Thursday, April 10, 2014

10th April Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

This weeks blog is going to be delayed as we are awaiting a category 5 cyclone (Ita) with winds expected to be around 200kph! Hopefully not too much damage but its predicted track puts it very close to us.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

30th March 2014 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

We are back online after being away since the beginning of the month, our friends Kath and Dave looked after the Lodge for us and kept the bird records for the three weeks while we were on holiday, thanks to them for doing such a great job. Their records plus the last weeks are summarised below.

Weather Report
Rainfall over the period we were away amounted to 172mm which we know from our travels to SE Queensland, Northern New South Wales and Lord Howe Island would be most welcome there as it was very dry when we were visiting. Hopefully this last week has put some useful rainfalls in those areas. In addition the last weeks rainfall was 59.5mm on six rainy days. For the year so far we have recorded almost 1100mm. Temperatures ranged from 19ºC to 29ºC.

Bird Sightings:-
The past four weeks sighting were around 100 species per week.

Birding Highlights:-
Three Cotton Pygmy-goose in one of the McDougall Road wetlands in the first week of March. Wompoo and Superb Fruit-Dove were both seen and heard, in addition a pair of Superb Fruit-Dove were spotlighted roosting on 29/3 in the rainforest. No sightings of Papuan Frogmouth in the Lodge grounds, but three were roosting nearby in the last week of March. Two Black-necked Stork have been around most weeks. Pacific Baza showed up in the first week and both Brown Goshawk and Collared Sparrowhawk have been in the area. Red-necked Crake have been seen over the last three weeks, including three recently fledged juveniles with two adults, pottering around in the rainforest. This sighting means that this pair have bred a second time this season. Pale-vented Bush-hen have been showing each week with at least nine seen in the last week of March. This juvenile bird is about two months old and is one of five survivors from a clutch of six.

Pale-vented Bush-hen - juvenile

Both Buff-banded Rail and White-browed Crake were seen along McDougall Road. Red-tailed Black Cockatoo were around for the first two weeks of March, but have not been seen or heard since. Cuckoos have been quite obvious with the highlight a flock of 30+ Channel-billed Cuckoo, which usually gather in groups of immatures at this time of year to fly north. Other cuckoos seen or heard were Pheasant Coucal, Eastern Koel and Little (Gould's) Bronze-Cuckoo. A pair of Barking Owl returned for a couple of weeks, but moved off when they realised they had cleaned the area out of food when they were here before for 18 months! 

Barking Owl

Lesser Sooty Owl has been heard most weeks, but not seen. Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher numbers appear to have decreased since we were away as we have not seen or heard many, but we have seen a few adults and a few juvenile birds so they are still around to be observed. 

 Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher - juvenile

13 species of honeyeater were seen including Lewin's Honeyeater who have returned from higher altitudes where they breed. A White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike was seen feeding a juvenile and both Barred Cuckoo-shrike and Cicadabird have been seen. A Grey Whistler was seen feeding a recently fledged young; would like to know where they nest as we have never found one in nearly nine years. 

Grey Whistler

Little (Rufous) Shrike-thrush, Leaden Flycatcher, Black-faced Monarch and Lemon-bellied Flycatcher were also seen feeding juveniles. Grey-headed Robin have returned from the mountains behind the Lodge and both Fairy and Tree Martin were seen along McDougall Road. Metallic Starling are still with us, but will be leaving soon to head north or maybe just go down to the coast where they are all year now. Red-browed Finch were seen breeding which seems to be an all year event! Australian Pipit have also returned to the area.

Further Afield:-
Australian King-Parrot and White-eared Monarch were both seen along Pinnacle Road, Julatten. 

