At last we had some rain - 16mm over 3 days which was very welcome. Temperatures ranged from 16ºC to 27ºC and plenty of sun which along with the rain encouraged the birds to become more active. An increase in bird sightings was the result with 89 seen and 5 heard, mammals and reptiles were 15 seen.
Highlights for the week were regular sightings of Noisy Pitta hopping around the orchard early morning, 1st Cicadabird for the season calling in the Lodge grounds and two sightings of Red-necked Crake in our neighbours garden heading towards the crake pool at about 7.15 in the morning.
Cicadabird - male
Wandering Whistle Duck was heard flying over during a spotlighting trip and at least four Superb Fruit-Dove were calling in the orchard rainforest before one was seen high up perched on a branch. A Pied Imperial Pigeon flew over Geraghty Park and over the Lodge grounds, this is an uncommon visitor inland. Topknot Pigeon returned in numbers, after a few weeks absence with a flock of 70+ feeding in a Blue Quandong. An Australian Bustard was seen flying along Mt. Kooyong Road on our boundary heading towards Geraghty Park and beyond. Channel-billed Cuckoo numbers have increased with at least 14 noisily flying over the Lodge grounds one evening. An Australian Owlet-nightjar was seen several times peering out of its daytime roost and 14 species of honeyeater were recorded. Dollarbird were seen and heard calling several times.
A pair of Spotted Catbird were found on the ground with a young Buff-banded Rail they had killed. A guest bought the body over to us to identify and the spotted catbirds followed sitting above us and looking down at their breakfast they had lost. They had punctured the rails breast and made a big hole in it as well as nearly decapitating it. A pair of Varied Triller and Pale-Yellow Robin were nesting and a Shining Flycatcher male was foraging in Bushy Creek, an occasional visitor. Spangled Drongo are still around in numbers heading south on migration and Black-faced Monarch numbers increased towards the end of the week returning from Papua New Guinea. We are still awaiting the return of the Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher also from Papua New Guinea, they had not arrived on Cape York (Iron Range) late last week.
Further afield two Spotless Crake were at Abattoir Swamp and another at McDougall Road (1.5km from Lodge), a White-browed Crake was also at Abattoir Swamp and another was still at the small wetland in Euluma Creek Road, Julatten, mentioned last week. The dam north of Mt. Carbine, also mentioned last week, continues to dry out and attract much the same species but one lucky group saw a Taipan coming down to drink, a highly venomous species best viewed at a distance! Asian Dowitcher and Laughing Gull were still on the Cairns Esplanade on 24th October reported on the Cairns Birds blog site. Well north in Iron Range National Park on Cape York Peninsula, a guest reported seeing a Red-bellied Pitta, probably an overwintering bird as migrants don’t usually arrive until later in the year after good rains.
A Green Ringtail Possum was spotted high up in a Black Bean tree on the edge of the orchard roosting one afternoon and several sightings of Striped Possum were the first for a couple of weeks. A Giant White-tailed Rat was seen during the day which is unusual - possibly the rat was not 100% well but it did move quite quickly. A Platypus was seen several times during the late afternoon swimming upstream for good views and a juvenile Eastern Water Dragon was perched on a branch overlooking Bushy Creek, watching the Platypus go by! After no sightings of Amethystine Python for several months one was crossing an access road in the Lodge grounds one evening, it was about 2.5m long.
Quite an eventful week.