Sunday, 12 December 2010

12th December 2010 Report

The beginning of the week was great weather, sunshine and warm but by the middle of the week we had late afternoon storms and overnight rain with a total of 41mm for the week, slightly more than last week. Temperatures ranged from 20.2ºC to 31.6ºC which was quite nice, especially if you are freezing in Europe! Birding conditions were quite good with 77 species seen and 6 heard, mammal and reptiles were only 15 seen due in part to no spotlighting during the week.

The weeks bird species list is here.


Red-necked Crake continues to appear at the Crake Pool with sightings of one bathing at 7.00am and 7.40am as well as in the late afternoon from 4.30pm to about 6.00pm. The first sightings of Fork-tailed Swift for the season was made at the end of the week early in the morning mixed in with Australian Swiftlet. Superb and Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove have been calling all week but only one sighting of a female Superb. A single Pied Imperial Pigeon zoomed over the orchard one morning, the first we have seen for several weeks. Papuan Frogmouth has abandoned the orchard for now and is roosting in the trees in front of the Cookshed, where it was reported last week. It was there all week and towards the end of the week was seen at night perched on the Kingfisher Park entrance sign! 



 Papuan Frogmouth



An Australian Owlet-nightjar was heard calling from the vicinity of its daytime roost hollow early in the week but at the end of the week a Lace Monitor was inspecting the tree hole, lets hope he did not get the nightjar.


Cattle Egret numbers have dwindled with very few left to attend the cattle, presumably they have gone off to breed somewhere, where we do not know. 



 Pacific Baza - chick in nest



The Pacific Baza chicks left their nest mid-week and moved into the Lodge grounds where they have been whinging all day to be fed. The adults have been swooping around near the office and perching low down in the trees whilst searching for the fledglings food; a White-lipped Tree-Frog was on the menu one afternoon. This one is just heading off to find more food.



 Pacific Baza - adult



Grey Goshawk continues to be seen occasionally around the edges of the Lodge grounds and two Nankeen Kestrel are seen most days perching on the power poles alongside the Rex Highway. Pale-vented Bush-hen are calling all around us but not showing around our area. Little (Gould's) Bronze-Cuckoo are calling well and being seen as are the Brush Cuckoo. The pair of Eastern Barn Owl are back in their day roost tree and taking no interest in the nest tree this week.

Azure Kingfisher are being regularly seen along Bushy Creek and sometimes stop to pose for a photo. We now have at least seven nest holes dug into termite mounds by the Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher which is one more than we have had for the last five years. The nest chambers have been dug into the termite mound to a depth of between 30-33mm with one which is in a mound on a fence post of the ground 28mm deep due to the smaller size of this mound. The Kingfishers have been particularly vocal this week either down low near the nest sites or high up in the rainforest canopy making sighting them difficult at times. However everyone has been seeing them even if it takes a little patience sometimes. The Laughing Kookaburra chick have also emerged from their nest in a termite mound high up in a tree and are making a lot of noise demanding food. The Blue-winged Kookaburra have also been making a lot of noise but we have not seen any sign of them nesting although a guest reported seeing one emerge out of a tree hollow across the Rex Highway from Geraghty Park. Up to eight Dollarbird have been flying around Geraghty Park on dusk whilst we have been waiting for the E. Barn Owl to appear. This is an unusually high number for our area as we are only used to seeing one pair each year. Noisy Pitta was popping out into the orchard area at the beginning of the week but by the end was keeping to the rainforest. They are still calling a lot and have been seen on the ground and high in the trees calling. Spotted Catbird has been prowling around the edge of the Crake Pool but no observations of them using the nest they were building a few weeks ago. 

 Spotted Catbird

The Great Bowerbird reported sitting on a nest continues to sit after nearly three weeks. Incubation period for this species is 21 days, the image below shows the nest with a head peering over the top.

 Great Bowerbird

Honeyeater numbers dropped off with virtually none at the feeders, plenty of natural food elsewhere. Lewin's Honeyeater appear to have gone at last but Scarlet are still around. Barred Cuckoo-shrike were still around despite cleaning up the fig tree they had been feeding in for 10 days behind the nearby nursing home. Cicadabird were in full song and this male was coming down low to feed in a small fig tree which had a few fruits on it. 

 Cicadabird - male

A trifecta of nests was in a tree near the Geraghty Park tennis court with an Australasian Figbird sitting in a nest less than 0.5m away from a Magpie-lark who was sitting in its mud nest and a White-breasted Woodswallow was in a refurbished Magpie-lark nest just above them.  This woodswallow was perched on a nearby powerline.

 White-breasted Woodswallow

Pied Monarch has been elusive but seen by a few guests and Yellow-breasted Boatbill has been very vocal with several pairs showing. Olive-backed Sunbird have two nestling in their second nest for the season and Red-browed Finch are as usual building more nests, one in front of the cookshed.

Spotlighting was limited this week with just one visit to check out what the E. Barn Owl was up to. Mammals were mainly seen at the feeder, Fawn-footed Melomys, Northern Brown Bandicoot, Bush Rat, White-tailed Rat but this Little Bentwing-bat decided to spend the day on the library fly-screen. 

Northern Broad-nosed Bat

Six species of frog were seen and our Boyd's Forest Dragon who has been hanging around the vegetation in front of the units has lost an eye but seems to be coping OK at the moment.

Further afield a trip to Cairns only allowed a brief visit to the Esplanade but the tide was unfavorable and few waders were seen. However a 20 minute count from the road at Lake Mitchell on the way home produced 23 species including Black Swan, Little, Intermediate, Eastern Great and Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis and Comb-crested Jacana. A full list can be seen here. An amazing 10+ Pale-vented Bush-hen were heard and two seen in Vains Park at Mt. Molloy at the end of the week. Barking Owl were also seen in Mt. Molloy, once at the Rifle Creek camping reserve and in the town hawking insects. Black-chinned Honeyeaters were at Abattoir Swamp early in the week. Blue-faced Parrot-Finch continue to be seen on Mt. Lewis but still in small numbers, 3 being the maximum.

Again the sunny weather at the beginning of the week attracted butterflies out into the open, including this male Cairns Birdwing which has a wingspan of 125mm (5"). 

 Cairns Birdwing 

This spider, a Golden Orb Weaver, has taken up residence in the entrance to one of our two bedroom units, quite an impressive spider. 

 Golden Orb Weaver


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