Sunday, 17 July 2011

17th July 2010 Report

Another fairly dry week with only 2mm of rain but quite cloudy and not so cool. The overnight temperatures were down to a minimum of 13.6ºc and a slightly warmer maximum than last week during the day of 21.8ºc.

Good number of bird species recorded this week with 106 seen and 2 heard. Reptiles and mammals were 18.   The weeks bird list is on the Eremaea Birds website.

The best records for the week were a pair of Cotton Pygmy-goose in one of the lagoons along McDougall Road, (within 1.5km of the Lodge) and a rufous morph Tawny Frogmouth. The Cotton Pygmy-goose used to be common around the Atherton Tableland but has been declining in numbers over the last few years. There were two sightings in March 2011 from this location but before that they were last seen here by us in January 2004. More sightings of this species have come from areas west of Townsville and Charters Towers recently, especially along the Great Basalt Wall Road in the Pentland area. We are close to the northern range of this species with just a few records further north around Cooktown and Rinyirru National Park (used to be called Lakefield NP). The Cotton Pygmy-goose were still present at the end of the week on Saturday. The rufous morph of the Tawny Frogmouth was found roosting on a Hills hoist washing line in the neighbouring nursing home. It stayed here all day spinning around whilst washing was put out to dry and collected! This rufous morph is only known from females of the subspecies phalaenoides from northern Australia. We have seen this bird a couple of times in the last two years but in the rainforest where the other birds don't like it. Interestingly most birds ignore the Papuan Frogmouth apart from the Pale-yellow Robin so there must be something different about this rufous morph Tawny that upsets them.

Tawny Frogmouth - rufous morph, female

Other good records were Little Kingfisher in the Crake Pool and a Great-billed Heron, again along McDougall Road.

Other interesting sightings were a single Hardhead in McDougall Road lagoon and the lone female Emerald Dove reported to have returned last week has now been joined by a second bird which is a male. A flock of at least 50 Peaceful Dove were flying over behind the nursing home, not sure we have seen a flock of this size before. The female Papuan Frogmouth spent most of the week in the orchard but disappeared for a day before returning; we did manage to find it on a night walk the day it went missing. Pacific Baza appeared in the camping area mid-week after an absence of a month, it was seen eating a frog. A Brown Goshawk was perched on a fence post behind the nursing home whilst we were on a morning walk with guests and Wedge-tailed Eagle has been seen several times over the nearby cane fields scavenging any carcases left in the cut paddocks. One of the hand raised, by neighbours, Buff-banded Rail made its home in the lodge for the week and was quite at home in one of the bird baths. 

Buff-banded Rail - 9 weeks old

A second Dusky Moorhen turned up in one of the McDougall Road lagoons making it the most we have seen here. Sooty Owl was heard several times in the Lodge grounds but once again not seen and there continues to be at least seven Eastern Barn Owl seen on night walks. One E. Barn Owl was roosting in a tree at the entrance to the Lodge at the end of the week but was chased out by other birds and flew to a tree beside the highway before flying back into the Lodge grounds where it got more attention from the pack of birds. It was seen later in the morning  perching out in the open on a Poinciana tree again at the entrance to the Lodge.

Azure Kingfisher was in the Crake Pool on several occasions trying to look like the Little Kingfisher which is what everyone was looking for this week. Two Spotted Catbbird were around the feeder eating a Soursop we had rescued from the orchard (large spiky fruit) and also bathing in the Crake Pool. Great Bowerbird was around Geraghty Park and a female/immature was nearby at the rear of the park. Brown Gerygone were not heard again this week and appear to have retreated into the hills behind the Lodge. Still the same 11 honeyeater species which have been with us for several weeks; not enough flowering to attract more species yet. However this introduced garden plant from the pea family known as a Powder-puff Plant Calliandra haematocephala,  was attracting several honeyeaters including this Dusky Honeyeater.

Dusky Honeyeater

Several Yellow Oriole have been showing and calling well but an Olive-backed Oriole was only heard on several days. Black Butcherbird has been around again one black bird and one brown bird were in the Lodge grounds. Northern Fantail continues to hang around the Lodge but only one sighting of a Grey Fantail at a time of the year we would expect to find plenty around. No such problem with Rufous Fantail who seem to be in larger numbers than normal. Two Torresian Crow have been around the cut cane paddocks and an adult Black-faced Monarch was around the grounds for a second week. A pair of Pied Monarch have been showing well near the crake pool and several Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been around the grounds and in Geraghty Park. This boatbill was posing well showing off its boat bill!

Yellow-breasted Boatbill

Female Victoria's Riflebird has still been foraging in the grounds and pops out every now and again to surprise the guests. Lemon-bellied Flycatcher numbers have dropped off over the last few weeks but there is still a few around Geraghty Park and further afield at Mt. Molloy.

Lemon-bellied Flycatcher

Silvereye have been getting around in flocks of 50+ and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin have also been seen in flocks around the cane paddocks.

It was another great week for mammals and reptiles/amphibians on our night walks with 17 species seen. The flowering South American Sapote tree was still attracting Spectacled Flying Fox and Striped Possum; this week an adult and a juvenile. A further sighting of Striped Possum was high up in the rainforest canopy late in the week. A Platypus was seen on several occasions in Bushy Creek, once whilst on a night walk. Three Leaf-tailed Gecko were also found on a night walk and is a record having only seen two on a previous occasion. Frog species were down to six this week with one small frog having black and white stripes on its thighs thought to be a juvenile Coggers Frog.

Lots of happenings further afield this week with Mt. Lewis being excellent one day but frustrating on another due to high winds. Early in the week a fruiting fig tree up at 950m was attracting 3 male Golden Bowerbird, several Tooth-billed Bowerbird and a few Double-eyed Fig-Parrot. The next day the tree was empty due to the winds but lots of other good birds seen including 2 adult Chowchilla with 3 immatures. Managed to get a record shot of one of the male immatures as it scratched around on the gloomy rainforest floor.

Chowchilla - immature male

There were plenty of Atherton Scrubwren and a party of about 8 Large-billed Scrubwren plus only a single Bower's Shrike-thrush was seen by one of our guests. Bridled Honeyeater were active in the Mistletoe flowers and the montane race of the Grey Fantail (keasti) were flitting around across the track.

Grey Fantail - race keasti

Both male and female Victoria's Riflebird were seen and heard along with one Crimson Rosella of the race nigrescens which has darker crimson-red plumage and is smaller than the nominate race Platycercus elegans from further south in Australia.

Crimson Rosella - race nigrescens

Full list from the second trip to the 10km mark on Mt. Lewis is on the Eremaea Birds site.

Lower down on the mountain at around 500m a single White-headed Pigeon was perched digesting a full crop of fruits and, thanks to Penny and her group for pointing this out. Near the Bushy Creek crossing a male and female Lovely Fairy-wren were foraging in full view.

White-headed Pigeon

Mowbray National Park was also turning up some good birds with Superb Fruit-Dove, Chestnut-breasted and Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Barred Cuckoo-shrike and male Victoria's Riflebird. Blue-faced Parrot-Finch were again found in the area on private property. Also around Julatten is a fruiting fig tree which at the moment has green fruits that are not ripe but over 100 Double-eyed Fig-Parrot were in it one day!

We expect you all figured out last weeks mystery bird which was a juvenile Spotted Catbird, here it is demanding food from one of its parents.

Spotted Catbird - adult and juvenile

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