Sunday, 24 July 2011

24th July 2011 Report

Weather-wise it was a great week of sunshine with no rain and towards the end of the week the overnight temperatures plunged down to 10.7ºc and up to 21.9ºc during the day.

Good week for numbers of bird species with 102 seen and a further 4 heard. Reptiles and mammals were 21 which was up on previous weeks mainly due to a greater observation effort with more night walks. The weeks bird list is on the Eremaea Birds website. Morning bird-walk lists are also on the Eremaea Birds website.

The best sighting for the week would have to be the (Lesser) Sooty Owl we saw by the Crake Pool one evening whilst looking for a Tree Mouse. The owl was perched over the water and sat whilst we watched for a few minutes and allowed a couple of photos. Due to not being set up for owl photography I had to put the ISO up to 1500 (one advantage of digital over film) resulting in a noisy image but at least you can see what it is. Great to see after so many weeks of hearing it call. 

(Lesser) Sooty Owl

Close behind was a Black-chinned Honeyeater, (Golden-backed Honeyeater Melithreptus gularis laetior), which was foraging in a Callistemon in Geraghty Park. This is the 21st record since 2005 but the first since November 2009, they are an occasional visitor and uncommon in area. As luck would have it I just happen to have the camera handy a fired off a quick shot before it disappeared.

Black-chinned Honeyeater - Golden-backed form

The McDougall Road lagoons were good again this week with an increase in Hardhead numbers, a few Green Pygmy-goose and another male Cotton Pygmy-goose joining the male and female that have been there for a few weeks. Little Pied and Little Black Cormorant were also in the lagoons along with Dusky Moorhen.

Wompoo Fruit-Dove was calling in the Lodge grounds but not seen, so something must be coming into fruit. Papuan Frogmouth has been behaving most of the week and roosting in the orchard most days but Australian Owlet-nightjar has only been heard one night calling early evening over the self-contained units. Black-shouldered Kite have been hovering over paddocks opposite Geraghty Park and three were seen along McDougall Road. Pacific Baza was seen only once during the week and our neighbours saw a Brown Goshawk (juvenile) swoop down to try and catch a Bush Stone-curlew which took to the air and flew off calling much to the displeasure of the goshawk. 

Brown Goshawk - juvenile

An Australian Hobby was whizzing across Geraghty Park whilst on a morning walk being pursued by a Blue-faced Honeyeater who had no chance of catching it! A Red-necked Crake was seen shooting across the camping area one morning but still not calling. A pair of Double-eyed Fig-Parrot were checking out a fig tree in Geraghty Park which was still not ripe whilst we were on a morning walk. They sat in the fig for a few minutes giving good views before deciding it was unsuitable and flying off. We always seem to put in images of the male so we thought it was time the female got to show off.

Double-eyed Fig-Parrot - female

Eastern (Pacific if you are using Pizzey and Knight field guide) Barn Owl were again active with up to seven seen on a night walk. One was roosting during the day in the forest at the entrance to the Lodge on several occasions but had a restless time due to the unwanted attention paid by other birds. Azure Kingfisher was at the Crake Pool fishing on several days but no sign of Little Kingfisher. Spotted Catbird finished coming to the feeder in the Lodge and at our neighbours this week but was still around calling in the rainforest. Famous last words again! What did I say about Brown Gerygone last week? “Not heard again this week and appear to have retreated into the hills behind the Lodge”, well guess what, they were calling in our neighbours garden this week but they were not in the Lodge grounds. Bridled Honeyeater was heard calling near the units one morning but not seen, this is the first one for a few months. Scarlet Honeyeater were foraging low down this week and showing well after several weeks of only hearing them. Two White-throated Honeyeater adults had two juveniles in tow as they foraged around in Geraghty Park. 

White-throated Honeyeater

Four Barred Cuckoo-shrike flew over Mt. Kooyong Road heading for the orchard area but we did not see if they landed, these were the first around the lodge for five weeks. An Olive-backed Oriole was feeding on a Tobacco Bush along the edge of Geraghty Park one morning, showing well which makes a change as they are very sneaky and more often heard than seen. Interestingly no sign of Yellow Oriole – no I'm not going to say they have left the area! Only saw the adult Black Butcherbird around the grounds during the week, no sign of the brown juvenile. An adult Black-faced Monarch was foraging in a Poinciana Tree at the entrance to the Lodge whilst we were on a morning walk, looks like this one will overwinter rather than return to Papua New Guinea. At least six Pied Monarch were also seen on a morning walk which must be some sort of record. Yellow-breasted Boatbill were not quite so cooperative but we did see a male and female. At least three Chestnut-breasted Mannikin were coming into the seed feeder, with the resident Red-browed Finch, usually early in the morning.

Chestnut-breasted Mannikin

Spotlighting was great this week with one of our best nights out yet with Eastern Barn Owl, a Papuan Frogmouth perched in the orchard low down for great views and a Spotted Catbird roosting in the South American Sapote. Odd place to roost as the tree was attracting lots of night-time visitors, Striped Possum, Tree Mouse, Spectacled Flying-fox along with lots of fruit sucking moth. We also saw a Yellow-footed Antichinus at the beginning of the walk stealing some banana from the feeder by the reception area, Bush Rat, 

Bush Rat

Fawn-footed Melomys, Diadem Leaf-nosed Bat, Giant White-tailed Rat, Green Ringtail Possum, Northern Brown Bandicoot, Jungguy Frog, White-lipped Tree Frog, Roth's Tree Frog, Red Tree Frog, Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko , Rainbow Fish sp. and Catfish sp. Wish all night walks were like this one. On another night Northern Blossom Bat were flying into the tree and collecting nectar on their fur without stopping before continuing to fly off and lick the nectar from their fur. Platypus was seen on several occasions, early morning, late afternoon, whilst spotlighting and once unusually during the day at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Agile Wallaby were making the most of the cut cane paddocks and were seen most days foraging on pieces of cut cane whilst at night an Eastern Barn Owl was seen catching a small rodent (mouse/rat) in the cut cane.

Further afield Mowbray National Park was again showing some good birds with both Superb and Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove plus Victoria's Riflebird, overhead was a Wedge-tailed Eagle. Mt. Lewis has been good to visitors with most seeing many the specials including a male Golden Bowerbird. Good views were had of Fernwren, Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Bridled Honeyeater, Grey-headed Robin, Chowchilla, Bower's Shrike-thrush, Victoria's Riflebird and Tooth-billed Bowerbird up at the 10km mark plus Pied Monarch lower down. Daintree River Ringtail Possum was also seen on Mt. Lewis at a higher altitude than the 950m at the 10km mark.

Daintree River Ringtail

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