Daintree in Tropical North Queensland is internationally recognised as one of Australia's premier birdwatching locations.
Over 430 species of birds have been recorded in the area encompassing the Wet Tropics and the Great Barrier Reef region of Australia. This is more than half the bird species for the entire continent.
By combining visits to Daintree on the coastal lowlands, the upland rainforest of the Atherton Tablelands and the drier country of Mareeba and beyond, plus the off-shore islands, birders can appreciate the great diversity and number of the region's birds within only 1.5 hour's drive from Cairns.
Queensland Wet Tropics has 13 endemic species and of these, Lesser Sooty Owl, Macleay's Honeyeater, Pied Monarch, and Victoria's Riflebird can be seen in and around Daintree. Also of enormous interest to birdwatchers are the Great-billed Heron, Black Bittern, Mangrove Robin, Lovely Fairy-Wren, Double-eyed Fig Parrot, Red-necked Crake and of course, the Southern Cassowary which may be seen on the northern side of the Daintree river in the World Heritage listed Daintree National Park.
Birdwatchers can see 8 out of 10 of Australia's Kingfisher species, including the Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher and the Little Kingfisher in Daintree. The Daintree area has a variety of habitats with coastal lowland rainforest, riverine, wetlands, mangroves, open farmland and the Daintree River. The Daintree River is well known for early morning birdwatching, with several specialist birdwatching cruises available.
Target species for the Daintree area include:
Summer migrants including Black Bittern, Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher, Pied Imperial Pigeon, Channel-billed Cuckoo and Metallic Starling are seen from October/November until March/April, making it the best time of year for Daintree birdwatching, despite the chance of rain.
Autumn and Winter visitors include White-eared Monarch, Lewin's Honeyeater, Satin Flycatcher, Rufous Fantail, Dollarbird, Sacred Kingfisher and Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike. Conditions are perfect at this time with clear warm days and cooler nights with low humidity. Daintree is at its best at this time of year.
Daintree is an ideal location as a base for a birding holiday in Far North Queensland or can be an important addition to a birding itinerary which may include Cairns, Julatten, Mareeba and the Atherton Tablelands.
For local and regional birding information download the 'Bird Trails Tropical Queensland' free Iphone application.