Sunday, 14 February 2010

Only 11mm of rain during the week which again was afternoon showers. We missed out on quite heavy fall in the area and on several occasions we had thunder rumbling by very close but no rain. Temperatures ranged from 22ºC to 29ºC which was cooler than last week. Species numbers for the week were 72 bird species seen and 9 heard - mammals and reptiles were 14 seen and one heard.

We forgot to mention previously that an adult Southern Cassowary was seen on the Mt. Lewis Road on the 6th February at an altitude of about 700m, a previous sighting was in December 2009. They are not common on Mt. Lewis as I have not seen one despite hundreds of trips up the road since 1987! Seriously though they don't get reported often, we have only 5 records for 2009 and 2 in 2008 seen by guests.

Several juvenile Australian Brush-turkey have started to appear in the grounds, not sure where they bred as we have not found a mound in the Lodge grounds. Unfortunately the Superb Fruit-Dove mentioned in last weeks blog did not make it, as soon as the chick hatched it was taken, probably by one of the Laughing Kookaburras that were hanging around in the area. Brown Cuckoo-Dove have been feeding in Tobacco Bush and a pair of Pied Imperial-Pigeon have been feasting on the seeds of a Golden Cane Palm next to the units.

Pied Imperial Pigeon on Golden Cane Palm

A Papuan Frogmouth appeared in the orchard area in two different roosts during the week and was again being harassed by the Pale Yellow Robin who must have done a good job as the frogmouth disappeared towards the end of the week.

A quick visit one night to check out owls around the Lodge found one Eastern Barn Owl and an Australian Owlet-nightjar on the ground which is a first for us here. We have seen them on the ground numerous times when we have been spotlighting from a vehicle but never around the Lodge. A sub-adult White-bellied Sea-Eagle flew over the Lodge and a couple of Black Kite re-appeared after being absent for a month. Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo were again heard flying over, a pair of Double-eyed Fig-Parrot stopped for a brief visit and an uncommon visitor a Red-winged Parrot flew over. They are common in the dry country back towards Mt. Molloy but rarely seen here.

There are just a few Channel-billed Cuckoo around at the moment with no sign of the influx of birds we have had in previous years, anything up to 120 individuals. Brush Cuckoo have been enjoying the weather conditions and have been very vocal including the “referee whistle” call. (Lesser) Sooty Owl was again heard early in the week, just the once.

The Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher pairs have been extremely vocal this week, probably trying to call the nestlings out of the nests as they are due any day. A few Rainbow Bee-eater have been soaring overhead both last week and this which is the first time since the beginning of September. We had seen them in the dry country near Abattoir Swamp (on the way to Mt. Molloy) at the end of January.

Well the Noisy Pitta surprised last week when an adult was seen trying to keep food up to 3 juveniles, I managed a record shot of them showing the juveniles waiting to be fed whilst the adult is head down searching, they then disappeared back into the rainforest.

Noisy Pitta - juveniles plus adult

This was at the beginning of the week and not seen again, only individual juveniles were seen including one which was foraging at the back of the units when it was swooped by a Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher. The juvenile was traumatised by this and stood still at the back door of one of the units for over 15mins before hopping back into the rainforest, only because I encouraged it to do so as it was very vulnerable where it was. Hope all the youngsters survive. Better shots of a juvenile were obtained this week.

Noisy Pitta - Juvenile

Cicadabird and Spangled Drongo are still around and calling a lot as was a lone Torresian Crow. A few Black-faced Monarch are still around but probably not for long as they will soon migrate back north to Papua New Guinea. A pair of Pied Monarch have been calling and foraging in the rainforest behind the units all week along with a pair of Yellow-breasted Boatbill.

Further afield there have been several reports of Red-rumped Swallow still along Somerset Drive, north of the Newell Beach turnoff on the way to Daintree Village, this is quite late in the year for them. Carol and Andrew at Red Mill House, Daintree Village and one of our guests reported some interesting birds at a dam north of us which included Black-throated Finch, Masked Finch (unusual), Squatter Pigeons, Brown Treecreeper (dark form), Masked Woodswallow and White-winged Triller, thanks to them for the sightings. Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours reported 2 White-eared Monarch from Pinnacle Road, Julatten (access road to Mowbray National Park), this is an unusually early record.

Interesting mammal for the week was an Eastern Long-eared Bat reported by a James Cook University student who is studying bats, this is a new record for the Lodge. Boyd's Forest Dragon was seen in several places and a few Major Skink are starting to appear.

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