Saturday, 11 June 2011

12th June 2011 Report


The weather remained sunny with warmer mornings than previous weeks apart from one day at the beginning of the week which went down to 11.6ºc, other mornings temperatures were over 15ºC and up to a maximum of 22.5ºc. Brilliant birding weather.

Bird species recorded were 99 seen and 5 heard, reptiles and mammals were 17 seen.

The weeks bird list is on the Eremaea Birds website.

Environment Day was at the beginning of the week and to celebrate we went on a walk up Babbler Hill in Mt. Molloy with the Julatten and Mt Molloy Association of Residents and Ratepayers, bit of a mouthful so it is shortened to JAMARR. This organisation is very active in re-planting trees in our area and one of the members has taken a special interest in this hill and re-planted trees from the local area and wider district The hill is named after the Grey-crowned Babbler which is found in the area. For site access and information plus the mornings bird list check out the Eremaea Birds site. Highlights here were three resident Bush Stone-curlew, Collared Sparrowhawk, Squatter Pigeon, at the rear of the school in a puddle (the image below) and male and female Red-backed Fairy-wren. 

Bush Stone-curlew

Squatter Pigeon

A walk to the top of the hill via numerous fire-breaks is rewarding with a great view over Mt. Molloy and surrounds.

Meanwhile back at the Lodge it has been quite an interesting week. A Black Bittern was seen twice foraging alongside the rock wall on Bushy Creek by the Platypus viewing area. We have one previous record of Black Bittern here in June, that was in 2006. On Tuesday a Black-faced Monarch was foraging in rainforest beside the Crake Pool and only the second record for June, first was in 2007. Most BF Monarch have usually left for northern areas of Papua New Guinea in April or beginning of May. Little Kingfisher was back at the Crake Pool on Wednesday for a few hours after going missing since sighting it in the same location two weeks ago. On the same day a juvenile Eastern Koel flew into a palm tree late afternoon, when it was quite dark and ate a few palm seeds before going into the crown of the palm, presumably to roost as we watched it for a further five minutes and it did not emerge, we have no records in the last six years for this species at this time of year, closest record was beginning of May. 

Eastern Koel

A morning walk on Wednesday found a male and female Lovely Fairy-wren foraging in the adjacent nursing home in bamboo alongside Bushy Creek, perfect plumage and probably getting ready to breed as they foraged and perched side by side and closely following each other around. Full bird list on Eremaea Birds for morning walk .

Other sightings in the area at one of the McDougall Road lagoons included Australian Wood Duck, Green Pygmy-goose, Australasian Grebe and the previously mentioned Hardhead and Dusky Moorhen were still present. Where have all the Emerald Dove gone? Only one bird sighted at the beginning of the week and then none. Over a six year period they have been absent on three occasions for a week at a time during  April, May and December. The absences could be put down to observer error but when they are here they are very obvious walking around the roads and always one or two at the feeder. 

Emerald Dove
Topknot Pigeon have been flying over in small flocks but not stopping and Papuan Frogmouth was only seen once at the beginning of the week. Single Intermediate Egret at Barramundi Farm along with a White-bellied Sea-Eagle who stole a fish before heading over the Lodge and getting ambushed by two Nankeen Kestrel. A Pheasant Coucal (called Cane Pheasant) by locals hopped off a rocky slope and ran across a grassy area before disappearing into a cane field behind the nearby nursing home. One Channel-billed Cuckoo was heard calling at the beginning of the week as was Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, Little Bronze-Cuckoo (Gould's) was seen several times. (Lesser) Sooty Owl was only heard calling once at 6.05am at the end of the week on Saturday when it was competing with calling Blue-winged Kookaburra. Three Eastern Barn Owl were seen, one coming out of roost hollow, one perched in nearby nest hollow and another separate bird was perched high up in a Queensland Blue Gum. Azure Kingfisher was in the Crake Pool and along Bushy Creek as was the Little Kingfisher. Red-backed Fairy-wren were again down McDougall Road where they can be seen most visits.

