If anyone reading this has been trying to phone us and left messages we have not been able to check them as our phones have been out for the last five days, we have been promised they will be fixed on Monday 22nd. This is the third time this month they have been down.
92.5mm of rain during the week, 50mm of which fell in one storm. Temperatures ranged from 22ºC to 27ºC which was cooler than last week. Species numbers for the week were 70 bird species seen and 7 heard - mammals and reptiles were 15.Not much birding this week due to storms and rain plus other jobs around the Lodge needed attention. Pied Imperial Pigeon continued to come to the Golden Cane Palm fruits and were joined by a juvenile and adult Eastern Koel for two days.
Wompoo and Superb Fruit-Dove showed well feeding in a fruiting tree at the back of the accommodation units. Most years the superb arrive around September and leave in February /March but this season they arrived early in July 2009. 2008 was exceptional as they were recorded in every month of the year. A Papuan Frogmouth was back in its usual roosting spot in the orchard after being absent for several months, hope it stays. A Grey Goshawk was seen being escorted across the Rex Highway from the Lodge grounds by eight Masked Lapwing and a Nankeen Kestrel was perched on a power pole beside the road. A Red-necked Crake called one morning from a patch of forest between the Lodge and the highway in an area the Pale-vented Bush-hen have also been calling from.
A few Channel-billed Cuckoo are still around as are Little-bronze Cuckoo and Brush Cuckoo who were both heard but not seen. A single Eastern Barn Owl was seen coming out of a traditional nest hollow and several others were heard nearby. All but one of the six nests of the Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher on the Lodge grounds had fledged their young at the beginning of the week, the last one fledged at the end of the week. The adults are busy collecting food but no sign of the juveniles yet, they tend to stay hidden high in the rainforest for a few weeks. One juvenile flew into a neighbours house before running out and flying off. Noisy Pitta juveniles are still being seen foraging on their own whilst the adults have become more vocal.
A Striated Pardalote was foraging in a Queensland Blue Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis) along the edge of the Lodge grounds, the first for a month. Dusky Honeyeater has been absent for a few weeks which is unusual as they are normally a resident being quite vocal and obvious. Black Butcherbird has been around and seen catching an unfortunate frog. Torresian Crow have started to become more vocal over the last few weeks, probably happy that the Channel-billed Cuckoo (who parasitise them) are heading out of town. A pair of Common Myna were seen in the adjacent Geraghty Park with two juveniles, not good news.
Further afield Little Kingfisher are being seen on the Daintree River at last, Glenn who drives the Daintree River Experience boat morning birdwatching trip reported them along with Great-billed Heron and Black Bittern. Many of the waders are colouring up on the Cairns Esplanade, a visit during the week had some of the Greater and Lesser Sand Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Red-necked Stint and Great Knot showing some breeding plumage.
A heavy downpour with a thunderstorm one night bought many Dainty Green Tree Frogs (Litoria Gracilenta) to seek shelter around the buildings as well as a few White-lipped Tree Frog (Litoria infrafrenata). The wet weather also triggered a lot of fungi such as the one shown in the image below.
Much, further afield Lindsay's British Report
I have just returned from a family visit near Reading, Berkshire to celebrate a significant birthday event and even managed some birdwatching too. Sun, rain, sleet, hail and snow over 17 days with temperatures ranging from -4ºC to 9ºC. Saw 63 bird species (including two lifers – Little Owl and Green Sandpiper) and two mammals - Grey Squirrel and Fallow Deer. Good to see this female Green Woodpecker foraging in the snow on the lawn, pity we don't have any woodpeckers in Australia.
My sister had me doing the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch within two hours of me arriving. Sitting in the kitchen with my binoculars and bird book (it had been seven years since my last visit and I had to refresh my memory) and legs against the radiator, I managed 12 species in the allotted hour. Long-tailed Tit and Nuthatch were the highlights with the other usual suburban birds coming to the feeders in the snow-covered garden. It wasn't until I was 'up north' though that I saw a Sparrow or a Starling. Nearby Moor Green Lakes Nature Reserve provided some excellent birds using the hides to watch the wildfowl and shelter from the cold wind. The first visit was after overnight snow and most of the lakes were frozen with birds congregated on the small area of open water.
The ice had melted for later visits and bird numbers and species increased with a Green Sandpiper feeding in front of one of the hides. On the last visit we saw a Little Owl hunting in one of the fields and Grey Heron foraging around the edge of the lake.
Birds were generally hard to find away from water or bird feeders, but I still enjoyed the winter experience very much. Back to the monsoon again – at least it's warm rain!