Australian King-Parrot - male

There were up to four Yellow-billed Spoonbill at Lake Evan (Brady Road Swamp), 4km north of Mareeba in the last week of March, not a common bird in our region. Two Latham's Snipe were seen at Ferraro Road, Port Douglas. Eastern Yellow Wagtail were being seen at Tinaburra Boat Ramp, Lake Tinaroo (Atherton Tableland) and adjacent areas until about mid-March with up to 14 bird present. Little Kingfisher were reported from Centenary Lakes and Kewarra Beach, both sites in Cairns.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
Sightings have been a little patchy with occasional Fawn-footed Melomys, Yellow-footed Antichinus, Red-legged Pademelon and Striped Possum. Regulars include Boyd's Forest Dragon, Eastern Water Dragon, Spectacled Flying Fox, Jungguy Frog and White-lipped Tree Frog. Eastern Tube-nosed Bat has also been seen regularly. A Platypus was spotlighted in Bushy Creek on 29/3 and was the first seen for about five weeks. Our neighbours reported a Macleay's Water Snake on Mt. Kooyong Road also on the 29th; it was having difficulty moving on dry land.

Bird Trails Tropical Queensland Brochure:-

A new brochure for 2014-2015 has just been released with updated information on the best birding sites, birding guides and places to stay in the Daintree, Cairns Highlands (Tablelands), Julatten and Mission Beach areas. It can be downloaded from here.

We hope to have the camp ground and bunk house opened again by next weekend, 5-6th April, weather permitting!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

2nd March 2014 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Weather Report
Not quite as much rain over the last two weeks as the previous two weeks but still a healthy 249.5mm (10 inches). This was enough to flood the road from Mt. Molloy for a few days.

 Bushy Creek - about 600mm over the main road

The wet weather softened up the ground and a few trees fell down including this one along the path from the orchard to Bushy Creek, which took down three other trees. Quite a mess and a lot of clearing required to open the path again.

Path from Orchard to Bushy Creek

The overcast and rainy weather kept the temperatures down highs around 28ºC and down to 22ºC. The second week saw most of the rain clear away and sunny days re-appear to help dry out the soggy grounds.

Past Two Weeks Bird Sightings:-
The first week was quite wet and restricted birding with only 86 species heard and seen but the second week was much better with 102 seen and heard.The complete lists can be found on the Eremaea eBird site. 16th - 22nd February and 23rdFebruary - 1st March

Birding Highlights:-
The pair of Pacific Baza nesting on the edge of the Lodge grounds have successfully fledged two youngsters who have been around begging for food but have now left the Lodge after being harassed by a gang of Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. The family of Pale-vented Bush-hen previously reported still have five surviving juveniles who are growing rapidly, this image shows one about 22 days old.

Pale-vented Bush-hen - 22 days old

This image shows one of the adults.

Pale-vented Bush-hen - Adult

Waterbirds have been few and far between with all the rain providing plenty of alternative habitats, there was one White-faced Heron seen flying over the Lodge which was a first sighting for this year. Late in the second week a few more waterbirds showed up including two Black Bittern, Great, Intermediate and Little Egret, Spotless Crake, White-browed Crake, plus a single Comb-crested Jacana. All these sightings were along McDougall Road in and around the wetlands. Black-shouldered Kite also nested along McDougall Road. Other raptors around were White-bellied Sea-Eagle (2), Whistling and Black Kite, plus Brown Falcon. Red-tailed Black Cockatoo continue to fly over the Lodge every few days as do Double-eyed Fig-Parrot. Cuckoo's are calling well with Pheasant Coucal, Eastern Koel (male & female), Channel-billed Cuckoo, both Little and Gould's Bronze-Cuckoo plus Brush Cuckoo. Barn Owl are around and calling as was a Lesser Sooty Owl on one occasion. The adult Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher are still flying around and perching for photos. The juveniles are becoming more obvious and are coming down to lower levels from high in the canopy. Three juveniles were seen in the same area together but it was not known if they were all from the same nest. Other juveniles seen have mainly been on their own apart from two perched on the clothes line! This Juvenile Forest Kingfisher took advantage of an old chair in Geraghty Park for where it pounced onto the ground for worms. 

Forest Kingfisher - juvenile

Dollarbird are still around with adults and juveniles seen. Noisy Pitta have been difficult to see as they are keeping to the rainforest and quite often high in the trees. A pair of Great Bowerbird were in a neighbours garden one morning polishing off some palm tree fruits. Thirteen species of honeyeater over the two weeks with Scarlet Honeyeater returning after being away for at least two months. Black Butcherbird have two well grown brown juveniles hunting around the grounds, Australasian Figbird are feeding young as are Leaden Flycatcher. A female Victoria's Riflebird has been coming to our neighbours feeder and was seen in the Lodge grounds on the edge of the orchard. Red-browed Finch are constantly building nests for  most of the year but we have never seen one like this, a hanging one. Normally they are supported by tree branches and quite well hidden in the foliage.

