Sunday, 27 November 2011

27th November 2011 Report

The weeks rainfall was 36mm, considerably more than the last few weeks, this all fell in the last three days of the week. Maximum temperatures were slightly lower than last weeks due to the rain and cloud cover getting up to 30ºc and the minimum temperature was down to 21.2ºc. Humidity was also higher, up to 96% and down to 55%.

There were slightly less birds recorded this week than last with 103 seen and 8 heard. 23 mammal and reptile species were seen which is slightly more than previous weeks. The weather played its part in these numbers with less effort put into birding and more reptiles and amphibians coming out to enjoy the wet 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.

Highlight around the Lodge grounds has to be “Katie” our Buff-banded Rail who now has a boyfriend called Pete! They were seen mating on the lawn in front of the units in full view of the guests. “Katie” still comes around the reception/office but less frequent now but Pete is off in a flash if he spots someone. The pair of them were circling a Green Tree Snake one afternoon not knowing quite what to do whilst the snake was rearing up and looking threatening. We moved the rails out of the way and allowed the snake to seek refuge up a tree. A Dainty Tree Frog record was of a dead one that “Katie” was playing with without actually eating it. A quick grab shot with the compact camera shows the deed being done.

"Katie" with Dainty Tree Frog

Other highlights included at least two and possibly three (Lesser) Sooty Owl who showed at the end of the week, one perched along Mt. Kooyong Road for a good 20 minutes to allow guests to have good views, another was on the other side of the road calling but not showing and a little later a (Lesser) Sooty Owl called at a distance from Geraghty Park. Lovely Fairy-wren were seen foraging in the bamboo alongside Bushy Creek near the nursing home.

Other sightings: Waterbirds are still coming and going at the Lagoons along McDougall Road with the same species recorded as in previous weeks. Seven species of dove and pigeon over the week included good views of a male Superb Fruit-Dove who came down to eye level along Bushy Creek at the platypus viewing area for to thrill two guests. It sat for a while before flying along the creek for a short distance to perch again for more good views. Lucky guests! Our female Papuan Frogmouth only appeared at it roost site on the edge of the orchard once but was heard again most nights. Australian Owlet-nightjar was not seen in its daytime roost but was heard calling Saturday night when the (Lesser) Sooty Owl appeared. 

Australian Owlet-nightjar

Also on Saturday 26th at least five Fork-tailed Swift went over ahead of storm clouds. Our neighbour Carol (of bird guide fame) saw two Black Bittern fly across McDougall Road one evening as well as seeing four Bush Stone-curlew drinking from one of the Lagoons. The immature Nankeen night-Heron reported a few weeks ago was seen again this week flying over Bushy Creek. The regular pair of White-bellied Sea-Eagle were displaying over the adjacent cane field one afternoon, one bird had a fish in its talon and flew in circles with the other following before they reversed positions and carried on until they disappeared over the Lodge grounds. A Brahminy Kite was circling over the Barramundi Farm early one morning, Grey Goshawk was along McDougall Road and Nankeen Kestrel continue to perch on the foot pegs of the power poles along the highway. Red-necked Crake have been even more vocal than last week even joining in the morning chorus however they have eluded the many pairs of binoculars trained on the direction of the calls. A Pale-vented Bush-Hen was heard calling near our neighbours house which hopefully signals their return to the area. Cuckoos were again calling this week with Pheasant Coucal, Eastern Koel and Little Bronze-Cuckoo only heard and Channel-billed Cuckoo and Brush Cuckoo seen. Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher have been extremely vocal, flying around chasing each other and perching out in the open for great views. Blue-winged Kookaburra were also calling and showing well in Geraghty Park where they seem to be spending more time than elsewhere. 

Blue-winged Kookaburra

Dollarbird are still going around in pairs but have not be observed doing any nesting activities. Noisy Pitta are still noisy and being seen regularly, quite often dodging the unwelcome attentions of the Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher who dive bomb them. Spotted Catbird were still feeding young as were Pale-yellow Robin who are having a good breeding season this year. Always worth an image for their "cute factor".

Pale-yellow Robin

The same 12 honeyeater species as last week were seen with very few coming to the feeder. Graceful Honeyeater were coming to the feeder and taking away banana, presumably to feed their young. Barred Cuckoo-shrike and Cicadabird are both still calling and being seen infrequently. Spangled Drongo were seen building a nest in Geraghty Park and Spectacled Monarch have several nests in the Lodge grounds. One Grey-headed Robin was seen at the beginning of the week but not since, dare we say they have all gone back into the mountains behind us? Our neighbour Carol witnessed 10 Fairy Martin, along McDougall Road, twittering in to roost, they ended up all huddled along a little 1m tall sapling or weed bent over to almost touching the ground! Metallic Starling are still busy adding to their nests with both adult and immature birds collecting building material, also egg shells have been found under the nests indicating a second brood for the season. 

Metallic Starling - immature

Olive-backed Sunbird have been investigating a piece of string we put out by the reception area several years hoping they would choose it to build a nest on, maybe they will.

Further afield Murray Hunt from Daintree Boatman Nature Tours (ex Chris Dahlberg's River Tours), reported seven Spotted Whistling-Duck on the Daintree River Friday afternoon. These maybe the ones from Wonga Beach, which is not far away and the river is a new location for them. A check of the lagoon 4km north of Mareeba during the week failed to find the previously reported Grey Wagtail and Painted Snipe but did find at least 60 Plumed Whistling-Duck and a large flock of Magpie Goose. 

Plumed Whistling-Duck

Lovely Fairy-wren have been regularly seen in the Rifle Creek camping area at Mt. Molloy. Also near Mt. Molloy one possibly two Buff-breasted Button-quail were seen by guests who spent three days searching an area, also in the same area were Brown Quail and Painted Button-quail. Looks like it could be a good year for the BBBQ's with the habitat looking suitable at the moment.

Reptile and mammal numbers were up this week to 23. A Green Ringtail Possum was seen during the day in our neighbours garden moving through some trees, probably disturbed by too much attention from the birds. This was the first one reported for two months. This one shows how they roost during the day, curled up on an exposed branch.

Green Ringtail Possum

Striped Possum have been showing well and calling as they crash around in the rainforest giving good views, some only 4-5m off the ground. At least two Platypus are still being regularly seen in Bushy Creek along with the odd Water Rat who make infrequent appearances. The wet weather tempted a few frogs to start calling and showing, the Northern Dwarf Tree Frog were one of the frogs whose calls were triggered by the rain.  

Northern Dwarf Tree Frog

A White-lipped Tree Frog was actually spotlighted in a tree – much better than the amenities block! At least two Boyd's Forest Dragon are still around the eating area near the units. They were seen chasing each other and one ended up on one of our guests outdoor table where it sat for a while before moving to the back of a chair.

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