98.5mm of rain fell on two days during the week which was most welcome but it is now dry and sunny again. The temperatures ranged from 18ºC to 28ºC. 89 bird species were seen and 7 heard, mammals and reptiles were 21 seen and 3 heard.
Probably the highlight of the week was spotlighting a male Superb Fruit-Dove, a first for us and a lifer for several guests on the tour. We had a brief look without disturbing the sleeping bird. 11 Glossy Ibis turned up at a swamp in the nearby McDougall Road (within our 1.5km lodge list) which is unusual for so many as previous records have been of one or two birds.
A pair of Eastern Barn Owls were seen copulating so hopefully they will nest for the second time this year. A pair of (Lesser) Sooty Owls were seen two nights running which is a record for this year! At least 4 termite mounds have already been dug out by the Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfishers with possibly more but we need to check all the 40+ termite mounds on the property for any activity, hopefully in the coming week. A nesting Pacific Baza has two rapidly growing chicks in the nest and a pair of Double-eyed Fig-Parrot also has chicks in a nest in the Lodge grounds. A Red-necked Crake was calling from the rainforest near the crake pool one evening at 5.35 before eventually walking out and doing a lap of the small pool. It then climbed onto the rock wall, walked along the rainforest edge and disappeared into the rainforest on the opposite side and again began calling.
A pair of Yellow Honeyeater spent a few minutes one morning trying to catch a butterfly before a Leaden Flycatcher swooped down and caught the butterfly to show the honeyeaters how it was done. The two honeyeaters retreated to a nearby tree wondering where their breakfast had gone and the flycatcher sat triumphantly in a nearby tree showing off his catch!
The winner - Leaden Flycatcher
Cuckoos are still in evidence with Pheasant Coucal, Eastern Koel, Little Bronze-Cuckoo and Brush Cuckoo heard plus Channel-billed Cuckoo and Shining Bronze-Cuckoo seen. A Cicadabird was found sitting on a nest and Yellow-spotted Honeyeater was busy building their nest.
Further afield Oriental Cuckoo is being seen around the area, especially near the Cairns central cemetery and along the Daintree River, also one of our guests reported one at Big Mitchell Creek on the way to Mareeba. The Asian Dowitcher has not been reported for some time along the Cairns Esplanade and appears to have moved on. Carol and Andrew Iles, who are currently house sitting Red Mill House in the Daintree Village reported an adult and a scruffy juvenile Barn Swallow at Newell Beach. Plenty of Black Bittern reported on the Daintree River. Carol and Andrew also reported one of their guests had seen a Male Cassowary with two chicks along the Jindalba Boardwalk, near the Discovery Centre on the way up to Cape Tribulation across the Daintree River.
Spotlighting during the week was good with the already mentioned Superb Fruit-Dove as well as a roosting Forest Kingfisher and a Papuan Frogmouth sitting on a branch calling. Unlike other Papuan Frogmouths in the district it would appear that ours are not nesting yet, it's possible we only have a single bird at the moment. A Green Ringtail Possum was seen and several Striped Possum heard. The rain had stirred up Bushy Creek which was quite murky and all we saw of a Platypus was a dark shadow swimming by. We did hear the whistling call of several Eastern Tube-nosed Bat Nyctimene robinsoni one night, which was the first time we can recall hearing this call. The rain bought out 8 species of frog including several Green Tree Frog which we heard calling from high in the canopy.
Sean Dooley (“The Big Twitch”) called in during the week for a night as part of a project to promote the Bird Trails of the Cairns region which includes the Daintree, Cairns Highlands (Tablelands) and Mission Beach. The brochure for the Bird Trails is an initiative of several birding accommodations and tour guides from the area who co-operated to produce and fund the brochure. Copies can be downloaded from www.birdingtropicalaustralia.com.au