Sunday, 1 May 2011

1st May 2011 Report

The great weather continues again with sunny dry days and a cooler temperature range of 17.4ºC to 26.0ºC and only a trace of rain to report. Rainfall for April was 32mm compared with January to March of 1848.5mm! Bird species recorded were 97 seen and 3 heard, reptiles and mammals were 20 seen.

The weeks bird list is on the Eremaea Birds site.

The best sighting of the week has to be the (Lesser) Sooty Owl found on a morning walk with a couple of guests, John and Jill. The image below is scanned from a 35mm transparency and not the best of images, its just a record shot.There are a couple of excellent Sooty Owl images by Bob Inglis taken at the lodge on his website

(Lesser) Sooty Owl

It was fairly quiet until near the end of the walk when a commotion was heard in the rainforest. Birds of many species including a female Victoria's Riflebird were seen to be harassing the roosting owl perched in the mid canopy. The commotion eventually drove the bird to fly into a dense clump of leaves pursued by the harassing birds. Unfortunately the guests missed out on seeing it, however 20 minutes later we returned to find the Sooty Owl in a different location and the guests had good views of it this time. The owl remained in this position for the rest of the day before leaving early evening and calling for a few hours. This is the first time we have found a bird roosting during the day this year and one of the few sightings for the year. We hope this is the first of many sightings to come.

A Wompoo Fruit-Dove was eating palm seeds in our neighbours garden one morning and was joined by a Spotted Catbird, a female Victoria's Riflebird, several Australasian Figbird plus Blue-faced and Lewin's Honeyeater.

Spotted Catbird

This was the same palm reported last week being coveted by an Eastern Koel but it has been absent this week allowing the other birds to take advantage of the masses of ripe seeds. The Papuan Frogmouth roosting near the reception area was there for the first part of the week before disappearing but suspect it was nearby as the Pale-yellow Robin was scalding something on dusk nearby. An Australian Owlet-nightjar was seen late in the week perched in the Lodge grounds in the evening, near the amenities block. One was also calling from the rainforest patch across Mt. Kooyong Road from the Lodge at about 11.00am one morning. They quite often call during the day when they are perched at the mouth of their roost hollow. A pair of White-faced Heron were crossing the Rex Highway in the direction of McDougall Road where they nested last year. Three Pacific Baza were circling over the Lodge grounds early one morning calling to each other and a sub-adult White-bellied Sea-eagle was flying over the Lodge grounds late one afternoon. A Whistling Kite was twice seen carrying a prey item towards last years nest site and may possibly be trying to impress the female as it is coming up to mating time. A Brahminy Kite circled over the orchard three times one afternoon; this is something we have not seen this year even though they have been reported just down the road at the Barramundi Farm. Red-necked Crake and Pale-vented Bush-hen have both been heard again this week but not seen. A pair of Double-eyed Fig-Parrot flew over the Lodge grounds calling whilst we were on a morning walk but they did not stop. A Pheasant Coucal was foraging in a neighboring yard in their Raintree and clumsily making its way to the top before launching itself into the normal downward flight, they really are poor flyers. This reminded me that a few years ago we saw two Pheasant Coucal on Green Island, 18kms off the coast of Cairns, how did they get there? They would need something the height of Mt. Everest to glide that far!

Pheasant Coucal

Anyway back to this weeks birds, at least six Channel-billed Cuckoo were perched and foraging in eucalypts at the entrance to the Lodge and Little Bronze-cuckoo were heard calling most days but not seen. An Eastern Barn Owl was seen coming out of their traditional nesting tree but only one bird was around. Azure Kingfisher have been up and down Bushy Creek and at least one Dollarbird is still around. The Noisy Pitta was showing well at the beginning of the week but had retreated into the rainforest by the end but was still calling, mainly at dusk. Spotted Catbird have been coming to our feeder occasionally and up to three have been in our neighbours garden. A Great Bowerbird was perched on the fence of the Geraghty Park tennis court before heading across the Rex Highway. Brown Gerygone were actually seen in the Lodge grounds after weeks of hearing them and Fairy Gerygone were also in the Lodge grounds as well as Geraghty Park. Eleven honeyeater species were recorded including a couple of Bridled, several pairs of Yellow and Macleay's Honeyeater feeding in a Grevillea sp. rather than pinching banana from the feeder.

Macleay's Honeyeater

Two Barred Cuckoo-shrike flew over Mt. Kooyong Road heading for the nursing home calling as they went. This is the first sighting for seven weeks. Cicadabird were heard but not seen but Varied Triller were showing well throughout the week. The Geraghty Park Bower's Shrike-thrush was seen foraging in the park one morning in the same few trees it has been seen in before. A Yellow Oriole posed out in the open in full sunlight to show its wonderful yellow plumage and red bill to a couple of our guests. Rufous Fantail were in evidence and a Grey Fantail made one appearance for the week. A pair of Torresian Crow were seen twice and a female Leaden Flycatcher was seen once, both sightings in Geraghty Park. Black-faced Monarch has not been seen for a couple of weeks and have presumably left to head north. Again Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill were both seen well and calling a lot. At least five Lemon-bellied Flycatcher were foraging together in Geraghty Park and coming down to within a meter of the ground which is quite unusual as they prefer to sally forth from the upper branches of tall trees in search of insects. The juvenile Grey-headed Robin seems to have taken up residence in the rainforest near the Lodge entrance as it was found here on most days.

Some good mammals and reptiles this week, Striped Possum and Feather-tailed Glider were on the flowers of a coconut palm for the second week and were joined by a White-lipped Tree Frog one night. A Carpet Python was in our neighbours garden; this is a rare record for our area with only one other sighting by us in six years and this was a dead one a month ago on the Rex Highway. A 2.5m Amethystine Python surprised us as it crossed the path from our orchard to Bushy Creek at the end of the week on the coldest day ( 17.4ºC). It looked like it had a meal during the night as there was a tell tale bulge in its body. The python was unconcerned about us as we admired its beautiful markings on the body and the elegant way it moved across the forest floor. 

Amethystine Python - body patterns

Amethystine Python

A Green Tree Snake was found after we heard the cry of a White-lipped Tree Frog which was being held by its leg, we did not stop to see the outcome but the poor unfortunate frogs usually come off second best. Our neighbours were lucky to see a Tree Mouse in their garden, a species we don't see very often, the also have a few Northern Broad-nosed Bats roosting under their house.

Further afield there was a Spotted Harrier at Maryfarms on the way to Mt. Carbine and a Whistling Kite pursuing an Osprey, who was carrying a fish, at Mt Molloy, thanks to Carol for these two sightings.

Interesting insect sighting was a Case Moth sp. hanging in a bush at the entrance to the Lodge. 

Case Moth cocoon

They are quite amazing insects, they spend most of their lives as a caterpillar living in their cocoons for 1-2 years. They never leave the case and drag the large cocoons around whilst adding to the structure, some of which get up to 15cm in length. They seal the end of the cocoon if they feel threatened and open it up again after the danger has passed. Once they pupate into adult moths the female continues to live in the cocoon whilst males leave their cocoons to go in search of female moths. More information can be found at the Queensland Museum web page or page 48 in “A Guide to Australian Moths” by Paul Zborowski and Ted Edwards.

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