20 June: Energetic entry into the Endeavour River

Author: Mrs A

Location: Cooktown, far North Queensland

After a fairly relaxed day enjoying our serene surroundings and going on multiple walks with Miss Tassie, we headed into Cooktown mid afternoon. It was time to meet our skipper and do our bird watching trip on the Endeavour River.

Our skipper turned up in a four wheel drive towing the boat, and launched into the water. We ambled over and introduced ourselves, soon realising we were the only customers. Our skipper was called Mark and hailed from Reading, England – not quite the true blue Aussie we were expecting.

It didn’t take us long to realise this was not going to be anything like our fabulous trip on the Daintree River. Mark’s knowledge of birds was limited, and probably gained through taking other bird spotters out on the water.

There was no educational banter about the history, flora or fauna either, he preferred to roll up a cigarette and puff his way through the trip. Mr A and I resigned ourselves to this fact, and decided to just enjoy the scenery and hope nothing went wrong – we hadn’t signed anything, there was no trip itinerary, no briefing about lifejackets or plans, we just took off…More fool us, perhaps?Skipper Mark let the motor rip, and sped us up to the quieter parts of the river, about 10km upstream. I spotted a Forest Kingfisher (my first one!), a blur of blue and white as we whizzed past, and hoped there might be more when we slow down.

Before long we spotted a massive male crocodile, warming at the edge of the water behind some reeds. His yellow eye was well and truly on us, but he wasn’t willing to jump in the water and cool down.Our skipper lowered an electric boat motor into the water, and we moved slowly past for a better look, before leaving him alone in search for more wildlife.

Beautiful reflections awaited us, a few little Rufous Flycatchers flashed past in the undergrowth and an Australasian Darter poised on a branch, hoping to catch a final snack for the day.We spotted a Spangled Drongo and a Wompoo Fruit-Dove flying past. Our skipper called it a Wompoo pigeon, arguing a fruit dove is much smaller. That’s not what my best selling bird book says, but hey-ho…

Before long it was getting pretty cold out there, and time to turn back. Although it was apparently about 22 degrees centigrade, the wind chill as the speed boat travelled was absolutely bitter, something the sunset photos does not do justice. It is the day before the winter solstice after all…In dire need of defrosting, we decided to head to a nearby restaurant for dinner and a warming glass of wine…much better.A fine conclusion to our visit to Cooktown, but not sure we’ll be recommending the bird watching tour!

And finally, a quick pic of Miss T, who has her own camping chair and made much use of it the past few days! Captions welcomed…

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