Sunday, 19 December 2010

19th December 2010 Report


The beginning of the week started with a huge storm in the evening which dumped 69mm of rain and put the power out in the district with a lightning strike. The rest of the week was rain in the evening and overnight whilst the days were quite good, two days had no rain. The total for the week was 110.5mm. Temperatures ranged from 21.2ºC to 31.6ºC, similar to last week but 1ºC warmer overnight. Bird species were up on last week with 82 seen and 4 heard (within 1.5km of the Lodge, our normal criteria). Mammals and reptiles were also up with 19 seen and 1 heard.


The weeks bird species list is here.

Highlight for the week has to be the sighting of two adult Red-necked Crake with two little black chicks bathing in the Crake Pool at the end of the week, this despite the water level rising with the storms. Again like so many other species this year it is early to have juveniles based on our observations in previous years, when fluffy black chicks have been seen in January/February.

The nearby swamp in McDougall Road had a few birds in it this week with Magpie Geese, Green Pygmy-Goose, Pacific Black Duck, Australasian Darter and Little Black Cormorant. A juvenile Emerald Dove appeared near the feeder during the week and showed off it's plumage whilst doing some stretching exercises.

 Emerald Dove - juvenile

Once again the Superb and Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove are with us but not seen. For the second week a lone Pied Imperial Pigeon was in the Lodge grounds. The female Papuan Frogmouth continues to occupy the rainforest area in front of the cook shed to roost during the day and a second P. Frogmouth was calling late one afternoon from another patch of rainforest near the orchard at the same time as the female was seen roosting. Presumably this bird was a male so it would appear that the two birds have not paired up and are not nesting. The storm rain at the beginning of the week flooded part of a paddock across the Rex Highway from the Lodge and attracted eight Australian Straw-necked Ibis and one Royal Spoonbill. The two juvenile Pacific Baza were around the Lodge grounds again this week begging for food and looking more like the adults each day as this image shows.

Pacific Baza - juvenile

Buff-banded Rail were along the edge of McDougall Road and also at our neighbours Barramundi farm. Scaly-breasted Lorikeet appeared towards the end of the week feeding on lerps (insects high in sugar content) in the eucalypts in Geraghty Park. Little Bronze-Cuckoo were very vocal around the Lodge grounds with at least eight individuals calling along with a couple of Brush Cuckoo. Two Eastern Barn Owl appeared from their daytime roost one day but not seen on a subsequent visit. (Lesser) Sooty Owl was calling for about an hour pre-dawn at the end of the week and again in the evening around 8.00pm in the Lodge grounds but was not seen.
A check of the Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher nests (in termite mounds) this week found one of the first nests to be dug out abandoned and filled back up by the termites. So we are back to our usual six nests in the Lodge grounds; at least three have birds sitting in them. There has been quite a bit of interaction with the male kingfishers chasing each other which may suggest that there are some extra males around trying to muscle in on the paired females. It certainly sounds like more birds around than the pairs who have occupied nests. Another nest in Geraghty Park had a kingfisher sitting. 
Noisy Pitta have been quite noisy some days but quiet on others, they also seem to be moving around the rainforest a lot making them hard to track down. Spotted Catbird have been calling mainly early morning and one was seen fighting with a Black Butcherbird near the Crake Pool. The nesting Great Bowerbird alongside the Rex Highway left the nest mid-week and has not been seen since, no sign of juveniles yet. Red-backed Fairy-wren were perched on fences along McDougall Road and Large-billed Scrubwren were very active in the Lodge grounds. This one had caught what looked like a cricket and proceeded to swallow it. 

 Large-billed Scrubwren

Honeyeaters were again absent from the feeders and feeding on flowering trees and the lerps on the eucalypts.
A few Barred Cuckoo-shrike were around all week as were Cicadabird. Black Butcherbird was lurking around in the rainforest, when not fighting catbirds! This one was hiding behind some vines whilst perching on the canopy over our restaurant eating area. Who would argue with that bill?

 Black Butcherbird

Spangled Drongo were on the move at the end of the week with a flock of 16 passing over early in the morning. Black-faced Monarch were displaying, wings outstretched and tail cocked, whilst calling all week. Yellow-breasted Boatbill have also been calling all week but difficult to see without a bit of effort. Chestnut-breasted Mannikin have been around in flocks but these two were off doing their own thing with the male holding a piece of grass displaying to the onlooking female.

 Chestnut-breasted Mannikin
With the power going out during the big storm at the beginning of the week we went out spotlighting to pass the time. The highlight was a Tree Mouse (formerly known as Prehensile-tailed Rat) which sat up in a tree for excellent views. They normally take off and head up into the canopy but this one took no notice of us. Frogs were the most obvious due to the volume of noise with Jungguy Frog, Northern Dwarf Tree Frog, Dessert Tree Frog, Dainty Green Tree Frog and Cogger's Frog seen. The Striped Marsh Frog was the only one not seen despite trying to track them down from their calls. Platypus were seen twice during the week, both times in the morning between 7-7.30am. At least two Boyd's forest Dragon were around the units, the one eyed one reported last week and another slightly larger one who was sprung trying to get free internet access in our library through a fly-screen! 

 Boyd's Forest Dragon - on fly-screen

 Boyd's Forest Dragon - close up

Further afield 40+ Blue-faced Parrot-Finch were reported on Mt. Lewis, both adult and juvenile.  A check the following day was cut short by a big downpour with 16+ adults being seen and no juveniles. For a full list of visit click here. To see other highlights in our area click here 

This adult Blue-faced Parrot-Finch was trying to emulate a Double-eyed Fig-Parrot. 

 Blue-faced Parrot-Finch

Of interest here was a pair of Chestnut-breasted Mannikin feeding with the parrot-finches and Red-browed Finch. In over 70 surveys and several hundred visits to this site we have only see them here once before on 24/1/1999 when 6 birds were present. A Brown Goshawk as well as several pairs of Lovely and Red-backed fairy-wren were seen near Abattoir Swamp.

Finally we would like to wish everyone seasons greetings and thank all our followers and guests for helping us achieve our "Wet Tropics" Cassowary Award for Nature Based Tourism for 2010. We hope to see you all in the coming year and if you cannot make it keep up to date by continuing to follow the blog.

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