Sunday, 30 August 2009

30th August 2009 Report

Another dry week with no rain and mild overnight temperatures, down to 15ºC with plenty of great sunny days of up to 25º - another great week just like last week. It was another good week for bird numbers with 85 species seen and 5 heard. Numbers of mammal/reptile/amphibian species were 18 with a few more reptiles becoming active as the weather starts to heat up.

Highlights for the week were our first Satin Flycatcher for the season, a male foraging in eucalypts in bright sunshine for good looks at the iridescent black colouring on its head, upper breast and back differentiating it from the Leaden Flycatcher which is steely grey. T
he last Satin Flycatcher seen here was 5th October 2008. Previous years records show they pass through our area between August and November, the only other record out of this period was one in March. A flock of Australian Wood Duck showed up alongside a recently cut cane paddock across the Rex Highway, they were the first seen since 21st July 2008. Most of our records for here are between July and November with a few outside of this period.

Australian Wood Duck - male

A Tawny Grassbird was heard calling from long grass beside Bushy Creek but not seen, this is the first record this year. All our records from Kingfisher Park are between late July to early October. A pair of Red-necked Crake were seen by our neighbour in his garden heading towards our crake pool early one evening about 6.30pm, just before dark. Must stake out the pool this week to see if they come in.

Around the Lodge grounds two golden-backed form of the Black-chinned Honeyeater were seen on several occasions feeding on eucalypt
blossom and Lewin's Honeyeater appear to have disappeared towards the end of the week which is normal. Previous records show a marked decline in numbers during August with just a few birds hanging around until about the beginning of December and then an increase from late March/April. We presume they return to higher grounds like Mt. Lewis where birds can be found all year around but this is not backed up with any scientific study but personal observations, they could also return south to the southern Atherton Tableland. There is still a lot to learn about our tropical bird movements. Fruiting Blue Quandong (Eleocarpus grandis) mentioned last week attracting Spectacled Fly-Fox are now bringing in Topknot Pigeon and Wompoo Fruit-Dove but no sign of Superb Fruit-Dove yet.

Further afield a small flock of Double-eyed Fig-Parrot were foraging beside Rifle Creek out the back of Julatten and one of our guests reported at least 20 Olive-backed Sunbird in a tree at Kuranda railway station, which is pretty amazing. The Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds (HANZAB) states “Usually occur singularly, in two's or small groups of up to four” which is what we have found.

Olive-backed Sunbird - male

Several Squatter Pigeon were seen around Mt. Molloy early in the week. Alan Gillanders reported Channel-billed Cuckoo and Black-faced Monarch arriving around Yungaburra on the Atherton Tableland (south of us by 1hour), late in the week but neither species has shown up here yet. A business trip to Cairns allowed a quick visit to the Cairns Esplanade where a few returning waders were present. Red-necked Stint, Common Greenshank, Great Knot, Eastern Curlew, Whimbrel, Lesser Sandplover, Bar-tailed Godwit and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. A Striated Heron was fishing before a Brahminy Kite flew in and distracted it. The heron took up the bittern pose to look up and keep an eye on the kite. It wasn't very good for photography as it was blowing a gale but I did manage this very average shot of the heron.

Striated Heron

I was surprised by the unusual amount of Intermediate Egret foraging on the mud flats, at least 40+ along with Little Egret and a few Eastern Great Egret. No sign of the Laughing Gull amongst the Silver Gulls but I did not try too hard as I was short on time. There was also plenty of Australian Pelican (only recently returned – so I was told by John Crowhurst) and many Royal Spoonbill. Always worth a visit to the Esplanade if you get the right tide.

On the reptile front a pair of Green Tree Snake were mating outside the office before untangling and heading off in separate directions and a Boyd's Forest Dragon obligingly posed for photos, both events happening at the same time. Spotlighting on a couple of nights had different outcomes with Papuan Frogmouth seen both times but Striped and Green Ringtail Possum only seen once as was a Platypus. There has been two Platypus swimming past the viewing area of Bushy Creek, mainly in the morning and active later than normal with a couple of sightings between 10 and 11am (normally asleep by 6.45 at this time of year). It maybe that the breeding season has caused them to be active longer during the day. The Striped Possum seen during spotlighting was one of two calling loudly to each other and chasing through the canopy – more mating?

1 comment:

Alistair Drake said...

Re the observation of 20 Sunbirds - while birding at the Rex Highway/Sides Rd intersection during our stay at KPBL last week, I noticed a feeding flock of 6-8 birds and was surprised to find that all seemed to be Sunbirds.