Sunday, 26 September 2010

26th September 2010 Report


Temperatures this week were similar to last week 20-27ÂșC, but more rain with 43.5mm which fell over the first few days of the week, Friday and Saturday were very pleasant with plenty of sun.

Bird sightings were two more than last week, which was quite good as we did not visit the nearby wetlands, 78 were seen and 4 heard. Mammals and reptiles were 19 species seen.

Highlight for the week was the return of a Cicadabird, the coastal one with a slow call, not the inland one from southern Australia with the faster buzzy call. The southern ones can be found just down the road from us around Abattoir Swamp and Mt. Molloy into the drier country. 



 Cicadabird - male



Another highlight was the sighting of two adult Platypus with a very small juvenile in tow swimming along Bushy Creek - lets hope the youngster survives.


With some trees starting to fruit the pigeons have started to come around with Brown Cuckoo-Dove seen, this one was doing acrobatics whilst hanging on a vine.


Brown Cuckoo-Dove



Topknot Pigeon was also seen, Superb and Wompoo Fruit-Dove calling plus Emerald Dove, Peaceful Dove and Bar-shouldered Dove - a good collection of Columbidae! Papuan Frogmouth continues to call in vain and has been roosting in the open on several days - alone. Australian Owlet-nightjar was briefly seen on a morning walk as it peered out of its daytime roost hole, one look at us and it was back into the hollow for some privacy. White-belied Sea-Eagle strayed into the Whistling Kite territory and was seen off and an Australian Hobby was chasing a smaller bird across Geraghty Park but failed to catch it as it returned empty footed to harass the Metallic Starling colony in the park. Red-necked Crake have slowed down on the calling and gone into hiding with no sightings this week. Scaly-breasted Lorikeet numbers increased as a few eucalypts started to flower and a pair of Double-eyed Fig-Parrot flew over one morning. Cuckoos were around with Channel-billed numbers increasing and Brush calling constantly along with Little-bronze and Pheasant Coucal which were only heard. Two Eastern Barn Owl were spotlighted and several others heard calling, still not quite sure what they are up to at the moment as only one was seen emerging from the regular roost tree. Noisy Pitta are still being noisy with plenty of sightings during the week including two together perched on a log. Only one sighting of a Lewin's Honeyeater this week which means most have now goon to higher altitudes. Brown-backed Honeyeater have returned after being away since March,



 Brown-backed Honeyeater



Scarlet Honeyeater have also returned after an absence of a few weeks and a few Barred Cuckoo-shrike are still with us. Little Shrike-thrush and Spectacled Monarch are nesting and Pale-Yellow Robin has been seen feeding juveniles. A single sighting of a Rufous Fantail probably means they are on their way out of the area, some to higher altitudes. Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill continue to call well and be seen almost every day. Metallic Starling continue to add to their nests with several birds seen sitting in them, not sure if they have started laying yet, its a bit hard to see when their nests are 30m up in the trees! Olive-backed Sunbird females are sitting in their nests (2 out of 3 we know of). Chestnut-breasted Mannikin have been feeding on the sugar cane seeds which have been on the cane for several weeks now due to no harvesting taking place because of the wet weather.

A full species list for the week can be found here

One Green Ringtail Possum was seen on a spotlighting night and a Striped Possum was seen by some guests in the rainforest adjacent to the orchard on another night. The rain bought out six species of frog and pleased the Eastern Water Dragon which were enjoying the extra water in Bushy Creek. A Major Skink nearly found itself under the wheels of a car which managed to swerve around it without hitting a tree.

