16mm of rain during the week over 2 days with temperatures ranging from 18ºC to 29ºC, slightly cooler than the previous week. Bird numbers were slightly up on last week, 85 bird species seen and 9 heard - mammals and reptiles were 17 seen and 2 heard.
Highlights for the week included an Oriental Cuckoo seen near Bushy Creek by Jack and Bill Moorhead, who some of you might know. An Oriental Cuckoo was also seen later that same morning when it was found on the ground outside the office after having flown into a window and stunned itself. A few hours in the dark inside a box allowed it to recover and then fly off strongly with just a headache! There has been 4 previous records of Oriental Cuckoo’s at the Lodge; end of December, January and April with the last sighting in 2007. A Yellow Wagtail was seen at Lake Mitchell by Alistair and Gary, two guests from England who are very familiar with this species. It was in the drainage ditch alongside the causeway.
The Pacific Baza chicks continue to grow at a rapid rate with their fluffy white plumage changing into more adult like plumage with barring occurring across the breast and their crest appearing on the back of the head. The adults have been kept busy bringing in food, mainly frogs and as the photo below shows they are looking a bit worse for wear! Here the adult was taking a rest from feeding duties.
Striated Pardalote was seen for the first time since 13th September, prior to that they have been seen in every month this year. Interestingly in previous years they have been absent around this period. In 2005 they were absent from 16th October until 29th January 2006, then absent from 22nd October 2006 until 18th February 2007 with one sighting on 24th December, again absent from 7th October until 21st January 2008. In 2008/09 they were present throughout this period. So do they migrate away from here between October-February or do they stop calling and get overlooked? The sub-species which occurs here is melanocephalus and according to the handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds they are resident or present throughout the year but there is evidence of local movements around Paluma (north of Townsville) with only one record in December from 50 visits over 6 years. So much more to learn about our birds.
What else happened over the week?
A Northern Fantail was heard calling from Geraghty Park before being seen, this species is more common in the drier country from Abattoir Swamp to Mt. Molloy than around here – we have 6 previous records from 2003 onwards. A few Topknot Pigeon appeared for a day as in the previous week and 2 different Papuan Frogmouth were seen during the week.
Another frogmouth was calling nearly every night and when tracked down it was a very small looking bird with hardly any tail. We checked the eye shine which looked dark red (not yellow to orange as in Tawny Frogmouth) and the plumage looked like a Papuan Frogmouth. The main bird with which it could be confused is the rufous-morph of the Tawny Frogmouth, but the two sightings of this bird we have had here showed a distinct orange eye however this was during the day and not by spotlight. We will try and track it down to confirm ID.
A single Glossy Ibis was found in nearby McDougall Road Swamp. Red-necked Crake was again heard on several occasions giving a single call which maybe a sign that they have chicks with them. Channel-billed Cuckoo numbers have dropped during the week with little calling towards the end. Sooty Owl was heard on several nights, but despite searching not seen. The local family of Blue-winged Kookaburra moved to the edge of the Lodge grounds one morning and this upset the local Laughing Kookaburra family who tried to see them off, eventually succeeding in moving them back to Geraghty Park after a noisy interchange. The Noisy Pitta has been noisy mainly early morning moving around its territory both on the ground and 20m+ up in the tree canopy with most guests seeing it eventually. A few Barred Cuckoo-shrike are still around and the female Cicadabird continues to sit on her nest (only females incubate), the male is not far away calling and defending the nest. A pair of Spangled Drongo continues to build a nest and defend it from a third bird who insists on hanging around.
Black-faced Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have started to become more vocal during the week.
Yellow-breasted Boatbill (male)
Further afield a White-headed Pigeon was seen on Mt. Lewis and both Barn Swallow and Red-rumped Swallow was reported from Somerset Drive, just north of Newell Beach on the way to Daintree Village from Mossman, by one of our guests. A couple of our guests had seen two Asian Dowitcher on the Cairns Esplanade which is good as they appeared to disappear for several weeks. Up to 10 Oriental Cuckoo was present in the Cairns Central Swamp next to the Cairns Cemetery alongside Anderson Road.
Spotlighting turned up the afore mentioned frogmouth, a brief look at a Feathertail Glider, one Long-nosed Bandicoot after a few weeks without sighting one, Striped Possum was heard but not seen. Reptiles and amphibians were fairly quiet apart from two Boyd’s Forest Dragon who were squaring up to each other – probably the same two who were at it the previous week. Several Easter Water Dragon were along Bushy Creek.