ROAD TRIP DIARIES # 16
Obsession is the key to bird watching and wildlife photography; these are the lingering words of wisdom from my conversation with Tony, an avid bird enthusiast whom we met at Tyto Wetlands in Ingam. Charles and I were exploring the vast wetlands when we bumped into him on one of its many walking tracks. He was carrying some serious photography gear and had the stance of a seasoned wildlife enthusiast, which somehow drew me into a friendly talk with him.
The wetlands was just 10 minutes walk away from the tourism center so we decided to have a look after our lunch and afternoon nap at the car park. Tyto Wetlands was named after Tyto Capensis, its local resident Eastern Grass Owl. It is home to 160 species of birds and numerous species of butterflies, mammals and reptiles. It came as no surprise to learn that Tony frequented this bird sanctuary and never ran out of new things to photograph. He even named his online photoblog TytoTony, which is mainly about documenting his obsession with birds.
Unfortunately we didn’t see many of the exotic birds that make their home in these wetlands, except for a small kingfisher, an owl, and a few ibis, which were quite common all over Australia. It must have been the time of the day or perhaps we didn’t stay long enough in each spot. Good thing Tony eagerly showed us some of his photographs of the Tyto wildlife including a big black python and snapshots of some elusive birds you only get to see if you have the patience to sit and wait for hours for them to make an appearance.
Tyto’s Flora and Fauna
One of the many species of butterflies at Tytu Wetlands
Spot the bird
The afternoon walk however, was quite pleasant. The trail was thickly carpeted with Bermuda grass and flowering trees and lily ponds abounded. A kangaroo or perhaps it was a wallaby made a quick appearance and then scurried back to the bush. It was my first time visiting a wetlands and it was good to find out that there was more to see than just birds. If not for another Achtung sign at the start of the trail, this time warning us about crocodiles, I would have strutted along the path with more confidence and perhaps explored more away from the trail.
Getting tips from the Bird Man
Tony the Bird Man
Either way, our time at the wetlands turned out to be a detour full of surprises. I was glad Tony came by and made our afternoon even more interesting.
(This is part of our 6-week North Queensland Road Trip Series, which took place July- August 2010)
Australian Road Trip 101: A Vantastic Beginning
Road Trip Diaries # 1 – An Encounter with the Strangest Animal in the World
Road Trip Diaries # 2 – Of Strangler Figs, Leeches and Long Holidays
Road Trip Diaries # 3 - Exploring Finch Hatton Gorge
Road Trip Diaries # 4 – Cape Hillsborough: On Bush Walks Beach Strolls and Star Gazing
Road Trip Diaries # 5 – Cape Hillsborough: Sunrise and Wild Kangaroos
Road Trip Diaries # 6 – Airlie Beach: Beaches Babes and Backpackers
Road Trip Diaries # 7 – Ocean Rafting to the Whitsundays
Road Trip Diaries # 8 – Unexpected Encounters
Road Trip Diaries # 9 – Exploring Bowenwood
Road Trip Diaries # 10 – Townsville: Finding Nemo and the Sunken Pandora
Road Trip Diaries # 11 – A Visit at the Billabong Sanctuary and Castle Hill
Road Trip Diaries # 12 – Magnetic Island: What Captain Cook Missed
Road Trip Diaries # 13 – Paluma Range National Park: A Walk in the Clouds
Road Trip Diaries # 14 – Of Didgeridoo, Exotic Fruits and Why I love Camping in the Bush
Road Trip Diaries # 15 – Jourama Falls: A Gray Nomad Affair