Red-browed Finch Nest

Further Afield:-
An estimated 300 Black Kite were circling over the Mulligan Highway north of Mareeba on the 26th February, which is very unusual to have such a high number at this time of year. A Spotted Harrier was along Wetherby Road, Julatten as was a Black Bittern and a Horsfield's Bushlark. Mt. Lewis is still performing with most of the endemic species seen apart from Golden Bowerbird and Lesser Sooty Owl. Blue-faced Parrot-Finch are still up on the mountain but two were lower down at the end of McDougall Road late in the second week. The road has been closed on several occasions by falling trees but the local Mareeba Shire Council have been quick in responding to our reports and have cleared the road, thanks to them. Carol Iles our out and about bird guide reported a Grey Shrike-thrush at Abattoir Swamp, which is not common. They are regularly at nearby Wessel Road but don't come across to the swamp very often. Lloyd Nielsen reported a Shining Flycatcher on a nest along Bushy Creek between Julatten and Mt. Molloy which is one of a very few recorded in this area. A Torresian Crow was flying eastward towards the coast, over the Great Diving Range in Julatten late one afternoon, unusual as not many have been seen this year.
Reptiles and Mammals:-
24 reptiles and mammals were seen over the past two weeks. A yellow-footed Antichinus was hiding under one of our chair covers along the veranda one morning, luckily nobody sat on it! Red-legged Pademelon have been out the front of our units as well as in the orchard area rainforest. Striped Possum have been seen a few times but no sign of any Green Ringtail Possum. Platypus was seen, when Bushy Creek was in flood, swimming along the rock wall by the viewing area. Seven species of frog were seen and Roth's (Laughing) Tree Frog heard. An Australian Scrub Python was on our neighbours veranda one night and this Brown Tree Snake decided to curl up in the peg basket in the camp laundry. It was removed and put outside where it climbed a tree which was much more like its natural habitat! 
Brown Tree Snake

A few moths have been around including this unusual one which we have never seen here before.

Moth sp.

Butterflies have also been around, this Blue-Triangle found something of interest on the yard broom.

 Blue Triangle Butterfly

The wet weather has also triggered off lots of different species of fungi like this one growing at the foot of a Queensland Blue Gum (Forest Red Gum) Eucalyptus tereticornis.

Fungi sp.
Could be Panellus ligulatus ?

We will be having a break from the blog until the end of March, we might be posting a few snippets so keep looking!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

15th February 2014 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Weather Report
The first week from 2nd to 8th February saw the monsoonal trough come down and deposit 303.5mm of rain, which saw some minor flooding lasting a couple of days. One day we had 143mm. The second week from 9th to15th was not quite as wet, it started off with a day of 142mm then slowed down over the week ending up with two sunny days and a total of 162mm of rain. So the two weeks produced 467mm (approx 18.5 inches). Temperatures we quite cool with the overcast rainy days getting up to 25ºC but climbing up to 30ºC on the two sunny days. Minimum temperatures were around 21ºC. The monsoonal trough is forecast to return next week so we can look forward to some more rain. Further north on the west side of Cape York Peninsula the town of Kowanyama has had over 1200mm for the week! Serious rain.

Past Two Weeks Bird Sightings:-
These can be found on the Eremaea eBird site. 2nd - 8th February and 9th - 15th February.

Birding Highlights:-
An adult Pacific Black Duck was seen whizzing down the swollen Bushy Creek with eight ducklings in tow, they were in one big blob hanging on to each other until they managed to get out of the main current and pull off into calmer water at the rear of our neighbours property. The nesting Pacific Baza also reported in the last blog have now fledged two chicks as of five days ago. The juveniles are now in the Lodge grounds constantly begging food from the adults. A pair of White-bellied Sea-Eagle have started to call and fly over the Lodge after keeping a low profile for the last few months, maybe they are looking at nesting. Our pair of Red-necked Crake have been seen several times walking through the rainforest but no sign of the three chicks they had. 

