Sunday, 11 December 2011

11th December 2011 Report

The weeks rainfall was 20.5mm, 16mm came in one storm accompanied by thunder and lightning.

Maximum temperatures were slightly higher than last week, getting up to 32.2ºc and the minimum was down to 21.2ºc. Humidity ranged from a low of 57% and a high of 95%

There were less birds recorded this week than last with 96 seen and 7 heard, too many sitting on nests! 23 mammal and reptile species were seen. The weeks bird list is on the Eremaea Birds website and morning walk lists can also be found at this link on Eremaea Birds.

Again Red-necked Crake appeared at the Crake Pool, this time at 8.20 one morning and also one evening on the opposite bank of Bushy Creek to the Platypus viewing area where two showed. One was also seen heading off into the rainforest early one morning and two ran across the grassy area of the orchard one evening. A Noisy Pitta was seen foraging in the adjacent cane field early one morning  – an unusual location. Other Noisy Pitta were showing well in the orchard collecting worms, and heading off to their nest to feed the three chicks which are in it. Whilst checking termite mounds for signs of Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher nesting activity a Noisy Pitta nest was found by accident, a couple of quick shots were taken before vacating the area and watching from a distance to see the adult return to feed the chicks. This image shows an open entrance to the nest with three bright red gapes of the chicks, a previous nest observed had a cover over the front entrance which hid the contents. This image was taken at a safe distance to cause minimal disturbance to the nest and then severely cropped to show contents.

Noisy Pitta

Other sightings:
Up to 100 Magpie Goose were along McDougall Road early in the week with a few Green Pygmy-goose and Hardhead. Emerald Dove was around at the beginning of the week but by mid-week had disappeared for the second time this year. At least six Superb Fruit-Dove were calling around the orchard with the only sighting being one fly over. Pied Imperial Pigeon are still around but not so obvious and Topknot Pigeon were another species to disappear mid-week. Our female Papuan Frogmouth proved elusive during the week with her only appearance outside the reception area late on Saturday morning – again found by the Pale-yellow Robin who caused her to become alert before settling down and begin to preen.

Papuan Frogmouth

Australian Owlet-nightjar was seen once in its regular daytime roost and heard calling during the evening and early morning, it was in a different daytime roost from the regular one when it was calling early morning. Australian Darter, Little Pied Cormorant and Little Black Cormorant plus Australian White Ibis were all seen flying over heading towards the Barramundi Farm which now has some of its ponds netted. A few Cattle Egret in breeding plumage still remain and one White-faced Heron was in a small pond along McDougall Road. Raptors have been scarce this week with only White-bellied Sea-Eagle and Whistling Kite seen. “Katie” our Buff-banded Rail has been coming around less frequently and was seen with her love interest “Pete” foraging around the cook shed for the first time, they then headed off to the rainforest and have not been seen for four days. This was one of the last images taken of "Katie" when she came around to have an extended bath and did a lot of fluffing of feathers and wing stretching as she is doing here.

"Katie" Buff-banded Rail

Pale-vented Bush-Hen continue to call along Bushy Creek with at least three pairs heard. A couple were seen to fly across the creek near the Platypus viewing area which was the only sighting. Bush Stone-curlew have been coming into the Lodge grounds around the cook shed and reception area at night to ensure they wake everyone up with their wailing calls. Masked Lapwing have been flying around the cane fields in flocks of up to 33 calling and chasing off any intruders who come to close. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo numbers have increased as has their chainsaw activities of chewing off small branches for amusement. Double-eyed Fig-Parrot were only seen flying over when two went over Mt. Kooyong Road early one morning. Cuckoos continue to call with Channel-billed Cuckoo, Little Bronze Cuckoo and Brush Cuckoo seen. Sooty Owl was only heard several times both in the evening and in the morning. At least four Eastern Barn Owl were seen in Geraghty Park and several more heard calling. Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher continue to call and fly around as well as perching out in the open for great views. A check of the termite mounds found only one which had been newly excavated and several others from last year looking like they had been refurbished as there was bits of white tail feathers at the entrances. We will not be sure of exact numbers until they start sitting. Both Laughing and Blue-winged Kookaburra have been calling and showing well and Forest Kingfisher continue to feed chicks in at least one nest. Several Rainbow Bee-Eater were seen along McDougall Road but none have come the short distance to the Lodge grounds yet. Spotted Catbird have been getting a hard time from other birds such as Pale-yellow Robin and Spectacled Monarch who have been chasing them away from their nests. Fairy Gerygone have started to come down lower and provide an opportunity to photograph them or so I thought. They don't stay still for a millisecond and the best I could do was this shot which I've included to prove not every shot can be a winner!

