We were on the Daintree River in Queensland Australia on a sunrise boat cruise. The guide, also the boat captain, loved sharing what he had seen over his many years cruising the Daintree.
It was called a boat cruise, but really it was a boat ride in a motorboat with five of us and Ian, the guide.
We were in the Daintree Rainforest, a part of the Wet Tropics of Queensland, a World Heritage Site where there are a whopping 430 bird species. See map at end.
All of the bird photos in this post are species we saw on our Daintree River cruise.
This spangled drongo was interesting to watch because it could perch upright via its intricate tail. Drongos are known for their unique upright stance.
River cruises are great for seeing water birds and other river denizens.
This pied cormorant perched on a tree snag with its webbed feet.
Sea eagles were abundant, for although we were in a rainforest, the Coral Sea is nearby. The Coral Sea is home to the Great Barrier Reef.
One of those Australian birds that can be seen in many parts of the continent: the cockatoo. Non-Australians like them for their clever antics and beauty. But many Australians don’t care for them due to the damage these smart birds can do to trees and crops.
I could never get enough of this large and loud bird.
Rainbow lorikeets are the birdiest rainbow you will ever see on this planet, and Australians are fortunate to have it in abundance.
Kingfishers are birds we see all over the world, these two species below greeted us on the river that day.
This forest kingfisher had just come out of the water, feathers are ruffled.
We saw this herd of cows from our river boat, too.
The rare southern cassowary is a featured bird of the Daintree Rainforest, and we were lucky to have seen it several times the previous week. It is rare and difficult to see, they prefer to stay deep in the rainforest. We did not see it on our boat cruise, however, so it’s not pictured here.
Regular readers know I have written many times about this magnificent bird, one of my top ten favorite birds. Here is my most recent post on it: Aussie Backroad Thrill
We were in the Daintree village for two nights and it rained a lot, as rainforests will be. It created lush growth in and around the river.
Our guide took us into narrow waterways, possible with a smaller boat. We could hear the serene and monotonous tones of the wompoo fruit-dove as we quietly motored along.
The Torresian Imperial-Pigeon was easy to spot with its big, white body in the dark canopy.
He took us to a specific limb over the water for a very special and rare treat: the Papuan Frogmouth. We were fortunate the guide knew exactly where to look, as they are well-camouflaged, difficult to see. They are a nocturnal bird; it was sleeping and never moved.
Papua New Guinea is only 683 miles (1,100 km) away, hence the Papuan name.
There are no hummingbirds in Australia, but there are nectar-seeking birds. We saw Australia’s only sunbird, the Yellow-bellied Sunbird (Olive-backed) (Nectrinia jugularis), and several honeyeaters that day.
We had started at dawn and it was only 8:30 am by the time our boat cruise ended, so we ventured off to the river-crossing ferry and explored the Daintree Rainforest.
Ice cream and lots of birds kept us giddy.
Written by Jet Eliot.
Photos by Athena Alexander.