Monday, October 21, 2013

Keatings Lagoon in Spring and Summer

A 4WD drive from Cape Tribulation takes you past Keatings Lagoon near Cooktown.
Visitors have been seeing lots of birds in September and October and the whole show should continue well through November as the waters dry up and leave increasingly scarce pickings and fewer places to hide for hungry water birds.
Last week, we saw Australian Pelicans, magpie geese, royal spoonbills and cormorants across the waterlilies from the Bird Hide. They're spending daytime hours just hanging around until a cooler part of the day.

Closer to the Hide were two busy groups of Pacific Black Duck and Hardhead Duck. During our last visit, the Pacific Blacks were attracted by some underwater food source, and gradually swelled in numbers. Then, like a mob to a hanging (or drinkers to a shout!), the Hardheads progressively departed their own area, and came swooping and milling together, squawking, diving , splashing and creating a real feeding frenzy.
The Hardhead, incidentally are Australia's only true deep diving duck. Other duck are shallow divers, unlike everyday Australians, who are much deeper animals.

Red-combed Jacana (or "Jesus" birds) walk, usually in pairs across the lily pads, occasionally hopping with barely a wing beat.

Very occasionally, a visiting family of brolgas can drop in to check out the neighbourhood. Last week, this family of three, the juvenile obvious with its lack of colouring, landed near the entrance of Keatings. It's too late in the season for its wonderfully intricate and graceful mating dance, although they can do it all year around. The dance is often reflected in Indigenous dances.

Magpie geese are unlike European geese, in that they have half-webbed feet, which enables them to sit on branches and in trees. Weird, but true.

 The Keatings  Bird Hide is an interesting 700 metre (12 minute) walk from the carpark, just 5 minutes drive from Cooktown on the Mulligan Highway.

D'Arcy of Daintree 4WD Tours visits the Lagoon on our Cooktown one day trips from Cow Bay, Diwan and Cape Tribulation.