Red-necked Crake

The two Pale-vented Bush-hen adults reported in the last blog with six chicks now have five chicks who survived the rain and flooding. Lets hope they all survive. Two Australian Bustard were found near the Julatten school just inside our 1.5km radius for the Lodge list which is quite unusual. We have had three records in the past, one in 2011 and two in 2012. This image is a male displaying at Maryfarms north of Mt. Molloy.

Australian Bustard

Channel-billed Cuckoo have been flying over heading north in small groups of up to six birds. An Eastern Koel is still with us and has just started to call again. A Lesser Sooty Owl was heard one night but not seen. Noisy Pitta have also fired up with at least four calling around the orchard one day and another couple calling from across Bushy Creek near the nursing home, who reported one presumably feeding on mangoes, it may also have been feeding on insects attracted to the fruit. A pair of Great Bowerbird were foraging in Geraghty Park, where they are not common but they are to be found nearby, usually along McDougall Road. Honeyeater numbers were down but that could be due to the lesser effort put in over the two weeks due to the rain but we did still manage nine species. Spangled Drongo appear to be heading north with an increase in numbers for at least two days, now there are just one or two hanging around. Black-faced Monarch are still with us but should be heading north soon. A pair of Spectacled Monarch are sitting on a nest in front of our accommodation units in a tree they used a few years ago but in October. A Brown Victoria's Riflebird (immature male or female) turned up in our neighbours garden to investigate their Paw Paw tree but left disappointing as there was no fruit on it. A pair of nesting Olive-backed Sunbird seem to have lost the nestlings, Black Butcherbird are the main suspects. After the rain the clouds cleared and the mountain ranges at the back of the Lodge once more came into view.

Mountain Ranges looking towards Mt. Lewis

Further Afield:-
Four Spotted Whistling-Duck turned up at Barrett's Lagoon near Cooktown on 2nd February making this the first record of this species in the Cooktown area. Thanks to Kath and Dave for this record. Their were at least 35 Great-crested Grebe at Lake Barrine on the Atherton Tableland on 4th February. This location often has 100+ Great-crested Grebe present, full list for visit is on Eremaea eBird

Lake Evan (Brady Road Swamp)

Two Yellow-billed Spoonbill, a Pale-headed Rosella and two Red-winged Parrot were among birds seen at Lake Evan (Brady Road Swamp) 4km north of Mareeba. Full list can be found on Eremaea eBird

Red-winged Parrot

Little Lorikeet were along McLean Bridge Road in Julatten, this is about the furthermost east their distribution occurs. Also along here and at Abattoir Swamp were Black-chinned Honeyeater, Golden-backed form. Bridled Honeyeater were also in Julatten along Perseverance Road, the main population are still on Mt. Lewis.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
As you can imagine with all the rain the frogs were out in force and extremely vocal. Those seen were Striped Marsh Frog, Jungguy Frog, White-lipped Tree Frog, Northern Dwarf tree Frog, Dessert Tree Frog, Dainty Green Tree Frog, Cogger's Frog and Cane Toad, plus Green Tree Frog, Peron's Tree Frog and Roth's Tree Frog were heard. 

Striped Marsh Frog

Boyd's Forest Dragon, Eastern Water Dragon and Major Skink were around as they have been for the last few months. This male Boyd's Forest Dragon was coming to the feeder for banana during the rain.

Boyd's forest Dragon

A Brown Tree Snake was curled up on a tree branch in the camping area much to the annoyance of the birds who were scalding it but the snake took no notice and kept sleeping. Mammals were not very active during the rain along with the spotters so not much was seen in the first week but the dryer weather in the second week was more productive. Those seen were Fawn-footed Melomys, Yellow-footed Antichinus, Red-legged Pademelon (adult and youngster), Agile Wallaby, Eastern Horseshoe Bat, Large-footed Myotis, Northern Broad-nosed Bat, Giant White-tailed Rat, several Striped Possum, both Long-nosed and Northern Brown Bandicoot plus Spectacled Flying Fox making 12 species.

