Sunday, 18 December 2011

18th December 2011 Report

The weeks rainfall was 47mm with 28mm falling Friday and overnight into Saturday.

Maximum temperatures were slightly higher than last week, getting up to 33.6ºc and the minimum was only down to 22.8ºc. Humidity ranged from a low of 59% and a high of 94%

There were more birds recorded this week than last with 108 seen and 4 heard. 25 mammal and reptile species were seen, two more than last week. The weeks bird list is on the Eremaea Birds website and morning walk lists can also be found at this link on Eremaea Birds.

Actually seeing a female Superb Fruit-Dove, the few other sightings have been of males. Also two Pale-vented Bush-hen were seen by our neighbours in the gully between their garden and the Crake Pool on at least two occasions; many more are calling but not being seen. The return of Lemon-bellied Flycatcher to Geraghty Park after an absence of 10 weeks, where do they go?

Other sightings:
Good numbers of Magpie Goose continue to frequent the lagoons along McDougall Road with 50-60 present late in the week along with Wandering Whistling-Duck, a single Green Pygmy-goose, 15-20 Hardhead and two Australasian Grebe.

Australasian Grebe

A few Emerald Dove have been showing and calling throughout the week after being absent for a few weeks, one even came to the feeder by reception. Wompoo Fruit-Dove also returned after a month and were seen as well as heard. Pied Imperial Pigeon continue to hang around Geraghty Park but no sign of nesting yet and a few Topknot Pigeon are still showing intermittently. The female Papuan Frogmouth was outside the reception area on the Sunday which made two consecutive days in this location but then she disappeared for the rest of the week. Australian Owlet-nightjar was seen it its daytime roost several times and also heard calling during the day. Both White-throated Needletail and Fork-tailed Swift were around on several days mid-week. There were more Fork-tailed Swift with up to 60est. than White-throated Needletail which numbered up to 20est. Cattle Egrets in breeding condition were still around with at least eight left and four Australian White Ibis were spending their days at the Barramundi Farm. Raptor numbers have been down over the last few weeks but there were a few more sightings this week; a single Whistling Kite was over Geraghty Park, two immature and one adult White-bellied Sea-Eagle across the Rex Highway over cow paddocks, a Brahminy Kite feeding on a road kill near the Barramundi Farm, one Grey Goshawk, one Nankeen Kestrel and and adult and two juvenile Brown Falcon along McDougall Road. Two Red-necked Crake have been seen regularly most days, either at the Crake Pool or traversing the forest. They have also been calling more frequently both during the day and at night. No sign of “Katie” the Buff-banded Rail who seems to have eloped with “Pete” her new partner, maybe they will come back with a family! Bush Stone-curlew have continued to come into the Lodge grounds at night and surprise the guests with their wailing calls. 

Bush Stone-curlew
A single Comb-crested Jacana was along McDougall Road on one of the lagoons. Scaly-breasted Lorikeet numbers dropped during the week with only a small flock of about eight seen and Double-eyed Fig-Parrot continue to be seen flying over with no local fig trees in fruit at the moment, several have unripe fruits appearing. Cuckoos have again been calling and seen, those seen were Pheasant Coucal, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Little (Gould's) Bronze-Cuckoo and Brush Cuckoo, Eastern Koel was only heard. (Lesser) Sooty Owl was heard throughout the week and seen once high in a tree in our neighbours garden. Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher are still calling, chasing each other and perching out in the open for good views. Blue-winged Kookaburra are also showing well in Geraghty Park, usually early in the morning. Two Noisy Pitta are still around the orchard area collecting food for their three hungry nestlings and can be seen most times of the day. Spotted Catbird are lurking around in the forest looking for baby birds to prey on, unfortunately they took the two Olive-backed Sunbird chicks within a few minutes of them fledging from their nest in our neighbours garden. The parents are now looking at nesting again, hard life being a small bird. Fairy Gerygone are still around and calling, this female is posing slightly better than last weeks one!

Fairy Gerygone - female

One Lewin's Honeyeater returned after a five week absence and was both seen and heard; most of the population is normally at higher altitudes at this time of year breeding. A few Barred Cuckoo-shrike were seen around the Lodge grounds and in Geraghty Park. Cicadabird continues to call with a few sightings again in the Lodge grounds. 

Cicadabird - male

An immature brown Black Butcherbird has been around the rainforest areas throughout the week and several Spangled Drongo have been seen in nests. Torresian Crow have been calling whilst perched on power poles along the Rex Highway near the entrance to the Lodge. Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been seen a few times in the grounds but not calling making tracking them down a bit harder. Mistletoebird are nesting in our neighbours garden, lets hope they can avoid the Spotted Catbird.

Further Afield:-
A Pied Heron was reported from the small wetland 4km north of Mareeba where the Eastern Yellow Wagtail was seen early November. It was a pretty scruffy individual and may have been a moulting juvenile. A Wedge-tailed Eagle was soaring over Pinnacle Road, Julatten (the road leading to Mowbray National Park). A Black-shouldered Kite was seen at Craglie, near Port Douglas and the first reported in the area for sometime. They have not been around Julatten for at least five weeks. A flock of Red-tailed Black Cockatoo were feeding in the heart of Port Douglas along Macrossan Street, the main road through town. Red-tailed Black Cockatoo have been reported along the coast for at least the past six months from Cairns north to at least Wonga Beach north of Mossman. Australian Bustard are showing well at Maryfarms north of Mt. Molloy with at least six adults and a juvenile seen one afternoon.

Australian Bustard

Reptiles and Mammals:-
Good numbers this week with 25 species recorded. Fawn-footed Melomys were not seen this week but they got into our car and chewed up some of the wiring rendering the airbag inoperable, this is the second time they have chewed this wire; anyway a repair sorted out the wiring. A Red-legged Pademelon (small Kangaroo) was seen drinking at the Crake Pool before being spotlighted the next night. A Tree Mouse (Prehensile-tailed Rat) was seen emerging from its daytime hideout at the back of the cook shed one evening. A Green Ringtail Possum was also seen on a night walk and a Striped Possum was in our neighbours garden. Platypus have been seen most days but the heavy rain late in the week made the water murky and hard to see, this will soon clear up when the rain stops. Seven species of frogs this week with the rain bringing a few elusive species such as Peter's Frog Litoria inermis out to join the White-lipped Tree Frog, Northern Dwarf Tree Frog, Jungguy Frog and Cogger's Frog. 

  Jungguy Frog
Boyd's Forest Dragon are being seen running across the rainforest floor and clinging to the sides of trees whilst some large (245mm) Eastern Water Dragon have been sitting along Bushy Creek. A 3m Amethystine Python was spotted on the ground under a Lychee Tree in the orchard during a night walk and a Brown Tree Snake was in our neighbours garden.

Other Interesting Sightings:
Fungi again dominate this section, not sure of any ID's but working on them! The first image is of fungi growing on the same log as the Dead Man's Fingers in the second image, it looked similar but not as advanced.

  Dead Man's Fingers Xylaria aff. Polymorpha (?)

 Dead Man's Fingers Xylaria aff. Polymorpha (?)

 Microporus sp. (?)

 Jelly Fungi (?)

 Mycena (?)

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