Sunday, 27 June 2010

27th June 2010 Report

Minimum temperatures were up and day time temperatures were down this week with a range of 17ºC – 23ºC. Drizzle and showers produced 5mm with the start of the week overcast and gloomy, but by the end the sunshine had returned and great birding weather prevailed. Despite the gloomy weather bird numbers were up on last week, partly due to the start of sugar cane harvesting which bought extra aerial hunters into the area boosting the total to 83 bird species. Mammals and reptiles were 19 species seen.

Probably the highlight of the week was seeing a Platypus in Bushy Creek for the first time since December last year and close behind two Eastern Barn Owl chicks in a nest. We spotlighted the Platypus heading downstream at a great rate of knots. As mentioned the onset of the cane harvesting season attracted many aerial species such as Australian Swiftlet, Whistling Kite, Black Kite, Rainbow Bee-eater, White-breasted Woodswallow, Welcome Swallow and both Fairy and Tree Martin. The kites were scavenging any poor unfortunate animal to get chopped in the harvesters and the rest were hawking insects disturbed and attracted to the open cut fields. Papuan Frogmouth continue to show spasmodically with a couple of sightings of one roosting in the orchard area. Australian White Ibis are still in low numbers, but five were scavenging around the neighbouring barramundi farm along with a few Australian Wood Duck and Pacific Black Duck. A pair of Pacific Baza continue to hang around the district with several sightings in the lodge grounds and a Brahminy Kite was flying along the highway near the barramundi farm. A Brown Goshawk has been sitting up in a Blue Quondong tree beside a cut cane field early on several mornings for views from the Lodge grounds, this is where a Grey Goshawk normally perches but the grey was forced to find an altenative perch nearby for a few days. 

 Brown Goshawk

Double-eyed Fig-Parrot sightings are still scarce with only one fly-over of a pair for the week.

A pair of Eastern Barn Owl have at least two chicks in a nest, last year they had three ,but so far this year we have only seen two little heads peering out of their tree hollow. A male Yellow-throated Scrubwren (winter visitor) was seen foraging in the rainforest along the track to Bushy Creek from the orchard. Nine species of honeyeater were around this week despite there not being much in the way of flowering trees/shrubs for them. The White-throated Honeyeater have been seen picking off insects from some of the eucalypts, possibly sugary scale insects. Other good birds showing well have been Spectacled and Pied Monarch, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, juvenile male Victoria's Riflebird and Olive-backed Sunbird. A full list of the weeks birds can be found on the Eremaea Birds website using this link

Spotlighting revealed the aforementioned Platypus and a few more species of frogs which enjoyed the damp conditions. Five species seen were Wilcox's Frog, White-lipped Tree Frog, Northern Dwarf Tree Frog, Desert or Red Frog and Cogger's Frog. In addition a few Cane Toads were seen. Striped Possum was seen once and Long-nosed Bandicoot numbers seem to have increased – not surprising with a 12.5 day gestation period! The image below shows one doing what they do best and that is aerating our lawns with conical shaped holes up to 30cm deep in their search for worms and grubs.

 Long-nosed Bandicoot

An Agile Wallaby was spotlighted hopping along Mt. Kooyong Road, no doubt disturbed from the Sugar Cane where they seek shelter. A spiny spider was spotlighted which was the first we have seen here in five years and a stick insect was also seen. Most stick insects are only active at night relying on their appearance to protect them during the day. 

 Stick Insect sp.

We again found a Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko on one spotlighting trip and have now found more in the last few weeks than we did all of last year! Not surprising as you can see from this image they have incredible camouflage 

 Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko

Further afield Mt. Lewis has been turning up good sightings of Chowchilla and Fernwren along with other endemic “Wet Tropic” species, Bridled Honeyeater, Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill and Bowers Shrike-thrush.

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