A selection of insects which have appeared since the rain has started, prior to the rain insects were pretty much non existent.

Cairns Birdwing

Grasshopper Sp.

Longicorn Beetle

Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge Business and Property For Sale
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Sunday, February 2, 2014

2nd February 2014 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Weather Report
The past few weeks has seen variable weather with a Cyclone threat which luckily for us went further south and caused very little damage. We did not get much rain, our January total rainfall was 217mm on 16 rain days, which was at least 50% less than our normal rains for this time of year. Temperatures had been around 21ºC -28ºC but after the cyclone passed by at the end of January we got west to northerly winds and an increase in temperatures up to 34ºC which is abnormally hot.

Past Three Weeks Bird Sightings:-
Sightings have now been transferred from Eremaea Birds to Eremaea ebird. The link to the Australian portal is Here . Here you can find all the information to allow you to input or retrieve data. It is early days with the new system so it will take a while to become familiar with it and work out how to retrieve data for Kingfisher Park BL.

Trip Report:-
Finally finished putting together our last years trip report for our visit to South Australia. You can find it at this link on our website

Birding Highlights:-
We can't top the Yellow-billed Kingfisher reported in the last blog seen along Bushy Creek. We heard the kingfisher calling in the rainforest adjacent to Bushy Creek the morning after it was seen but were unable to see it. Since then there has been no other reports of Yellow-billed Kingfisher in the area. Another new bird for our 1.5km area Lodge bird list was Plumed Whistling-Duck, 22 were seen standing beside a dam behind Geraghty Park on our Birdlife Australia Day weekend, this puts our list up to 225 species. Two groups of Papuan Frogmouth have been seen in the Lodge and along the nearby Bushy Creek, the three along Bushy Creek are two adults and a juvenile from last years nest in the local nursing home. The two in the Lodge grounds are a male and female which did not nest last year, they have been moving around each day and have been difficult to find. A Superb Fruit-Dove was actually seen in a fruiting tree on the edge of the Lodge one morning, this represented the third sighting in six months during which they have been heard most days. Should be called Superb Hiding-Dove! Pied Imperial Pigeon have been increasing in numbers with at least 200 seen feasting on fruiting trees in the Lodge grounds and surrounds. These birds are probably coming from Low Isles off the coast of Port Douglas. It was only four years ago that the first Pied Imperial Pigeon arrived at the Lodge. Nesting Pacific Baza has two very large chicks standing up in their nest waiting to be fed by the busy adults. Red-necked Crake also have three chicks in tow and have been seen several times. The adult birds have been coming regularly to the Crake Pool in the morning and evening for a bathe. Our neighbours saw a pair of Pale-vented Bush-hen come to their bird bath with six chicks several times, how lucky are they. 

Pale-vented Bushen - chick in birdbath

Pale-vented Bushen - adult with three chicks

Other pairs of bushen have been glimpsed in the grassy edges of the roads around the Lodge and also along Bushy Creek but they are very secretive. All the nesting Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher are now feeding young in their nests, there are at least seven nests with another possible one within the Lodge grounds. Several pairs of Noisy Pitta have been around the Lodge and adjacent area with at least four juvenile birds seen foraging and being fed by adults. At least 12 species of honeyeater have been seen including White-throated Honeyeater and Black-chinned Honeyeater heard. 

White-throated Honeyeater

An Olive-backed Oriole nest successfully fledged one bird from a nest only about 2m off the ground in a neighbours Raintree. Pied Monarch are calling and being seen and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have just started to call after being quiet for a few months.

