Sunday, 8 January 2012

8th January 2012 Report

The first day of the year saw us doing a fun Big Day, there is a separate account at the end of this weeks report.

The weeks rainfall was only 10mm falling on three days of the week, mainly at night. The rest of the week was glorious sunshine providing great birding weather. Maximum temperatures were slightly down on last week, getting up to 30.8ºc and the minimum was down to a pleasant 19.0ºc, again lower than last week. Humidity ranged from a low of 60% to a high of 94%.

There were more birds recorded this week than last due to a greater effort resulting in 112 seen and 5 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.

Highlights: Could you call a House Sparrow a highlight? Well two male birds seen at the Barramundi Farm were the first records for our 1.5km list, probably were truck assisted. They are in all the major towns around the Atherton Tableland and also on the coast, hope no female birds make it here! Square-tailed Kite was a good addition to the weeks list when one soared over the tree tops in the camping area at the end of the week.

Other sightings:
Cotton Pygmy-goose were again along McDougall Road with two present mid-week. Pied Imperial Pigeon were around with more seen than in previous weeks with at least four calling whilst perched in the Lodge grounds. A few Topknot Pigeon are still around but most of the local birds seem to have gone to higher rainforest areas in the mountains such as Mt. Lewis. Our Papuan Frogmouth proved difficult to find again this week but it was located on the edge of the orchard one day and another day was further into the rainforest in amongst a clump of leaves. 

Papuan Frogmouth

Australian Owlet-nightjar was perched at the entrance to its daytime roost at least once early morning enjoying the sun. A few White-throated Needletail were overhead the Lodge grounds late on our Big Day, probably less than six. A Black-necked Stork was flying west over McDougall Road late on Saturday afternoon.

It was a good week for raptors with eight species seen. Apart from the previously mentioned Square-tailed Kite we had a pair of Black-shouldered Kite along McDougall Road, Pacific Baza circling high over the grounds calling with a Wedge-tailed Eagle below it, Whistling and Black Kite over Geraghty Park. Red-necked Crake showed at the Crake Pool both in the evening and morning most days and a Buff-banded Rail shot across a grassy path into the adjacent cane field (not “Katie” who we did not see this week). Pale-vented Bush-hen were again heard but not seen, calling all over the place! Three Red-tailed Black Cockatoo flew over the Lodge at the end of the week calling, this is the normal time we expect to see a few birds in the January-February period. Last year there were many sightings throughout the year which was unusual. This Sulphur-crested Cockatoo was looking for a nest site in this Queensland Blue Gum.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

A single Double-eyed Fig-Parrot was seen in our neighbours garden foraging in a Tobacco Bush. (Lesser) Sooty Owl was seen one morning as guests were leaving at 5.00am to go on a Daintree river trip, it flew past calling before going to roost. Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher are still calling a lot, mainly from higher up in the mid canopy and are probably in nests by now – still need to check them out. This time last year they were feeding young – they must have know about the deluge that came at the end of January. Blue-winged Kookaburra are spending more time in Geraghty Park, calling early morning and late evening even after dark. Rainbow Bee-eater sightings for the last few weeks have been confined to McDougall Road which seems to have an invisible barrier preventing them from coming over the Lodge! Dollarbird have still been going to their nest and feeding their nestlings. Noisy Pitta have been noisy this week with the pair who lost their nestlings doing most of the calling. One morning one of the pair was up in a tree calling for over an hour, no sign of the other pairs juveniles this week. Several pairs of Red-backed Fairy-wren were along McDougall Road perched on the fence wires. Striated Pardalote were seen in several locations around the edges of the Lodge. Twelve species of honeyeater this week with both Bridled and Scarlet seen along McDougall Road. Brown-backed Honeyeater are building their third nest in the same tree in Geraghty Park, they are very persistent. White-bellied and Barred Cuckoo-shrike have both been around the edge of the Lodge grounds and into Geraghty Park.

White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike

A pair of Spangled Drongo with a nest on the edge of the orchard have managed to produce at least one offspring, quite surprising as when on the nest the adult bird called loudly for long periods. The two adults were seen near the nest with a juvenile bird half their size. Four Torresian Crow went over the grounds heading towards the Barramundi Farm which is the most we have seen together for sometime.
The Black-faced Monarch we tried to turn into a Black-winged Monarch last week was back around again and obligingly came down low for a few more images. From the second image you could be forgiven for thinking it was a Black-winged Monarch, Jeff Davies commented "that  none of the greater coverts are black, normally a third to half are black". Jeff also said "I am concerned that the primaries and secondaries are a dark grey with narrow silver fringe this is also not what I would expect for a Black-winged Monarch which typically has solid black here normally and never a silver edge". If this is worn plumage we would have expected birds further south to have been reported with black wings, maybe they have? Thanks for your comments Jeff.

 Black-faced Monarch

 Black-faced Monarch

Magpie Lark were sitting on a nest in Geraghty Park and a Pied Monarch was seen in the Lodge grounds for the first time in several weeks. Yellow-breasted Boatbill started to call at the end of the week also for the first time in several weeks. Lemon-bellied Flycatcher were seen for a day before disappearing again. At last a pair of Olive-backed Sunbird have started to build a nest in the Lodge grounds, the first we know of in six years. They are always around but no nests found. At least six Australian Pipit have been around the area including several juveniles.

