Sunday, 15 November 2009

15th November 2009 Report

The much needed rain did arrive during the week with 47mm falling mainly at the beginning. Temperatures ranged from 17ºC to 27ºC. Not quite as many birds seen as last week with 90 seen and 6 heard, mammals and reptiles were up on last week with 22 seen.

Highlights for the week were a Grey Goshawk in the orchard (although we would expect the other birds to disagree!) and a pair of Double-eyed Fig-Parrot entering a nesting chamber in a tree above one of the camp sites. There are still large flocks of Topknot Pigeon around the grounds along with a few Wompoo and Superb Fruit-Dove. A Pacific Baza continues to nest and the Nankeen Kestrel family of 3 chicks fledged towards the end of the week. The rain fired up a Brush Cuckoo into calling along with a Little Bronze-Cuckoo but neither were seen. For the third Saturday in a row a (Lesser) Sooty Owl started calling near the office before moving across the road into a patch of forest but unlike the previous Saturdays this time it was tracked down and seen. Three Eastern Barn Owl were seen emerging from two roost hollows which we have not seen for sometime. A Dollarbird was seen going into a hollow in a Queensland Blue Gum in Geraghty Park but not seen there again on several follow up visits. The Noisy Pitta is still calling but is spending more time in the rainforest than out in the open orchard. Lewin's Honeyeater is still around the Lodge with at least four different birds staying on beyond their normal departure of August/September. Bridled Honeyeater and a couple of Barred Cuckoo-shrike are also still present. Cicadabird is calling well but only a couple of fly over sightings. The rain bought an eruption of winged termites, many getting snared on cobwebs (must do the cleaning!). This produced an opportunity for a Pale-yellow Robin who spent most of one day picking the still alive termites off the cobwebs.

Bridled Honeyeater

Well those pesky Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher have still not arrived at the Lodge, this will be the latest arrival on record since our records started in 1994. Last year they were also late arriving on the 11th November. There seems to be the odd single bird turning up in places locally but the main contingent is still to come, hopefully by next weeks blog they will have arrived otherwise they may never come!

Further afield there were sightings of Southern Cassowary with at least one chick in the Mowbray National Park and also about 5km up the Mt. Lewis Road. Also on Mt. Lewis, near Station Creek, a pair of Bennett's Tree Kangaroo were photographed and confirmed by a local expert. This is quite a significant sighting as it probably represents the southern limit of their documented range. The water level at Hasties Swamp (brochure available at ), near Atherton is very low with just a few pools of water. Visiting at the end of the week we were surprised that the normal 100's or 1000's of Plumed Whistling-Ducks was down to just two birds, some of the other birds present were Black Duck, Grey Teal, Purple Swamphen, Dusky Moorhen, Black-winged Stilt, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Black-fronted Dotterel, Sacred and Forest Kingfisher, Lewin's and White-cheeked Honeyeater.

From Hasties Swamp we headed towards Malanda to visit some friends. Along the way we saw where the Plumed Whistling-Duck had gone, they were alongside the road on Gallos Farm along with several hundred Magpie Goose. Gallos Farm is a good place to stop as they have a cafe and chocolate factory – forget the diet!

Our friends live in the rainforest and have a good selection of birds including a very obliging Eastern Whipbird, not the easiest of birds to photograph.

Eastern Whipbird

Some other birds seen were the darker blue rainforest form of the Crimson Rosella, stunning Australian King-Parrot (male & female), Yellow-throated Scrubwren building a nest at the lounge room window, Fernwren calling in a gully below the house and flocks of Topknot Pigeon overhead, plus it was not raining which is unusual in the high altitude rainforest of the Atherton Tableland!

The most interesting mammal sightings this week was a Black Rat Ratus ratus which appeared at the feeder towards the end of the week, we have not seen one before in our time here (4½ years). It was much more active than the Bush Rat and had a longer body and tail. A Striped Possum was seen high up in the rainforest on a spotlighting trip and a Green Ringtail Possum was seen late one afternoon moving along a tree branch. The frogs liked the rainy weather with five species seen along with many Cane Toads. A Boyd's Forest Dragon was seen crossing a path and an Eastern Water Monitor was along the edge of Bushy Creek.

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