Further Afield:-
At least 50Fork-tailed (Pacific) Swift were over Cattana Wetlands, Cairns on the 20th January at 8.30am. Two Yellow Wagtail were reported from Lake Evan (Brady Road Swamp) 4km north of Mareeba on 24th January. Two Pink-eared Duck were also at this location a week earlier. On 31st January one of our guests reported a Freckled Duck at Daves Dam 25km north of Mt. Carbine, believed to be the first record from here. Four birders from Townsville sighted a Nankeen Night Heron roosting on Mt. Lewis at 950m on 21st January, very unusual, record can be found on Eremaea Birdline. Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours had a Dusky Honeyeater from the same location, this was a first for him so it must be very unusual.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
A few snakes have been around the grounds, a Green Tree Snake was in the orchard and a small Australian Scrub Python was curled up on a tree at the end of the units veranda, giving the birds something to shout at. A Yellow-footed Antichinus is living in a tree hollow beside our camp kitchen and often seen running along the rafters. Red-legged Pademelon are around in the rainforest during the day and come out into the grassy orchard at night. At least 50 Red-legged Pademelon were seen in a 10km stretch of the Mt. Lewis one night which is an extraordinary number. Striped Possum was seen on a couple of occasions but are proving very elusive at the moment. No sign of Green Ringtail Possum since last September which is a worry. Frogs seen were Jungguy Frog, White-lipped Tree Frog, Desert Tree Frog, Dainty Green Tree Frog, Coggers Frog and Cane Toad plus Northern Dwarf tree Frog was heard. Boyd's Forest Dragon, Eastern Water Dragon and Major Skink have all been regulars.

This Giant Silverback spider (Genus Idiommata, family Barychelidae) was found at the rear of our units, it was a first for us. It was relocated to the rainforest after we took a few images of it. It was quite aggressive rearing up and showing its fangs. These spiders are venomous but not deadly. They build a burrow in the ground which is short, open, often with a collar of leaves; a short horizontal flask down the burrow is sealed by a thick door. Thanks to Graham Anderson and Dr. Robert Raven (Queensland Museum) for identifying the spider.

Giant Silverback

2014 Australia Day Weekend at Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge, Julatten:-

BirdLife Northern Queensland held its 14th annual Australia Day long weekend get-together at Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge, Julatten, hosted by Keith & Lindsay. It was well attended with over 30 people coming to enjoy, field trips, guided walks, talks and a movie night. As usual these weekends are very social with lots of interesting food and a relaxed atmosphere.

Saturday morning saw the group going up onto Mt. Lewis to look for some of the Wet Tropic endemics, all 13 occur on the mountain. The main attraction here was Blue-faced Parrot-Finch, which occur here from November to April. We were not disappointed as there were at least eight feeding alongside the road. Other good sightings were white phase Grey Goshawk, male Golden Bowerbird, two families of Chowchilla having a territorial dispute, Victoria's Riflebird and a Barred Cuckoo-shrike feeding young in a nest, in all we saw 27 species. Late afternoon we went to Wessel Road in Julatten to look at open woodland and Melaleuca swamp country, here we found 29 species including Buff-banded Rail plus Lovely and Red-backed Fairy-wren. The evening was spent eating a communal dinner followed by a talk from Lloyd Nielsen. Lloyd is a well known ornithologist who lives in the area and has been studying local bird fauna for many years. His talk was about the status of Fuscous and Yellow-tinted Honeyeater in our region. His preliminary studies suggest that there is the possibility that there are no Fuscous Honeyeater in our region but several forms of Yellow-tinted Honeyeater or even a new species. Several populations on the Atherton Tableland and Lakefield National Park occur in distinctly different habitats and have different calls to each other. Two distinct populations occur either side of a 700m woodland barrier in one area of the Atherton Tableland. It would appear that it is a very complicated identification problem that needs further investigation requiring DNA testing to sort it out – sounds like a good project for a Ph.D. Student. This is an image from one of the populations on the Atherton Tableland of what maybe another form of the Yellow-tinted Honeyeater.

Yellow-tinted Honeyeater?

Sunday morning was spent at a private property along Rifle Creek in Mt. Molloy where we saw 35 species including Black Bittern, Pacific Baza, Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, Shining Flycatcher and Eastern Yellow-Robin. Also seen here were hundreds of Sapphire Flutterer dragonflies. 

