Sunday, 9 January 2011

9th January 2011

We had 52.5mm of rain for the week on 6 rainy days. Most of the rain fell during the late afternoon and into the night leaving most days fine and sunny, even got some lawn mowing done! Temperatures this week were 21.0-28.1ÂșC which was a slightly lower minimum and maximum than last week. Bird species were down on last week with 71 seen but 12 heard which was more than last week (within 1.5km of the Lodge). Mammals and reptiles seen were one less thankfully last week with 15 seen.

The weeks bird species list is here

A Wompoo Fruit-Dove was actually seen this week but the Rose-crowned and Superb Fruit-Dove still eluded us. The Pied Imperial Pigeon continues to sit in it's nest 20m off the ground in a Queensland Blue Gum Eucalyptus tereticornis at Geraghty Park, adjacent to the Lodge. 

 Pied Imperial Pigeon - on nest

The lone Papuan Frogmouth was seen once during the week in the rainforest outside the reception area but better news for the pair down the road at the Mt. Kooyong Nursing Home, they were found roosting with a juvenile. So at least one pair in the area bred last year. Australian Owlet-nightjar was heard again this week but not seen. A few Black Kite are still around the area and are not very common at this time of year, tried to get this one in flight but need more practice at this technique!

Black Kite

A Brown Goshawk was soaring over the Lodge grounds early in the week and Nankeen Kestrel continue to perch on the power lines alongside the Rex Highway. Red-necked Crake was heard most days but not seen as was Pale-vented Bush-hen. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo have whinging youngsters and Double-eyed Fig-Parrot have been flying over but we have not found where they are feeding yet. Cuckoos continue to call with Pheasant Coucal, Eastern Koel and Brush Cuckoo only heard with Channel-billed and Little Bronze-cuckoo also seen. More about Bronze-cuckoos can be found at the end of this weeks report.

(Lesser) Sooty Owl has been heard calling once in the evening and many times early in the morning around 4 to 5.00am but not seen despite one search for it. One Eastern Barn Owl has again been seen coming out of the regular daytime roost but no sign of its mate. Further along the highway an adult female E. Barn Owl was unfortunately picked up dead and is now in our freezer after measuring and weighing. It will along with another be passed onto the relevant authorities. Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher continue to surprise with six nests now confirmed to have chicks in and another two still having birds sitting on eggs. Another nest in our neighbours garden also has chicks in it as does one in Geraghty Park. If you want to see a stunning image of a BBP Kingfisher taken at the Lodge this week check out this link. Dollarbird continue to feed their nestlings in Geraghty Park and Noisy Pitta is still calling frequently and being seen not quite so frequently. Brown Gerygone was in our neighbour garden for the second week running and Large-billed Gerygone were inspecting a hanging vine over Bushy Creek with a view to possibly building a nest. 

 Large-billed Gerygone

Striated Pardalote were calling after an absence of 10 weeks in the eucalypts on the edge of the Lodge grounds.

Lewin's Honeyeater is still with us and Macleay's Honeyeater are still showing up with juveniles in tow. Barred Cuckoo-shrike were heard at the beginning of the week and Cicadabird are still around calling. Australasian Figbird are still sitting in a nest not far from the Pied Imperial Pigeon nest in Geraghty Park. Black Butcherbird has been around all week calling and even hopping along the veranda outside the units. Spangled Drongo have three juveniles they are feeding which is keeping them busy. Chestnut-breasted Manikin have been seen carrying nesting material so they maybe going to nest again.

The most interesting reptile sighting this week was this Boyd's Forest Dragon who was clinging to a tree outside the reception shedding its skin, note the difference in the skin colour from the old and new. 
 Boyd's Forest Dragon

A small colony of Little Bent-wing Bat mixed with Northern Broad-nosed Bat decided to roost under our neighbours house during the week.

Further afield a juvenile Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher was seen at the Jindalba Boardwalk on the northern side of the Daintree River, this is a very early record.

Again the wet weather has bought out some more fungi as well as a few butterflies including the Small Grass Yellow.
 Fungi sp.

 Ramaria sp. (?)

Small Grass Yellow

Bronze-cuckoo identification can pose a few problems up here in Far North Queensland, especially juveniles and females. Shining, Little and Gould's (now lumped with Little in the Australian Taxonomy of Christidis and Boles, 2008) pose the most problems.

Females are not illustrated or shown well in several field guides, Pizzey and Knight don't show female of any of the three species, Slater shows only a side on view of male, female, and juvenile Little and Gould's which does not show the broken scalloping on the breast of the adults, the Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds does not show female Little or Gould's Bronze-Cuckoo but it does show a female hybrid between the two species, it also shows differences in tail patterns between male and female Shining. Simpson and Day do show male and female of Little and Gould's but not Shining (only under-tail appear different). Which leaves Morcombe's Field Guide, which does show male and female of both Little and Gould's pointing out ID features and probably does the best job of the lot. The best descriptions we have found are in Lloyd Nielsen's book Birds of Queensland's Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef which sadly is out of print now. Juveniles of Horsfield's, Shining, Little and Gould's Bronze-Cuckoo are almost impossible to separate. Lloyd says that habitat is a good indicator, Horsfield's prefers drier open forest, Shining in usually in upland rainforest, Little are usually in open, paperbark and gallery forests and tropical woodland whilst Gould's prefer coastal rainforest, nearby open and gallery forest as well as mangroves. Gould's also appears to like some of the open woodland around the Lodge. Differences between Little and Gould's really do not matter now as Little and Gould's are lumped  -:).

Below are a few images taken around the area of the Lodge, the first three are the same bird whilst the forth is a different bird. You will notice the different amount of barring in the tail, first bird (3 images) shows three bars and the second only one bar, maybe this is an age feature? All three show rufous outer tail feathers which is diagnostic of Gould's, Little has white outer tail feathers. The fith bird has incomplete scalloping across the breast but shows some rufous around the neck, it also appears to have white outer tail feathers and more barring in the tail with no rufous in the tail and a light coloured eye ring which would make it a female Little Bronze-Cuckoo.

These first four birds would appear to be female Gould's and the fifth one a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, if anyone has any other ideas please let us know.
 Gould's Bronze-Cuckoo - female

 Gould's Bronze-Cuckoo - female

 Gould's Bronze-Cuckoo - female

 Gould's Bronze-Cuckoo - female

Shining Bronze-Cuckoo


Anonymous said...

Hi Keith I may be way off track here but that fifth bird looks like a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo. Bill seems too small and eye too pale, along with complete lack of rufous in tail.

Keith and Lindsay Fisher said...

Yes it certainly looks like a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, again field guides give the impression of complete barring across the breast. HANZAB gives a description of male which states " Underbody, white with complete bold narrow dark-brown barring except for narrow break along midline of belly and vent in most birds. The female description states that the barring is always broken in midline of belly and vent by broader streak of white. So agree it is a shining and have changed the caption to reflect this - thanks anonymous.