Sunday, 22 January 2012

22nd January 2012 Report

A week with lots of rain after a week with none, we had 93mm for the week spread over the 7 days. The majority fell overnight with a few showers during the day but still allowed birding time in the dry.

The temperatures were pretty consistent throughout the week with the minimums ranging from 22.0ºc to 22.7ºc and during the day were up to 32.3ºc at the beginning of the week but for the rest they were between 26.3ºc to 28.7ºc which was quite pleasant. Humidity was high with all the rain from 78% to 87% minimum and between 92% to 96% for the maximum.

There were actually more birds recorded this week than last despite the rain. Waterbirds numbers were down but a few more raptors were around with five species seen; totals were 100 seen, 8 heard. 18 mammal and reptile species were seen, 3 heard and one found dead. The weeks bird list is on the Eremaea Birds website and morning walk lists can also be found at this link on Eremaea Birds.

A lone Black-necked Stork was in the first lagoon along McDougall Road late one afternoon. Red-necked Crake was foraging before having a bath in a pool beside the orchard for over 10 minutes and two Pale-vented Bush-hen chasing each other around on our neighbours lawn. A neighbour across the Rex Highway reported a lone Australian Bustard in their front paddock; we get several reports of a lone bustard around the Julatten area every year. 34 Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo flying over late in the week must be the most we have seen in the Lodge area and a Northern Fantail surprised us when it was heard calling in Geraghty Park late in the week. This is the first record for 11 weeks. 

Northern Fantail

A single Horsfield's Bushlark seen along McDougall Road is an uncommon bird in the area with only two previous records in the last six years.

Other sightings:
Brown Quail were calling along McDougall Road and two flew out of long grass beside the road for good views. A few waterbirds were still present in the McDougall Road lagoons but only one or two of each species such as Hardhead, Australasian Grebe, Australasian Darter, Little Pied and Little Black Cormorant, Eastern Great Egret and Comb-crested Jacana. The second swamp has been taken over by frogs and dragonfly's! The female Papuan Frogmouth made two appearances in the orchard during the week and was heard calling during a rain storm one evening. Raptors were again hard to find but a few made a showing in the area, Black-shouldered Kite, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Whistling and Black Kite plus a Brown Falcon. A pair of Double-eyed Fig-Parrot were in a Queensland Blue Gum tree in the camping area. A male Pheasant Coucal was perched on a fence post along Mt. Kooyong Road calling for over 30 minutes for no apparent reason – no other coucals in the vicinity. Eastern Koel fired up with the rain and started calling for most of the week and at least two Channel-billed Cuckoo were around. We should start to see these cuckoos passing through on northward migration soon. Brush Cuckoo were also calling and dropping in a few “referee whistle” calls. Sooty Owl were only heard this week on several occasions and Eastern Barn Owl were seen hunting along the Rex Highway one night.

The good news is that at least four of our Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher nests have chicks in, we found eggshells outside of them and heard the chicks calling from inside. One nest had three eggshells outside the others had two. There are at least four other nests with adults sitting but no sign of hatching as yet. We have at least 45 termite mounds in the Lodge grounds and at least 8 have nests in them. Late News! One more nest had two chicks hatch Saturday night with two eggshells found Sunday morning, that is five with chicks so far.

Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher - entering nest to feed chicks

No more sightings of Rainbow Bee-eater over the lodge his week but a few are still along McDougall Road. Dollarbird numbers seem to be less at the moment with only a couple sighted and our Noisy Pitta have been not so noisy this week and only showing a couple of times. They are probably sitting on eggs by now as they appear to have finished nest building. Spotted Catbird have been having a feast in our orchard as they are getting stuck into the fruit of a Soursop tree. This is a large fruit which can weigh over 6kg's but they rarely get that big here as the Spectacled Fly-fox get into them at night and the catbird cleans up during the day. We are quite happy for them to have the fruit as it is not to our tastes. Lovely Fairy-wren were again heard late afternoon in some bamboo along Bushy Creek where we suspect they go to roost. Large-billed Gerygone continue to attend a nest hanging over Bushy Creek near the Platypus viewing area and should be feeding chicks by now. 

Large-billed Gerygone

Ten species of honeyeater were recorded with the rainy weather hindering their attempts to get nectar from the trees they have started coming back to the feeders. Yellow-spotted, Graceful, Yellow, Blue-faced and Macleay's Honeyeater were all seen at feeders. The rain has also started the Macleay's Honeyeater to come under the veranda to roost in the dry, this one was perched on a chair by the mammal feeding area beside the reception.

Macleay's Honeyeater

A sub-adult Black Butcherbird has been around and has started to change out of it's juvenile brown plumage into it's black adult plumage. At least two pairs of Spangled Drongo have juveniles in tow who have been constantly begging for food. The Black-faced Monarch we have been chasing on the edge of the orchard for the last few weeks is still sitting on its nest and calling like a few others we have found in the area. One was even calling in the middle of the night on two different occasions. A pair of Spectacled Monarch are sitting on a nest precariously close to Bushy Creek, hope the creek does not flood and wash the nest away as happened a few years ago. Both Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been calling and showing well after hiding for a few weeks. Olive-backed Sunbird at our neighbours house now have two chicks in their nest while ours are investigating their nest and sitting in it, not sure if they have laid yet. 

Olive-backed Sunbird - Female

Large flocks of Chestnut-breasted Mannikin have been around the local paddocks including those along McDougall Road which also had at least 12 Australian Pipit perching on fence posts. The mannikin flocks had a lot of juveniles mixed in with the adults but quite often we have seen juveniles form flocks of their own.

Chestnut-breasted Mannikin

Further Afield:-
A search for Buff-breasted Button-quail this week only turned up Painted Button-quail near Mt. Molloy. The Brady Road lagoon 4km north of Mareeba has now filled to overflowing and only had three Australian Grebe on it with 80+ Plumed Whistling-Duck flying in to land in an adjacent cow paddock whilst we were there mid-week. Another nearby lagoon had 2000+ Magpie Goose in it with a few Straw-necked Ibis but no other waterbirds. This is just a small section of them.

Magpie Goose

There was also a surprising number of Black Kite between Mt. Molloy and Mareeba at a time when most of these kites have gone further inland to breed, we must have seen close on 30 birds. One of the local Japanese tour guides, Ota, showed us an image taken on his mobile phone of a Peaceful Dove nest which was built on the rear windscreen wiper of a car parked at the Cairns Airport. Don't hold out much hope of this nest being successful. One white-tailed Needletail swooped down and was nearly collected by our car in Mt Molloy on Saturday morning. Mt. Lewis is still good for Blue-faced Parrot-Finch with 20+ seen this week however with the rain we have had it is best to check the road conditions if going up to the 10km clearing.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
Frogs got excited with the rain and started calling, those heard but not seen were Striped marsh Frog, Roth's Frog and Dainty Green Tree Frog. Those seen were Jungguy Frog, White-lipped Tree Frog, Northern Dwarf Tree Frog, Cogger's Frog and Cane Toad. Boyd's Forest Dragon are still around as are the Eastern Water Dragon. A Keelback snake was found run over along Mt. Kooyong Road near Bushy Creek. Only one Striped Possum sighting which was in our neighbours garden. A Giant White-tailed Rat was back at the feeder this week and a Red-legged Pademelon was in a gully between the Lodge and our neighbours garden. Regulars at the seed feeder include Bush Rat

Bush Rat
and Northern Brown Bandicoot.

Northern Brown Bandicoot

Hey no fungus this week!

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