Further afield Australian Bustard are displaying and mating as well as having juveniles along the Maryfarms roads. Banded Honeyeater was reported at Mt. Carbine and nearer home at Abattoir Swamp. White-winged Triller was at Lake Mitchell, a regular spot in years gone by, but not so much these days. It was reported that Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher had been heard in Iron Range up on Cape York Peninsula, if they were there it would be an extremely early record. Several species of birds mimic the BBPKF calls, the best being Metallic Starling and we have also heard that Trumpet Manucode are good as well. We would like to have some definite sightings to be sure. They usually turn up in the Mackay district first before they appear here in late October/early November but with all this rain around anything could happen. On our way back from Cairns Airport on Monday afternoon there were two Radjah Shelduck foraging in some ponding beside the Captain Cook Highway near the Port Douglas turnoff, seems there are a few around with reports of them at Cattana Wetlands and Yorkeys Knob Lagoon – both locations in Cairns.
The wet weather has bought out some interesting fungi, could not find the one below in any of our Fungi field guides so if any of you experts out there have an idea please let us know. We could not detect any smell, but we guess it did have some as it was attracting plenty of flies.

 Fungi Sp.


Australian Birdfair 2010

The 5th Australian Birdfair was held at the Yanco Agricultural Institute near Leeton in the Riverina district of New South Wales. The three-day event featured exhibitors, presenters and workshops all based on birdlife and the environment as well as tours to local birding hotspots. The theme for this years birdfair was “Birds of Prey and their environment”.

The Bird Trails Tropical Queensland area was represented by Andrew from Red Mill House in Daintree Village and I (Keith) represented Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge. We were the only regional area in Australia that was attending who were promoting birding accommodations, tour guides and birding sites.

Australian Birdfair Stand

Other exhibitors included Birds Australia, Birds Observation Conservation Australia (BOCA), Australian Sound Recording Group, Fivebough and Tuckerbil Wetlands Trust, Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority, World Wide Fund for Nature Australia (WWF), Communities in Landscapes which is a federal government department working together to integrate conservation and production across Box-Gum Woodlands, TEMP Tours and Native Plant Nursery (operated by the birdfair organisers Mike Schultz and Tracey Valenzisi who did a wonderful job) and Wayne Byard – artist in residence who was painting some superb bird pictures over the weekend. Local council tourism bodies supported the event with Leeton and Narrandera Shire Council each having a display. Manning the display restricted opportunities to get away but I did manage to get to a few talks and of course Sean Dooley's Flockwhiz, a lighthearted quiz with some serious bird questions.


I managed to get away and do some birding on the Friday morning with old friend Fred van Gessel, well known for his CD's of Australian bird calls. We went up to Binya State Forest, east of Griffith to investigate the Box-Pine Woodland. Access was restricted to an area just off the Burley Griffin Way just east of Yenda as the roads were wet and muddy due to recent rains. It was great to catch up with lots of birds I had not seen for a while, Splendid Fairy-wren, Red-capped Robin, 

 Red-capped Robin

Southern Whiteface, three thornbill species and Speckled Warbler amongst them, full list here. We visited Fivebough Swamp at Leeton on the way back to the Birdfair venue where the water level was very high due to the recent rains so that restricted seeing many of the migratory waders as there was no mudflats exposed. Half the population of Australian reed-Warbler must have been in the reeds judging by their call as well at plenty of Little Grassbird. Swamp Harrier and displaying Musk Duck were also there, list for visit here. Another morning I went to nearby Euroley Bridge and found a lifer, a Superb Parrot flying over the river red gums, that was the highlight, list for visit here. The absolute highlight was a afternoon/night visit to Oolambeyan National Park where we found a Plains-wanderer (another lifer)


as well as other good birds like Stubble Quail, Spotted Harrier, nesting Australian Hobby, Banded Lapwing with two chicks, Red-chested Button-quail, 

 Red-chested Button-quail

Blue Bonnet, juvenile Pallid Cuckoo 

 Pallid Cuckoo - juvenile

and both Rufous and Brown Songlark, list for visit here.

If you are visiting the area get hold of a copy of Bird Trails of the Riverina and South West Slopes of NSW a 58 page booklet launched at the birdfair. It is divided up into 13 local government areas with GPS references and shire maps to help with the location of bird watching sites, this is probably available through the local shires offices and local tourist bureaus. Also useful are publications published by the Murrumbidgee Field NaturalistsBird Routes of Leeton, Bird Routes of Narrandera

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