Sapphire Flutterer

Early afternoon we had a talk by Kath Shurcliff, Birdlife North Queensland Convener, about the list and atlas entry of the Eremaea Birds online database for birds, which has now moved to a new site called Eremaea ebird which is a real-time, online checklist program. eBird has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds. Kath introduced us to the differences between the two databases and how to use ebird for entering and retrieving data. The aim is to get everyone using ebird and making their records, many of which are hidden away in notebooks, available for everyone to access.The evening was spent watching a DVD, filmed at the Lodge, about the breeding cycle of the Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher which migrate from Papua New Guinea to breed in North Queensland rainforest each year during the “Wet Season. They nest in low terrestrial termite mounds before heading back to PNG in April.

Monday morning was spent in and around the Lodge for two hours during which time we recorded 52 species including Plumed Whistling-Duck, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, 30+ Red-tailed Black Cockatoo were the first for this season,(they usually are present in January - February) and a White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike nest with two very large chicks in it. 

White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike

We experienced a few showers of rain but luckily they did not interfere with a very successful weekend in which we saw 113 species and heard a further 11 species.

Thanks to all those that made the weekend a success especially Del Richards, Lloyd Nielsen, Kath Shurcliff and Doug Herrington Birdlife North Queensland Activities Officer.

Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge Business and Property For Sale
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Sunday, January 12, 2014

12th January 2014 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Weather Report
Welcome to 2014 and hope you all enjoyed Christmas/New Year celebrations. Since the last blog the weather has been a mixed bag, extremely hot for here - up to 35ºc, but elsewhere in Queensland almost 50ºC! It did get down to 18ºc overnight on a couple of occasions. Rain has been very patchy with only 33mm over the last four weeks when we should be getting more as it is our “Wet Season”. The monsoonal trough is over the far north of Australia, across Cape York Peninsula and is forecast to come further south in the next two weeks so we should expect some good rainfalls. The total rainfall for the last year was 1473mm which is well below our average. In 1992 Julatten had 2148mm in January alone!

Past Four Weeks Bird Sightings:-
Bird sightings for the first week were , seen and a high number of heard, second week sightings were , seen and heard. The last four weeks bird lists can be found on the Eremaea Birds Website:- 15th - 21st December , 22nd - 28th December , 29th December - 4th January, 5th - 11th January

Birding Highlights:-
The absolute highlight over the last month was a female Yellow-billed Kingfisher seen by three of our guests perched along Bushy Creek near the Platypus viewing area on the 28th December. Luckily two of the guests had a camera on hand and took a few images, two of which they sent us to put into the blog, shown below. 

Yellow-billed Kingfisher - female

Yellow-billed Kingfisher - female

Yellow-billed Kingfisher is a Cape York Peninsula speciality occurring as far south as about Coen, which is over 500km north of the Lodge. There have been a few records in our area including a previous one in Julatten, but none have been written up (as far as we know) or photographed. We heard it calling in the rainforest the next morning, but did not see it. That was the last record of it so we presume it moved on. That was exciting!

Papuan Frogmouth have been playing hide and seek by not staying in the same location two days running, this pair was seen one day on the edge of the orchard.

Papuan Frogmouth

Lesser Sooty Owl has been heard a few times and hopefully has moved back into the Lodge grounds since the Barking Owl appear to have left the area. Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher are nesting and hopefully sitting on eggs, we have at least eight nests around the Lodge with several others in our neighbours garden and adjacent rainforest. Other birds seen nesting include, Australian Brush-turkey, Peaceful Dove, Pacific Baza, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Dollarbird, Australasian Figbird, Olive-backed Oriole, Spangled Drongo, Black-faced Monarch, Spectacled Monarch, Magpie Lark, Pale-yellow Robin, Metallic Starling, Olive-backed Sunbird, Red-browed Finch (nothing new here as they build nests all year around) and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin.

A few interesting observations regarding nesting birds were; a Spangled Drongo building a nest seen placing sticks and wriggling around in the nest to shape it then a week later the nest was occupied by an Australian Figbird who is still in it! The pair of Spangled Drongo are now in another nest in the same tree, but on the other side. Not sure whether the drongo was trying to take over the figbirds nest or the figbird stole the drongos nest. Also of interest was a Pale-yellow Robin nest which had at least one nestling in it. There were four adults attending this nest and feeding the young. When I passed the nest the adults started flying around my head to chase me off before dropping to the ground. Here they started doing a broken wing display, then as I backed away the birds headed to the nearby leaf litter and started to move around with both wings outstretched and flapping. 

