Sunday, 2 October 2011

2nd October 2011 Report

Can you believe another month has flown past! The last week has seen quite a change in the weather with minimum temperatures at the beginning of the week down to 14.3ºc but by the end of the week they were up to 20.4ºc. The maximum temperature was 31.9ºc which is about as hot as it gets here. The humidity fell to an unprecedented 33% but by the end of the week was back up to 90%. All this heat and low humidity was not good for bush fires which are in the area but not near us.

Another good week for numbers of bird species with 101 seen, and 7 heard. Reptiles and mammals were 25 which was two more than last week an probably one of the best weeks for a long time.

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

Highlight around the Lodge had to be seeing two (Lesser) Sooty Owl, one called outside the reception area on Saturday night and had us running to have a look. We found the owl perching about 4m off the ground and preening, not at all concerned about us. Another bird was calling some distance away and about an hour later was found perched about 1m away from the first bird who was still on the same branch. Wow first time we have seen two birds together since 2005 when they were seen at a nest site. Now all we have to do is ask them to come here every night!

(Lesser) Sooty Owl
(Lesser) Sooty Owl - preening

Another highlight was the return of several Black-faced Monarch who were calling towards the end of the week.

Other sightings:

The Lagoons along McDougall Road were again producing good numbers of waterbird species including some different ones to last week, Australian Wood Duck, Eastern Great Egret, Royal Spoonbill and a Black-necked Stork. The Cotton Pygmy-goose were still present with a maximum of five. Pigeons and doves were good this week with Emerald, Peaceful and Bar-shouldered Dove plus Pied Imperial and Topknot Pigeon. Brown Cuckoo-Dove and Wompoo Fruit-Dove were only heard. Our female Papuan Frogmouth was visible for most of the week with only two days when we could not find her and Australian Owlet-nightjar was heard on several nights but not seen. Two White-faced Heron were seen circling over the Lodge grounds one afternoon as were two Pacific Baza. The baza were also seen near last years nest site calling and making contact calls to each other, so hopefully another breeding even might be taking place. A single Nankeen Kestrel was seen once perched on a power pole alongside the Rex Highway, this was the first for several weeks.

The saga of “Katie” the Buff-banded Rail continues as she was found making a nuisance of herself at the local nursing home, just as her brother had done and was returned to us mid-week. She has now settled back into her routine of meeting the guests and cleaning up the spiders in the rooms. This image shows her doing one of her favourite pastimes, bathing.

"Katie" Buff-banded Rail

Rainbow and Scaly-breasted Lorikeet are around in large numbers taking advantage of the ever increasing blossom appearing on the rainforest trees as well as the eucalypts. Eastern Koel has been vocal and at least two Channel-billed Cuckoo have been chasing each other around. Eastern Barn Owl was found on a spotlighting trip and several others were heard calling. Spotted Catbird have been making infrequent visits to the feeder by reception and both Great Bowerbird and Red-backed Fairy-wren were along McDougall Road. 15 species of honeyeater were also taking advantage of the flowering trees, several of these are not regulars around the Lodge such as Bridled, White-cheeked and Black-chinned Honeyeater. Both male and female Rufous Whistler have been calling and chasing each other around in Geraghty Park, another sign of breeding about to happen?

Rufous Whistler - Male
Rufous Whistler - Female

Olive-backed Oriole were also in the flowering trees and being seen as opposed to skulking around in the foliage. A brown Black Butcherbird was the only one seen and Rufous Fantail are becoming harder to find especially towards the end of the week, so they maybe moving on. Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have again been very vocal but not always easy to find. A female Victoria's Riflebird was seen foraging in our neighbours garden and is probably the one seen at our feeder last week. Pale-yellow Robin continue to build nests with at least one bird seen sitting on the nest. Grey-headed Robin are still around and making a living out of the lawns which are now like concrete and cracking up due to the prolonged dry spell. The Bassian Thrush was seen only once when it was foraging in the orchard early in the week. Metallic Starling have returned to their nest tree but not making any nests yet, instead they are busy making lots of noise and squabbling amongst themselves. Probably trying to establish pair bonds but it all looks very chaotic!

Further afield the Wonga Beach Spotted Whistling Duck were absent from the lagoon but returned later in the week. We visited on Tuesday and were dismayed to see someone had driven onto the block of land and around the outside of the lagoon. From a conversation with another birdo this had happen early on the same day and an email from a neighbour confirmed this. Whilst we like to think it was not a birdo or photographer the chances are it was. One of the neighbours is really concerned at the number of people coming to see these birds and is worried that they might cause the birds to leave the area.

It would seem that the birds prefer to shelter in the shade of the overhanging bank closest to the road so a direct approach to the lagoon will scare them off, which happened on our first visit as we were unaware of where they were. They flew a short distance onto the lagoon and swam around, however if everyone does this they will soon get spooked and leave. We think the best approach is to park on the road and make a wide berth on the northern side (left when looking at lagoon) and approach from the seaward side.

If you are going to visit the area please be aware that this is a suburban area and we don't want the neighbours upset especially as they are taking an interest in the birds presence. So be responsible as it is the local birding businesses that get the complaints whether the irresponsible people (very small minority but it only takes one to do the wrong thing) are staying with these businesses or not. If the birds stay here there is a good chance they might breed here as well, which is what the more established Wandering Whistling-Duck do.

What else happened in the area? Well, three Large-tailed Nightjar were seen circling around at dusk at Mowbray National Park, several Golden Bowerbird were seen on Mt. Lewis flying across the road or track to the tin miners dam and Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo were also in Mowbray National Park. No sign of Blue-faced Parrot-Finch for the second week running so we must presume they are heading back into the hills and onto Mt. Lewis where they usually do not appear until November.

Mammal and reptile numbers were excellent with 25 seen. A flowering Pink Mahogany Dysoxylum oppositifolium attracted a Striped Possum and a Tree Mouse (Prehensile-tailed Rat) at the end of the week. This image shows the flowers emerging from the trunk, this is known as being cauliflorous.

Pink Mahogany Dysoxylum oppositifolium

A Green Ringtail Possum was seen in the same species of tree in the orchard, which is also flowering, earlier in the week. A Yellow-footed Antichinus was seen scurrying around the cookshed along with a Fawn-footed Melomys who appears to have taken up residence at the back of the fridge. Bush Rat have also been active around the feeder but with the Sooty Owl not far away they  might be a bit more wary now!

Bush Rat

Boyd's Forest Dragon was seen most days clinging to the side of a tree and posing well for photos. This one is a juvenile.

Boyd's Forest Dragon

Major Skink were around again and a very large Eastern Water Dragon was lounging around on rocks at the edge of Bushy Creek. Although six species of frog were seen they are still not very active, several sightings were of one frog once. The mating Jungguy Frog from last week did not bring any rain as forecast! Platypus are still being obliging and seen most days but irregular with their timing so you need to be patient and spend time waiting for them.

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