Monday, 25 January 2010

24th January 2010 Report

217mm of rain during the week which was mainly due to two Cyclones in the area. The first, Neville, fizzed out into a rain depression and the second Olga crossed the coast near the Daintree Village. The top of this cyclone sheared off and it was this that crossed the coast, the lower half went down the coast and bought rain to the southern Atherton Tablelands and coast. (The pre-occupation with watching the cyclones resulted in the blog being delayed this week) Temperatures ranged from 20ºC to 29ºC. Bird numbers were 79 bird species seen and 8 heard - mammals and reptiles were 15 seen and two heard, (Striped Possum and a White-lipped Tree Frog).

Once again this week the Noisy Pitta was foraging around the reception area but this week we had two together collecting worms, all the time bobbing their tails up and down. One even came around the feeder area outside the reception area before hopping along the veranda past the units! The Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher continued to harass the pittas, diving down onto them, the pittas reacted by spreading their wings showing off the turquoise wing patches.

Noisy Pitta

Superb Fruit-Dove and Wompoo Fruit-Dove was again seen well and the Pied Imperial Pigeon numbers seem to have abated with only two seen this week. A Red-necked Crake was in our neighbours garden with possibly a young black fluffy juvenile. The rain bought a Pheasant Coucal out onto a fence post to dry it's wings during a sunny period and Brush Cuckoo was in full song enjoying the rain.

A check of the Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher nests during the week found three with chicks in, two with birds sitting and one which had nobody home. Our neighbour has another nest with chicks in and in the rainforest between us and the highway is another nest with chicks in. So it looks good for the kingfishers so far. A recently fledged juvenile Dollarbird was seen perched in a tree whilst the parents were busy chasing off any other birds which came near, don't often seen Dollarbirds this young. Several Spotted Catbird were busy harassing and being chased by Spectacled Monarchs, Pale Yellow Robin and Macleay's Honeyeater. The catbirds were also feeding on a Soursop fruit and a fallen mango in the orchard. The lone (apparently) Lewin's Honeyeater was around the feeder near reception on several occasions. Bridled and Scarlet Honeyeater returned after an absence of a few months. The Cicadabird pair (reported last week) were off their nest but no signs of any juvenile birds, they were hanging around the nest site so hopefully the nestling's fledged. One pair of Magpie-lark were seen feeding some large nestling's while another pair fledged their young which were seen flying around and being fed by the parents. A Lemon-bellied Flycatcher was attending a nest alongside the highway in a eucalyptus and appeared to be feeding nestling's. This nest must surely be one of the smallest made by an Australian bird.

Lemon-bellied Flycatcher

A quick evening trip to look for the local owls turned up the regular pair of Eastern Barn Owls who are randomly moving between their nest tree and roost tree on different days. Whilst waiting for the owls to appear we spotlighted a calling Green Tree Frog Litoria caerulea in a tree! We were so used to this species living in our house in Darwin many years ago but we have not had them anywhere near our house or Lodge buildings since living here, only the White-lipped Tree Frog Litoria infrafrenata come into the buildings. We don't hear the Green Tree Frog much but when we do they are always high up in trees.

Further afield a trip to Cairns allowed sometime along the Esplanade where there was the usual good mix of waders, plenty of Great Knot and Red-necked Stint but fewer Lesser and Greater Sand Plover than a few weeks ago. The Laughing Gull and Asian Dowitchers have not been seen for nearly a month and can be assumed to have left town. A visit to nearby Abattoir Swamp produced 31 species including a White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike and Magpie Lark on nests. Other interesting birds seen were a Brown Quail, Red-winged Parrot, good looks at the calling Brush Cuckoo and White-throated Gerygone. From the swamp we checked out the nearby Wessel Road where we found 30 species, highlights here were Black Bittern foraging alongside the road in some water run off, Eastern Yellow Robin and Grey Shrike-thrush which are not common in the area, a Tawny Frogmouth calling during the day, male Cicadabird and a Grey Whistler carrying food. A 1m Lace Monitor ran across the road as we arrived and a Little Red Flying-Fox was hanging in a tree over the road. The White-browed Robin has been seen at Big Mitchell Creek (between Mt. Molloy and Mareeba) and Emerald Creek Falls (between Mareeba and Kuranda).

Eastern Yellow Robin

Last weeks image of the Orchard Swallowtail which was up for an ID discussion was deemed to be an Ambrax Swallowtail, thanks to those who sent in their comments and reasons for the final ID.

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