Sunday, 23 October 2011

23rd October Report 2011

The start of some rain, reported in last weeks blog, continued through the week culminating in a total of 119mm, considerably less than other locations in our area. Cairns had around 400mm. Temperatures were lower than they had been due to the cloud cover but did get up to 30.7ºc at the beginning of the week however after that the top temperature was down to 24.4ºc. The lowest was 19.3ºc but most mornings were around 20ºc. Humidity was high, getting up to 96% and down to 65%. Whilst it is not officially the start of our “Wet Season” it certainly felt like it!

Not quite as many birds this week due to the wet weather causing a drop in birding effort but still a respectable 103 seen and 12 heard.

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

Highlights around the Lodge grounds were seeing a Superb Fruit-Dove after weeks of hearing them, also seeing a Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher during the week, a rufous morph Tawny Frogmouth of the race Podargus strigoides phalaenoides, which stayed around for 3 days and another two sightings of a (Lesser) Sooty Owl which coincided with two of our tour groups. The Tawny was first found roosting on the ground in a Ginger plant and later higher up on the edge of the rainforest.

Tawny Frogmouth - rufous morph, on ground
Tawny Frogmouth - rufous morph, edge of rainforest
Late news just in from our neighbours is that whilst taking their dog out at 10.30 Saturday night for a call of nature a Noisy Pitta was heard calling, this triggered a Red-necked Crake to call - both these species have been absent for some time, the rail not heard or seen for about six weeks and the pitta not around since 22nd May 2011, lets hope they start showing.

Other sightings:
Still a few birds in the McDougall Road lagoons but numbers are down and several species left once the rain set in. Pacific Black Duck, Hardhead, a lone Dusky Moorhen and a pair of displaying Australasian Grebe were about all that were present at the end of the week. Pigeons and doves were good this week with seven species seen and one heard, they were Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Emerald Dove, Peaceful-Dove, Bar-shouldered Dove, Superb Fruit-Dove, Pied Imperial Pigeon and Topknot Pigeon. Our female Papuan Frogmouth did not like the rain and was found perched in one of her usual spots looking like a Vulture with all her head and neck feathers soaked and flattened to her neck. She was still calling at night and was joined by another frogmouth who was also calling with a slightly different call. This was probably the aforementioned Tawny Frogmouth. Again Great, Intermediate and Cattle Egret have been around as well as a juvenile Nankeen Night-Heron which was for the second week found along Bushy Creek. Pacific Baza also continue to be around but are making slow progress on their nest with very little construction over the week. Two White-belled Sea-Eagle with a juvenile bird were around, circling over the Lodge grounds as was a Brown Goshawk. Grey Goshawk and Nankeen Kestrel were also seen.

Rainbow and Scaly-breasted Lorikeet have been feasting on the prolific flowers of the Pink Mahogany and Bumpy Satinash drowning out most other bird calls.

Rainbow Lorikeet - in Bumpy Satinash
A pair of Rainbow Lorikeet had two juvenile birds in tow who were begging food with their wings outstretched in one of the Bumpy Satinash trees. Double-eyed Fig-Parrot were again only seen flying over as were a pair of Channel-billed Cuckoo. Eastern Koel were again in a fruiting fig along Bushy Creek and a very brave Pheasant Coucal laboured to fly across the creek before flopping into a tree. They are terrible flyers and spend most of their time climbing trees so they can glide downwards rather than fly! Little (Gould's) Bronze-Cuckoo was seen and Brush Cuckoo heard. At least three individual Eastern Barn Owl were seen and an Azure Kingfisher flew into a window of our neighbours house. It was stunned and put into a box for the night to recover which it did as it flew off strongly in the morning. Great Bowerbird and Red-backed Fairy-wren were active along McDougall Road and Lovely Fairy-wren were heard along Bushy Creek near the Platypus viewing area. Lewin's Honeyeater were back in numbers with up to nine at the feeder after being away for several weeks, one of them had a damaged lower mandible with a piece missing. Note that the bird in this image has the distinctive blue-grey iris of the adult Lewin's and the normally crescent shape yellow ear patch is distorted out of shape by the bird turning it's head.

Lewin's Honeyeater

A few Bridled Honeyeater were around feeding on the flowers of the Black Bean tree and Brown-backed Honeyeater continued to feed their nestlings. Noisy Friarbird turned up in the orchard area feeding on the flowers of the Black Bean but had to contend with noisy Rainbow Lorikeet who chased them off. At least five Barred Cuckoo-shrike were around all week with plenty of calling but not showing well. A male Cicadabird was foraging 4m off the ground in one of our neighbours trees giving the occasional call and a brown juvenile Black Butcherbird was hiding in trees in front of the units being harassed by the Pale-yellow Robin. A Northern Fantail returned to our neighbours garden after nearly a months absence and Leaden Flycatcher seems to be established in the area. Black-faced Monarch are calling well and probably looking for a place to nest, they have not been too successful around the Lodge grounds previously as they have a habit of singing on the nest – not a good survival strategy! Lemon-bellied Flycatcher was heard once but not seen; they have been gone from the area for nearly a month now. A few Grey-headed Robin are still with us and finding food easier to get after the rains softened the ground. Metallic Starling are also taking advantage of the flowering trees, this image shows one in the same Bumpy Satinash as the Rainbow Lorikeet.

Metallic Starling

The rain triggered flying termites to leave their nest in huge numbers and several bird species suddenly became flycatchers including this Red-browed Finch who was feasting on the high protein food supply.

Red-browed Finch - with termite

Further afield a White-necked Heron was seen along the Peninsular Road in Lake Mitchell (between Mareeba and Mt. Molloy), they are not very common in our region. Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo was seen in the Mowbray National Park as was Lovely Fairy-wren. The Daintree River trips have been turning up some good birds for our guests including Little Kingfisher and two Black Bittern but the most unusual sighting was of a Noisy Pitta in the mangroves dismembering a crab! Geoff Jones, who some of you might know from his excellent bird images posted onto his Barra Imaging website called by one day and reported seeing some White-throated Needletail outside Kuranda.

Mammals and reptile numbers were again good this week with 26 species seen and one heard. An increase in frog species due to the rains helped this total, they were Striped Marsh Frog, Jungguy Frog, White-lipped Tree Frog, Northern Dwarf Tree Frog, Roth's Tree Frog, Dessert Tree Frog, Dainty Green Tree Frog – heard, Peter's Frog, Cogger's Frog and Cane Toad. A Green Tree Snake was seen heading across the orchard before it climbed effortlessly up a trunk of a Malabar or Guyana Chestnut fruit tree. Several unidentified skink (Carlia sp.) and a Boyd's Forest Dragon appeared at the same termite mound as the Red-browed Finch to join in the feast. 

Carlia sp.

Boyd's Forest Dragon - at termite mound

A Striped Possum was seen three times in the same tree near the Crake Pool and a Platypus was seen several times in Bushy Creek, once at 9.30 in the morning. Several young Bush Rat have appeared at the feeder with their parents as well as a Fawn-footed Melomys. The Northern Brown and Long-nosed Bandicoot are enjoying the softened ground and have been busy celebrating by aerating our grassy areas with their deep conical holes. They have also been coming to the feeder most nights except one when it was pouring with rain and they decided to stay indoors.

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