We have mentioned it before but Large-billed Scrubwren always surprise us when they mimic other species, this week one was mimicking a Magpie-lark to add to other calls we have heard them making, Pacific Baza, Whistling Kite, Forest Kingfisher and White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike. Scarlet Honeyeater numbers continue to grow as more eucalypts come into flower. Two Barred Cuckoo-shrike flew over Mt. Kooyong Road on a morning walk and Cicadabird continue to call. Yellow Oriole have also been calling and have been seen in Geraghty Park, both a Brown plumaged Black Butcherbird and an adult Black Butcherbird were around the Lodge grounds. The odd Spangled Drongo is still with us as are all the fantails, Rufous, Grey and Northern plus Willie Wagtail. 

Grey Fantail

Pied Monarch has been calling all week and seen on several occasions as have male and female Yellow-breasted Boatbill. An immature male and a female Victoria's Riflebird were around with the female coming into the feeder near the reception area. Grey-headed Robin numbers have increased again and the Bassian Thrush is still with us.

Mammals were interesting this week with a Green Ringtail spotlighted high up in the rainforest adjacent to the orchard, one of the few sightings we have had since Cyclone Yasi. 

Green Ringtail Possum

A Tree Mouse (Prehensile-tailed Rat) was seen eating a small berry on a vine in the rainforest, it was so engrossed in this activity that it allowed great views for a couple of minutes, another was seen foraging on the flowers of a Coconut Palm. 

Tree Mouse
Platypus was seen several times, once spotlighted on a nightwalk at 7.30 and twice morning (8.45am) and afternoon (4.15pm) in Bushy Creek. Not many frogs around due to dry conditions but we did see White-lipped Tree Frog, Peter's Frog (Bumpy Rocket Frog) and Red Tree Frog.

Further afield a trip to Cairns allowed a couple of birding opportunities. At Yorkey's Knob lagoon there were four nests of Australasian Darter on the island, each with three well grown nestlings in them, several adults were loafing nearby. Two Nankeen Night-Heron were also on the darters island, one adult perched in trees and a spotted juvenile foraging along the edge, hadn't learned he/she was a night heron yet!

Nankeen Night-Heron - Juvenile

A single Straw-necked Ibis was on the adjacent footy oval and a couple of Leaden Flycatcher were along the edge of the lagoon. Full bird list can be found here .

A check of the freshwater lake in the Centenary Lakes area of the Cairns Botanic Gardens revealed seven Radjah Shelduck, this family group has been present for sometime. 

Rajah Shelduck
A Blue-winged Kookaburra was perched high in a tree next to the lake being mobbed by a Willie Wagtail and a Magpie-lark. This was probably one of a family which has been present in the Little Street-Lakes area for at least 20+ years that we know about. Also were two Forest Kingfisher plunge bathing, a species which appears to have declined in numbers recently according to John Searle's Cairns Birds Report 5/6/2011 and from Brian Venables report of 5/5/11 also on the Cairns Birds site who said "This species has been scarce in this vicinity since the population disappeared from the Freshwater Lake some years ago". One Torresian Crow flew over, a species which was considered rare in Cairns a few years ago. Full bird list can be found here

Bridled and Scarlet Honeyeater have been easy to see at Abattoir Swamp and nearby Wessel Road this week. A flock of 50+ Masked Lapwing were in a ploughed paddock between Mossman and Port Douglas and also along here were 30+ Straw-necked Ibis, a species which has been absent for most of the year.

Broad-leaved Paperbark trees are coming into flower at the moment attracting plenty of honeyeaters. This paperbark is very interesting as it has greenish-white flowers but also a red flower form, often growing side by side which was the case with the flowers shown below. This paperbark is also the source of Nailouli Oil which is used to treat skin infections because it is a strong antibiotic oil. It is also used to prevent skin burns from radiation therapy. As well as this it also hosts a rare association between nematodes and flies that are responsible for galls on new growth. This information was taken from “Plants of Cape York – the compact guide” by John Beasley, available in our shop for $25.00.

Broad-leaved Paperbark -  greenish-white form

Broad-leaved Paperbark -  red form

Well nobody took up the challenge of identifying the rear view of the bird in last weeks blog which goes to show a “Field Guide to Rear Views” is definitely needed! It was of course a Fairy Gerygone!

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