Saturday, 29 January 2011

Birds Australia - North Queensland (Australia Day) Weekend 21st-24th January

The traditional BA-NQG Australia Day weekend was held the weekend before the actual Australia Day of 26th January which was mid-week and so no long weekend this year. This shortened the normally 3 day event but some people managed to arrive a day or two before whilst others got caught out in some monsoonal flash flooding which stranded them overnight in Mt. Molloy, we had 108mmin the rain gauge Saturday morning. Anyway by Saturday morning everyone had arrived and several of us managed a morning walk around the Lodge grounds and surrounding area in between the rain showers. After breakfast we headed out to Wessel Road near Abattoir Swamp on the way to Mt. Molloy, crossing the flooded causeway at Bushy Creek which was 0.35m over the road. The open woodland area amongst the Melaleuca swamps provided many good birds, including seven species of Honeyeater - Yellow-spotted, Yellow-faced, Yellow, Brown-backed, Dusky, White-throated and Macleay's. Some of the other birds seen were; A Channel-billed Cuckoo flying over, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Grey Whistler, 

Grey Whistler

Little Shrike-thrush, 

Little Shrike-thrush

Leaden Flycatcher, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Eastern Yellow Robin and Mistletoebird. Several dragonflies were around the grassy swamps including, Sapphire Flutterer, Palemouth, Painted Grasshawk and Chalky Percher

Chalky Percher - male

Full bird list from Wessel Road can be found here

We then though we would go into Mt Molloy and take the back road into Julatten rather than go through the Bushy Creek causeway. This was also flooded in places and totally over the road at Wetherby Station with at least 0.6m deep water. This stopped us from continuing but not birding as there were many birds taking advantage of the displaced insects. Amongst the hawkers was Australian Swiftlet, White-breasted Woodswallow, Rainbow Bee-eater along with Brown-backed Honeyeater, Magpie-lark, Willie Wagtail and some very smart Golden-headed Cisticola in full breeding plumage. Also swimming around in the ponding over the road was Pacific Black Duck and Wandering Whistling-Duck. The afternoon was a time to relax before the evening communal dinner which as always was excellent, thanks to all the cooks.

After the evening meal we had a quick spotlighting trip around the Lodge grounds finding Northern Long-nosed Bandicoot, Giant White-tailed Rat, Spectacled Flying-fox, Coggers Frog, Jungguy Frog, Northern Sedge Frog and Red Frog.

Jungguy Frog

Early Sunday morning the weather had cleared and the sun had come out so we went for a morning bird walk, highlights included a Royal Spoonbill flying over, which was a rare sighting of a waterbird at the moment, 3 Papuan Frogmouth roosting together and a Green Tree Snake in the orchard. After breakfast we drove up to Mt. Lewis and managed to get to the 10km clearing without any problems, here we found several Blue-faced Parrot-Finch feeding on the grass seed. 

Blue-faced Parrot-Finch

Other good sightings were Fernwren, Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Bridled Honeyeater, 

Bridled Honeyeater

Bower's Shrike-thrush, Rufous Fantail, a male Victoria's Riflebird and Grey-headed Robin. An Azure Kingfisher flew past at the clearing into an area of ponding, this was unexpected at this altitude of 950m. It was great weather sunny, no wind and clear, not often Mt. Lewis has these conditions. A large dragonfly was of interest and photographed posing on a dead grass stem and also perched on Darlene's cap! 

Petaltail sp.

It was initially identified as a Beautiful Petaltail Petalura pulcherrima but another species Giant Petaltail Petalura ingentissima occurs in the same area and is very difficult to separate. If you want to read more about this and other dragonflies you can download the Identification Guide to Australian Odonata from this link or purchase the book.
Full bird list from Mt. Lewis 10km clearing can be found here

After lunch some members left to go home whilst others just relaxed. Late afternoon a Noisy Pitta was seen with a juvenile foraging in the remains of a dead tree which had fallen down across the road into the Lodge. The juvenile was making a single note call whist the adult sat up on a log watching a Black Butcherbird which was hanging around. 

Noisy Pitta

In the evening we went over to Geraghty Park to see the Eastern Barn Owl. One bird emerged from the usual daytime roost whilst another bird was seen entering their nest tree hollow which may mean they are breeding. This rounded of a great few days despite the wet start we managed to get out and about. There is some suggestion that the weekend should be moved to later in the year as we have had two wet years running but the ten years before that were relatively dry.

Full list  of species from Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge for the weekend can be found here

 The total bird list for the weekend was 86 species seen and 8 heard which was pretty good seeing as we had to contend with the monsoonal weather.

Regular weekly blog to follow.

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