Sunday, 14 November 2010

14th November 2010 Report

Firstly we would like to thank all those people who sent us congratulations on our Wet Tropics Management Authority Cassowary Award for Nature Based Tourism. We could not have done it without you, our guests, so thank you to you all.

Now what has been happening during the week? Well it has been dry with just a hint of rain but nothing recorded in the rain gauge. A storm surrounded us late in the week which made lots of noise but no rain. What a difference a few weeks makes, we have gone from a mud bath to a dust bowl! It has been warming up with the clear sunny days with one day getting up to 31ºC and down to 19.2ºC. We recorded 82 bird species seen and 8 heard, mammals and reptiles were

The weeks bird species list can be found here

Highlight for the week was finding a newly fledged Yellow-breasted Boatbill sitting a few centimetres off the ground being fed by the adult female. A few quick images were taken before beating a hasty retreat to let the female continue her good work. No sign of the adult male. The juvenile was located a few days later still being fed by the female, this time it was 3m off the ground and about 30m from the first sighting. The juvenile was seen flying, although clumsily, from one branch to another so it looks like it has a good chance of survival. A sequence of images is shown below. This is the sub-species Machaerirhynchus flaviventer secundus which is the species occurring at the Lodge. Some field guides do not show the female plumage very well  for this sub-species and this has lead to confusion amongst a few guests.

 Yellow-breasted Boatbill - recently fledged juvenile

 Yellow-breasted Boatbill - adult female bringing in a bush fly

 Adult female and juvenile

 Feed time


Another highlight was a Great-billed Heron seen flying over a neighbouring paddock out in the open one morning.

It appears that a second wave of Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher have arrived this week as there are many more birds calling all over the Lodge grounds, we will not know how many are here until they have all started nesting activity. So far we have found three pairs which have started digging nests in termite mounds plus one more in our neighbours garden. Whilst some birds are still staying 6-8m up in the rainforest some have been coming down and putting on a show for our guests, one bird was observed for 10 minutes pouncing onto the ground to grab prey items. The males are looking very smart in their pristine plumage and in display mode they are puffing up their white back feathers contrasting with the blue wings.

 Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher - displaying

At least five Superb Fruit-Dove are calling with one actually seen high up in the canopy for a quick glimpse. Papuan Frogmouth are still calling each night but only showed once at their normal daytime roost area at the beginning of the week, so maybe they have started to nest. The Pacific Baza continue to feed two nestlings bringing in a variety of insects and frogs, at least one of the frogs was a Dainty Green Tree Frog Litoria gracilenta. Again Red-necked Crake have been calling with one possible glimpse down at the Crake Pool at 4.30 one afternoon. A few Channel-billed Cuckoo have been flying over and Little Bronze-Cuckoo have been calling and seen well. A Sooty Owl was heard on two separate occasions around 4.00am giving a single note call but still not giving us any opportunities to see it. Eastern Barn Owl have started playing games with us again with one night no appearance at the roost tree, another night two in the roost tree and another night one in the nest tree and one in the roost tree. Other pairs (3+) have been calling in the area as well. Laughing Kookaburra appear to be nesting again and Blue-winged Kookaburra have started to call more often this week. Noisy Pitta have also been calling a lot and staying in the rainforest more often than coming out into the open. Spotted Catbird have just seen off a juvenile and are now building another nest, it is certainly an interesting year for bird behaviour. Beside the catbird, Large-billed Gerygone and Olive-backed Sunbird are re-using previously successful nests for a second time within two months. Scarlet Honeyeater are busy in the tree tops with an occasional sortie to lower levels to at least give people a chance of seeing them properly. A lone Barred Cuckoo-shrike has been calling towards the end of the week, but not seen and Cicadabird continue to call and fly around. Black Butcherbird has been skulking around and making low guttural calls, but keeping hidden in the rainforest. Pied Monarch woke up towards the end of the week and started calling and showing after a few weeks of keeping quite and not showing well. Pale-yellow Robin juveniles have started to appear again after some were seen 10 weeks ago. 

 Pale-yellow Robin - juvenile

Common Myna appear to be nesting high up in a Queensland Blue Gum in Geraghty Park nearby but they keep to the open paddocks and not near the rainforest.

Not much spotlighting this week due to other commitments but we did see a Striped Possum and A Giant White-tailed Rat at the end of the week, the possum was the first sighting for a few weeks. Fawn-footed MelomysRatus ratus or a pregnant Bush Rat but the tail was too short for Black Rat although it could have lost the tip. Its behaviour seemed different to Bush Rat as it kept climbing up to the water bowl for a drink and sometimes when feeding it sat on it haunches quite upright holding a seed in its front paws. It also had black patches under each eye and rougher fur than the Bush Rat, we will try for an ID but if anyone has ideas we would like to hear. 

 Rat sp.

Boyd's Forest Dragon are still showing well in the rainforest with Eastern Water Dragon along Bushy Creek and Major Skink making a few appearances around the reception area.

Further afield two adult and one juvenile Blue-faced Parrot-Finch was seen in about 5kms from the Lodge along a creek with bamboo edges, by Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours, none have been seen on Mt. Lewis yet. Little Lorikeet were reported at the Rifle Creek camping area just out of Mt. Molloy which is an uncommon species here and even more unusual was three Black-throated Finch along the road to Emerald Creek east of Mareeba, reported by Klaus Uhlenhut from Kirrima Tours, this is the furthest south Klaus has seen them on the Atherton Tableland.

Dragonfly's have been coming out in the sun with this Painted Grasshawk fairly common around the area. I was surprised the image came out so well as I was using a 300mm F2.8 lens with a 1.4x tele-converter and hand held with a bit of fill flash. Would usually use a 100mm macro or at a pinch 100-400mm zoom which is also surprisingly good at macro.



 Painted Grasshawk

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