***** THIS WEBPAGE IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION *****
The first part of our brand new tour is based in the far north of Queensland at the tropical paradise of Cape York, which has the most diverse range of bird species in all Australia residing in the largest area of lowland tropical rainforest in the country. And we follow this with a visit to remote New Caledonia where the main prize is the incomparable Kagu.
We begin our adventure with a 7 day tour visiting two of the major bird and wildlife areas of Cape York - the Iron Range and Lakefield National Park in the far north of Queensland. The Cape York Peninsula begins north of Cairns, extending almost 1000 kms to the geographical tip of Australia in the north. It covers about 137,000 square kilometres -the Coral Sea is to the east of the Peninsula, the Torres Strait to the north, and the Gulf of Carpentaria to the west. Iron Range National Park protects the largest remaining area of lowland tropical rainforest on the continent and the habitat is a patchwork of tropical rainforest, drier eucalypt and paperbark woodland interspersed with areas of tropical heathland. Lakefield National Park consists of golden sandstone hills and sweeping grasslands, rivers and lagoons and is home to a wide range of great birds.
We will drive from Cairns to the Iron Range and this allows a good look at the different habitats that can be seen in this northernmost part of Australia: mangroves, heathland, rainforest, vine forest, savannah and wetlands. Our birding begins at the base of the remote Cape York Peninsula where the highly localized and much sought-after endemic Golden-shouldered Parrot can be found. Further on we will arrive at the awesome Iron Range National Park, which protects the largest remaining tract of rainforest in Australia and almost 300 species have been recorded here. A large number of these birds also occur in Papua New Guinea, but there are eighteen species of birds whose Australian distribution is restricted to Cape York. The attendant birdlife is phenomenal with species such as Spotted Whistling Duck, Red Goshawk, Rufous and Barking Owls, Marbled and Papuan Frogmouths, Palm Cockatoo, Eclectus and Red-cheeked Parrots, Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Yellow-billed Kingfisher, Fawn-breasted Bowerbird, Black-backed Butcherbird, Tropical Scrubwren, White-streaked, Tawny-breasted and Green-backed Honeyeaters, Black-backed Butcherbird, Frill-necked Monarch, Yellow-legged Flycatcher, Northern Scrub-Robin, White-faced Robin, both Black-throated and Star Finch, plus two species of Birds-of Paradise - Trumpet Manucode and Magnificent Riflebird.
The second part of our adventure takes us to New Caledonia, and specifically Grande Terre where we will be based for 6 nights. This archipeligo has around 23 endemics, depending on taxonomy, including the spectacular Kagu, which we should see extremely well at the famous Parc de la Rivière Bleue. We will also visit the Loyalty islands of Ouvea for Ouvea Parakeet and Lifou for both Large and Small Lifou White-eyes, plus Cardinal Myzomela, Melanesian Whistler and Blue-faced Parrotfinch. Key species and endemics to search for include White-bellied Goshawk, Kagu, Cloven-feathered Dove, Goliath Imperial Pigeon, Horned Parakeet, New Caledonian Parakeet, New Caledonian Myzomela, Barred Honeyeater, Crow Honeyeater, New Caledonian Friarbird, New Caledonian Thicketbird, New Caledonian Whistler, New Caledonian Crow, New Caledonian Cuckooshrike, Yellow-bellied Flyrobin, Green-backed White-eye, Striated Starling, and Red-throated Parrotfinch. We are also researching the possibility of undertaking an exploratory pelagic for species such as Tahiti Petrel, Black-winged Petrel, Gould's Petrel, and hopefully New Caledonian Storm-Petrel. Who knows what we will find?