A fairly dry week with 7½mm of rain and drizzle mainly overnight with plenty of sunny days. It was a good week for bird numbers due to conducting a few morning walks which averaged 60 species in 2½ hrs. The total species seen was 100 birds (no this was not orchestrated!) plus 2 heard and 22 mammal/reptile/amphibian species.
Highlight of the week was a Great-billed Heron in our neighbour Susanne & Ron's garden, it was just standing on his lawn. Luckily I had my camera and managed a couple of grab shots before it flew off to Bushy Creek and out of sight. We usually have a few sightings around this time of year of birds moving up Bushy Creek and on into Rifle Creek where we believe they breed.
Topknot Pigeon have been foraging in the orchard area along with Woompo Fruit-Dove in the fruiting Blue Quandongs. Australian Owlet-nightjar has been popping up during the day to peer out of his daytime roost. Buff-banded Rail has just started to be seen again around the edge of the Lodge grounds after an absence of several months, not sure where they disappear to. A pair of Double-eyed Fig-Parrot were showing well in a fruiting fig tree just down the road from the Lodge along with a few Barred Cuckoo-shrike. Several Little Bronze-Cuckoo have been showing well including one which was previously known as Goulds Bronze-Cuckoo before they were lumped in 2008 (Christidies & Boles). A Fan-tailed Cuckoo was perched on a fence post during a morning walk for great views. It hung around and flew to a low branch in a shrub where a posse of honeyeaters attempted to chaperone it out of their territory! Fan-tailed Cuckoos are not often seen around the Lodge area. 13 species of honeyeater this week including a golden-backed form of the Black-chinned Honeyeater (uncommon) and a Bridled Honeyeater down from higher altitudes at this time of year. No sign of the Yellow Honeyeater back at the Magpie Larks nest, reported last week, but will keep monitoring it to see if they do come back. We have been surprised at the number of Yellow Honeyeater seen this week, normally we only see them in pairs but there has been up to 14 in small flocks working the flowering Queensland Blue-Gums. Golden, Grey and Rufous Whistlers have been active within a few hundred metres of each other working their prefered habitats, not many places you can see this. Black Butcherbird has been sneaking around the Lodge grounds and caught one morning trying to take a frog, which was screaming out, before the bird was disturbed and left without the poor frog – fate unknown.
An attempt by a guest to turn a male Leaden Flycatcher into a Satin was unsuccessful but we will be looking out for Satins as they do appear around this time of year. Other good birds around the Lodge grounds have been Pied Monarch, Yellow-breasted Boatbill and a Female Victoria's Riflebird. Metallic Starling numbers have been building up with 8 seen at the end of the week attending last years nests.
Further afield Square-tailed Kite and Little Eagle have been reported between Mt. Molloy and Mareeba and a Spotted Harrier was in the Mt. Molloy township. Grey Goshawk and White-headed Pigeon were seen on Mt. Lewis.
Spotlighting during the week was good around the Lodge, the highllight was spotlighting a Hercules Moth in flight - a first. The moth, which is the worlds largest, flew around our heads before landing at our feet giving us great views. A 3m Amethystine Python swam along the opposite side of Bushy Creek one night – no sign of Platypus that night! Good sightings of Striped Possum, one night a baby with Adult. Eight species of frog including Litoria wilcoxii Wilcox's Frog were recorded during the week.
Wilcox's Frog Litoria wilcoxii
Papuan Frogmouth was found on several occasions and the Barn Owl family continue to perform.
A new addition to our bookshop is the second edition of “Finding Birds in Darwin, Kakadu & the Top End – Northern Territory, Australia” by Niven McCrie and James Watson. This edition has been revised and updated and is very comprehensive, a must for visiting birders – cost $35.00 plus post & packing.