Photographing the Birds of Cape York

October 10, 2011

A terrific week was spent seeking and photographing the iconic birds of Cape York. Some of the premier birding locations of Australia - Iron Range and Lakefield National Park – were explored and client, Alfred, was able to get great shots of some of the most sought-after birds including Eclectus Parrot, Palm Cockatoo, Golden-shouldered Parrot and Fawn-breasted Bowerbird.

My satisfaction was immense when the Fawn-breasted Bowerbird hopped into view directly in front of Alfred, hidden within a viewing blind. The plan had worked beautifully! Weeks earlier I had followed a bowerbird carrying a stick in his beak and found his bower, yesterday I had built a blind to aid photography, and now after waiting within the camouflaged blind for half an hour we had photos of this rarely sighted bird approaching the bower, rearranging some of his treasure, and adding a new stick to his display platform. Magic!

It was all pretty surreal as I had only met old friend and client Alfred Schulte and his wife Hanna at the Lockhart River Airport a few days previously and we all ready had photos of a good swag of Iron Range birds including shots of both male and female Eclectus Parrot interacting at a nesting chamber in a huge paperbark. Here again the blind had been used so that we could watch and photograph the birds without disturbing them. What a great experience to be able to observe at length the red polyandrous female and her loyal green gang of boyfriends!

The whole week was tremendous with other highlights including obtaining good photos of Palm Cockatoo, Golden-shouldered Parrot, and Grass Owls. It was also wonderful to watch great swarms of Metallic Starling accumulate at dusk over Chili Beach whilst indulging in a little wine, cheese and crackers. 

All photos here remain the sole property of Alfred Schulte.

Locations visited

Iron Range & Surrounds


Land Birds 12 species
Black-throated Finch (Poephila cincta) 45 Lakefield National Park
Star Finch (Neochmia ruficauda) 30 Foraging on Nifold Plain
Golden-shouldered Parrot (Psephotus chrysopterygius) 30 Feeding on ground on Artemis Station
Eastern Barn Owl (Tyto delicatula) 10 Photographed on Nifold Plain
White-faced Robin (Tregellasia leucops) 6 Iron Range
Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) 5 Observed particularly dawn and dusk
Fawn-breasted Bowerbird (Chlamydera cerviniventris) 5 Male observed decorating his bower
Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus roratus) 5 Male and female observed at nesting chamber
Eastern Grass Owl (Tyto longimembris) 3 Photographed on Nifold Plain
Noisy Pitta (Pitta versicolor) 2 Looking for snails
Black-breasted Buzzard (Hamirostra melanosternon) 1 On nest near Lakefield
Black-winged Monarch (Monarcha frater) 1 Iron Range



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