Thursday, 10 February 2011

6th February 2011 Report

This weeks blogs is understandably late with Cyclone Yasi interrupting normal life. We are writing this by hand (before we forget what happened!), 3 days after the event as we have no power and the laptop decided to breakdown. Well what can we say about last week? It started off OK but that all changed mid-week when Cyclone Yasi visited. Luckily it crossed the coast south of us and made land fall around Mission Beach, damaging areas such as Cardwell and Tully mid-way between Cairns and Townsville. Those areas were seriously damaged with infrastructure and houses lost; we wish everyone in those areas all the best in the months to come rebuilding their lives. Our problems of power, phone and internet loss for five days were minor irritations for us, at least we have a roof over our head or in our case several roofs!  When the power came back on the computer decided to blow up its power supply quite spectacularly with flames and smoke coming out of the back of it. A quick trip to Cairns and it is now back up and running. Now transferring the scribble to the computer!

The Lodge suffered no structural damage to the buildings but we did lose a few trees, limbs, branches and heaps of leaves, which will take several weeks to clear up but we are open!

Path from Orchard to Bushy Creek

Looking toward orchard from Bushy Creek
- note seat on right of image which is normally on the edge of creek!

The rain following the Cyclone did not help the clear up. During the cyclone we only had 44mm of rain but the next day we had 180mm and following that 285mm. So in the three days we had 508mm, this resulted in Bushy Creek flooding (the creek at the back of our orchard). The result was over 2m of water flowing the orchard and those of you who have visited us will understand how high that was when we tell you that our water pump beside the creek went under water. 

Orchard viewed from path by rock wall

Bridge in front of units - debris

Bridge in front of units - flooded

Camping area under water

Mt. Kooyong Rd towards nursing home by neighbours house

Total rainfall for the week was 519mm (20inches), temperatures ranged from 20.6ºC to 30.7ºC. Bird species recorded were 76 seen and 4 heard, reptiles and mammals were 20 seen.

This weeks bird list can be found here

The birds hardly missed a beat and most appear to have survived the cyclone in the area around the lodge. Orange-footed Scrubfowl were busy chasing each other around the grounds and even calling at the height of the wind. 

Orange-footed Scrubfowl

Superb and Wompoo Fruit-Dove were seen, probably due to the reduced cover with leaves stripped from the trees. One of the main casualties was the Pied Imperial Pigeon sitting on a nest high in a Queensland Blue Gum in Geraghty Park. We suspect the eggs hatched a few days before the cyclone but the nest blew away in the wind, however at least 5 Pied Imperial Pigeon were seen in the area with 2 feeding on fruit in a Golden Cane Palm behind our units. Papuan Frogmouth was roosting in front of the reception area even after the big blow but unfortunately their daytime roost tree on the edge of our orchard blew down. Red-necked Crake was seen after the cyclone when two shot across the road by one of our two bedroom units one evening. They were probably displaced by the flooding in and around the rainforest surrounding the orchard. Another sighting was of one heading into the campers cookshed before whizzing off into the rainforest behind. 

Red-necked Crake

Our neighbour had a Pale-vented Bush-hen scurry past the rear of their house in an area which used to have ground cover but is now bare due to the floods. A juvenile Pheasant Coucal has been seen several times flying over Mt. Kooyong Road into our rainforest late afternoon and crashing around in the trees trying to balance; probably trying to roost for the night. The male Eastern Koel reported last week was back in the Golden Cane Palm at the rear of our units feasting on the fruits. A female Brush Cuckoo of the northern Australia subspecies dumetorum was foraging in Geraghty Park low down in a tree pre-cyclone. (Lesser) Sooty owl has started to call more often in the evening as well as early morning but still not seen. An Eastern Barn owl was seen pre-cyclone and heard post cyclone. At least one nest of the Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher still have chicks in and another on the edge of the orchard went under water by about 1m, it's not known if they fledged before the inundation.The juvenile birds are out and constantly calling for food.

Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher - juvenile

Rainbow Bee-eater were seen fence sitting near Geraghty Park which is the first seen here for several months. The adult Noisy Pitta with a juvenile previously reported have been busy fossicking around the fallen debris spending a lot of time around the covered eating area and adjacent rainforest in front of the units and around the cookshed. Two Spotted Catbird were also seen foraging on the forest floor amongst fallen branches and leaves.  A Blue-faced Honeyeater was seen catching an insect in mid-flight and renamed as Blue-faced Flycatcher! Yellow-spotted, Graceful, Blue-faced and Macleay's Honeyeaters are all visiting the feeder near the reception and Grey Whistler was seen feeding an immature bird after the cyclone.

Black Butcherbird has been around calling and a Toressian Crow flew over post cyclone, the first for five weeks. Another Leaden Flycatcher was feeding young and several species have been calling all week including Black-faced Monarch, Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill. A female Victoria's Riflebird flew into a window in our neighbours house and stunned itself; it was put in a box to recover and flew off after several hours rest. This must have been another bird affected by the cyclone as we generally don't see them at this time of year as they are normally at higher altitudes such as Mt. Lewis.

Victoria's Riflebird

Several family parties of Lemon-bellied Flycatcher have been calling and flying around in Geraghty Park, however the Metallic Starling colony in the park took a hit from the cyclone. At least 50 nests were blown down and only about 20 left hanging. There has been no sign of the adult birds since and they seem to have left the area. Olive-backed Sunbird are nesting in our neighbours garden for the third time in the last 4-5 months.

20 reptiles and mammals were seen but most were pretty quiet with the rain and winds, the exception was plenty of frogs with 8 species seen. An Amethystine Python was being mobbed by several birds in our neighbours garden and eventually took refuge in the roof gutter. A Major Skink was hanging around the feeder area by the reception late in the week, not many around at the moment.

Major Skink

Further afield frigatebirds were seen over Port Douglas in the wake of the cyclone and a few tern sp. (suspect Sooty Tern) were picked up in Tully. Sauce from “Daintree River Wild Watch” birding tours reported a Helmeted Friarbird feeding a Channel-billed Cuckoo and at least 4 Black Bittern on the river.

After the cyclone there were many butterflies around including this Blue-banded Eggfly.

Blue-banded Eggfly

1 comment:

Red Nomad OZ said...

Hey! So glad you're OK - although the whole experience sounds a bit horrendous. Hard to imagine that amount of rain - and your photos make it look like a completely different spot to what we visited in July 2010!!