Further explorations of this amazing area…Holloways Beach…An exciting sighting…

Finally, we were able to take photos of Cockatoos.

Yesterday, we took off after I worked out at the local fitness center. From now on, I’ll leave a pair of shorts in the car when my spandex workout pants are too hot to wear while walking outdoors.

Strait on the Beach, a café and store on the beach.

We started our tour for the day at Holloways Beach which is very close to Cairns, the big city where the airport is located. Having heard there was a cute café on the beach, it was worth checking out. 

The quaint outdoor setting at the café.

Perhaps, we’d stop for a beverage while overlooking the ocean or return at another time for a meal. We’d had breakfast before we left the house in the morning and wouldn’t be hungry again until dinnertime.

The interior of the café in Holloways Beach.

Unfortunately, the quaint café didn’t have anything on the menu that would work for me so we continued on, knowing that we had our iced tea in the car and a home-cooked meal ahead of us in the evening.

Few visitors were on the beach.

The restaurant required visitors to stand in line, place their orders, and then pay. With as seldom as we dine out, we prefer to have a server take our food orders deliver the food, and subsequently the bill. 

We checked out the neighborhood, the beach, and the rainforested areas and didn’t spot a thing until Tom immediately pulled to the curb when he spotted something exciting in a park and playground area as we drove through a quiet neighborhood.

There were no less than a dozen what is referred to as Sulphur-crested Cockatoos. Here’s some information on these popular local birds, at times known to be pests:

“In Australia, sulfur-crested cockatoos can be found widely in the north and east, ranging as far south as Tasmania, but avoiding arid inland areas with few trees. They are numerous in suburban habitats in cities such as Adelaide, Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, and Brisbane. Except for highland areas, they occur throughout most of New Guinea and on nearby smaller islands such as Waigeo, Misool, and Aru, and various islands in the Cenderawasih Bay and Milne Bay.

Within Australia, sulfur-crested cockatoos of the nominate race have also been introduced to Perth, which is far outside the natural range. Outside Australia, they have been introduced to Singapore, where their numbers have been estimated to be between 500 and 2000. They have also been introduced to Palau and New Zealand.

In New Zealand, the introduced populations may number less than 1000. This species has also been recorded as established in Hawaii and from various islands in Wallacea (e.g. Kai Islands and Ambon), but it is unclear if it has managed to become established there.

Holloways Beach in Cairns.

Their distinctive raucous call can be very loud; it is adapted to travel through the forest environments in which they live, including tropical and subtropical rainforests. These birds are naturally curious, as well as very intelligent. They have adapted very well to European settlement in Australia and live in many urban areas.

The flock of Cockatoos was busy foraging for food.

These birds are very long-lived and can live upwards of 70 years in captivity, although they only live to about 20–40 years in the wild. They have been known to engage in geophagy, the process of eating clay to detoxify their food. These birds produce a very fine powder to waterproof themselves instead of oil as many other birds do.

The sulfur-crested cockatoo is a seasonal breeder in Australia, little is known about its breeding behaviour in New Guinea. In southern Australia, the breeding season is from August to January, whereas in northern Australia the season is from May to September. The nest is a bed of wood chips in a hollow in a tree. Like many other parrots it competes with others of its species and with other species for nesting sites. Two to three eggs are laid and incubation lasts between 25–27 days. Both parents incubate the eggs and raise the nestlings. The nestling period is between 9 to 12 weeks, and the young fledglings remain with their parents for a number of months after fledging.

It was interesting to see how adept Cockatoos are with their claws.

A 2009 study involving an Eleonora cockatoo (the subspecies Cacatua galerita Eleonora) named Snowball found that sulfur-crested cockatoos are capable of synchronizing movements to a musical beat.

Species that feed on the ground are very vulnerable to predator attack. The cockatoo has evolved a behavioural adaptation to protect against this: whenever there is a flock on the ground, there is at least one high up in a tree (usually a dead tree), keeping guard. This is so well known that it has even entered Australian slang: a person keeping guard for sudden police raids on illegal gambling gatherings is referred to as a cockatoo or cocky for short.”

Stopping again to check the surroundings.

On numerous occasions, we’ve spotted cockatoos flying in the yard. By the time I’d grab the camera, they would be long gone. Cockatoos seem to alight in the trees for only seconds, but yesterday’s flock was busy foraging for food on the ground although they were well aware of us watching them at a distance. We never got out of the car to avoid disturbing them. As a result, our photos aren’t ideal, all taken from quite a distance.

This one stopped looking for food to look at us wondering if we were a threat.

After leaving Holloways Beach we headed to the Cattana Wetlands, a location we’ll soon visit again. Wearing those spandex pants on the hot sunny day, I felt as if I was encased in a plastic bag, sweating like a fool as we walked. However, we walked for about an hour, taking a number of exquisite photos which we’re excited to share tomorrow. 

Holloways Beach wasn’t quite as scenic as some of the other beaches we’ve visited in Cairns.

Upon leaving the Cattana Wetlands we returned to the fish market near Yorkeys Knob. We’d already run out of the fabulous smoked fish we’d purchased several days ago which had been a perfect accompaniment to cheesy scrambled eggs and bacon.

There were no less than 18 Cockatoos in the flock.

Today, we’re heading back to the travel agency to pick up the paperwork for the airline tickets we purchased on Monday and grab a few items from the market. Who knows what the remainder of the day holds for us? 

For our friends and family in the US…have a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July weekend!

                                               Photo from one year ago today, July 3, 2014:

One year ago today, we booked our upcoming stay in January in New Zealand, living on an Alpaca Farm while we tour the country by car. Of course, we won’t have to do any work on the farm with the owners living in another house on the property. For more details, please click here.