I'd been looking forward to today, a day-long boat trip out to the Great Barrier Reef including Michaelmas Cay for its seabird colony. The 'Seastar' boat left the marina at 08.00 and within an hour the whole boat load of people were whooping and hollering as a pair of Humpback Whales with a calf showed superbly well for everyone. One of the adults breached completely out of the water twice which has to be one of the best wildlife experiences I've ever had! and we also had a pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins playing by the boat too!
The Cay itself was equally magical with seabirds so close I had to be careful not to stand on chicks and juvs! Variety was limited to Common Noddys, Sooty Terns, Crested Terns, Brown Boobies, Silver Gulls plus Great and Lesser Frigatebirds but the spectacle was immense!
The 2nd port of call on the trip was the submerged reef of Hastings Reef where I undulged in some snorkelling. Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef?! I could hardly believe I was there! The following pics are courtesy of the good guys at Seastar Cruises who I would heartily recommend.
Back in Cairns I relocated the car to one of the numerous free spaces just off the Esplanade and made my way down to the sea. This time the Double-banded Plover was literally the first bird I saw on its favoured patch of shingly beach! There were also 11 Red-necked Stints on this visit plus 19 Red-capped Plovers plus the usual waders and herons that I'd seen the previous day.
The day wasn't finished there though. Talking to a helpful local I discovered that Rufous Owl is actually breeding at the site I'd been to the previous evening! So needless to say I hot-footed it there straight away and within a little while I was met by another local who'd only discovered the female in a nest hole the day before. He was a little bemused that a visiting foreign birder knew about them already but was also very friendly and within about 20 mins we were both getting some amazing views after the female emerged from her hole and sat around for 10 mins before disappearing head-first into her hole.
If Carlsberg did birding days...
Red-necked Stints, Double-banded Plover and Red-capped Plovers
Australian White Ibis