Sunday, 5 September 2010

5th September 2010 Report

Temperature this week was a slightly warmer minimum than last week, down to 16.9ºC and a cooler top temperature of 25.3ºC. Rain this week amounted to 49.5mm which fell mainly at night, the days were showery with two sunny days. However a few kilometres west it was dry, especially up towards Mt. Carbine. Bird sightings were up on last week despite the weather to 84 seen and 8heard but mammals and reptiles were down on last week but still good with 21 species seen.


Two pairs of Red-necked Crake continue to be heard with a single bird seen briefly flying across Bushy Creek one afternoon. The pair reported from the long grass across Mt. Kooyong Road opposite the camping area last week have started calling mid-afternoon but still not showing much to everyone’s frustration.

The nearby wetlands continue to have small numbers of birds on them with up to 16 Wandering Whistle-Duck, a pair of green Pygmy-goose, 30+ Pacific Black Duck, 5 Australasian Grebe, one Little Pied Cormorant, 40+ Little Black Cormorant, one Eastern Great and Intermediate Egret, 100+ Cattle Egret and 3 White-faced Heron one of which was seen carrying a stick so they maybe nesting. 

 White-faced Heron

At least three Superb Fruit-Dove have again been calling in the rainforest around the orchard but not seen – they are very difficult blighter’s to get onto! Australian Owlet-nightjar has also been calling with one possible sighting when an eye-shine near one of it's daytime roosts was seen. Papuan Frogmouth has also been calling in the night and seen once flying over the Lodge grounds near the reception area, only seen once at one of the the normally reliable daytime roosts in the orchard. More calling, this time from a pair of White-bellied Sea-Eagle who have been flying and soaring over the Lodge giving their quite unlike raptor call of quacking, more like ducks! Buff-banded Rail was seen in the orchard on several occasions foraging in the open before darting back into the long grass at the edge of the rainforest. Several Pheasant Coucal have been seen dodging traffic on the road as they try to fly from one side to the other. Flight is not their strong point, they tend hop up to a high point then glide downwards with an occasional flap of the wings. As cuckoos go they are quite unusual as they are non-parasitic building their own nest and raising their own young. A single Eastern Barn Owl was seen at the nest site during the week but several others, adult and juveniles, belonging to another pair were heard and seen nearby. A pair of Great Bowerbird have been feasting on a fruiting bush in Geraghty Park along with Rainbow and Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Lewin's Honeyeater, Little Shrike-thrush, Australasian Figbird, Silvereye, Metallic Starling and Olive-backed Sunbird who were all seen feeding at the same time. Large-billed Gerygone were observed bringing food to their nest so hopefully they will have some youngsters flying around soon.

Graceful Honeyeater

Graceful Honeyeater are still using the South American Sapote along with Dusky Honeyeater. A single Bridled Honeyeater appeared at the feeder but was seen off by the bossy Macleay's Honeyeater. 

 Yellow-spotted Honeyeater

The image of the Yellow-spotted Honeyeater above was taken in the rainforest whilst it was feeding on a flowering root parasite Balanophora fungosa. This image used a technique called colour wash which involves placing a solid object between you and your subject, in a way that only the colour of the out of focus object remains, partially covering your subject, but showing the latter as if it was covered with a veil. In this case a green leaf but all this was completely accidental and not planned! Not sure I'll be repeating this type of image again. More about this technique can be found here .

 Balanophora fungosa

Balanophora fungosa is a leafless plant and resembles a fungus with a large rounded head. The female flowers form an densely packed apical cone with the male flowers clustered below them, they pop up out of the rainforest floor at this time of year usually in clumps but ocassionaly singularly. The flowers have a white pollen and a smear of nectar on the surface of the female flowers as well as the base of the male flowers. As well as honeyeaters  other daytime visitors inclde beetles, ants and flies. At night it is visited by rats, and Long-nosed Bandicoot. (information from the book "Amongst Trees - images from the rainforests of North-east Queensland" which is a colloboration between several writers and artistes)The image above shows a few white flowers on the left but dead ones on the right, the image below has mature white flowers and not quite mature female flowers on the cone. We have heard tour guides describing it as fungus, mushrooms and even cassowary droppings!

   Balanophora fungosa

Slight interlude, now back to this weeks birds. Very few Barred Cuckoo-shrike seen with most seemingly moving on to better feeding grounds. Black Butcherbird has again been catching White-lipped Tree Frogs, well they have to feed as well. A lone Spangled Drongo continues to come to the feeder for a few sips of sugar water. Grey-headed Robin are still with us and probably took one look at the cloud down on the hills and decided to stay. Olive-backed Sunbird are making several nests around the area, well the female is doing all the work with the males supervising. This female pictured below went into what looked like a submission posture staying perfectly still whilst the male was sitting just above her, he was not impressed and flew off – maybe it was a threat posture? 

 Olive-backed Sunbird - female

One nest a female was building was an old one from several years ago which had fallen into disrepair, interesting to see if they actually use it. They do make several nests in an area and choose one they think will work, we've seen this with Noisy Pitta also who made one nest and decided it was not quite right and immediately started building another 20m away which they did use.

Not much spotlightiing this week due to the rainy weather but several Stripped Possum and one Green Ringtail Possum were seen along with a Tree Mouse and Feather-tail Glider again in the South American Sapote in the orchard. This tree has now passed its use by date as far as the flowers are concerned as they are now wilting and dropping off. It has certainly been a productive tree over the last month or so attracting honeyeaters

Further afield the good news is that a male Golden Bowerbird was seen on Mt. Lewis on the track beyond the old tin miners dam early in the week but the bad news is that roadworks and recent rains have closed the road which is extremely slippery, dangerous and not recommended for any vehicle. A single White-headed Pigeon was also seen on Mt. Lewis. A Cicadabird was heard calling at Abattoir Swamp, (first for the season) also an Australian Reed-Warbler was seen on the edge of reeds here from the hide. Another first for the season around here was a single Channel-billed Cuckoo at Maryfarms on the Peninsula Development Road towards Mt. Carbine. Banded Honeyeater has been in flowering eucalypts in Vains Park, Mt. Molloy along with large flocks of Scaly-breasted Lorikeet.

 Scaly-breasted Lorikeet

Keith will be attending the upcoming Australian Birdfair 17th-19th September at Yanco Agricultural Institute – Murrumbidgee Rural Studies Centre near Leeton, New South Wales along with Andrew from Red Mill House at Daintree Village. We will be promoting our area and will be looking forward to catching up with any of you who will be attending. More information about the Birdfair can be found here.


Boobook said...

That balanophora plant is amazing. Lovely photos.

Keith and Lindsay Fisher said...

Thanks Boobook, yes the balanophora are amazing, unfortunately now they have almost finished their life cycle for this year and are turning into a black blobby mess.