When you next visit you will be greeted by a new sign at the entrance, the old one has been retired after doing a great job since 1994, it had been retouched once but was now looking very secondhand with the Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher falling off the sign! So we now have a more modern sign reflecting our logo.
Noisy Pitta made the headlines this week with one hopping around peoples feet in the orchard collecting insects and flying into the rainforest to presumably feed young in a nest. The most interesting sighting of the Noisy Pitta, was one roosting at night - something we have not seen before. The bird was sitting on an exposed branch of a Lychee tree in the orchard only 1.75m off the ground. Our references to Noisy Pitta roosting in trees: Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds (HANZAB) vol.5 (2001), Handbook of the Birds of the World (2003) and Pittas, Broadbills and Asities (1996) all mention Pittas roosting in trees but only HANZAB says that Noisy Pitta roost high off the ground. This observation seems to be continued on in other more popular articles (i.e. Michael Snedic in the Birds Australia magazine Wingspan March 2002) and information leaflets we have seen. We suspect that observations of Noisy Pittas roosting are few and far between and what little has been written up and published refers only to birds roosting high up, so if you have seen them roosting low down get it published!
The Red-necked Crake was another highlight for the week with at least four sightings of a bird down by Bushy Creek. One was seen flying across the creek and foraging along the edge making several guests very happy. It's about time they started to put on a show after proving so elusive over the last few months. The image below shows one lurking in the undergrowth doing a wing stretch.
Several breeding events have been noticed this week, Yellow-breasted Boatbill has been feeding a very juvenile bird, several Spectacled Monarch have been building or sitting in nests, both Red-browed Finch and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin have been carrying nesting material as was a Little Shrike-thrush. The pair of Pacific Baza who recently successfully fledged two youngsters returned with them for a couple of days after a week away, the juveniles made a lot of noise begging for food. They are interesting birds to watch whilst they feed, delicately picking small pieces off their prey (insects and frogs) rather than tearing them apart like some other raptors. The Cicadabird (male and female) are feeding nestlings; two little fluff balls were seen early in the week peering out of their nest which was good. Last week we thought nothing was going to happen as the female had been sitting on the nest for much longer than the normal incubation period.
It was a good week for pigeons and doves with Brown Cuckoo-dove, Emerald Dove, Peaceful Dove, Bar-shouldered Dove, Wompoo Fruit-Dove, Superb Fruit-Dove and Pied Imperial Pigeon all seen around the Lodge grounds. There was at least three Wompoo Fruit-Dove feeding in a fruiting tree and several Superb Fruit-Dove calling with one eventually tracked down and seen well, high up in a rainforest tree. Pied Imperial Pigeon numbers continue to increase quite dramatically with 150+ counted in one fig-tree alongside Bushy Creek, most of these moved into the Lodge grounds and noisily fed in a few fruiting trees seemingly knocking down more fruit than they ate!
Australian Swiftlet numbers built up during the week with a few White-throated Needletail mixed in with them. A Great Cormorant flew over one morning, not a species we see much of around here. A Pair of White-bellied Sea-Eagle majestically glided over, late one evening in formation, calling to each other whilst we waited for some Eastern Barn Owls to show. Pale-vented Bush-hen was seen briefly foraging in long grass at the edge of the orchard and along Bushy Creek as well as being heard in several other places around the Lodge. A few Barred Cuckoo-shrike are still hanging around but there was no sign of the brown Black Butcherbird this week. Instead two adults are hanging around much to the displeasure of the other birds. An Eclectus Parrot flew over one afternoon calling, obviously one we would not expect as they normally occur way north on Cape York, including Iron Range. They are kept in captivity and we suspect this one came from a nearby resort who have two they let free fly.
Further afield Blue-faced Parrot-Finch has been seen on Mt. Lewis in increasing numbers with up to eight birds seen. Two other birds were seen along the Black Mountain Road at the Julatten end almost opposite the Black Mountain Hideaway horse rides property. White-browed Crake was seen at Abattoir Swamp and Mt. Carbine Dam but the most unusual sighting was by Alan Gillanders from http://www.alanswildlifetours.com.au/ in Yungaburra who had a Striped Honeyeater feeding in eucalypts at the end of Black Gully Road, Tinaroo on the Atherton Tablelands for at least five days. This species is way north of its normal range. White-browed Robin was seen at Big Mitchell Creek which is good as they have been hard to see since big fires went through the area towards the end of last year.
Spotlighting was quite good with Papuan Frogmouth, Australian Owlet-nightjar, Eastern Barn Owl, Green Ringtail Possum, Northern Brown Bandicoot, Spectacled Flying Fox (one dropping a mango which just missed one of our guests) and Cogger's Frog. We were buzzed by a large bat on several occasions one night, if we had to guess what it was we would go for Diadem Leaf-nosed Bat, which we have seen roosting here before.
Butterflies and dragonflies continue to be conspicuous and with fallen mango's there are quite a few fruit sucking moths starting to appear. Must get out with the camera and get a few images of the moths. Dragonflies are a real challenge and one we've not taken up yet, this photo is of an unknown species which we think might be one of the bluestreaks (?). The butterfly looks like an Orchard Swallowtail, if anyone has any ideas please let us know. All the ID books show the butterflies with wings spread, which is not what you normally see when they are at rest.
Orchard Swallowtail (?)