A very dry week with only 1mm in the rain gauge and plenty of sunny days with some overcast ones. Temperatures were down to 17ºC and a top of 25ºC. Bird numbers were 75 bird species seen and 2 heard - mammals and reptiles were 12 seen which was down on the previous weeks mainly due to the lack of frogs with the dry weather.
The previous weeks Wompoo Fruit-Dove again hung around a fruiting palm tree all week and also again one sighting of a Papuan Frogmouth which was perched on a pipe vent behind our laundry one night. Intermediate Egret numbers increased in the area and a single White-faced Heron flew over the Lodge. Grey Goshawk was seen several times perched in its favourite tree beside Bushy Creek and a pair of Nankeen Kestrel were back around last years nest site. A couple of Buff-banded Rail were foraging along the edge of Bushy Creek before darting into the undergrowth. A pair of Double-eyed Fig-Parrot were seen flying around before briefly landing in a eucalypt and flying off again. Two Eastern Barn Owl were seen in Geraghty Park and a pair of Azure Kingfisher have been around the Crake Pool beside our orchard. Noisy Pitta was seen on several occasions along the edges of the rainforest but generally they are staying within the forest. A pair of Striated Pardolote were calling and foraging along Bushy Creek in an area they have nested in before. They excavate a tunnel and nest chamber in the mud wall of the creek.
An intermittent visitor, the Yellow Oriole, appeared briefly late in the week for good looks. Black Butcherbird, both adult black and a juvenile brown bird, were around all week and a single Spangled Drongo was still around, after returning the previous week, making an appearance at one of the feeders. Yellow-breasted Boatbill were very vocal as were Pied Monarch. A female Victoria's Riflebird was around again this week and one was heard to call several times but no sign of any males yet.
Once again we managed to find interesting insects including the Mallotus Harlequin Bug Cantao parentum (order Hemiptera) shown below. As can be seen the bugs were clustering together on both sides of several leaves about 4m off the ground.
Mallotus Harlequin Bugs
This jewel bug is approximately 20mm long and one of the insect world's more interesting bugs. The adults stay and protect their young for several weeks after hatching, which is unusual for insects. They also produce a chemical pheromone known as spiroketals which was a first from any of the insects in the order Hemiptera . (Schulz, Stefan. 2004. The Chemistry of Pheromones and Other Semiochemicals I, Springer. Berlin, Heidelberg).
We managed a few hours away from the Lodge to check out Mowbray National Park where we walked the first part of the Bump Track from the Julatten end off Black Mountain Road. Directions from Mt. Molloy, head to Julatten and take the Euluma Creek Road turn-off (on right) by Julatten School. After 6.3km turn right onto Black Mountain Road and after 5.5km you will see a sign on left “Bump Track”, park on right of road. The Bump Track is part of a historical route from the Hodgkinson Goldfields (west of Atherton Tableland) to Port Douglas which was first constructed in 1877. The walk from the Julatten end of the track passes through rainforest with pioneer wattles either side in places. These wattles (Acacia spp.) have grown on the edges of the track which was originally up to 100m wide in places. This has made it good diverse habitat for birds. We walked as far as Robbins Creek which is about 2km; a further 4km takes you down the Macalister Range to the coastal lowlands NW of Port Douglas.
We recorded 33 species, including some specialities such as Wompoo Fruit-Dove, Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Spotted Catbird, Pied Monarch and Victoria's Riflebird. A complete list can be found here