Sunday, 18 July 2010

18th July 2010 Report

Temperature range this week was 16.9ºC – 22ºC which was slightly cooler than last week. Drizzle and a few showers produced 14mm of rain but there were a few sunny breaks and again good birding. Bird numbers were slightly down on last week, but again a different mix of birds which produced 78 bird species seen and 1 heard. Mammals and reptiles were 20 species seen which was less than last week but the quality was better!

One surprise bird during the week was a Metallic Starling in one of our neighbours gardens, normally the birds from here are back in Papua New Guinea at this time of year. Small numbers over-winter in coastal areas like Cairns and Port Douglas but not around our area. 

 Metallic Starling

Wompoo Fruit-Dove is still around the Lodge grounds calling and being seen. Papuan Frogmouth continues to play hide and seek but was found on more days than not. The roosting Australian Owlet-nightjar was only seen peering out of its daytime hollow towards the end of the week when the sun started to shine, the dull overcast days kept it inside. The pair of Whistling Kite that were nesting a few months back have set up home in a nearby tree and were seen peering out of a new nest, not sure if the first nest failed but we did see at least one chick in it. A Grey Goshawk was seen flying across Bushy Creek one afternoon, no doubt looking for a feed. The Eastern Barn Owl juveniles mentioned over the last few weeks are now flying greater distances from the nest but returning to receive food from the parents. One was seen being feed by an adult outside the nest hollow. One adult bird found a daytime roost in the Lodge grounds a few weeks ago when it was located in a broken top of a tree as this image shows.

Eastern Barn Owl

Two Spotted Catbird have been coming into the feeder by the reception to grab banana but the honeyeater numbers have diminished here due to some natural flowering in and around the Lodge grounds. The lone male Yellow-throated Scrubwren continues to forage around Bushy Creek and is often seen bathing in the late afternoon. Barred Cuckoo-shrike have been in the Lodge grounds and also in a nearby fruiting fig tree but only a couple seen at a time. The fig tree has been attracting large numbers of Australasian Figbird, now there is a surprise! An adult Black Butcherbird has been around this week with no sign of the brown immature. Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been calling for long periods in the early morning and again late afternoon, both have been seen well throughout the week. The juvenile male Victoria's Riflebird which has been around the Lodge grounds for about two months was seen again this week. The single Chestnut-breasted Mannikin reported last week again appeared this week (possibly the same one but a bit hard to tell as they all look the same!). A full list of the weeks birds can be found on the Eremaea Birds website using this link

Spotlighting this week turned out to be good towards the weeks end with the Tree Mouse (ex. Prehensile-tailed Rat) Pogonomys sp. appearing in one of our fruit trees, a South American Sapote (Chupa-chupa) Quararibea cordata. As you can see from the image of the Striped Possum below it has prolific flowers on the branches and lots of nectar. As well as the Tree Mouse (Record shot) the Spectacled Flying Fox and Striped Possum have also been attracted to the nectar.

 Tree Mouse

 Striped Possum

Striped Possum mainly feed on tree boring larvae of beetles and have very powerful lower incisors in their lower jaw to rip into dead and decaying trees. They hook out the larvae with a sharp claw on an elongated forth finger (image below) or use their long tongue. They will also eat fruit and insects.

Elongated forth finger of Striped Possum

During the day honeyeaters also flock to the sapote, the flowers should be good for the next 2-3 weeks. A Green Ringtail Possum was seen perched high up on an exposed tree branch doing what they seem to do a lot of and that is nothing. Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko was again seen on several trees plus the Northern Brown and Long-nosed Bandicoot have again been digging holes all over the orchard. The rain bought a few frogs out of hiding with six species being recorded including Jungguy Frog, Cogger's Frog and Red Tree Frog. The Red-legged Pademelon which turned up last week was again foraging in the orchard.

Further afield Maryfarms (famous for Australian Bustard and north from Kingfisher Park) was attracting numbers of interesting honeyeaters, large flock of Bridled were seen by a guest. De Richards from Fine Feather Tours reported Rufous-throated and Bar-breasted Honeyeater from this location, both are unusual here. Bar-breasted occur way south of us around Townsville and further north but generally avoid the “Wet Tropics” area like several other species. Records for Bar-breasted Honeyeater in our region have come from Mt. Carbine Dam, Rifle Creek, and Rocky Creek between Mareeba and Atherton. There have been occasional reports from Abattoir Swamp (6kms away) by visitors but none confirmed, possible confusion with Brown-backed Honeyeater? Rufous-throated are rare on the Atherton Tableland but we did see one in the CSIRO grounds in Atherton one October while on a 24 hour “twitch”. One lone Blue-faced Parrot-Finch was seen not far from the Lodge one morning but not seen again.

Our shop has received copies of two interesting locally produced compact guides on the flora of our area, the first Plants of Tropical North Queensland features 485 key plants using photographs, vegetation zones and a simple key. A description accompanies each of the species. 

The second book Plants of Cape York follows the same layout as the first but has 600 key plants. 

Both books are by John Beasley and can be ordered through our secure online website page, Tropical North Queensland Plants is $20.00 plus Post & Packing the second Plants of Cape York is $25.00 plus post and packing. Both books cover the range of vegetation types and plants most likely to be encountered.

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