Monday, 9 March 2009

8th March Report

A relatively dry week with only 25.5mm of rain despite the threat of a tropical cyclone off the coast which continued on south away from us, hope it keeps moving south and does not cross the coast. We were away for the week and friends were looking after the Lodge which accounts for the bigger species list this week. They had more time to birdwatch around the grounds and came up with 78 bird species seen plus another 12 heard as well as 13 reptile/mammal species.
Highlights were a White-headed Pigeon coming down to drink at the Crake Pool, Latham’s Snipe in ponding beside the Rex Highway, both Rufous and Grey Fantails which have not been seen for a couple of months and the Shining Flycatcher reported last week was present again this week.

Further afield we visited a few places on the Atherton Tablelands, highlights included Grey Goshawk (white phase) at Jon and Peta Notts “Rose Gums” property plus another 36 species and a very obliging pair of Victoria’s Riflebird near Malanda posed for photographs.

At Tinaburra Waters on Lake Tinaroo were Pacific Black Duck and Wandering Whistle Duck with ducklings in tow. No sign of the Swinhoe’s Snipe that had been reported there, last seen the day before we arrived! A pair of Crested Pigeon was also at Tinaburra Waters and like other parts of Australia is expanding their range and are now moving onto the Atherton Tableland. The Mamu Canopy Walk along the Palmerston Highway between Innisfail and the Atherton Tableland is well worth a visit for the spectacular scenery but was pretty quiet for birds when we visited at 9.30 when it opens, had a nice Green Tree Snake cross the path in front of us.

The Cairns Esplanade had a good variety of waders including some such as Red-necked Stint, Greater and Lesser Sandplover and Bar-tailed Godwit going into their breeding plumage. Also present were Australian Pied Oystercatcher, Pacific Golden Plover, Masked Lapwing, Whimbrel, Eastern Curlew, Terek Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler, Common Greenshank, Great Knot, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Curlew Sandpiper.

Curlew Sandpiper

Lots of Little Tern and the Laughing Gull was still present appearing to be getting darker around the head and breast. The Laughing Gull was mixed in with Silver Gulls and trying to get a bit of the action opposite Muddies playground where they were being fed bread but not very successfully. A pair of Channel-billed Cuckoo were seen in the northern suburbs of Cairns flying south-west, not too common on the coast and most are flying north at this time of year.

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