Saturday, June 20, 2009

Holmes Jungle

Today we walked through the Holmes Jungle Nature Park Driving up we saw around thirty black kite circling over a still smoking area of burned bush, and perching in the surrounding trees. As we parked I noticed a raptor at least twice the size of the kites, on the edge of the road. It flew past me into a tree revealing the distinctive tail of a wedge-tailed eagle. It watched us over its shoulder for a moment, before flying off through the thick vegetation with amazing ease.

The area is a monsoon forest, with a walking track that crosses and recrosses Palm Creek. There are a number of distinct habitats from the pandanus groves that revealved tantalising glimpses of red-backed fairywren, to stands of tall palms, dense buttressed fig trees, and open areas of grass and small shrubs.

We heard more birds than we saw, the tops of the trees seemed to be filled with birds including suprisingly a number of ibis and a night-heron. But the picnic area was buzzing with little birds; honeyeaters, and finches.

Headed back to the car, searching the treetops for the source of the birdsong, Fran noticed a Golden Tree Snake just in time to avoid stepping on it. It reared up to hip height, hissing and striking, it's neck flattened to reveal blue skin between its scales. With its golden body and striking chrome head it was a spectacular sight. Not sure Fran appreciated the beauty - she jumped everytime a palm frond brushed her for the rest of the walk. They are solid toothed with no venom at all, but that doesn't stop them being scary.

Bird List:

Black Kite Milvus migrans (pictured above)
Wedge-tailed Eagle Aquila audax
Nankeen Night Heron Nycticorax caledonicus
Straw-necked Ibis Threskiornis spinicollis
Forest Kingfisher Todiramphus macleayii
Red-backed Fairy-wren Malurus melanocephalus
White-lined Honeyeater Meliphaga albilineata
Dusky Honeyeater Myzomela obscura
Mangrove Robin Eopsaltria pulverulenta
Torresian Crow Corvus orru
Crimson Finch Neochmia phaeton

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