Sunday, 29 May 2011

29th May 2011 Report

Before we get into this week blog you will notice that we have embedded our Wildiaries reports into the blog side column which will give access to more images and specific trip reports – hope you enjoy them.

Cooler weather this week with a minimum of 11.4ºC and maximum of 24.3ºC, one day we had only a maximum of 18.0ºC, which is pretty cold for us.

Bird species recorded were 99 seen and 5 heard, reptiles and mammals were 14 seen which was fewer than normal, probably due to the colder weather and only one spotlighting trip. The weeks bird list is on the Eremaea Birds website.

Best sightings around the Lodge grounds were a Black Bittern along Bushy Creek at the Platypus viewing area and two sightings of an adult Little Kingfisher at the Crake Pool. We have had 4 previous records at the Lodge of Black Bittern, two in January and two in June. The Kingfisher was first seen late one afternoon, then next morning by Lindsay. These are the first sighting here since December 2008. Previous records at the Lodge going back to 2005 were one record December 2005, one record in January 2006 and 6 records in 2007 for April (2 sightings), June, July, August and October. These are the first sightings for May.

Little Kingfisher

The female Papuan Frogmouth spent most of the week outside the reception area but no sightings of the male roosting, one female was seen perched low down in a tree on the edge of the orchard whilst spotlighting. Australian Owlet-nightjar was heard one night but not seen and an Australian Darter was again along McDougall Road. An Intermediate Egret was fishing at the Barramundi Farm and was the first since November 2010. Six Straw-necked Ibis were circling over the Lodge grounds one afternoon, the most we have seen in the area this year. Pacific Baza was calling over a few days and perching around the grounds and a Grey Goshawk was perching alongside Bushy Creek on a morning walk. A Wedge-tailed Eagle was seen soaring over the Lodge grounds once and a Nankeen Kestrel was perched in a tree it has used for the last three years to nest in; maybe claiming it for this years breeding season. 

Nankeen Kestrel

A single Dusky Moorhen was foraging around in one of the McDougall Road swamps and is only the second record from this area, the last was in August 2010. The juvenile Eastern Koel that has been hanging around a fruiting palm has now exhausted the food supply and moved on mid-week and Channel-billed Cuckoo were heard along Bushy Creek. (Lesser) Sooty Owl has been calling again this week both early evening and pre-dawn (not sure about the night as we have been asleep!), but not seen. Three Eastern Barn Owl were seen but not at the nest tree, two came out of daytime roost and another was sitting up in a Queensland Blue Gum tree. Azure Kingfisher has been fishing in a drying wet season lagoon on the edge of the orchard as well as flying up and down Bushy Creek.

Brown Gerygone have been coming down lower in the vegetation to forage during the cold weather but Fairy Gerygone have been staying up high in the canopy. Twelve Honeyeater species this week; the only one not seen regularly over the last few weeks was Scarlet Honeyeater which was calling at the end of the week. Barred Cuckoo-shrike have again been along Bushy Creek with Topknot Pigeon and Australasian Figbird. 

Barred Cuckoo-shrike
Have only seen the male Cicadabird this week which has been foraging in the same Poinciana Tree as last week. A Yellow Oriole called at the end of the week which was the only record. A couple of sightings of Grey Fantail but no sign of the main pack returning from southern areas of Australia. Northern Fantail returned to the rainforest this week after a few weeks away and was seen bathing in one of the bird baths. Shining Flycatcher was heard along Bushy Creek but not seen. Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill continue to call and be seen regularly. A female Victoria's Riflebird was seen once coming down to ponding on the edge of the orchard to bathe. Lemon-bellied Flycatcher are still very active in Geraghty Park and coming down low for photo opportunities.

Lemon-bellied Flycatcher

The juvenile Bassian Thrush continues to forage out in the open on grassy areas in front of the cookshed and units. This image was taken when a Pacific Baza started to call and the thrush froze in this position for several minutes. It is highly unlikely that the baza would attack the thrush but how does the thrush know it is a predator calling? 

Bassian Thrush - juvenile
Spotlighting turned up a Tree Mouse (Prehensile-tailed Rat) foraging in a Coconut Palm and several Long-nosed Bandicoot including a female with a very large pouch. A few frogs braved the cold, Bumpy Rocket Frog, Rocket Frog, Northern Dwarf Tree Frog and Desert Frog but all the White-lipped Tree Frog stayed indoors.

Further afield our reports for the Cooktown sojourn last weekend are on the Wildiaries site, link on the side column. Best bird sightings were White-streaked Honeyeater in the Endeavour River National Park and a Radjah Shelduck perched on a dead tree in a swamp between the East and West Normanby Rivers along the main road from Cooktown to Lakeland Downs. This Intermediate Egret was on a swamp along the road to Hopevale, from Cooktown moving between the water lilies. 

Intermediate Egret

There were also some Comb-crested Jacana on the swamp, a family of two adults, two juveniles and two small fluffy black chicks all getting around together. We thought this was an unusual family group to have juveniles and chicks together. Dragonfly highlight was this Rosy Skimmer.

Rosy Skimmer

One reptile was seen, it was a Rusty Monitor which was lying across the track in the Endeavour National Park and not looking too well.

Rusty Monitor - Varanus semiremex

Elsewhere both male and female Golden Bowerbird were reported from Mt. Lewis by Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours and another male was seen at The Crater (Mt. Hypipamee), near Atherton by one of our guests. If you are in Cairns keep a look out for a Pied Imperial Pigeon reported early last week, a late stayer. A Blue-billed Duck was reported at Hasties Swamp near Atherton, a long way north of normal range.


Mark Ridsdale said...

Many years ago (1997 to be exact) I visited your park with the hope of some good birds. I think you may have been away so pitched my tent ( instead of the hoped for chalet). I spent one night and one day and got some good birds but none of the specialties. Did get siloetted views of Lesser sooty owl and a half decent view of a frogmouth near the chalets. Can you tell me how frequent tawny frogmouth is there as I didn't get the eye colour and thought it reminded me of the frogmouths I saw in Sydney in size. But was told that northern tawnys are smaller? Thanks Mark Ridsdale

Keith and Lindsay Fisher said...

Hi Mark,
Replied to your email but it bounced. The chances are you saw a Papuan Frogmouth as Tawny's are uncommon here. In six years we have only seen one 3 times and that was the female Rufous Morph of the sub-species which occurs here. We have only been here since 2003, Ron would have been running the Lodge when you visited. Thanks Keith.