Sunday, 10 July 2011

10th July 2011 Report

After last weeks 20mm of rain we had none this week. The overnight temperatures were cooler than last weeks with a minimum of 12.2ºc and a slightly warmer maximum during the day of 20.9ºc. Again great birding weather.

Bird species recorded were 92 seen and 4 heard. Reptiles and mammals were 24 which was up on previous weeks and the best total for a while, due to greater observer effort over the week.
The weeks bird list is on the Eremaea Birds website.

The most bizzare record this week was a Cattle Egret in the mouth of a cow! This was reported by two of our guests, Marilyn and Rob, who saw this happening along the nearby McDougall Road. They said that the Cattle Egret was dead in the mouth of the cow when they arrived so they could not say whether the cow was responsible for killing it. The cow was holding the egret by the neck and shaking the egret from side to side before dropping it and repeating this several times over a couple of minutes. The cow then dropped the egret and a Whistling Kite, which was sitting in a nearby tree watching and waiting for its turn at the egret, pounced to get its share. Strange behaviour but maybe the cow was getting revenge on those pesky egrets that keep hanging around its feet!

The most unusual record was a Brolga circling over the Lodge grounds which was heard trumpeting but not seen, luckily Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours was present at the time to back us up on the call which is pretty distinctive anyway. This is only the second record of Brolga flying over the Lodge in six years. A Brolga was reported at Shannonvale, near Mossman, the same afternoon and could have been the same bird. Also unusual was a Royal Spoonbill flying over a cane paddock with a very large stick in its claw heading south-west. This would suggest it was building a nest in the area which would be very unusual, we have not heard of any nest building in our area and with all the rains and flooding in central areas of Australia we would have thought spoonbills would already have bred fairly recently. Normally they breed between September and March and in colonies with ibis, egrets and herons. The two lagoons along McDougall Road had a few more waterbirds on them this week, Magpie Goose, Wandering Whistling-Duck, Green Pygmy-goose, Pacific Black Duck, Australasian Grebe, Little Pied Cormorant and Comb-crested Jacana. 

Comb-crested Jacana

Three Brown Cuckoo-Dove have been around the Lodge and a lone Emerald Dove returned after a four week absence. Topknot Pigeon continue to overfly the Lodge as they have done for nearly a month now. The female Papuan Frogmouth, which was by the reception for a few days last week, disappeared towards weeks end and this week a female turned up roosting in a Mango Tree in our orchard and has been in the same spot all week. An Australian Owlet-nightjar was seen once at the beginning of the week peering out of its daytime roost and a Black-necked Stork flew over McDougall Road at the end of the week. A single White-necked Heron was seen perching in a tree across the Rex Highway opposite Geraghty Park and two White-faced Heron flew over Geraghty Park whilst we were on a morning walk, one was an adult and the other a juvenile. Australian White Ibis were seen several times flying over the Lodge and on the ground at the nearby Barramundi Farm where up to six birds were seen. White-bellied Sea-Eagle were still being harassed by Black-shouldered Kite and Whistling Kite. Black Kite numbers have increased as cane cutting gets under-way in the area. One Red-necked Crake was briefly seen scurrying across one of the roads in the camp ground on its way to the far side of Mt Kooyong Road. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo numbers have also increased as they like to get stuck into the cane stems along the edge of the plantings. Five Double-eyed Fig-Parrot flew out of a fig tree along Bushy Creek one morning and over the Lodge grounds. (Lesser) Sooty Owl was again heard on several occasions, usually giving one call and going quiet so we cannot track it down. Eastern Barn Owl were out in force with seven individuals seen on one night, one group was probably two adults and three juveniles. The following day one Eastern Barn Owl was found roosting 2m off the ground in a shrub on the edge of Geraghty Park, unable to find a roost hollow for the day. 

Eastern Barn Owl

Azure Kingfisher has been a regular at the Crake Pool all week but no sign of the Little Kingfisher which was frequenting this location. Spotted Catbird has been coming to the feeder again and also our neighbours feeder. A group of Red-backed Fairy-wren we in the same area as last weeks sighting behind the Geraghty Park Community Hall, this time there was a male with 4-5 female/juveniles. No Brown Gerygone this week so they might have moved on, yes we know we have said this before and they return the next week! Same 11 honeyeater species as the past five weeks but with more eucalypts flowering we are hopeful of a few more species turning up. Blue-faced Honeyeater was more noisy than normal a feeding in an Umbrella Tree.

Blue-faced Honeyeater

White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike have been very active as have Varied Triller. Yellow Oriole are still with us and actually showing well this week, Olive-backed Oriole were only heard. Several sightings of Black Butcherbird, one a brown bird and the other a black bird skulking around in the rainforest. There only seems to be one Spangled Drongo around at the moment which is roosting behind the units and makes sure everyone knows he is there by making a lot of noise on dusk. Northern Fantail has again been in the Lodge grounds and a male Leaden Flycatcher has been around Geraghty Park. An adult Black-faced Monarch was foraging in the rainforest near the crake pool and is one of the few which overwinter instead of returning to Papua New Guinea to the north. A pair of Pied Monarch have been around the Lodge as have several Yellow-breasted Boatbill calling most mornings. This one was showing very well.

Yellow-breasted Boatbill

The female Victoria's Riflebird reported over the last few weeks has been around the edge of Geraghty Park and in the Lodge grounds. Just a single Bassian Thrush seen this week after having four the week before.

It was a great week for mammals and reptiles/amphibians as we did several spotlighting trips in ideal conditions and ended up with 25 species. Our South American Sapote tree started flowering and attracted Spectacled Flying Fox, Tree Mouse and two adult Striped Possum. A juvenile Striped Possum was also seen in the rainforest which was good news. 

Striped Possum - in sapote
A Platypus was seen in Bushy Creek late one afternoon and a Feather-tail Glider was seen climbing up a Coconut Palm one evening. Despite the dry weather we saw 9 frog species including Roth's Tree Frog, Cogger's Frog, Jungguy Frog and Peter's Frog. One large 4m+ Amethystine Python was in our neighbours garden and the first one seen for a few weeks. A Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko has been showing well over the last two weeks and this image shows what masters of disguise they are.

Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko

Further afield Blue-faced Parrot-Finch have appeared in the last week in the area with a maximum of five birds reported on private property. David “Chook” Crawford from Close Up Birding Adventures reported fluffy Magpie Goose chicks at Lake Mitchell (other names: Quaid's Dam or Southedge Lake) which is a late breeding record, he also had two Banded Honeyeater at Mt. Molloy. Banded Honeyeater have turned up at Mt. Molloy most years following the flowering gums. Squatter Pigeon have been regularly seen in Mt. Molloy and Black-throated Finch were along Quaid's Road opposite Lake Mitchell. A Barking Owl was heard calling near Abattoir Swamp which was the first we have heard of this close to the Lodge (6km) in 17 months, also in this area was an immature Black-faced Monarch, which must have been a result of late breeding. White-cheeked Honeyeater were also seen near Abattoir Swamp feeding in flowering eucalypts.

White-cheeked Honeyeater

Victoria's Riflebird has been along McDougall Road feeding on Tulipwood seeds, this image illustrated the pendulous nature of the seed pods.

Tulipwood  Harpullia rhyticarpa

Only a mother could like this youngster! Guess what it is, not too difficult!

Guess who I am
Answer next week.


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