Further Afield:-
Most of the reports can be found in the Big Day below. Additions include 20-30 Blue-faced Parrot-Finch at the “clearing” on Mt. Lewis, this is the highest number reported this season. A Boobook Owl of the Lurida sub-species was flushed from on the ground at the edge of the road about 3-4km up from the Bushy Creek crossing by one of our guests in the morning. The bird flew into a tree and perched for good views, lucky guests as this is the first sighting for a long time (over a year?). Other guests spotlighted on Mt. Lewis and found a (Lesser) Sooty Owl feeding a juvenile bird.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
Both Green Ringtail and Striped Possum were seen in the grounds along with a Tree Mouse (Prehensile-tailed Rat). Fawn-footed Melomys and Northern Broad-nosed Bat were in our neighbours property. Bush Rat and Northern Brown Bandicoot along with Giant White-tailed Rat were around the feeder by reception most nights. Boyd's Forest Dragon are continuing to inhabit the area in front of the units.

Boyd's Forest Dragon

Platypus was seen several times in Bushy Creek, late in the week two were seen. Eastern Water Dragon were ever present in Bushy Creek. Frogs were conspicuously absent with only three species plus Cane Toad seen. Both Green and Brown Tree Snake were seen, the green in the orchard and the Brown in our neighbours garden.

Other Interesting Sightings:
Yes more fungi!

Fungi sp.

Fungi sp.

Fungi sp.

Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge 
Big Day 1st January 2012

 Once again it was the first day of another year and to start off our year list we were doing a Big Day for fun. No mad charging around the countryside, just a laid back day of birdwatching, eating and relaxing. A 6.30am start saw Keith, Lindsay and our two neighbours Carol and Andrew (who used to be the guides at the Lodge 10 years ago but are now independent bird guides) searching the Lodge grounds. Our first surprise was a White-headed Pigeon flying over the adjacent cane field towards the hills, Pale-vented Bush-hen were also calling here but not showing. Other good birds included Buff-banded Rail, Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher and Black-faced Monarch. Lindsay had to leave us as guests had to be attended to. So the three of us headed out to Geraghty Park where we found Pied Imperial Pigeon, Black Kite (a rarity of late) Barred Cuckoo-shrike, Striated Pardalote and Rufous Whistler. The weather looked threatening so we decided to go up Mt. Lewis before it closed in. As we passed the Barramundi Farm a cry went out to stop as Carol though she was hearing things – a House Sparrow! Sure enough a House Sparrow was perched on top of a shed alongside the road, must have been truck assisted to get here! A first for the area for a species which is on the coast but not normally up our part of the tablelands. After this shock it was onto the lower slopes of Mt. Lewis, which produced Superb Fruit-Dove, Double-eyed Fig-Parrot and a heard Black Butcherbird. The 10km area of the Mt. Lewis Road was very productive as usual with Blue-faced Parrot-Finch the first bird we saw when getting out of the car. Some other species encountered included Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Emerald Dove, Topknot Pigeon, Tooth-billed Bowerbird, Fernwren building a nest, Yellow-throated and Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Eastern Spinebill, Bridled Honeyeater, Chowchilla, Eastern Whipbird, Golden Whistler, Bower's Shrike-thrush, Grey-headed Robin and both Rufous and Grey Fantail. It was time to come down off the mountain as a few spots of rain started to come down. We had a half hour before the allotted lunch break so we headed back past the Lodge to McDougall Road, as always it put on a good show for us with plenty of waterbirds including Magpie Goose, Hardhead and Black-fronted Dotterel. Further down the road in the wooded area there were good views of Scarlet Honeyeater, Grey Whistler and Leaden Flycatcher before the rain started to pour down on cue for the lunch break.

 Leaden Flycatcher - male

After an hours break we set off again stopping at Abattoir Swamp hoping to see the reliable Northern Fantail in the car park but they were not showing only calling, however we did add Lemon-bellied Flycatcher. Next stop was a small lagoon near Mareeba, here there were many waterbirds allowing us to add Plumed Whistling-Duck, Grey Teal, Australasian Grebe, Eastern Great and Little Egret plus all three Ibis – Australian White, Straw-necked and Glossy. Overhead we had good views of Blue-winged Kookaburra. Time to turn around and head back towards Mt. Molloy with a few stops along the way. Several Purple Swamphen were in a small lagoon alongside the road and a White-faced Heron was beside the road just before we turned into Pickford Road at Biboorah. Quite a productive road with Pacific Baza feeding a juvenile, Brown Goshawk, Nankeen Kestrel, Red-winged Parrot, Pale-headed Rosella and Yellow Honeyeater. More waterbirds to add to the tally were found on Lake Mitchell, Black Swan, three Black-necked Stork, one Brolga and Comb-crested Jacana. Overhead were Eastern Osprey, Whistling Kite and Gull-billed Tern. Mt. Molloy was good to us as usual with Squatter Pigeon, Bush Stone-curlew, Eastern Koel, Great Bowerbird, Grey-crowned Babbler and Double-barred Finch. This babbler was trying to wheedle out some insects behind the bark.

