Saturday, 3 December 2011

4th December 2011 Report

The weeks rainfall was only 3.5mm which all came in one shower with a few threatening clouds on several other days but only a trace out of them.Maximum temperatures were slightly higher than last week, getting up to 31.7ºc and the minimum was down to 21.3ºc on one day but on four other days it only got down to between 23.1ºc and 23.6ºc. Humidity was slightly lower than last week getting up to 94% and going down to 63%.

There were two more birds recorded this week than last with 105 seen and 8 heard. 21 mammal and reptile species were seen and one 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 this week were the return of the Red-necked Crake to the Crake Pool. A pair has been showing well most late afternoons with two putting on a display of head bobbing whilst going to bathe. They are still very vocal calling mainly in the afternoon and at night. 

Red-necked Crake - welcome back!

Five Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo flew over and circled the Lodge grounds one lunch time before alighting in the top of a Cadagi Corymbia torelliana which is a eucalypt. They perched long enough for all the guests to race out and see them before they flew off. It is unusual to see the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo around at this time of year; this may be a result of the many which have been on the coast between Cairns and up towards the Daintree this year heading back inland. A Horsfield's Bushlark was seen on 2nd December displaying high up over the adjacent cane paddock before plummeting to the ground, this is only the second record in six years, the only other record was 3/12/2006.

Other sightings: Brown Quail were around the cane field edges and McDougall Road still has many waterbirds in residence along with other good birds such as Red-backed Fairy-wren. 

Brown Quail

Superb Fruit-Dove are still calling well with only a few glimpses of birds high up in the rainforest canopy unlike the Wompoo Fruit-Dove who have been absent this week. Our female Papuan Frogmouth showed one day when it was roosting in a Rambutan tree in the orchard and being harassed by the Pale-yellow Robin who never gives up with its ritual, which luckily for us helps locate the Frogmouth. Australian Owlet-nightjar was seen on several occasions in its daytime roost and heard calling on several nights. Australian Swiftlet have been overhead, sometimes in company with a few Fork-tailed Swifts (4 on 29th/11). Black Bittern were again seen along McDougall Road and are becoming regular here as is the juvenile Nankeen Night-Heron previously reported. A few Australian White Ibis are still hanging around, mainly flying over towards the Barramundi Farm or seen on the ground there. A pair of Pacific Baza were circling over Geraghty Park whilst on a morning walk showing very well as the sunlight illuminated their plumage. Two immature White-bellied Sea-Eagle were circling over the lodge grounds accompanied by a Whistling kite and a couple of White-breasted Woodswallow when we raced out to see the Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo. At least four Pale-vented Bush-Hen were calling from long grass along Bushy Creek but despite them moving only metres away they were not seen. Bush Stone-curlew were along Mt. Kooyong Road towards the nursing home with at least one chick in tow. Rainbow Lorikeet were seen peering out of a tree hollow in Geraghty Park which previously had an Eastern Barn Owl roosting in it. 

Rainbow Lorikeet - in nest hollow

Double-eyed Fig-Parrot were once again seen flying over. Cuckoos were again very vocal throughout the day and night with Eastern Koel and Shining Bronze-Cuckoo, which was a first for the season only heard. Pheasant Coucal, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Little (Gould's) Bronze-Cuckoo and Brush Cuckoo were all seen. At least three Eastern Barn Owl were seen and several others heard but the (Lesser) Sooty Owl was only heard this week. Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher have continued calling and showing well as they are perching lower down and out in the open with signs that some of their termite mounds for nesting are being excavated. Laughing Kookaburra have been posing in the orchard and showing off their punk hairdo as this one was.

Laughing Kookaburra

Forest Kingfisher have been seen bringing food to one of their nest sites in a termite mound high in a tree. Noisy Pitta have quietened down this week and not showing as much which maybe a sign that they are nesting. Spotted Catbird have been around with this juvenile bird coming to the feeder and being curious about “Katie” our Buff-banded Rail having a bath.

Spotted Catbird - juvenile

Lovely Fairy-wren were again seen late in the afternoon amongst the Bamboo alongside Bushy Creek; maybe a roosting area? Fairy Gerygone have come back to life after being quiet for a few weeks they are now calling and chasing each other around. Eleven species of honeyeater this week with notable exceptions being Lewin's which have probably all gone to higher ground to breed plus White-throated and Scarlet who have been seen in the district but not around the Lodge. Barred Cuckoo-shrike and Cicadabird are still calling and being seen. Australasian Figbird were carrying nesting material and chasing off Spangled Drongo who were paying them too much attention. Pied Monarch were heard but not seen and Yellow-breasted Boatbill were seen but not heard. Mistletoebird has been busy attending his flowering Mistletoe and displaying as well as perching in the open as this one was. 

Mistletoebird - male
The female Olive-backed Sunbird in our neighbours garden is feeding and sitting in her nest whilst the male does not see to be doing much apart from hanging around.

Further afield a first year White-streaked Honeyeater was at Abattoir Swamp all week and is a different one to the previously reported bird at Mt. Molloy early October on Eremaea Birds. Two separate birds were seen within 15 minutes of each other late in the week, one at Mt. Molloy and the other at Abattoir Swamp. The swamp is about 90km south of their normal range which usually extends to Shipton's Flat south of Cooktown. A guest also reported a possible White-gaped Honeyeater from here as well, the nearest population of this species is along the McLeod River at the Peninsula Road crossing north of Mt. Carbine, 38km North-West of Abattoir Swamp. We have been unable to confirm this sighting so far. Whilst looking for the White-streaked Honeyeater we found at least two Black-chinned Honeyeater “Golden-backed” form and the regular “Meet & Greet” Northern Fantail in the car park.

Several sightings of Striped Possum were had during the week including two separate individuals on a night walk. This night walk also turned up 2 Giant White-tailed Rat, lots of Spectacled Flying Fox helping themselves to our Lychees in the orchard, Northern Brown Bandicoot, several Cane Toad and a Cogger's Frog. As well we saw Eastern Barn Owl, heard Australian Owlet-nightjar and saw some luminescent fungi glowing in the dark. 

Luminescent Fungi sp.  - by day
Other interesting mammals and reptiles were a Macleay's Water Snake Enhydris polylepis swimming in Bushy Creek early one evening whilst guests were watching a Platypus and a Dingo foraging around the Cane Paddock near the nursing home. A family (?) of four Major Skink Egernia frerei (3 Adults + 1 juvenile) were seen together on the edge of the orchard, this is quite unusual as we normally only see them individually.

Apart from the luminescent fungi other species have still been appearing, this is the latest – looks like a Mycena sp.

Mycena sp. (?)

This insect is what we think is a Bandy-legged Caedicia Caedicia pictipes

Bandy-legged Caedicia
it was identified using David Rentz book “ A Guide to the Katydids of Australia”, which we keep in our shop $49.95 + P & P.

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