Another week with temperatures getting down to 16º on several mornings and not getting above 24ºC. A bit of drizzle produced 3mm but apart from that it was dry and sunny providing great birdwatching conditions. Bird numbers were 71 bird species seen and 1 heard - mammals and reptiles were up on last week with 19 species seen and one heard.
The best sightings in the Lodge grounds were an adult male Victoria's Riflebird which was the first for the year and the return of a Yellow-throated Scrubwren. The scrubwrens have been turning up for the last few years in small numbers (usually up to three) and staying a few months before returning up onto the mountains behind us. A lone Wompoo Fruit-Dove is still with us and a Papuan Frogmouth has been showing in the orchard, twice roosting and once seen whilst spotlighting.
An Owlet-nightjar has been seen on a few occasions sitting up in its roost hole during the day, mainly catching the early morning sunshine. A pair of Pacific Baza glided over the highway and into the Lodge grounds via the entrance road and the nesting Whistling Kite are still very vocal but no sign of any youngsters yet.
An Australian Hobby flew over the camping area one morning being pursued by a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo, they did a few laps before heading across to Geraghty Park. Two of our guests saw the hobby a short time later chasing the cockatoo and being chased by the cockatoo. This behaviour went on for at least 30 minutes with short breaks resting in trees before the chasing continued. Not sure what was going on with this odd behaviour, no sign of any nesting activity in the area.
Double-eyed Fig-Parrot continue to be seen flying over, but with no figs in fruit not stopping. At least three Eastern Barn Owls have been seen around the Geraghty Park area and calling a lot. A (Lesser) Sooty Owl started calling at 9.50pm near the office before heading along Mt. Kooyong Road and into Geraghty Park, despite looking was not seen. Azure Kingfisher continues to hunt in the drying up Crake Pool and Blue-winged Kookaburra have been seen almost every day. Forest Kingfisher are also very active at the moment foraging around the Lodge grounds in open areas as well as Geraghty Park.
Forest Kingfisher - male
A Spotted Catbird, who has lost one eye, has been coming into the feeder and shows no indication the loss is of a hindrance. A pair of Great Bowerbird has been feeding on red berries in a small bush at Geraghty Park along with Yellow Honeyeater. Striated Pardalote are nesting in several places around Bushy Creek and are very vocal. A Yellow Oriole continues to hang around along with two Black Butcherbird, black adult and brown juvenile.
A pair of Willie Wagtail have also been around and are getting quite bold following guests around and picking up insects they disturb. One of our guests asked if they were hand reared as they are so tame because whilst they were sitting on a bench in the orchard one landed on one of their heads before hopping down onto their trousers looking for insects!
We have even trained one to take readings from our rain gauge!
Pied Monarch have been showing well and coming down low on tree trunks for good views however not when we have a camera handy. Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been calling well apart from one day when several guests were looking for them – typical. A juvenile male Victoria's Riflebird is still around along with the aforementioned adult male. Olive-backed Sunbird are around; the image below is of a female which although lacking the iridescent blue-black bib of the male is still a very attractive bird.
Olive-backed Sunbird - female
Mammal and reptile numbers were up this week due to several spotlighting trips. Highlights were two sightings of Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko and a 2m. Amethystine Python making its way across one of the tracks into the orchard. We have not seen any pythons for 12 weeks which is not surprising as they are not so active in these cooler months. Green Ringtail and Striped Possum were seen once and both Long-nosed and Northern Brown Bandicoot. The bandicoots are very active digging into the grassed areas around the units and in the orchard. Three species of frog were seen and after a bit of drizzle a Cogger's Barred-Frog started to call. A Boyd's Forest Dragon greeted some guests on their arrival at the reception area showing well clinging to a tree trunk.
Boyd's Forest Dragon
Further afield the elusive White-browed Robin at Big Mitchell Creek was seen on the western side of the road along the creek and Glossy Ibis were at Lake Mitchell. Black-throated Finch were seen along Pickford Road, Mareeba on the way to Mareeba Wetlands and also at a dam north of Mt. Carbine.