Saturday, 24 December 2011

25th December 2011 Report

Well here we are Christmas and another year nearly gone. We would like to wish all our readers a happy and safe Christmas period and a great 2012. For those who have visited us over the last year and beyond we thank you for supporting us and for those who are thinking of coming next year we welcome you. Those who are not thinking of coming why not! Thank you all for your positive comments about the blog, we hope it compliments our web site. The Noisy Pitta did not seem too pleased to be wearing the hat!

The biggest surprise on Christmas Day was the return of "Katie" our Buff-banded Rail who went off with "Pete" several weeks ago. She went straight into the office and cleaned up a few spiders. Good to see her again.

The weeks rainfall was only 11mm falling on the first three days of the week. We seemed to miss the storms which were going around the region.

Maximum temperatures were slightly down on last week, getting up to 31.9ºc and the minimum was down to 20.8ºc, again lower than last week. Humidity ranged from a low of 63% and a high of 95%.

There were less birds recorded this week than last with 94 seen and 10 heard. 21 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.

Two Red-necked Crake appeared at the reception area feeder late one afternoon, just like a pair many years ago used to but these did not hang around and took off into the rainforest. Two Cotton Pygmy-goose have re-appeared at one of the lagoons along McDougall Road after being away for a few months.

Other sightings:
Plenty of Magpie Goose along McDougall Road, including over 200 in a grassy paddock late in the week. Also in the lagoons along the road were Wandering Whistling-Duck, a Green Pygmy-goose, Pacific Black-Duck and Hardhead. An Australian Grebe was on the pond at the front of the Barramundi Farm along with Intermediate Egret and Australian White Ibis. An Eastern Great Egret was seen walking along Bushy Creek near the Platypus viewing area. Brown Cuckoo-Dove returned to take advantage of the fruiting a Tobacco Bush in the orchard. 

Brown Cuckoo-Dove

A few Emerald Dove are walking around the Lodge grounds now with at least one male at the seed feeder by reception. Superb Fruit-Dove have been calling all over the area but only one sighting of a male in the orchard. Several Pied Imperial Pigeon have also been calling in the orchard and a few Topknot Pigeon are still visiting the grounds. Our female Papuan Frogmouth has been playing hard to see again with only one sighting at the beginning of the week perched in a Five Corner fruit tree in the orchard. A few White-throated Needletail and Fork-tailed Swift were reported one evening flying over in company with Australian Swiftlet. An adult Nankeen Night Heron was seen to fly out of the cane field behind the nursing home in the direction of the McDougall Road lagoons on evening. 

Nankeen Night-Heron

Raptors were very scarce this week with only White-bellied Sea-Eagle seen. Our neighbours again saw a Pale-vented Bush-hen in a gully behind their house whilst the rest of us have only heard numerous pairs calling all around the surrounding area adjacent to the Lodge. Red-tailed Black Cockatoo were heard flying over heading towards Geraghty Park from the mountains one afternoon. A few Scaly-breasted Lorikeet were seen this week along with at least one Double-eyed Fig-Parrot which was heard before flying out of a tree near the amenities block. Channel-billed Cuckoo continue to fly over calling whilst Brush Cuckoo were only heard. (Lesser) Sooty Owl was heard early one morning once and that was it for the week. At least three Eastern Barn Owl were seen plus several more heard calling. Azure Kingfisher was at the Crake Pool Saturday afternoon and Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher are busy attending termite mounds, calling and flying around for good views and a few Dollarbirds are still calling.

Noisy Pitta

The Noisy Pitta managed to shake off the hat whilst hopping around in the orchard. They were collecting food for three hungry mouths in their nest, however on Saturday morning they were seen with nesting material for another nest. So the first one was unsuccessful, taken by Spotted Catbird, Black Butcherbird or snake?

Spotted Catbird probably also took the chicks out of a Mistletoebird nest (famous last words in last weeks blog) in our neighbours garden and have been seen being chased by other nesting birds such as Willie Wagtail and Spectacled Monarch. 

Forlorn looking Mistletoebird wondering where his offspring have gone.

