This week was a complete contrast to last week with overnight low of 8ºC (freezing by our standards!) and brilliant sunny days of around 26ºC. 76 bird species were seen and 6 heard plus 21 mammal/reptile sightings which surprisingly included 6 frog species despite the cool dry weather. Early in the week the Rufous Owl was still showing at night and a close encounter during the day was had when I nearly walked into it whilst it was roosting 2m off the ground in the rainforest, not sure who was more surprised me or the owl! Anyway he just sat there and allowed eveyone to view him from the road. Last sighting was Thursday morning when a gang of small birds chased him out of the edge of the orchard back into the rainforest. The Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo that’s been around for a few weeks was heard way off in the distance during the week and did not return to the lodge grounds. An Australian Owlet-nightjar was seen several times early morning looking out of his roost hollow and also heard calling at night. A lone Pacific Baza called by for a two day visit before dissapearing again and the (Lesser) Sooty Owl was heard on several occassions both in the evening and early morning (5.15) calling for over half an hour before going to roost. A pair of Eastern Barn Owls look like they are nesting with one in a regular nest hollow and another in a tree hollow nearby. One bird was seen entering the nest hollow and leaving with the other bird one night and another night it was seen bringing a big rat to the nest site. A Great Bowerbird was foraging low down on some fruits with a bunch of Australasian Figbirds in Geraghty Park, not very common here unlike nearby Mt. Molloy which has a very healthy population of them. A Golden Whistler was heard calling in the lodge grounds, a winter visitor here and White-throated Treecreeper numbers are increasing with at least 4 birds around the grounds – up from the initial two birds. A Forest Kingfisher was in Geraghty Park trying to get a very large centipede down and succeeded eventually.
Best mammal sighting was of a Tree Mouse (formerly Prehensile-tailed Rat) Pogonomys sp. which was photographed by one of our guests. This mammal was first recorded in 1974 in Australia and frequently appears in the diet of the (Lesser) Sooty Owl. A Green Ringtail Possum was seen after not spotlighting one for 5 weeks and the Striped Possums seem to be playing hide and seek with us, 3 on one night none the next spotlighting trip. Feather-tailed Gliders were seen in two different places, on a coconut palm and the fruits of a Solitaire Palm and an Amethystene Python was seen heading for cover in the rainforest. One of the six frog species seen was Litoria bicolor Northern Dwarf Tree Frog.
Further afield a half grown Southern Cassowary was seen in Mowbray National Park with the presumed adult male crashing around in nearby vegetation. Not many sightings from this particular site so it is good to know they are around. Also here were a couple of Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo which allowed good views.