Another very dry week with temperatures down to 15ºC and up to 28ºC during the day. The humidity dropped down during the day to 41% which is unheard of here. We also had the edge of the dust storm which went across the east of Australia - it passed through here towards the end of the week and went out to sea. Then south-easterly winds blew the dust back again and it is still with us. It was another good week for bird numbers with 85 species seen and 7 heard. 20 mammal/reptile/amphibian species were recorded.
Highlights of the week look a bit flat after last weeks Mangrove Robin which will be talked about for a while yet! We followed up some published inland records but discovered that they were in fact seen along the coast in mangroves. There are a few records of Mangrove Robins coming inland up river courses with one at the Tyto Wetlands in Ingham which is not far from the Herbert River – thanks to Tyto Tony (http://tytotony.blogspot.com) for this record and a few comments. So far we have no records of birds at altitude (450m here).
Some of the migrants arrived last week including a male Eastern Koel feeding in a fig tree and a Black-faced Monarch was heard calling in the rainforest on two days but not seen. A Red-necked Crake was seen around 7.30 in the morning, once on the edge of the orchard then 10 minutes later along Bushy Creek on a sandbar. Up to 4 Superb Fruit-Dove have been calling in the Lodge grounds and eventually seen several times after searching for the last two weeks. Pied Imperial Pigeon was again heard and several Wompoo Fruit-Dove seen. A pair of Brown Goshawk were soaring over the orchard displaying and a pair of White-bellied Sea-Eagle were making their quacking call whilst perched in a tree along the edge of the Lodge grounds. A fruiting fig on the corner of the lodge grounds attracted 50+ Barred Cuckoo-shrike, several pairs of Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, lots of Australasian Figbird, 100+ Metallic Starling and a Channel-billed Cuckoo. Papuan Frogmouth have started calling with one laying prostrate on a tree branch over the restaurant area in front of the units seen calling. Still only the female and last years young around.
Occasional visitors included a pair of Pale-headed Rosella at the adjacent Geraghty Park, White-cheeked Honeyeater in the Lodge grounds - one of 14 species of honeyeaters seen during the week and a Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike perched in a Blue Quandong tree.
Further afield a trip to Cairns allowed a quick visit to the Esplanade in search of the reported Asian Dowitcher (2) and the long term Laughing Gull, neither was seen, they were present the day before. Other waders present included Pacific Golden Plover (one still in partial breeding plumage), Lesser and Greater Sandplover, Masked Lapwing, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Eastern Curlew, Terek Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler, Great Knot, Rd-necked Stint and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. Also present were Australian Pelican, Eastern Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Striated Heron, White-faced Heron, Little Egret, Australian White Ibis, Royal Spoonbill, Gull-billed Tern, Caspian Tern and Silver Gull. In the trees behind the Esplanade were Varied Honeyeater. In the local area Blue-faced Parrot-Finch were still being seen as was Lovely Fairy-wren. A Square-tailed Kite was also reported nearby.
Mammals and reptiles were much the same as seen over the last few weeks with up to 3 Platypus being seen at one time in Bushy Creek. A Green Ringtail Possum and a Striped Possum were seen on a couple of occasions. A pair of Agile Wallaby have been seen on several nights in the orchard helping to keep the remaining grass down.
An ever increasing population of bandicoot are coming to the feeder at night as the ground dries out and becoming difficult to dig, up to six Northern Brown Bandicoot and a Long-nosed Bandicoot are regulars.