Sunday, 13 March 2011

13th March 2011 Report

Thanks to Kath & Dave for keeping the bird and weather records for most of the week whilst we went exploring. 235mm of rain this week which was quite wet but not as wet as some places on the coast south of Cairns who had nearly 800mm! Just what they did not need as they recover from Cyclone Yasi. We have just about cleaned up but are a little soggy underfoot. Temperatures ranged from 21.7ºC to a cooler 26.6ºC due to the cloud cover. Bird species recorded were 106 seen and 3 heard, reptiles and mammals were 21 seen. The increase in bird numbers this week was due to increased effort and numbers of observers.

This weeks bird list is here.

Highlight for the week was probably a pair of Lovely Fairy-wren seen high up in the canopy near our water pump along Bushy Creek. This part of the canopy is quite open since the cyclone went through and is easier to see birds and also easier for the birds to forage around in. This is only the third sighting within the Lodge grounds over the last five years. Also a Great Bowerbird was foraging around on the edge of the grounds which is a first as they normally keep to the more open woodland around Geraghty Park although we have seen them in our neighbours garden across Mt. Kooyong Road. 

Great Bowerbird  - inspecting bower
Another highlight was seeing two Papuan Frogmouth together in the orchard at the end of the week. This is the first time they have been in the orchard for several months and the first we have seen two together since before Christmas. Lets hope they pair up and breed this year after two years in which they have not bred in the Lodge grounds.

Pacific Black Duck were in a seasonal wetland opposite the Geraghty Park tennis courts with three ducklings. Both Wompoo and Superb Fruit-Dove were seen during the week. Australian Swiftlet were in a mixed flock with Tree Martin and Welcome Swallow hawking for insects over the Lodge grounds. A Great-billed Heron was seen flying over the fields opposite Geraghty Park. The Pacific Baza seen last week was still around along with a few other raptors – White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Whistling Kite and Brown Falcon. An adult Red-necked Crake was seen crossing the bridge near the units and was the only sighting despite extensive searches. Buff-banded Rail and Pale-vented Bush-hen were along McDougall Road which has been turning up some good sightings over the last few weeks. Three Bush Stone-curlew have been regularly seen at the back of the Mt. Kooyong Road Nursing Home. 

Bush Stone-curlew
Double-eyed Fig-Parrot were around after an absence of five weeks and both male and female Eastern Koel continue to hang around the fruiting palm seeds. A juvenile Fan-tailed Cuckoo was seen foraging with a Little Bronze-Cuckoo but not interacting with it, this is a first sighting this year for a fan-tail. A Oriental Cuckoo was reported from McDougall Road by our neighbours Carol and Andrew. Sooty Owl was again heard and an Eastern Barn Owl seen. Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher are progressing well with the juveniles fending for themselves, one even picked up a centipede and flew onto one of the outdoor tables by the units where it proceeded to eat it, table trained already! One sighting of a Dollarbird perched on the powerlines along the Rex Highway, we are definitely getting fewer each week. Noisy Pitta has started to call again but has not been seen and Spotted Catbird are also calling and coming into the feeder. A Brown Gerygone was seen down by our water pump which is unusual as they are seen very rarely around the Lodge. 13 species of honeyeater this week being attracted to the flowering eucalypts with Bridled and Noisy Friarbird seen along McDougall Road. 

Bridled Honeyeater

At least two Barred Cuckoo-shrike were along the edge of the Lodge grounds calling and seen as were a pair of Cicadabird. Grey Whistler has burst into frequent calling throughout the day. Both Yellow and Olive-backed Oriole have been around and calling - Yellow is the more uncommon one here. Two Rufous Fantail have been around but no Grey Fantail yet. Other good sightings were Pied Monarch, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Victoria's Riflebird (Female), Golden-headed Cisticola carrying nesting material, Olive-backed Sunbird, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin carrying nesting material and Australian Pipit which was along McDougall Road.

Snakes appear to be more active this week with Amethystine Python, Green Tree Snake and Brown Tree Snake all seen. The Brown Tree Snake was pursuing a frog along the driveway into the Lodge before the frog took to the trees with the snake hot on it's heels, the outcome of this encounter was not known. Boyd's Forest Dragon have been around outside the units again, this time seen chasing off an Australian Brush-turkey. Seven species of frog were still enjoying the wet weather, including Jungguy Frog, White-lipped Green Tree Frog, Northern Dwarf Tree Frog and Cogger's Frog.

Further afield our travels took us onto the southern Atherton Tableland into the Malanda area . We called into see Terry (Eyebrowed Thrush fame) to thank him for letting all the birdos onto his flower farm property to see the thrush. The last sighting was on 20th February by Glen Holmes who was also the last one to see the Isabelline Wheatear at Mt. Carbine a few years ago  - Hmm something going on there! 

We had good sightings of Victoria's Riflebird on the tablelands including this sub-adult male shown resting as it digested a full crop. 

Victoria's Riflebird

Also in this area we found a party of Silvereye feeding on the purple fruit of Callicarpa pedunculata which is a small shrub or tree 3-4m tall.

Eastern Spinebill were also seen at the higher altitudes around Malanda and Atherton, we rarely get them at the Lodge but they are nearby on Mt. Lewis.

Eastern Spinebill
A dragonfly was seen which looked like a female Painted Grasshawk but had no colouring in the wings, not sure if the ID is correct.

Painted Grasshawk - female (?)

The rain halted some of our birding plans but we did manage a walk around the Wongabel State Forest which is situated 8 kilometres south of Atherton on the Kennedy Highway. Here two walking tracks wind through a remnant forest, known as mabi forest. The tracks have been cleared since Cyclone Yasi and allow easy walking with a few wet and muddy patches to negotiate. The birding was pretty quiet but we did manage 18 species including a male Victoria's Riflebird, White-headed Pigeon and a trio of Scrubwrens, Large-billed, Atherton and Yellow-throated.

Victoria's Riflebird -  adult male
Bird species for visit can be found here . Also seen was this mass of hairy caterpillar on the underside of a leaf.

Hairy Caterpillar

A quick check of the Cairns Esplanade revealed a range of wader species in small numbers. The most numerous were Great Knot with lesser numbers of Bar-tailed Godwit, Grey Tattler, Eastern Curlew, Whimbrel and a few Lesser Sand Plover, Greater Sand Plover, Red-necked Stint plus only three Terek Sandpiper. There were also some Little, Crested and Gull-billed Tern on the mudflats. Bird list for visit here

Bar-tailed Godwit

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