The signs are looking good for some more much needed rain after we had 12.5mm during the week. Temperatures ranged from 16 to 27C. Not quite as many birds seen as last week but still a respectable number of 95 seen and 5 heard, mammals and reptiles were 15 seen.
Highlights for the week were 2 Noisy Pitta which started calling, mainly early morning-late afternoon but spasmodically during the day. They were also seen well foraging in the orchard area as well as in the rainforest. Red-necked Crake are still proving to be elusive in the lodge grounds but one was seen in our neighbours garden at 10 o’clock one morning and another pair started to call in a patch of forest between the lodge grounds and the Rex Highway when a noisy car went past. A (Lesser) Sooty Owl was calling on Saturday night but despite searching was not seen. Superb Fruit-Dove have been calling and only seen well once perched high up on an exposed branch. One has been calling for nearly 3 weeks from the same spot and could be sitting on a nest as they have been observed calling from a nest. Strange survival strategy which other species such as Black-faced Monarch have been observed doing (the monarchs nest was predated by a Black Butcherbird). Pied Imperial Pigeon continue to hang around and flocks of Topknot Pigeon are still present. Australian Owlet-nightjar has been sitting in his daytime roost hollow allowing good looks. The nesting Nankeen Kestrel now has three very large chicks which should fledge during the coming week.
A Shining Bronze-Cuckoo was heard calling, this is a species which is generally at higher altitude in our area (Mt.Lewis) and only turns up occasionally. A pair of Dollarbird were mating outside the office and look ready to start breeding which they do in the open woodland country across the Rex Highway from the lodge. Plenty of honeyeaters around with 14 recorded this week in the lodge grounds including Golden-backed form of the Black-chinned Honeyeater. Cicadabird has started calling more this week and plenty of Spangled Drongo are still around, ones that have not continued south yet.
The Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher are not back yet at the Lodge, but several single birds have been seen around the district. These are probably early arrivals ahead of the main migrants. Hopefully they will all arrive this week and start nesting. Apart from the kingfishers other sightings in the area include flocks of Banded Honeyeater in Fraser Road, Mt. Molloy, Lots of White-cheeked Honeyeater at Abattoir Swamp along with the Spotless and White-browed Crake which have been present for several weeks. The resident Northern Fantail was in the car park giving us a nice song.
A trip to Cairns early in the week provided an opportunity to check out the lagoon at Yorkey's Knob and the Cairns Esplanade. The Yorkey's Knob lagoon is alongside the road in the Half Moon Bay Golf Course (brochure available at www.birdsaustralianq.org/pdfs/Yorkeys-Knob-No-8.pdf ) and always has something of interest. This time it was 42 Green Pygmy Goose observed at close range. Australasian Darter was nesting and a pair of Masked Lapwing had two chicks. A Black Butcherbird was escorted from the lagoon by several Brown-backed Honeyeater and a Pied Imperial-Pigeon.
The Cairns Esplanade did not disappoint as usual, plenty of shorebirds (waders) including Asian Dowitcher, Broad-billed Sandpiper (2), Red Knot (2), both Lesser and Greater Sand Plover, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Eastern Curlew, Terek Sandpiper, Grey-tailed Tattler, Common Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper (occasional visitor to the mudflats), Great Knot, Red-necked Stint, Sharp-tailed and Curlew Sandpiper. Four species of egret were present, Eastern Great Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret and a grey phase Eastern Reef Egret. This gave a great opportunity to compare the species side by side, in particular the Little Egret was most obliging by foraging close to the board walk and posing for a photo shoot.
A Striped Possum was seen foraging on the flowers of a Black Bean Tree and several very pregnant Northern-brown and Long-nosed Bandicoot have been coming into the feeder at night. Again the Platypus has been seen most mornings and afternoons in Bushy Creek. Frogs have started calling again and a Cogger’s Barred Frog was seen beside a giant rainforest snail. A few Major Skink have been making an appearance but they are not so obvious as they have been in previous years.