Sunday, 26 December 2010

26th December 2010 Report

Another interesting week of weather, Dry, Wet, Storms and finally a near miss with a cyclone which crossed the coast south of Cairns on Christmas Day morning. We had 136.5mm of rain for the week with temperatures ranging from 21.2-31.6ÂșC which was the same as the previous week. Bird species were down on last week with 76 seen and 7 heard (within 1.5km of the Lodge). Mammals and reptiles were also down with 17 seen and 2 heard (Roth's Tree and Striped Marsh Frog).

The weeks bird species list is here.

This weeks highlight was again the Red-necked Crake who appeared at the Crake Pool, this time with 3 fluffy chicks in tow. One was also seen on Christmas Day (Christmas Crake!) when it appeared on the edge of the rainforest by the path to the orchard and proceeded to forage for nearly five minutes within 3m of me, quite a treat. A Grey Whistler juvenile was being fed by an adult bird in the camping area which was also good to see as I think it is the first one we have seen in five years despite them being resident at the Lodge.

Grey Whistler - juv.

A flock of 40+ Magpie Goose flew over one afternoon heading for the McDougall Road swamp where there was a pair of Green Pygmy-goose early in the week. Fruit-doves still continue to elude us with Wompoo, Superb and Rose-crowned calling but not seen. Cattle Egret have definitely left the district with no sightings this week. Pacific Baza are still around with their two offspring still crying out for food non-stop. White-bellied Sea-Eagle was at the neighbouring Barramundi Farm helping itself to a Christmas Day treat and a single Whistling Kite was seen once in the week. Pale-vented Bush-hen continue to call and hide in long grass around the area of the Lodge. Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo were heard flying over one afternoon which is an uncommon event. They are normally out in the drier country to the South and North-West of the Lodge and tend to fly over our area in January/February with very rare sightings during the rest of the year. A few Channel-billed Cuckoo have returned and started calling after not seeing or hearing them for three weeks. A single Eastern Barn Owl was seen at the end of the week, perched near its daytime roost, in the evening. Azure Kingfisher have been zipping along Bushy Creek and the Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher have dug out another nest in the largest termite mound found in the Lodge grounds, this makes a total of seven. This termite mound had black ants occupying the chamber when the kingfishers returned in October but during the last few weeks they appeared to have left and the termites filled up the chamber, which the kingfishers have just dug out. This is great as this mound has been occupied for at least the last six seasons. This is one of the birds which has been digging and has a bent tail due to turning around in the narrow chamber many times.

Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher - female

We have found two nests of the Dollarbird this week, both in hollows in Queensland Blue-Gum Eucalyptus tereticornis. They both appear to have young in the nest hollows as both pairs are bringing food in. Noisy Pitta has been noisy all week calling from both on the ground and up in trees but no sign of any nests or youngsters yet. With the wet weather the Spotted Catbird has started to come back to the feeder along with the honeyeaters who have been absent for several weeks. Lewin's Honeyeater was back on Christmas Day at the feeder and calling after an absence of three weeks. A few Barred Cuckoo-shrike were around at the beginning of the week but appeared to have gone by the end. Cicadabird (Wet Tropic one by call) have been calling all week and showing well. Large flocks of Australasian Figbird (40-50) were passing over the Lodge on Christmas Day heading in a southerly direction, not sure if this is a local migration or not. Black-faced Monarch have quietened down this week after a frantic few weeks calling non-stop. Metallic Starling continue to nest with more and more juvenile birds appearing to help the adults build more nests.

No organised spotlighting this week with most observations coming from the feeder and a search for frogs one evening, seven species of frog seen and two heard. The two Boyd's Forest Dragon are still showing around the units and a few Major Skink have emerged from their burrows to show themselves.

Further afield an afternoon visit to an area near Abattoir Swamp produced 30 species in just over an hour. Highlights included Superb Fruit-Dove, several Northern Fantail, 

 Northern Fantail

Black-faced Monarch – 2 adults and this juvenile (note: no black on face), 

 Black-faced Monarch - juv.

Cicadabird and Black Butcherbird. Full species list here

Also interesting here was this dragonfly, an Australasian Slimwing, such a nice insect we decided to put in two images.

Australasian Slimwing

The previous day at this location a Great-billed Heron flew over; whilst they have been seen at this location previously they have not been seen at this time of year, usually seen August-October.

Another two trips to Mt. Lewis found more Blue-faced Parrot-Finch (still no juveniles) mixed in with Red-browed Finch and two Chestnut-breasted Mannikin which were reported last week. 

 Blue-faced Parrot-Finch - female

Blue-faced Parrot-Finch - male

Red-browed Finch

On the first visit a male Golden Bowerbird flew across the road for a quick glimpse, which is the most anyone has seen for a while. Most of the endemics were seen, Fernwren, Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Macleay's Honeyeater, Bridled Honeyeater, Grey-headed Robin, Chowchilla, Bower's Shrike-thrush, Tooth-billed Bowerbird and Golden Bowerbird. Victoria's Riflebird was seen on the way up the mountain which left the Pied Monarch as the only “Wet Tropic” endemic not seen. Another dragonfly was of interest here, a Beautiful Petaltail. This image is not the best as the dragonfly was 15m up a tree and photographed with a 300mm lens + a 1.4x converter.

 Beautiful Petaltail

Two trip lists can be found here and here

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