10.5mm of rain during the week over 2 days with temperatures ranging from 19ºC to 28ºC, a very pleasant week with cooler temperatures and lots of sunshine. Bird numbers were down on last week, 75 bird species seen and 9 heard (no visits to nearby wetlands) - mammals and reptiles were 17 seen and 2 heard.
Highlights for the week included more Oriental Cuckoo, with two seen perched and flying along the rainforest edge adjacent to a cane field. Two Pale-vented Bush-hen were seen foraging and a second pair were heard calling further upstream in the grass alongside Bushy Creek. Five Pied Imperial-Pigeon were foraging alongside Bushy Creek near the Mt. Kooyong nursing home, this is the highest number we have seen around the Lodge grounds and in the district at any one time. The Pacific Baza chicks are getting quite large now and almost ready to leave the nest, they have been perching outside the nest on adjacent branches.
Pacific Baza - chick at beginning of the week
Pacific Baza chick at end of week
The Noisy Pitta have been seen during the week in the rainforest and out in the orchard foraging and also very noisy calling but not every day. Mrs. Cicadabird is still sitting on her nest with Mr. Cicadabird not far away keeping a look out for any intruders who get too close to the nest. One morning he was chasing off 10+ Barred Cuckoo-shrike who were trying to glean insects off an adjacent eucalypt tree. Spangled Drongo, Australian Figbird, Magpie-lark and Large-billed Gerygone are also nesting around the Lodge grounds. Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher are still vocal and flying around their nest sites. Wompoo Fruit-Dove has been showing well but the Superb Fruit-Dove has again proved elusive, heard but not seen. Six cuckoo species heard or seen this week, up to 14 Channel-billed Cuckoo are still in the area, Brush Cuckoo has been seen calling but Pheasant Coucal, Eastern Koel and Little Bronze-Cuckoo have only been heard. Yellow-breasted Boatbill and Black-faced Monarch have continued calling a lot during the week.
Further afield Red-bellied Pitta arrived at Iron Range on Monday 14th (thanks to John Tongue for this sighting), a Wedge-tailed Eagle flew over Mareeba and put up at least 60 Red-tailed Black Cockatoo and 40+ Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. A male Golden Bowerbird was seen just past the clearing on Mt. Lewis near the road gate, Five White-browed Crake were seen at Mt. Carbine Dam, two Sarus Crane were foraging in an irrigation field on the way to Emerald Creek Falls east of Mareeba – this is a late record. Lovely Fairy-wrens were foraging along the track beyond the interpretive sign on Redden Island which is just north of the Cairns International Airport – download a brochure from www.birdsaustralianq.org/pdfs/Redden-Island-No-2.pdf . A Yellow Wagtail was seen in the Edmonton area south of Cairns.
A quick trip to Lake Mitchell (Southedge Lake or Quaid's Dam) between Mareeba and Mt. Molloy was interesting for the number of Wandering Whistling-Duck, 5-6000 near the causeway. They took off into the air when a White-bellied Sea-Eagle flew over making a spectacular sight.
Also present were Magpie Goose, Black Swan, 40+ Green Pygmy-goose, Pacific Black Duck, Grey Teal, Hardhead, Australasian Grebe, Darter, Little Pied Cormorant, Australian Pelican, White-faced Heron, Great and Intermediate Egret, 30+ Glossy Ibis, Royal Spoonbill, an adult and juvenile Black-necked Stork, Whistling Kite, W-B Sea-Eagle, Comb-crested Jacana, Black-winged Stilt, White-throated Gerygone, Little Friarbird and Great Bowerbird – well worth a visit to this wetland.
Spotlighting turned up a Green Ringtail Possum, a Long-nosed Bandicoot and a White-tailed Rat who posed whilst eating a large seed, a Papuan Frogmouth was calling but not seen however one was located during the day roosting. A 2.5m Amethystine Python came around the feeding area near the office one evening looking for a feed but was disturbed as he came up behind a Northern Brown Bandicoot. After everyone had a good look at the python, it slid away under the dining area deck. A Green Tree Snake was sunning itself in the orchard on a patch of newly cut grass but sensibly headed back to long grass before he became a victim of the mower. A Boyd's Forest Dragon decided to hang out around the veranda with the guests for a while probably looking for Cane Beetles in this area. Eastern Water Monitor were again seen sunning on logs over Bushy Creek.
With Christmas fast approaching we would like to thank you all for supporting the blog with positive comments throughout the year and wish everyone all the best for Christmas and New Year. Hopefully we will see some of you during 2010.