Sunday, 25 September 2011

25th September 2011 Report

Again a very dry week with just a trace of rain when a few drops came out of a big black cloud early one morning. Overnight temperatures were warmer than last week, between 14.5ºc and 19.2ºc. The afternoon temperatures were between 24.5ºc and 27.4ºc, which signaled a change in the weather from cool to warmer conditions.

Another good week for numbers of bird species with 99 seen, and 8 heard. Reptiles and mammals were 23 which was seven more than last week, another sign that the weather is warming up.

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

The main highlight for the week was not at the Lodge but down on the coast at Wonga Beach where Spotted Whistling-Duck were found. 

Spotted Whistling-Duck

This is a range extension south from previously known locations on Cape York Peninsula. Spotted Whistling-Duck were first seen in Australia in 1995 at Weipa on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula, where they were also found to be breeding. Since that time more records have been coming in from other locations on the cape such as Aurukun, south of Weipa, Lockhart River (on the east coast) and further south and inland at Coen and Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park. Richard Nowotny put together an interesting conversation he had with a few locals regarding their presence in Wonga Beach which can be found on this Birding-Aus link. This suggests that the Spotted Whistling-Duck have been at this location for at least a year and maybe two which is surprising.

Spotted Whistling-Duck

Highlights around the Lodge for the week were an appearance of a female Satin Bowerbird at the feeder, this is the first sighting in the Lodge grounds since 2006. Earlier this year in April they were seen feeding on a palm fruit in our neighbours garden and briefly in the Lodge grounds. A female Victoria's Riflebird made several visits to the feeder and was seen foraging in the rainforest. Five Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo dropped into the Lodge grounds one morning to sample the blossom on a flowering eucalypt but only stayed five minutes before flying off. A pair of Pacific Baza were showing well at the end of the week whilst they perched and foraged in the grounds before ending up mating near the entrance road to reception. 

Pacific Baza
This was a great sighting for our guests, here they are peering into the sky at 6.50 in the morning.

Where is the Baza

Other sightings:

The Lagoons along McDougall Road were still producing good numbers of waterbird species including the Cotton Pygmy-goose but only three were found this week. Both Pied Imperial Pigeon and Topknot Pigeon were again in the Lodge grounds feeding on the Blue Quondong fruits, Superb Fruit-Dove was again heard but not seen. Our female Papuan Frogmouth started to call again this week and was seen roosting most days and an Australian Owlet-nightjar was heard but not seen. With the resumption of cane harvesting at the end of the week a flock of at least 50 Cattle Egret appeared following the harvester looking for insects and both Whistling and Black Kite were circling above searching for any unfortunate animals to get caught in the harvester.

Katie” our Buff-banded Rail was around at the beginning of the week but disappeared mid week. She was seen along Mt. Kooyong Road and turned up at our neighbours house where she was raised and stayed a couple of days and then disappeared again. Hope she has found a mate and not her maker!

A male Eastern Koel was seen flying over Bushy Creek, whilst we were on a morning walk, being pursued by a Channel-billed Cuckoo. (Lesser) Sooty Owl was heard several times but not seen and the Eastern Barn Owl are still being seen on night walks. 

Eastern Barn Owl

Great Bowerbird and Red-backed Fairy-wren were both along McDougall Road. 13 species of honeyeater were seen which was the same as last week, a White-cheeked Honeyeater in our neighbours garden was the stand out as we don't see them very often in our part of Julatten. Barred Cuckoo-shrike are still around but not easy to see and a Cicadabird was heard calling, not sure if this is over wintering or an early returning one. Black Butcherbird have been very active calling and skulking around in the rainforest whilst our noisy Spangled Drongo seems to have left as we have not seen it at the feeder for most of the week. Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been calling and tracked down with a little persistence. Several pairs of Pale-yellow Robin have been seen building nests and the winter visiting Grey-headed Robin are still with us. A Bassian Thrush was flushed in our neighbours garden by “Katie” one morning but not seen in the Lodge grounds. Olive-backed Sunbird have also been busy and at least one pair have refurbished an old nest and started nesting with the female sitting in it.

Olive-backed Sunbird

Further afield, apart from the Spotted Whistling-Duck, a Black Bittern was seen in the Cairns Botanic Gardens at the Centenary Lakes and a Bassian Thrush was seen in an unusual location between Mt. Molloy and Wetherby Station along the back road into Julatten by Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours. Cotton Pygmy-goose have been seen on Lake Mitchell alongside the Peninsula Development Road between Mt. Molloy and Mareeba, maybe a few from McDougall Road. Still a few reports of Golden Bowerbirds on Mt. Lewis but again chance sightings and Fernwren are being seen regularly along the walk to the tin miners dam from the 10km clearing.

Mammals and reptile numbers were the best for a long while (23) due to the warmer weather which bought out the Boyd's Forest Dragon and Major Skink plus an Amethystine Python. Bats were also in evidence with Eastern Horseshoe, Diadem Leaf-nosed, Northern Broad-nosed, Little bent-winged and Spectacled Flying-fox. A Green Ringtail Possum was seen high up in the trees looking very pregnant so hopefully we will have a few babies soon. Jungguy Frogs have also been mating so they must think that some rain is coming soon, hope they are right. Northern Brown Bandicoot were also in the mood for breeding with one amorous pair repeatedly mating at the feeder and chasing away all other bandicoots.  

Northern Brown Bandicoot

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