Grey-crowned Babbler

We decided to return to the Lodge via the back road through Wetherby Station and found Lovely Fairy-wren at the “Green Gate”, a couple more Squatter Pigeon walking along the edge of the road and a Wompoo Fruit-Dove at the Rifle Creek crossing.

Squatter Pigeon
Another look down McDougall Road found a Black-shouldered Kite which was a much better view than one we had seen soaring way off in the distance in the morning, there were also several Australian Pipit perched on fence posts. Back at the Lodge Lindsay joined us to add White-throated Needletail soaring overhead with Australian Swiftlet and finally as it was getting dark a Red-neck Crake appeared for a bathe. After dark we found an Eastern Barn Owl in Geraghty Park and it was then time to call it a day.

We ended up with 132 seen plus 14 heard making a total of 146 species. Interestingly 85 of these were seen/heard within 1.5km of the Lodge grounds. Best bird – so many, Most surprising sighting – House Sparrow, Biggest dips – Noisy Pitta who decided to have a day off after being seen everyday for the last few months, Papuan Frogmouth and Channel-billed Cuckoo who have been showing more often than not, Crested Pigeon and Pied Butcherbird had a day off in the dry country. However despite these dips it was a very good start to the year.

Species List
Australian Brush-turkey Black-fronted Dotterel Macleay's Honeyeater
Orange-footed Scrubfowl Masked Lapwing Grey-crowned Babbler
Brown Quail Comb-crested Jacana Chowchilla
Magpie Goose Gull-billed Tern Eastern Whipbird
Plumed Whistling-Duck Sulphur-crested Cockatoo Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike
Wandering Whistling-Duck Rainbow Lorikeet White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike
Black Swan Scaly-breasted Lorikeet Barred Cuckoo-shrike
Green Pygmy-goose Double-eyed Fig-Parrot Cicadabird*
Grey Teal Red-winged Parrot Varied Triller
Pacific Black Duck Pale-headed Rosella Golden Whistler
Hardhead Pheasant Coucal Grey Whistler
Australasian Grebe Eastern Koel Rufous Whistler
White-headed Pigeon Little Bronze-Cuckoo* Little Shrike-thrush
Brown Cuckoo-Dove Brush Cuckoo* Bower's Shrike-thrush
Emerald Dove Eastern Barn Owl Australasian Figbird
Squatter Pigeon Buff-br. Paradise-Kingfisher Olive-backed Oriole
Peaceful Dove Laughing Kookaburra White-breasted Woodswallow
Bar-shouldered Dove Blue-winged Kookaburra Black Butcherbird*
Wompoo Fruit-Dove Forest Kingfisher Australian Magpie
Superb Fruit-Dove Rainbow Bee-eater Spangled Drongo
Pied Imperial-Pigeon Dollarbird Rufous Fantail
Topknot Pigeon Noisy Pitta* Grey Fantail
Australian Swiftlet White-throated Treecreeper* Northern Fantail*
White-throated Needletail Spotted Catbird* Willie Wagtail
Darter Tooth-billed Bowerbird Leaden Flycatcher
Little Pied Cormorant Great Bowerbird Black-faced Monarch
Little Black Cormorant Red-backed Fairy-wren Spectacled Monarch
Black-necked Stork Lovely Fairy-wren Magpie-lark
Great Egret Fernwren Pied Monarch*
Intermediate Egret Yellow-throated Scrubwren Yellow-breasted Boatbill*
White-faced Heron Atherton Scrubwren Victoria's Riflebird*
Little Egret Large-billed Scrubwren Lemon-bellied Flycatcher
Glossy Ibis Brown Gerygone* Pale-yellow Robin
Australian White Ibis Large-billed Gerygone* Grey-headed Robin
Straw-necked Ibis Mountain Thornbill Golden-headed Cisticola
Royal Spoonbill Striated Pardalote Silvereye
Eastern Osprey Eastern Spinebill Welcome Swallow
Black-shouldered Kite Lewin's Honeyeater Fairy Martin
Pacific Baza Yellow-spotted Honeyeater Metallic Starling
Whistling Kite Graceful Honeyeater Common Myna
Black Kite Bridled Honeyeater Mistletoebird
Brown Goshawk Yellow-faced Honeyeater Olive-backed Sunbird
Nankeen Kestrel Yellow Honeyeater Double-barred Finch
Brolga Brown-backed Honeyeater Red-browed Finch
Purple Swamphen Dusky Honeyeater Blue-faced Parrot-Finch
Red-necked Crake Scarlet Honeyeater Chestnut-breasted Mannikin
Buff-banded Rail Brown Honeyeater House Sparrow
Pale-vented Bush-hen* White-throated Honeyeater Australasian Pipit
Bush Stone-curlew Blue-faced Honeyeater

* = Heard

132 Seen + 14 Heard

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