Sunday, 16 October 2011

16th October 2011 Report

Minimum temperatures at the beginning of the week were down to 16.6ºc but for the rest of the week they were quite high around the 17-22ºc mark, which was higher than last week. The maximum temperature was 34.2ºc mid-week, which was the highest we can remember in six years; the rest of the week had temperatures of over 30ºc. Quite unusually high for this time of year. The lowest humidity was 39% and highest 90%. No rain to record for the week but a big storm arrived on Saturday afternoon and dumped 25mm of rain onto us which will get recorded in next weeks statistics.

A great week for numbers of bird species with 112 seen, and 6 heard. Reptiles and mammals were up on last week with 25 seen which equaled our previous highest week.

Highlights around the Lodge grounds were the first records of Little Friarbird since 6th August 2009 and Brush Cuckoo which was last seen at the beginning of February 2011.

Brush Cuckoo - juvenile

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

Most surprising record for the week was a Bassian Thrush foraging out in the open in a recently cut cane field along Bushy Creek. It was foraging with a flock of 16 Masked Lapwing.

Most surprising behavior for the week was a Pale-yellow Robin who pounced onto the ground to grab a Northern Dwarf Tree Frog Litoria bicolor. The robin proceeded to smash the frog onto a log before it swallowed it. The Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds lists the diet of Pale-yellow Robin as Arthropods; mainly insects; sometimes seeds. We have so far not found any reference to them eating vertebrates such as tree frogs. If you have any records of this behaviour we would like to hear from you.
Breaking News: Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher arrived overnight 15-16th October, were heard calling on the morning of 16th.

Other sightings:
Cotton Pygmy-goose are still along McDougall Road as are many other waterbirds. Wompoo Fruit-Dove have been seen in the Lodge grounds but the Superb Fruit-Dove have only been heard calling all week, such elusive birds. At least six Pied Imperial Pigeon have been getting around together and Topknot Pigeon numbers have decreased over the week but some are still feeding in the grounds on the Blue Quandong fruits. Our female Papuan Frogmouth disappeared during the week and has not been seen for four days or heard calling at night so hopefully she might have found a mate and gone off to breed. A Large-tailed Nightjar was heard one evening but not a murmur or any sightings of Australian Owlet-nightjar. One of the McDougall Road lagoons had a Black-necked Stork trying to swallow a large snake and six Royal Spoonbill were seen flying over the lodge in the direction of the lagoons. A juvenile Nankeen Night-Heron was roosting on its own in a large fig tree alongside Bushy Creek.

Pacific Baza are still around calling and seen carrying nesting material. A juvenile Brown Goshawk was flying over the adjacent cane field carrying a prey item whilst we were on a morning walk. “Katie” our Buff-banded Rail has continued entertaining our guests but was quite bemused when we has some rain at the end of the week. She has not seen heavy rain before and was quite spooked by the thunder and lightning, hiding under one of our tables on the veranda. She also met up with another rail and chased it away one morning. This is the most recent image of her, now almost six months old.

"Katie" Buff-banded Rail

Two Little Lorikeet were mixed in with the flocks of Scaly-breasted Lorikeet so it is worth checking the flocks of scaly's. Again Double-eyed Fig-Parrot were seen flying over at breakneck speed but not stopping. Pheasant Coucal was along Bushy Creek near a fruiting fig tree which was attracting both male and female Eastern Koel, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Barred Cuckoo-shrike plus large flocks of Australian Figbird and Metallic Starling. Several pairs of Dollarbird were actively looking for nest hollows in the Queensland Blue Gum (Forest Red Gum).

A (Lesser) Sooty Owl put on a show for our guests mid-week when we inadvertently disturbed it from the ground behind our units. It flew into a nearby tree and perched about 3m off the ground. So we got all our guests out, some in night attire, who we thrilled to see this owl who behaved and sat in the tree preening, not taking any notice of us. We managed a few images which showed blood around the mouth, so it was probably feeding when we disturbed it off the ground. Sorry yet another Sooty Owl Image! 

(Lesser) Sooty Owl
A Lewin's Honeyeater was seen for the first time in several weeks which was a surprise as we had though they had all gone up onto the mountains behind us to breed. The Brown-backed Honeyeater nest we have been keeping an eye on had a bird sitting one night when we passed it during a spotlighting trip. The following day we saw adults carrying insects to the nest and feeding young. Noisy Friarbird were seen within our 1.5km radius of the Lodge and were the first seen since the beginning of March this year. White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike were seen building a nest in the fork of a tree and Cicadabird were heard every day but not seen. Leaden Flycatcher arrived back this week after being away for several months, both male and females were seen. Black-faced Monarch numbers increased again with much calling and displaying so they might be about to start nesting. Good views of Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill were had most days around the grounds. Grey-headed Robin are still with us with no noticeable drop in numbers, which would signal their return to the higher grounds of the mountains where they breed. Golden-headed Cisticola were along Bushy Creek foraging in the remaining grass clumps. Welcome Swallow had been breeding in a road underpass with at least two nests active. There were two juvenile birds perched on the nests mid-week who fledged the next day after this image was taken. Interestingly one of the mud nests was decorated with Guinea Fowl feathers.

Welcome Swallow - juvenile

Further afield Wedge-tailed Eagle was reported from the Mt Molloy area. A quick trip up to the Mt. Carbine area found 21 Glossy Ibis and 85+ Green Pygmy-goose, full list can be found on the Eremaea Birds site. Also on a small dam near Mt. Carbine was a Snipe sp. , probably Latham's Snipe but cannot rule out Swinhoe's as they also pass through the area. They are very difficult to separate in the field, this cropped hand held shot is inconclusive.

Snipe sp.

Mammals and reptile numbers were good this week mainly due to an increase in frog species towards the end of the week as they anticipated the coming rains. Frog species were Jungguy Frog, White-lipped Tree Frog, Northern Dwarf Tree Frog, Roth's Tree Frog, Dessert Tree Frog, Peter's Frog and Cane Toad. Five bat species were identified, Eastern Horseshoe Bat, Diadem Leaf-nosed Bat, Northern Broad-nosed Bat, Little Bent-winged Bat and Large Footed Myotis. Boyd's Rainforest Dragon were around with at least two seen, an Amethystine Python was seen hunting in the campers amenities block and several Eastern Water Dragon were along Bushy Creek.

Finally some interesting insects were in the crack of a tree trunk, this one is from the Order Hemiptera, the True Bugs. Unknown species at the moment.

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