls now.


Finally it was getting to be lunch time, and my clock/thermometer said it was 95 on the veranda.  I decided to head south to Mossman and see what I could find to eat.  I had hoped to find an air conditioned place, but I settled for this coffee shop, which is not air conditioned, but has a nice fan blowing.  It was comfortable in here when I got here, but seems a lot hotter now.  Maybe I have just been heating up.  Pretty soon I need to wrap this up and get back into the air conditioned car.  I plan to go back to Red Mill House and use the pool again, to cool down.  If I can cool down and then read by the pool for 30 or 40 minutes before heating up again, I can repeat the dip in the pool and get through the rest of the afternoon.  In this heat, I don’t care about birds; I only want to cool off.  By the way, I canceled the two hour walk tomorrow morning, on the basis that I just can’t do it in this heat.  Andrew and Trish were very understanding.  I wonder if they will be as understanding if I turn on my a/c at about 6 or 7 tonight.


I expect I will have some kind of “dinner” in again tonight.  I have some cheese and a couple of tuna lunch packs.  I’ll pick up some dessert, and I will be set.


I’ll see if I can put this up to the web site when I get back, too.  My next stop is Kingfisher Park Lodge.  It is very much a birders place.  I have a paid bird guide taking me out Thursday morning, so that should be productive for birds.  Kingfisher Park is up at an elevation of about 1500 feet, I think, so I am hoping it will be cooler there.  No a/c, for sure.  Andrew said it would be hotter up there, but I don’t believe it.  We will see.


So, there is my latest report. I had hoped to get another Photos up, and I am eager to see my pictures from the boat trip, but it is just too damn hot to think about that now.


Barry Downunder, sweating it out


Before I left Mossman, I went into Woolworths and picked up some dessert and a helping of chicken and bacon pasta salad for my dinner, so I’m all set now.  It had cooled down a lot here on the veranda when I got back, so I am typing this there, and I will get it up in a few minutes.  It was 95 out here when I left at about 1 PM.  I think the sun shining on the roof heated it like an oven.  It was only 83 when I got back, with a nice breeze.   I think I will still take a dip in the pool after I get this up, though.   I would really like to get the next Photos up, but I would have to run the a/c to do that tonight.  We will see.