Another dry week with a bit of drizzle amounting to 3mm with temperatures down to 16ºC and up to 28ºC during the day. It was another good week for bird numbers with 85 species seen and 11 heard. 19 mammal/reptile/amphibian species were recorded.
Highlight for the week has to be an amazing sighting of a Mangrove Robin up at 450m inland and away from coastal mangroves (300th sighting for the area Mareeba, Mt. Carbine and Julatten). The sighting was just down the road from the Lodge at the back of Mt. Kooyong Nursing Home along the edge of a cane field and within 50m of Bushy Creek. It was perched on a fence post and pouncing down onto the ground picking up insects. It moved along the fence and allowed us to take several photos, one below. The white tail panels were noticeable when the bird flew back into a bamboo thicket on the edge of Bushy Creek. This species is sedentary and resident along mangrove fringed coastal areas, the closest population we know about is along Cooya Beach near Mossman which is approx 18km NE, we can find no records of this species away from coastal areas. Please let us know if you have records away from the coast.
Mangrove Robin at Julatten
What else happened over the week? The first Brush Cuckoo was seen in the grounds and a lone Lewin's Honeyeater was spotted coming into a feeder, this after we thought they had all gone at the end of August. A Pied Imperial Pigeon was still calling during the week as was a Superb Fruit-Dove but neither was seen. Still appears to be only one Channel-billed Cuckoo in the area, heard giving its melodious call on several mornings! Bridled Honeyeater were seen on a flowering tree in the orchard area along with 9 other honeyeater species. Red-necked Crake has again been heard but not seen, not very cooperative this year. A Shining Flycatcher (male) was seen flying along Bushy Creek from the Platypus viewing area, occasional records from here, probably felt at home with the Mangrove Robin!
Spotlighting turned up a Leaf-tailed Gecko high up on a tree for poor looks but a few nights later it was seen quite well through a scope. Two adult Green Ringtail Possum were seen together feeding on some fruit outside the office and a Striped Possum was seen digging its way into a decaying tree. A Platypus performed one night swimming past us before climbing onto a sandbank and digging around for excellent views. Plenty of Spectacled Flying Fox taking advantage of the fruiting Blue Quandong, some low down for good views. An unidentified stick insect was seen on a vine which was unusual as we do not often see these nocturnal insects. Agile Wallaby was seen in Geraghty Park and in the orchard area of the Lodge grounds.
Further afield a roosting Barking Owl was found just before Hunters Creek, 4km away, along the road to Mount Molloy. This is a species we have not seen around the lodge grounds since 5th August 2007.
Black-throated Finch and Squatter Pigeon were seen north of Mt. Carbine coming in to drink at a dam. The Bump Track in Mowbray National Park turned up Superb, Rose-crowned and Wompoo-Fruit Dove. A Southern Cassowary was seen about 3km up the Mt. Lewis road and an adult male Golden Bowerbird was seen a few hundred meters along the track to the dam from the parking area on Brooklyn Station. A Little Eagle was on a dingo carcase near Maryfarms on the way to Mt. Carbine.
Mammals and reptiles seen apart from those on night walks were a Short-beaked Echidna who was climbing the rock retention wall at the Platypus viewing area one evening, this is the first sighting since 12 August 2007, hope it stays around. A odd Major Skink has been showing but his mates seem to have gone into hiding again.
The spectacular Cairns Birdwing butterfly is out in force at the moment flitting around the various blossoms and looking like small birds.
A report that the causeway gate onto Lake Mitchell was locked was unfounded, this area down to a second gate, which is locked, is a stock and camping reserve. You are allowed to drive/walk along the causeway to view the water birds. Unfortunately the area around the nearby Big Mitchell Creek has been badly burnt, even into the creek bed itself and the resident White-browed Robin have been difficult to find.