Sunday, 8 August 2010

8th August 2010 Report

Temperature range this week was cooler down to 15.4ºC and up one degree on last week to 25ºC. No rain this week with sunny days and a few overcast ones. The previous week was an exceptionally good week for bird numbers (91) so it was not surprising that bird sightings were slightly down to 78 seen and 8 heard. Mammals and reptiles were up one to 20 seen.

The best sighting for the week was a juvenile White-eared Monarch, probably the same one from a few weeks ago. It was flitting around the tops of the rainforest trees outside the units at the end of a morning walk but gave poor views before it came down to a metre off the ground and hopped up a vine giving good looks. Also with it was Pied and Spectacled Monarch, not often you see three monarchs together, although we did see four together once when a Black-faced Monarch was with these three species.

A small flock of Australian Wood Duck have been around the area, seen on a morning walk at a drying dam across the Rex Highway from the lodge and also at the neighbouring Barramundi fish farm. Wompoo Fruit-Dove is still around and the female Papuan Frogmouth went missing for three days in the middle of the week. A Pacific Baza was back at the end of the week calling and showing well and both Black and Whistling Kite were foraging on the ground in the cut cane paddocks. A Pale-vented Bush-hen was heard along Bushy Creek once which is unusual at this time of year, however another one was heard in the district a few weeks ago so a few may have returned early. Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo was also heard at the end of the week flying over, again unusual as we only hear and see them here in January-February. They are more out in the dry country around Mareeba and up to Mt. Carbine and beyond. Double-eyed Fig-Parrot were heard once flying over Bushy Creek but no sign of them feeding in the area yet. 

 Double-eyed Fig-Parrot - male

Pheasant Coucal are becoming more obvious as their shelters in the cane paddocks are shrinking with cutting going on. Eastern Barn Owl juveniles have moved out of the nest site and only one was seen returning to the site in the evening, other E. Barn Owls were heard calling in the area and one flew past the entrance to the Lodge heading out over cane paddocks. Large-billed Scrubwren continue to build their nest over Bushy Creek with less hassle from the Striated Pardalote nesting nearby as they are busy bringing insects to their nest. Lewin's Honeyeater numbers took a plunge during the week with most disappearing from the area to higher grounds or moving south. Barred Cuckoo-shrike numbers have steadily increased over the week as a few fruiting trees have become available in the local area. Spangled Drongo has been around chasing off honeyeaters from the flowering South American Sapote. You can see by this image that the bird has a lot of pollen around its forehead and is twisting around to get the nectar.

 Spangled Drongo

Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been calling and seen well, the image below shows the less photographed duller plumaged female where you can see how the species got its name! 

 Yellow-breasted Boatbill - female

The Pale-yellow Robin reported last week as building its nest is now sitting. Welcome Swallow and Fairy Martin are swooping down over the cut cane paddocks collecting insects, interestingly the Tree Martin that were here a few weeks ago doing the same seem to have disappeared this week. Metallic Starling numbers have increased with at least 12+ seen around their nest site and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin numbers at the feeder have also increased from one to two!

A full list of the weeks birds can be found on the Eremaea Birds website using this link

Mammals and reptiles have again been good with Cape York Rat seen once and the Striped Possum in the S.A. Sapote again. Platypus have been regularly seen late afternoon and early morning in Bushy Creek. Six species of frog were found despite the dry conditions and a Boyd's Forest Dragon was spotlighted as well as seen during the day. A large unidentified snake was seen by two of our guests heading away from one of the verandas and not seen again despite searching.
Further afield there has been sightings of Blue-faced Parrot-Finch, interestingly the majority of birds seen are ostensibly very young juveniles. In our experience they mainly breed from December-February although we have seen one juvenile bird on Mt. Lewis in October, so these sightings suggest a late breeding season this year based on our knowledge. The image below shows one of these juveniles with little blue around the face unlike the adults, it is feeding on a weed Stephanophysum longifolium Red Christmas Pride. We still have a lot to learn about these cryptic little birds. 

 Blue-faced Parrot-Finch - juvenile

Both Little Eagle and Square-tailed Kite have been seen around the area, Little Eagle was at Maryfarms on the way north to Mt. Carbine. A trip to Cairns during the week afforded time at Yorkey's Knob Lagoon, I was disappointed to see the the island in the lagoon almost joined to the mainland with fill. The island is home to several nesting Australasian Darter, Little Pied Cormorant and Little Black Cormorant as well as a refuge for many duck species. One pair of A. Darter had already moved to another small island nearer the road and had a nest with two juveniles perched beside it as the image below shows.

 Australasian Darter - juvenile

Whilst photographing the A. Darter a Brown Honeyeater decided to sing to its reflection in the car window!

 Brown Honeyeater

List of species for visit to Yorkeys Knob Lagoon available here:

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