Sunday, 10 January 2010

10th January 2010 report

34.5mm of rain during the week which considerably less than the previous week. Most of the rain fell at the end of the week on the Saturday as a rain trough moved up the coast from down south. The monsoonal trough lies to the north of us across Cape York Peninsula around the Iron Range -Lockhart River area back towards the Northern Territory. Temperatures ranged from 19ºC to 29ºC. Bird numbers were 70 bird species seen and 6 heard - mammals and reptiles were 20 seen.

Seven Red-tailed Black Cockatoo flew over at the beginning of the week followed by more a few days later. In the last four years most of our records have been in January/February (11) with two in September, one each in November, March and April, the rest of the year they are out in the drier country around Mareeba, Mt. Molloy and up to Mt. Carbine. A Black Butcherbird (adult) was outside the office one morning for about 15 minuets on the ground tossing up leaves, it did not appear to be searching for food but just playing around. A pair of Spectacled Monarchs were not impressed and put on a show bombarding it. A Juvenile Black Butcherbird has also been hanging around the office area and been actively dive bombed by two adults who were trying to give it the message that they had done their duty and it was time to fend for itself. One night it was on the ground in the rain at dusk, probably looking for frogs.

Black Butcherbird - Juvenile

The Cicadabird which has been sitting on a nest for about five weeks seems to have left the nest towards the end of the week with no sign of any young birds. The adults are still around the area calling, further investigation needed here. Pale-Vented Bush-Hen have been calling around the Lodge and a pair was seen lurking in long grass beside the orchard, they are real skulkers and difficult to see. The sub species of the Noisy Pitta (Pitta intermedia) which occurs here has been seen around the Crake Pool several times, once bathing and spreading its wings to reveal the two white patches in the black part of the primaries – something which is not always obvious in flight or at rest. The sub-species (Pitta simillima) which occurs on Cape York (north of about Cooktown-Princess Charlotte Bay) has smaller white patches. and the nominate race Pitta versicolor which occurs in northern NSW and SE Queensland has larger patches. Juvenile Orange-footed Scrubfowl have been seen in the rainforest trying to avoid the adults who constantly harass them and move them out of their territory. The Pacific Baza family appears to have moved away during the week as we have not heard the juveniles begging for food for several days. A Lewin's Honeyeater appeared at the feeder after about five weeks absence, unusually early in the year for one to return. Spectacled Monarch pairs continue to build nests around the Lodge grounds with one pair chasing a Spotted Catbird from the area of their nest right across the orchard and another pair chasing off another Spotted Catbird from the feeder area. A very young juvenile Pale-yellow Robin has been seen near the office, it is still brown all over with no sign of a yellow belly.

The nearby wetlands in McDougall Road have filled with water and lost many waterbirds. Of interest during the week were a pair of Bush Stone-curlew, an Azure Kingfisher perched alongside the road, two Purple Swamphen and a couple of Wandering Whistling-Duck. The number of Blue-faced Parrot-Finch on Mt. Lewis continues to grow with five being reported during the week up at the 10km parking area and a Red-necked Crake was watched for about 15 minutes along the edge of the Bushy Creek bridge at the bottom of the Mt. Lewis Road (also worth looking for Platypus here).

No spotlighting trips during the week, but a Green Ringtail Possum was spotted during the day roosting high up in a rainforest tree and an Eastern Barn Owl was seen by one of our guests. A Striped Possum was only heard early one morning making a deep growling sound. Some of our guests were again entertained by a few Boyd's Forest Dragon around the Lodge grounds and a Dainty Green Tree Frog, which has taken up residence in the Ladies showers.

Fuscous Swallowtail

The wetter weather has bought out many butterflies including the spectacular Blue Ulysses and Fuscous Swallowtail plus lots of types of fungi. The fungi and the Fuscous Swallowtail in the photos were taken with a 300mm F2.8mm lens and not the normal macro lens due to being too lazy to walk back and get it!


Further a field a trip into Cairns allowed a stop at the Esplanade to view the waders (shorebirds) which as usual was worth the visit. Plenty of Lesser and Greater Sand Plover, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwit, a few Eastern Curlew, Whimbrel, Terek Sandpiper, Sharp-tailed Sandpiper and Grey-tailed Tattler plus one Broad-billed Sandpiper. Lots of Great Knot and Red-necked Stint but no sign of Asian Dowitcher or Laughing Gull. There was also a few Little and Caspian Tern present.

Great Knot

Yorkey's Knob Lagoon was quite full of water, but few waterbirds, the most dominant were Green Pygmy-goose, a couple of nesting Australasian Darter and two Pacific Black Duck. The lack of waterbirds is probably due to an increase in areas with water due to recent rains. From Yorkey's Knob Lagoon a quick visit to the nearby recently opened Cattana Wetlands found quite a few Crimson Finch in the lagoon side vegetation and a few Green Pygmy-goose but little else. At the moment the vegetation is quite low and walking the paths through the lagoons scares the waterbirds away. As the vegetation grows hopefully it will provide better screening and less likelihood of scaring the birds off and will probably attract more waterbirds in time. A poorly designed 3 sided hide is located alongside one lagoon accessed by a crunchy gravel path. The design of the hide is only useful to people of a certain height and a couple of portholes lower down were quite useless for a young boy who was trying to view the lagoon. Despite these first impressions the Cairns City Council should be congratulated on the work involved in opening up and preserving these wetlands for the public and providing some good interpretive signage. Link to Cattana Wetlands


Ota said...

The hide requires another hide to get to there without scaring the waterbirds away!Need to be inside before sunrise.
I saw a Black-shouldered kite sitting on the tall-dead tree at the wetland on official opening day, I think it's not so common at such a coastal area.

Keith and Lindsay Fisher said...

Hi Ota,
I have seen Black-shouldered Kite on 3 occassions on the coast around Cairns - Redden Island, Cairns Airport (2 adult + 2 Juv.) and Yorkey's Knob. They are not common on the coast, all of my sightings were within about 6km of each other.
Hides need to be designed by birdwatchers.