Fairy Gerygone - female

Honeyeater numbers were down this week with only nine species seen, must be better offerings elsewhere! A single Scarlet Honeyeater was in the orchard foraging on some mistletoe trying to look like a Mistletoebird, well they both have bright red in their plumage. Barred Cuckoo-shrike have been eluding the binoculars but have been heard and Cicadabird are still calling as well as being seen. Spangled Drongo have been first in the morning chorus making sure everyone else is awake. Two Spectacled Monarch nests were seen during the week, one with a lot more decoration on it than the other. 


Spectacled Monarch - nest with little decoration

 Spectacled Monarch - nest with more decoration

Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been showing occasionally and calling infrequently, possibly they are nesting. More egg shells have been found under the nesting colony of the Metallic Starling, these are from the second broods. The nests are continually added to and become heavier and heavier until some snap off the branch they are attached to and fall to the ground. Here you can see a juvenile bird, white streaked breast, having a rest from collecting material whilst below is an all black adult doing the same.

Metallic Starling - immature and adult at nests

Olive-backed Sunbird continue to nest and there was even a report of them nesting in the Lodge grounds but we have not seen this yet.

Further Afield:-
No reports of White-streaked Honeyeater from Mt. Molloy or Abattoir Swamp this week despite several searches. Abattoir Swamp still has a few flowering Melaleuca and Grevillea but only a few species of honeyeater recorded, Yellow, Brown-backed, Brown and White-throated. Mt. Lewis continues to be good with Fernwren and Atherton Scrubwren seen at nests. Blue-faced Parrot-Finch have been a challenge to find with no more than four seen so far (reported to us). Out at Mt. Carbine to the north west there were Galah and Red-tailed Black Cockatoo.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
Highlight here was the appearance of a Tree Mouse Pogonomys sp. out of a tree hollow beside the cookshed, where they have been seen before but not for at least six months. This Australian species was formerly thought to be one of two species occurring in New Guinea but current thinking is that is an unnamed species. This species is restricted to the rainforests of Cape York Peninsula and the Wet Tropics region (where we are). It was first recorded in the Wet Tropics at Lake Barrine in 1974 and only two specimens have been collected on Cape York an Iron Range in 1977. Giant White-tailed Rat have been feasting on fallen fruit from a tree called Steelbutt Endiandra impressicosta (thanks to Rupert Russell and Peter Stanton for identifying the tree), which have been raining down onto our restaurant deck for the past month. Both Green Ringtail and Striped Possum have been seen this week as well as Long-nosed and Northern Brown Bandicoot. Platypus have been showing most days in Bushy Creek and Spectacled Flying Fox have been raiding the Lychee's in the orchard. Still not much action with the frogs despite some rain, plenty of calling but few showing themselves. Two Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko were found high up on the trunks of trees one night and not found again. Up to three Boyd's Forest Dragon have been coming in around the restaurant area and entertaining the tour groups. 

Boyd's Forest Dragon

Several Major Skink have been making appearances on the veranda and one tried to come into the office but lost traction on the floor of the reception area and retreated! An Amethystine Python was seen one night crossing the orchard and was the first seen for seven weeks.

Other Interesting Sightings:

Fungi continue to pop up all over the forest floor, here are a few more.

Fungi sp.

Fungi sp.
Also honeybees are around at the moment, this one, a Blue-banded Honeybee (thanks for ID Snail) was on a flower.

Blue-banded Honeybee


Snail said...

Your bee is probably one of these lovely creatures --- blue-banded bees.

Keith and Lindsay Fisher said...

Thanks Snail, we'll change it. must admit we did not look too far to find the identification.