Pale-yellow Robin - broken wing display

Pale-yellow Robin - disturbing insects on the ground

Presumably they were trying to disturb insects as they were turning over leaves at the same time. Not seen this behaviour before. Noisy Pitta have bred and have at least one juvenile which has been seen in the vicinity of the Crake Pool. Varied Sittella were seen along McDougall Road, this is an uncommon species in the vicinity of the Lodge, but over the last couple of years sightings have become more frequent. Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been calling and seen around the Lodge grounds most days. 

Pied Monarch
Further Afield:-
Euluma Creek Road, Julatten has been turning up some uncommon birds in the district including Tawny Grassbird and Horsfield's Bushlark. Abattoir Swamp has had Black-chinned Honeyeater (Golden-backed form) and Northern Fantail. Five Squatter Pigeon and six Grey-crowned Babbler were at Mt. Molloy. Lake Mitchell had at least 45 Whiskered Tern, two Brolga and two Black-necked Stork. A dam on the Kondaparinga Road north of Mt. Carbine had a Bar-breasted Honeyeater building a nest on a Rubber Vine, an unusual record. The isolated population of White-gaped Honeyeater were seen at the regular location of the McLeod River along with a nesting Black Bittern. Hasties Swamp near Atherton has been getting good numbers of birds, we counted 247 Pink-eared Duck, at least 400 Grey Teal plus 10 Freckled Duck and at least 150 Eurasian Coot on 17th December but Alan Gillanders from Alan's Wildlife Tours had 269 Pink-eared Duck, 500+ Plumed Whistling-Duck and 28 Freckled Duck on the 8th January. There were plenty of other species present, but not in high numbers, Latham's Snipe have also been seen here recently. Our full list from Hasties can be found on the e-bird site. Lake Evan (Brady Road Swamp) 4km north of Mareeba has been getting up to 1200 Magpie Goose as well as a variety of other species such as Plumed Whistling-Duck, Red-kneeded Dotterel and a single Pink-eared Duck. 

Magpie Goose - part of the flock of 1200

Red-rumped Swallow and immature Barn Swallow were reported from Somerset Drive north of Mossman. We went down to have a look, but only found Fairy Martin and Tree Martin on the powerlines. Next to the powerlines was this very appropriate sign which says it all!

Whilst we were down that way we called into Newell Beach Boat Ramp at the mouth of the Mossman River which flows into the ocean here and forms a sandbar which is often good for shorebirds. A few Bar-tailed Godwit were about the most exciting birds present as it was high tide and most of the sandbar was under water.

Newell Beach at mouth of Mossman River

A trip to Cairns on the 9th January actually coincided with a favourable tide for a change. Plenty of shorebirds including a Sanderling on the mudflats with Red-necked Stint. Sanderling are not very common at the Esplanade. Other shorebirds included both Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit, Terek and Curlew and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Lesser and Greater Sandplover, Grey-tailed Tattler, Great Knot, Eastern Curlew and Whimbrel. Full list can be found on the Eremaea Birds site. Mt. Lewis is again proving to be the spot to go to with numbers of Blue-faced Parrot-Finch climbing up to at least 40 which is the most seen for many years.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
A few snakes have come active with the warmer weather including a Red-bellied Black seen on the track to Bushy Creek, a Green Tree Snake eating a poor unfortunate White-lipped Tree Frog and an Australian Scrub Python has been in our neighbours garden. 

Green Tree Snake with White-lipped Tree Frog

Boyd's Forest Dragon, Eastern Water Dragon and Major Skink have all been showing well. Platypus has been around with three being seen one late afternoon. Bats have been active with 6 species seen, Eastern Horseshoe Bat, Large-footed Myotis, Northern Broad-nosed Bat, Little Bentwing Bat and Diadem Leaf-nosed Bat plus Spectacled Flying-Fox. Red-legged Pademelon have been seen scurrying around the rainforest and in the orchard. A Yellow-footed Antichinus (small rat like species) was seen hurrying across the reception area feeder one morning, the first for several weeks.