Mistletoebird - male
Great Bowerbird and Red-backed Fairy-wren were again along McDougall Road. Brown Gerygone have been in our neighbours garden and seem to like that area in preference to the Lodge grounds where we have not seen one for at least three months. Lewin's Honeyeater was again heard whilst there was one sighting of a Scarlet Honeyeater. White-throated Honeyeater are back with many sightings in Geraghty Park and along Bushy Creek where they have been chasing each other. Macleay's Honeyeater have been raiding the feeder by reception and flying off with banana, probably to feed chicks in a nest. Barred Cuckoo-shrike are around but only heard this week. Little Shrike-thrush have built a nest in our neighbours garden but not started using it yet. Spangled Drongo continue to wake us up at around 5.00am with their loud dawn chorus calls which seem to subside when other birds awake and join in. Willie Wagtails are still on a nest in Geraghty Park and may have chicks in it judging by their behaviour. Leaden Flycatcher are calling a lot but we have seen no sign of nesting yet. Black-faced Monarch are also calling and showing more this week but both Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have gone quiet with only a single sighting of a Pied Monarch. Pale-yellow Robin have several brown juvenile birds around including one which spends a lot of the day around the feeding area by reception, foraging and bathing. Our neighbours Olive-backed Sunbird pair whose nest was predated a few weeks ago have almost completed another nest low down on their veranda, not the idea location but lets hope they are successful this time. Red-browed Finch seem to be successful as many juvenile birds, which lack the red eyebrow, have been coming to the seed feeder. An Australian Pipit was at the Barramundi Farm again and seems to have made it's home here.

Further Afield:-
After last weeks report of an unusual Pied Heron on a dam near Mareeba we checked it out during the week and managed a few images. It certainly is very mottled with a faint dark cap to the head which Pied's have and its behaviour certainly looked like Pied Heron but it did look slightly larger. There is always the possibility of it being a hybrid, we have seen Pied Heron x White-faced Heron in Darwin many years ago. We will keep an eye on it to see if it morphs into anything definite. This highly cropped image shows the heron with a Magpie Goose for size comparison.
Pied Heron (?)
This little dam was very productive with many other species present including 100+ Magpie Goose, 50+ Plumed Whistling-Duck, 20+ Grey Teal, Pacific Black-Duck, Hardhead, Australasian Grebe, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Glossy Straw-necked and Australian White Ibis, Royal Spoonbill and Black-winged Stilt. 

Magpie Goose

Plumed Whistling Duck

On the way back from Mareeba to Mt. Molloy we saw five Little Corella at Biboorah on a grassy area beside the road, these are presumably part of the small population in the Mareeba area. Superb Fruit-Dove were nesting alongside the Mt. Lewis Road on the lower slopes whilst higher up at the clearing Blue-faced Parrot-Finch are proving difficult with only the odd sighting of up to three birds. Abattoir Swamp produced a White-browed Crake sighting which was the first for several months. A late migrant (?) Rufous Fantail was reported from Big Mitchell Creek by a local birdo, unusual record for this time of year.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
Not so many seen this week as in recent ones, probably due to a lesser effort in tracking them down. No possums this week but quite a few other interesting sightings. A Red-legged Pademelon (small Kangaroo) was spotlighted in the orchard for the second week running, hope it stays around and brings a few friends along. A few bats were identified, Eastern Horseshoe Bat, Diadem Leaf-nosed Bat seen hanging on a vine in the rainforest beside the orchard on a night walk, Northern Broad-nosed Bat roosting under our neighbours house and Spectacled Flying Fox still eating our Lychees in the orchard. The Platypus have been showing well and a few frogs were showing but needed hunting out. Jungguy Frog, White-lipped Tree Frog and Cogger's Frog were all seen on a night walk but only one of each. Boyd's Forest Dragon continue to entertain as the run across the forest floor and the roads before jumping onto trees and climbing up. Quite a few baby Eastern Water Dragon have just appeared along Bushy Creek and a Keelback snake was seen swimming in the creek.

Other Interesting Sightings:
More fungi have emerged as shown here.

  Fungi sp. (?)

Bracket Fungi sp.

Fungi sp. (?)

Bracket Fungi sp.

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