Monday, 29 March 2010

28th March 2010 Report

124.5 mm of rain during the week which mainly fell at the end of the week. Temperatures ranged from 20ºC to 27ºC. Bird numbers were 79 bird species seen and 5 heard - mammals and reptiles were 16 seen and one heard, (Striped Possum).

Our friends Kath and Dave looked after the Lodge for the first part of the week while we had a short break and kept records of sightings before we took over for the rest of the week. They had the best sighting for the week, four White-headed Pigeon flying over the Lodge. We don’t see many of these pigeons up at our northern edge of the Atherton Tableland with most sightings down around the Yungaburra and Atherton area. However, there are more sightings at higher altitudes on Mt. Lewis nearby. A Papuan Frogmouth was found roosting behind the bunkhouse by Pale-yellow Robin and another spotlighted later in the week. A few Fork-tailed Swift were recorded with Australian Swiftlet and a few Cattle Egret returned after a few months away. 

An adult Red-necked Crake was seen along with at least two juveniles crossing the main road into the Lodge just before the reception. Pale-vented Bush-hen continue to be elusive with several pairs calling but no sightings. Scaly-breasted Lorikeet are around in small numbers and at least 3 pairs of Double-eyed Fig-Parrot have been coming to a fruiting fig on the edge of the camping area. Eastern Koel are still around and up to around 40 Channel-billed Cuckoo are flying around the area and also perched in the orchard one morning. Last weeks star the Barking Owl was seen on several occasions during the week hanging around in the vicinity of the main entrance and along Mt. Kooyong Road. Laughing Kookaburra numbers are still high around the Lodge with no sign of last years young dispersing, up to eight have been foraging together in the orchard taking a toll on other birds, mammals and reptiles.

 Laughing Kookaburra

Azure Kingfisher has been along Bushy Creek and the Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher continue to be noticeable as both adult and juvenile birds go about their feeding and harassment of ground birds. A pair of Forest Kingfisher have been seen taking food items to a termite mound along Mt. Kooyong Road so presumably they have young. Rainbow Bee-eater numbers increased again this week but there seems to be no pattern to their movements. A couple of Dollarbird have been around and Noisy Pitta has been seen on several occasions, one possibly feeding a juvenile. Numbers of mainly Lewin's and Macleay’s Honeyeater have increased at the feeder as the rain continues to come down and disrupt their normal feeding pattern. A few barred Cuckoo-shrike have been coming to the previously mentioned fig tree and Cicadabird are still calling with a male seen flying over the Lodge. Both Yellow and Olive-backed Oriole (the more common of the two species) were seen this week. Spangled Drongo are still around with several undergoing tail moult resulting in an odd looking double notched tail. Both Rufous and Grey Fantail have arrived in numbers from southern parts of Australia to boost the odd bird we have had around for a few weeks. Both juvenile and adult Black-faced Monarch have been sighted during the week. A few Metallic Starling were present at the beginning of the week but disappeared towards the end which might suggest they have all left to head north to Papua New Guinea. If they were still in the area we would have expected to see them in the fruiting fig tree but no sightings of them there. 
At the end of the week we headed out on a spotlighting trip in the rain to look for owls but they had more sense than come out and get wet, so we did not see any. We did see plenty of frogs and Cane Toad who reveled in the wet conditions. Frog species seen were Striped Marsh Frog, Wilcox’s Frog, White-lipped Tree Frog, Roth’s Tree Frog, Desert Tree Frog, Dainty Green Tree Frog and Cogger’s Frog. We watched one Dainty Green Tree Frog calling whist perched on a tree branch 1m off the ground puffing out his throat sac, they were the most vocal followed by Cogger’s Frog. 

 Dainty Green Tree Frog

We also found a Boyd’s Forest Dragon roosting on a slender tree branch over one of the walking tracks, something we have not seen before. We have only found them roosting vertically on tree trunks before. A wet Papuan Frogmouth was also seen perched on an exposed tree branch looking for a feed. Mammals for the week were the usual Bush Rat, Fawn-footed Melomy’s, Northern Brown Bandicoot and Spectacled Flying-Fox, a pair of Striped Possum were heard in the early hours of the morning but not seen.
Further afield we spent several days visiting friends and checking out a few birding spots on the Atherton Tableland. Highlight for us was a close encounter with a Lumholtz Tree Kangaroo at one of our friends gardens on the outskirts of Malanda. It hopped across the ground in front of us before being chased by an Australian Brush-turkey and seeking refuge up a tree where we were able to view it at a distance. 
One of the birding highlights was a pair of adult Red-necked Crake at Lake Eacham. They crossed the walking track around the lake in front of us and foraged along the edge, one jumped up onto a fallen log and walked along it for great views. Other than that there was only a few other birds present. A visit to Hasties Swamp (Nyletta Lagoon) near Atherton (download a brochure from was disappointing as a great majority of the swamp was covered in weeds and the view from the hide is slowly being blocked out by growing trees. Not much open water and not many waterfowl, Wandering Whistling Duck did have chicks as did Purple Swamphen. The day after our visit Phil Gregory from Cassowary House visited and saw a Cotton Pygmy-goose which is a rarity around the Tablelands these days.

A trip along the back road from Wondecla (near Herberton) to Kaban is always worthwhile and we found it rewarding stopping along the way with a few more dryer species of birds such as Weebill and Varied Sittela. Also good for dragonflies as these two images of Australia wide species show, once again I'm not 100% sure of correct species identification but they seem to match up with the photos in “The Complete Field Guide to Dragonflies of Australia” by Theischinger and Hawking. 

 Blue Skimmer

Scarlet Percher

Further along this road you come to the forestry reserve at Kaban where birds of this drier country along the western edge of the Atherton Tableland such as White-throated and Brown Treecreeper, Crested Shrike-tit, Yellow Thornbill and a so called yellow-faced population of Fuscous Honeyeater (?)  (see image below), which could be mistaken for Yellow-tinted Honeyeater are found. These birds have a different call to Yellow-tinted Honeyeater and need more research into their status. We found the White-throated Treecreeper and Fuscous Honeyeater along with White-browed Scrubwren, Eastern Yellow Robin, Grey Shrike-thrush and Cicadabird to name a few.

 Fuscous Honeyeater (?)

From here we headed to Longlands Gap (famous for Golden Bowerbird) where the rain started to come down. The track into the forest here is now overgrown and impenetrable making access to the Golden Bowerbird bower impossible. We had lunch just down the road at Mt. Hypipamee National Park (The Crater) in the pouring rain and saw a Lewin's Honeyeater and a Grey-headed Robin!

Closer to home a Spotless Crake was seen at Abattoir Swamp.

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