Lo­cal bird­watch­ers twitch for Aus­tralia

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - BOBBI LEE HITCHON

A COU­PLE from the Dain­tree will fly the flag for Aus­tralia at the largest bird­watch­ing event in the world later this month.

Like the crea­tures they ad­mire, avid bird­watch­ers and own­ers of Red Mill House Bed and Break­fast An­drew and Trish Forsyth will flock to Rut­land, Eng­land for Birdfair 2010.

Fly­ing from one of the fur­thest points to reach this in­ter­na­tional event, they will rep­re­sent all of Aus­tralia, but specif­i­cally Trop­i­cal North Queens­land at the gath­er­ing of “twitch­ers”.

“It’s the sin­gle best con­tact point for bird­watch­ing,” Trish said.

“Tra­di­tion­ally, the Brits have al­ways been our biggest mar­ket for bird­watch­ing.”

While Trish has at­tended the event for the past three years, this will be the first year the cou­ple is rep­re­sent­ing Aus­tralia.

With the sup­port of Tourism Trop­i­cal North Queens­land and Tourism Queens­land, the pair will have a two­stand dis­play fea­tur­ing in­for­ma­tion on Aus­tralian birds, land­scape and more at the three-day event, which is ex­pected to at­tract over 23,000 peo­ple.

“We plan to show peo­ple that Aus­tralia is a good value des­ti­na­tion,” Trish said.

“Aus­tralia has over 320 en­demic bird species, which means they don’t ex­ist any­where else in the world.”

Eyes are start­ing to in­creas­ingly stare at the colour­ful feath­ers in the trees rather than sharp teeth in the wa­ter along the Dain­tree River these days.

Home to over 700 species of bird like the blue sap­phire-coloured lit­tle king­fisher and en­dan­gered south­ern cas­sowary, the Dou­glas re­gion is a mecca for twitch­ers.

“The top of North Queens­land is by far the best bird­watch­ing re­gion in Aus­tralia,” Trish said.

“Over half of Aus­tralian bird species come here over the year, which means peo­ple can come here and see a lot.”

Trish says while the area’s bird species have al­ways been trea­sured, they’ve be­come more sig­nif­i­cant to the Dain­tree econ­omy in the past decade.

“It’s very im­por­tant and it’s grow­ing,” she said. “Even though peo­ple come to see the crocodiles, over the past 10 years there’s been a huge in­crease of peo­ple who come to the area to birdwatch as well as busi­nesses ded­i­cated to bird­watch­ing.”

“There are four river cruises where their main fo­cus is bird­watch­ing. For us at Red Mill, half of our ac­com­mo­da­tion is for bird­watch­ers.”

The Bri­tish Bird­watch­ing Fair kicks off on Au­gust 20.

Check­ing out the scenery: a lit­tle king­fifi sher next to the Red Mill House pond

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