Sunday, 5 February 2012

Birdwatchers Lodge in Far North Queensland 5th February 2012

Quick update on knee – walking around normally now and have OK from specialist but have to reassess how it is going in three months for any further work on it.

Meanwhile we had 24mm of rain and big winds at the end of the week causing a tree to fall onto our bedroom roof, little damage and tree now sawn up into logs! The minimum temperatures were much the same as last week down to 22.9ºc but the maximum was a few degrees warmer at 32.1ºc , humidity was down to 66% and up to 95%.

Birds recorded were less, due to the inclement weather and restricted walking distance at the beginning of the week, with only 87 seen and 12 heard. 18 mammal and reptile species were seen and three (frogs) heard which was a lower than normal number due to no night walks. 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 small group of seven Cattle Egret returned and were found foraging in a paddock along McDougall Road, they had been absent for five weeks. Red-necked Crake parents are still looking after their three juvenile offspring and have been seen several times, heading across roads and bathing.

Other sightings:
Waterbirds are still scarce in the area with only Pacific Black Duck, Little and Little Black Cormorant plus Intermediate and Cattle Egret seen early in the week but right at the end Magpie Goose, Wandering Whistling-Duck, Hardhead and a Comb-crested Jacana turned up. Wompoo and Superb Fruit-Dove were only heard whilst only one Pied Imperial Pigeon was reported along with at least 50 Topknot Pigeon sitting high up in a Blue Quondong tree. 

Topknot Pigeon

Our female Papuan Frogmouth was only found once roosting in the orchard on the edge of the rainforest. Three raptors were seen, Black-shouldered Kite, White-bellied Sea-Eagle and Whistling Kite. A lone Buff-banded Rail was foraging on the lawn out the front of the nearby Barramundi Farm and two Pale-vented Bush-hen were in our neighbours garden. A few Scaly-breasted Lorikeet were feeding on flowering Queensland Blue Gum in Geraghty Park and two Double-eyed Fig-Parrot flew over the Lodge grounds. A single Channel-billed Cuckoo was perched in a tree along Mt. Kooyong Road and probably contemplating the trip north to Papuan New Guinea/Indonesia which should be taking place very soon. Sooty Owl and Eastern Barn Owl were only heard due again to no spotlighting. Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher now have seven confirmed nests with another two unsure but still with birds in the vicinity of nest mounds. A few Rainbow Bee-Eater have been foraging in Geraghty Park and a very recently fledged Dollarbird was perched in the Lodge grounds looking very bewildered, wondering what to do next. One Noisy Pitta was seen in the orchard and heard calling on two other occasions but no sign of any juveniles. There was a reported 1.5m Red-bellied Black Snake in the vicinity of the nest, lets hope it did not predate the chicks. Red-backed Fairy-wren were along McDougall Road and Lovely Fairy-wren were in our neighbours garden. 

Red-backed Fairy-wren - male

Large-billed Gerygone were again at their nest over Bushy Creek at the beginning of the week but not seen there towards the end, so we are not sure how the chicks have fared. Nine species of honeyeater were seen and one, Scarlet, heard. Macleay's and Blue-faced Honeyeater along with Graceful and Yellow-spotted Honeyeater are all now regulars at the feeder by reception. Barred Cuckoo-shrike were around at the end of the week and a pair of Cicadabird were foraging in Geraghty Park and calling around the Lodge. 

Cicadabird - female

Spangled Drongo continue to have their offspring following them around and a Willie Wagtail was foraging in the orchard, something they have not been doing for several months. Leaden Flycatcher have been calling around the grounds as have Black-faced Monarch. The Spectacled Monarch nest beside Bushy Creek, mentioned last week, had two chicks being fed by the adults on Saturday morning but by the afternoon they had fledged and were being fed near the nest. 
Magpie-lark in Geraghty Park were still sitting on a nest, this female was perched nearby as the male sat. 

Magpie-lark - female

Pied Monarch have a very recently fledged juvenile following them around and it was on hand to get its photo taken. This is the youngest Pied Monarch that we have found and a plumage stage that is little reported. 

Pied Monarch - juvenile

Several Lemon-bellied Flycatcher were on the edge of the Lodge grounds along Mt. Kooyong Road foraging in a Queensland Blue Gum; not too many around at the moment. The Metallic Starling colony in Geraghty Park lost 5-6 nests due to the high winds with at least two containing chicks. One nest had two chicks in and was upside down, we turned it over with the entrance hole upright and out popped two chicks who were almost ready to fledge. They flapped off along the ground and the parents came down to feed them. Our Olive-backed Sunbird is still sitting on its nest with the chicks near fledging, the location is quite safe from predators hanging off the safety chain in the gas bottle compound.

Olive-backed Sunbird nest

Further Afield:-
Still a surprising number of Black Kite along the road from Mt. Molloy to Mareeba. An unfortunate juvenile Pacific Baza was picked up dead along Euluma Creek Road in Julatten. It had a broken neck and will be lodged with the Queensland Museum in Townsville. A report of a nesting Satin Flycatcher in Mareeba has to be confirmed, if it is one then this will be a significant breeding record this far north in Australia.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
Highlight for the week was the previously mentioned Red-bellied Black Snake which was on the path to the orchard before it shot off into the rainforest at 100kph! We rarely see this snake around the grounds. Yellow-footed Antichinus was around again this week raiding the Mango on the feeder and running along the veranda outside the units. Giant White-tailed Rat was at the feeder late in the week and Striped Possum was seen in our neighbours garden. Bandicoot numbers seem to have decreased with only one Long-nosed and a couple of Northern Brown Bandicoot seen. 

Long-nosed Bandicoot

No Platypus sightings this week in Bushy Creek, probable due to the fast flowing murky water making observing difficult. A few small Major Skink were around but no sign of the larger adults. 

Major Skink - immature

There were however several Eastern Water Dragon lounging around on a few fallen logs, no doubt resting after too much celebrating for the Chinese New Year of the Dragon!

Eastern Water Dragon

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