Sunday, 9 May 2010

9th May 2010 Report

Less drizzle this week and a few sunny days with only 10.5mm in the rain gauge for the week. Temperatures were down to a cooler 18ºC and a top of 25ºC. Bird numbers were 79 bird species seen and 4 heard a slight increase on previous weeks - mammals and reptiles were 18 seen.

Once again one of the highlights was the juvenile Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher who stayed behind after all his mates disappeared to the north, he was still with us on the 6th May which beats the previous latest sighting by one day. We would not be surprised if he is still around as he still had very juvenile plumage. 

 Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher (Juvenile)

Another highlight was not a bird but a mammal, a Tree Mouse Pogonomys sp..which was spotlighted in the orchard on two night walks. This mammal, which was previously known as a Prehensile-tailed Rat, is possibly a new species in Australia (two other Pogonomys species occur in New Guinea) and was spotted in a Langsat tree (normal distribution is western Malaysia) munching on some fruit. It sat eating the fruit for at least five minutes for all to get excellent views of this rarely seen mammal. It was first recorded in Australia at Lake Eacham, Atherton Tablelands in 1974

An Australian Owlet-nightjar was very obliging on a night walk and sat in a tree for excellent views. A female/young male Victoria's Riflebird showed up in the camping area foraging on a Queensland Blue Gum Eucalyptus tereticornis, this is the first for the season.

Water-birds have started to trickle into nearby lagoons and dams with the first Eastern Great Egret for the season turning up. Also a few Magpie Geese still around and an Australasian Grebe was swimming in a lagoon with Pacific Black Duck. Raptors were also in evidence with Black-shouldered Kite, Pacific Baza, White-breasted Sea-Eagle, Whistling Kite, Brahminy Kite, Black Kite, Grey Goshawk and Nankeen Kestrel.

Numbers of Rainbow and Scaly-breasted Lorikeet increased as more Blue Quondong Eleocarpus grandis (large rainforest tree) came into flower. Honeyeaters were also attracted with thirteen species recorded for the week, these included Bridled, Scarlet and Noisy Friarbird which are locally nomadic visiting us a few times a year.

Sooty Owl was again heard several times and Eastern Barn Owl was calling and seen emerging from a tree hollow in Geraghty Park. A Blue-winged Kookaburra was observed eating a rather large phasmid (Stick Insect), shown in image below.

 Blue-winged Kookaburra

A Torresian Crow flew over towards the end of the week, they have been scarce lately with no sightings for over a month. Black-faced Monarch was around at the beginning of the week but disappeared towards the end so they may have gone north.

Further afield a male Southern Cassowary with large juvenile was seen at Mt. Hypipamee (the Crater), between Atherton and Ravenshoe, during the week. Worth calling in on the off chance if you are passing. A dead specimen of a Southern Boobook race lurida (sometimes referred to as Red Boobook) was picked up by Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours at the top of the Rex Range on the Rex Highway (altitude approx. 400-450m). We took measurements which keyed it out to female. The specimen will be submitted to the appropriate authority. Another specimen was also collected by Del in September 2007 at a slightly lower altitude. It maybe that this sub-species of the higher mountains within the wet tropics migrates to lower altitudes at certain times of the year. Not much known about this race which is one of the smaller sub-species.

Spotlighting was good during the week with the previously mentioned Tree Rat, Australian Owlet-nightjar, Eastern Barn Owl and some other interesting sightings including a Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko, Feather-tail Glider and a group of Little Bent-wing Bat in the amenities block.

 Orange Bush-brown

This Orange Bush-brown butterfly was the most common butterfly this week with many Wide-brand Grass-dart as well. Dragonflies were uncommon but we did manage to get images of these two species which we think are Red Arrow and Twister. As we are still learning dragonflies we would like any corrections to our identifications from you experts out there.

 Red Arrow


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