Sunday, 3 January 2010

3rd January 2010 Report

177mm of rain during the week which was quite heavy at times, it was not the monsoonal trough but rain coming mainly off the coast. Temperatures ranged from 19ºC to 30ºC. Bird numbers were 83 bird species seen and 8 heard - mammals and reptiles were 20 seen.

Once again Pied Imperial Pigeon numbers were on the increase with 16 perched in the orchard one rainy morning and 20+ flying over one afternoon. Three Topknot Pigeon were foraging in a fruiting tree after an absence of several weeks. The two Pacific Baza who fledged last week hung around the Lodge grounds all week calling constantly for food from their hard working parents. Pale-vented Bush-hen were heard calling from at least five different locations around the Lodge with one pair seen along Bushy Creek. A Papuan Frogmouth returned to a favourite perch in the orchard for a day and another was seen at the end of the week roosting in the rainforest alongside Mt. Kooyong Road. Forest Kingfisher continued to feed chicks in their nest and Noisy Pitta was seen in the orchard by two of our guests Vanessa and young Matthew. Brown-backed Honeyeater were building a nest in Geraghty Park and the Mistletoebird reported last week continued feeding two young in their nest.

Brown-backed Honeyeater

The Spectacled Monarch reported last week sitting on a nest disappeared this week and the nest was empty when inspected, it was presumed raided by a predator as the adults were around but no sign of the young.

Spectacled Monarch (wet)

After Christmas we took part in an Audubon Christmas Count with two of our American guests Madeline and Ed. The idea of these counts is to record all species and numbers within a 24km diameter circle. Our circle included Mt. Lewis, Julatten and the Mt. Molloy areas. Madeline kept the records and we called out the numbers and species. It was a fun day ending up at a nearby restaurant. We logged about 100 species but will not know the exact species and numbers recorded until Madeline does the statistics. We did see one mammal, a Daintree River Ringtail (Possum) moving around the rainforest near the 10km clearing (parking area) on Mt. Lewis, which was a pleasant surprise.

In between Christmas and New Year a pair of Barred Cuckoo-shrike were seen displaying near the Mt. Kooyong Nursing Home on a morning walk. The male was head bobbing and jumping up and down on a branch whilst moving sideways, the female took no notice and eventually flew off with the male in pursuit.

Barred Cuckoo-shrike

The traditional New Years day bird count was restricted by too much rain so we only managed a few locations. An early start was greeted with a monsoonal downpour which did not end until 9.00am when we, Keith along with Kath and Dave from Cooktown decided to go up Mt. Lewis. We were counting seen and heard and luckily avoided any rain for a few hours on the mountain, in fact the overcast weather actually turned into sunny periods. We seemed to hear more than we saw on the mountain but did manage to see a Blue-faced Parrot-Finch as it flew into a tree and back down to the grass it was feeding on. Also seen was a Basian Thrush along the road collecting nesting material and the Barred Cuckoo-shrike seen sitting in a nest on Christmas Day was still sitting. Tooth-billed Bowerbird was seen at several places as was Bower's Shrike-thrush, both adults and juveniles (with bone coloured bills like the Little Shrike-thrush). Fernwren and Chowchilla were heard only.

A two hour break for lunch was followed by a visit the two swamps in McDougall Road, here we found a Brown Falcon on a nest and a Pied Imperial Pigeon in a tree fiddling around with what looked like a nest, have to check this out further. A few waterbirds and bush birds including Red-backed Fairy Wren, both females and an eclipse plumage male.

Red-backed Fairy-wren (female)

On to Abattoir Swamp where there was the resident Northern Fantail along with Leaden Flycatcher and a few honeyeaters, no sign of the Painted Button-quail reported a few days before. Next stop was Lake Mitchell (also known as Southedge Lake or Quaids Dam), this was very productive. A Pied Heron was one of the first birds seen which was not one we were expecting. Also interesting were 40+ Glossy Ibis, 100+ adult Comb-crested Jacana with lots of juveniles, four cormorant species – Little Pied, Little Black, Pied and Great, Australasian Darter, Black Swan two adult and one juvenile Black-necked Stork, and many more waterbirds. Four cuckoos were here, Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo, Brush Cuckoo and Eastern Koel (female) were seen well but Pheasant Coucal was only heard. A mystery bird we saw was later identified as a non breeding Yellow Wagtail which was unexpected, although Alistair and Gary who were guests of ours from England had seen one here at the beginning of December. All three of us had good views of the bird perched on top of a low tree before it flew onto the ground. Distinct outer white tail feathers in flight were conspicuous but the lack of dark streaking on the under and upper parts ruled out Australasian Pipit to us, which also has white outer tail feathers. After this excitement we headed back to the Lodge stopping off along the way adding a few birds such as Red-winged Parrot and lots of Channel-billed Cuckoo feeding in a fruiting fig tree. The evening had us looking at an Eastern Barn Owl and hearing (Lesser) Sooty Owl and Papuan Frogmouth. We managed about 8 hours of birding in between rain showers seeing 124 species and hearing a further 20 making a grand total of 144 species.

Spotlighting during the week was restricted due to the rainy weather but we did manage to see Eastern Barn Owl, Australia Owlet-nightjar and Green Ringtail Possum plus seven frog species. One of our guests saw a Striped Possum near the Crake Pool.

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