Sunday, 3 October 2010

3rd October 2010 Report


Temperatures this week were similar to last week 21.3-27.9ÂșC, but less rain with 15.5mm which fell mainly at the end of the week, Friday and Saturday were very wet with showers and overcast conditions but surprisingly good for finding birds. Bird sightings were up on last week, which was quite good considering the weather conditions, 87 were seen and 6 heard. Mammals and reptiles were 21 species seen also up on last week.

A Superb Fruit-Dove was seen briefly flying over the rainforest with several others calling throughout the week and a single Pied Imperial Pigeon was flying over Geraghty Park late in the week. The lone Papuan Frogmouth has been calling every night and also on one occasion all day whilst perched in a new daytime roost area on the edge of the orchard. Also heard calling once was an Australian Owlet-nightjar but not seen. A Black-necked Stork was seen soaring effortlessly high over Geraghty Park whilst on a morning walk and a juvenile Nankeen Night-Heron spent a day foraging around the Crake Pool, must have thought it was night with the gloomy weather! A pair of Pacific Baza were seen carrying nesting material, green leaves, to a nest early in the week and one was sitting towards the end. 

 Pacific Baza

A Grey Goshawk dropped vertically into the feeding area by the reception trying to catch a meal but was unsuccessful and flew off into a nearby tree to ponder his next move, which was to fly out of the Lodge grounds. A single Buff-banded Rail turned up in the orchard foraging along the edge of a grassy area and also appeared for a bathe in Bushy Creek one afternoon. A few Scaly-breasted Lorikeet continue to hang around waiting for the eucalypts to flower and a pair of Double-eyed Fig-Parrot flew over once just like the previous week. A Pheasant Coucal was actually seen flying upwards (a rare feat for this species) as it tried to cross the Rex Highway and avoid two vehicles. An adult sick Eastern Barn Owl was picked up in Geraghty Park one afternoon lying on the ground underneath its roost hollow. It was still alive with no visible sign of injury but unfortunately it passed on just before night fall. A few days later a juvenile E. Barn Owl walked into a neighbours house, 50m from the roost hollow of the adult, during the day; it was taken down to the Rainforest Habitat in Port Douglas to be looked after by their experienced staff. Laughing Kookaburra have been checking out termite mounds for nest sites but have not begun excavating them yet, usually November before they start preparing. 

 Laughing Kookaburra

Two pairs of Noisy Pitta have been patrolling their territories in the Lodge grounds, calling during the day and occasionally at night. The male has been calling from high up in the trees quite often and also seen on the ground in company with the female whose call is a lot quieter than the males. Great Bowerbird has been in Geraghty Park and seen being chased off by a Forest Kingfisher. A White-throated Gerygone was calling during a morning walk in Geraghty Park, this is a very rare visitor to our area – it is normally a dry woodland species. Graceful Honeyeater has been taking advantage of some of the introduced garden plants in the area. The one below is feeding on a Purple Orchid Tree Bauhinia purpurea  which is a native of India.

 Graceful Honeyeater

Brown-backed Honeyeater have been feeding in Mistletoe and bathing in Bushy Creek in the afternoon. A pair of Little Shrike-thrush who built a nest several weeks ago have now started sitting 

 Little Shrike-thrush

and a single Spangled Drongo was flying over the Lodge grounds, apparently the only one around. The first Black-faced Monarch for the season seen in the Lodge grounds was bathing in Bushy Creek and heard the following day calling in the rainforest. Both Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been calling mainly early morning with the boatbill needing more patience to find. A Silvereye was seen to pounce down onto the ground and on further inspection found it had caught a Katydid (bit like a grasshopper), it then began repeated pecking grabbing bits of it and eating them. Olive-backed Sunbird continues to sit in their nests with at least three in the area. Chestnut-breasted Mannikin are still feeding on sugar cane seeds with a few coming into the Lodges seed feeder. The image below was scanned off a slide so not quite up to standard, still cannot get decent images from slides - have to invest in a better scanner!

Chestnut-breasted Mannikin

A full species list for the week can be found here

Spotlighting was good for frogs! However there were other animals about including Fawn-footed Melomys, Bush Rat, Spectacled Flying Fox and Feather-tailed Glider feeding on the blossom of a flowering Bumpy Satinash Syzygium cormiflorum. This tree of the north Queensland rainforest has flowers which are quite remarkable in that they appear on the trunk and along the branches (technical term is cauliflorous). The flowers also produce abundant amounts of nectar attracting several mammal species including Striped Possum. Two adult Platypus continue to show well with their youngster who was spotlighted one night feeding on the surface. Also seen during the week was Water Rat, Boyd's Forest Dragon, Eastern Water Dragon, Major Skink and Green Tree Snake.

 Major Skink

Further afield at Maryfarms (between Mount Molloy and Mt. Carbine) Australian Bustard is showing well for some people with a high of 20 birds whilst others just managed to see one. Mount Molloy has been turning up Red-backed Fairy-wren, Banded Honeyeater, displaying Great Bowerbird at bowers and Pale-headed Rosella. Lake Mitchell (between Mount Molloy and Mareeba) surprised this week with at least two Crested Tern, a species normally associated with the coast, also Whiskered and Caspian Tern which are fairly regular here. A morning trip up Mt. Lewis on a gloomy day with a heavy rain shower produced a few birds but made finding them very difficult. The road up was definitely 4WD and quite slippery in places. We did manage a fly past of a male Victoria's Riflebird, Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Chowchilla and Topknot Pigeon; these were the highlights. A pair of Grey Fantail – race Keasti, (Montain Fantail) were attending their nest which is a very tiny structure. One bird was on the nest, well it's brood patch was the rest was hanging over the side, the other one flitted around it.

Grey Fantail - race keasti

Interesting behaviour from a pair of Mountain Thornbill who were actually feeding on the ground picking up small worms. This species usually forages in the outer edge of the rainforest canopy high up 20m+ and occasionally down to 1m from the ground feeding on insects (Keast, A. 1978. Emu 78;7-10). There is no mention of them feeding on worms in the Handbook of Australian, New Zealand & Antarctic Birds Vol. 6.

A full species list from the 10km clearing can be found

At the bottom of the mountain near Bushy Creek was a fruiting fig tree which was attracting Barred Cuckoo-shrike and Australasian Figbird, no sign of the reported Lovely Fairy-wren in this area from earlier in the week when the weather was much better.

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