Sunday, 21 August 2011

21st August 2011 Report

Last weeks dramas of trying to post the blog have been fixed, turned out security program started blocking cookies. which denied us access to our account.

Yet another fantastic week of great weather with only a brief shower bringing 1.5mm of rain, then more cool mornings down to 10.3ºc and very pleasant afternoon temperatures of up to 22.7ºc, almost the same as last week.

Another good week for numbers of bird species with 106 seen, and 4 heard. Reptiles and mammals were only 16 which was down on previous weeks due mainly to lack of frog sightings as a result of the dry conditions.

The weeks bird list is on the Eremaea Birds website and morning walk lists can also be found at this link on Eremaea Birds.

Best record for the week was a Great-billed Heron which flushed from grass along Bushy Creek at the end of the week when our water pump was started up, it flew off downstream and could not be relocated. August is the time we normally start seeing the odd one or two Great-billed Heron in Bushy Creek. The general consensus amongst the local birdos is that these birds travel down the rivers and creeks from the Gulf of Carpentaria, to our north west and end up in Rifle Creek (near Mt. Molloy) where they are known to breed. Also several Superb Fruit-Dove were heard calling around the immediate vicinity of the Lodge and in the Lodge orchard which were the first for quite sometime, unfortunately they were not seen despite some intensive searches. Two Spotless Crake were heard in long grass at the edge of one of the McDougall Road lagoons but despite seeing the grass move they did not emerge to be seen.

The McDougall Road lagoons still have a good variety of waterbirds including four Cotton Pygmy-goose. A pair of Australian Wood Duck were calling as they flew across a paddock opposite Geraghty Park late in the week. Their was also two Spotless Crake heard calling in long grass at edge of one of the McDougall Road lagoons, despite seeing movement in the grass and a clear patch in the middle they did not show themselves.

Australian Wood Duck - male

Parties of Topknot Pigeon continue to overfly the area in the morning but amongst them were two White-headed Pigeon on one occasion. Brown Cuckoo-Dove continued to feast on the fruits of the Bleeding Heart trees but by the end of the week had just about exhausted the supply. Emerald Dove continued to increase their numbers over the last few weeks and there must be more around the Lodge than there was before they disappeared a month or so ago. Our female Papuan Frogmouth moved from her daytime roost for three days in the middle of the week but was heard calling in the evening, hopefully to attract a mate. Australian Owlet-nightjar was calling and seen at its daytime roost once during the week. A White-necked Heron was seen along McDougall Road along with a single Eastern Great Egret and a Royal Spoonbill flew over Mt. Kooyong Road, this species has not been sighted for the last five weeks.

Also one of the Black-shouldered Kite juveniles was found along McDougall Road on the verge half eaten which was bad news. A White-belied Sea-Eagle was escorted past the entrance to the Lodge grounds by a Black-shouldered Kite whilst we were on a morning walk and the local pair of Pacific Baza were flying around the Lodge as well as perching and calling but only once in the week. Australian Hobby has been around again this week and usually seen whizzing over the cut cane paddocks.

Katie the Buff-banded Rail has been assisting in cleaning up the guest rooms by seeking out the spiders and any other insects around in hard to get places as well as eating any crumbs on the floor, she has not learnt how to make beds yet but we are working on it! 
Scaly-breasted Lorikeet were seen entering a hollow in a Queensland Blue Gum but were quickly chased off by a Common Myna who also was seen entering a nearby hollow. The lorikeets were also seen in the flowering Callistemon (Bottlebrush) in Geraghty Park getting stuck into the nectar. The (Lesser) Sooty Owl was calling during the week on a couple of nights but again eluded the spotlighters unlike the Eastern Barn Owl who were seen on several occasions with at least three juvenile and two adult birds from two different pairs. Laughing Kookaburra and Blue-winged Kookaburra were both very vocal during the week and at least two disputes took place on the edge of their territorial boundary along Mt. Kooyong Road, the two species certainly do not like each other. Two Spotted Catbird have been coming to the feeder and calling in the rainforest where they are being seen regularly.

The previously mentioned Callistemon in Geraghty Park has passed its best and now has fewer flowers attracting fewer numbers of birds but there has been Yellow-spotted, Graceful, Yellow, Brown-backed, Dusky, Scarlet and Macleay's Honeyeater feeding in it. 

Graceful Honeyeater

Brown-backed Honeyeater

Scarlet Honeyeater - male

Bridled Honeyeater have been in our neighbours garden feeding in Grevillea sp. and Calistemon sp. for some of the week. We managed 13 species of honeyeater this week which is pretty good. One or two Barred Cuckoo-shrike have been around but with nothing in fruit to attract them they have not stayed. Our lone Spangled Drongo is still coming to the feeder to get some sugar water but is keeping a low profile away from here with no other sightings. No Grey Fantail sightings this week but Rufous and Northern Fantail are still around. An overwintering Black-faced Monarch was seen late on Saturday afternoon foraging in the camping area high up in a eucalypt. Both Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been calling and showing well all week. A female Victoria's Riflebird showed up in the camping area towards the end of the week, the first for a few weeks. Two Bassian Thrush are regulars in the orchard this week usually early morning and late afternoon, an adult and a juvenile who forage together. Metallic Starling are starting to build their communal nests and are busy flying around and stealing each others nesting material.

Further afield Cotton Pygmy-goose have been on Lake Mitchell (between Mareeba and Mt. Molloy), Rufous Owl was at Davis Creek between Mareeba and Kuranda, White-browed Robin has been seen at Big Mitchell Creek on the eastern side, the western side has been badly burnt. Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours reported a Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo at Julatten sitting on a fence post and pouncing down onto the ground and picking up a few grubs. The Pickford Road turnoff from the Peninsula Road at Biboora, near Mareeba, played host to two Australian Bustard for a couple of days.

Mammal and reptile numbers were down this week but their were some good sightings. A Major Skink made a brief appearance after many months of absence, a Fawn-footed Melomys was heard chewing on a nut whilst on a nightwalk. We eventually tracked down the melomys sitting in a crack in a tree about a 1.5m off the ground. 

Fawn-footed Melomys

A Long-nosed Bandicoot, which looked like an immature, appeared at the feeder on Saturday night. This is unusual as they normally stay in the rainforest or venture out onto the grassy areas of the orchard, this is only the second one we have seen here. The Northern Brown Bandicoot are different as up to six come to the feeder every night before they return to digging up our grassy areas! 

Long-nosed Bandicoot

Platypus have again been regularly seen in the early morning and late evening and once on a nightwalk. A few more Spectacled Flying Fox have turned up at night to get into the Blue Quondong fruits which are just getting ripe, hopefully a few fruit-doves should come in as well.

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