Sunday, 4 March 2012

Birdwatchers Lodge in Far North Queensland, Australia.

Well we had 208.5mm of rain this week and it was not even as a result of the Monsoonal Trough, which is still north of us hovering over Papua New Guinea and the top of Cape York Peninsula. Our rain came from the south-east and headed our way from off shore. It did flood the road to Mount Molloy for a day and flooded access to our water pump beside Bushy Creek. The overcast days kept the temperatures to a maximum 28.1ºc and the minimum up slightly on the previous week to a low of 22.3ºc.

The wet weather allowed fewer bird watching opportunities hence the lower than normal species number of 83 seen and 9 heard. 26 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

An Eastern Spinebill turned up in one of our Grevillea's along Mt. Kooyong Road which is an unusual event. They are normally found up on Mt. Lewis more often than down around the Lodge. At last our Papuan Frogmouth was back in a Mango Tree in the orchard, roosting during the day, will she stay around? Red-necked Crake are still around with their 3 juveniles and calling infrequently.

Other sightings:
Orange-footed Scrubfowl have been active scrapping up debris and moving it across the road to the reception and onto their mound beside the road. Most of the debris has ended up on the road! This one was having a break from nest building duties to sit out in the sun in front of the cookshed.

Orange-footed Scrubfowl

The wet weather sent the waterbirds in all directions with few in the wetlands along McDougall Road. A few Magpie Goose were found perched in a tree with several Little Black Cormorant and an Intermediate Egret. Superb Fruit-Dove were heard but both Pied Imperial and Topknot Pigeon were seen. These Pied Imperial Pigeon were perched high in a Blue Quondong tree.

Pied Imperial Pigeon
A few Cattle Egret still in breeding plumage were accompanying cattle in a paddock along McDougall Road. Raptors were again absent with only one Whistling Kite seen and White-bellied Sea-Eagle heard. Pale-vented Bush-hen were again see in in the gully behind our neighbours house and heard calling from several other areas around the Lodge. Three Bush Stone-curlew were resting up for the day under some trees near the local nursing home and a pair of Double-eyed Fig-Parrot were seen flying over in the same area.

Bush Stone-curlew

Channel-billed Cuckoo are still around but less than five seen and heard. Other cuckoos around were Little (Gould's) Bronze-Cuckoo and Brush Cuckoo. Eastern Barn Owl were again in Geraghty Park but no records of Sooty Owl this week. Still one Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher nest with chicks in but juveniles from other nests are growing fast and calling for food all day long. The parent birds are very obvious as they search for food, surprisingly some are still in very good condition with long straight tail streamers at a time when they are unusually damaged or bent from going in and out of the nest chamber for at least 6 weeks. Noisy Pitta was heard but not seen but Spotted Catbird have been seen. Red-backed Fairy-wren were again along McDougall Road while Lovely Fairy-wren were in our neighbours garden near Bushy Creek. Twelve honeyeater species for the week including the previously mentioned Eastern Spinebill and several views of the spectacular Scarlet Honeyeater. This Graceful Honeyeater was sitting on the ground for no apparent reason; it soon moved and flew up when approached.

Graceful Honeyeater

A pair of Cicadabird were on the edge of the orchard late on Saturday afternoon flying around and calling as they enjoyed the sunny conditions.

Cicadabird - male

Black Butcherbird have been around in the rainforest and a pair of Willie Wagtail were taking advantage of the newly mowed orchard to search for insects. Black-faced Monarch are still calling and spending most of their time foraging in the rainforest canopy unlike the Spectacled Monarch who are foraging down to ground level. A pair of Pied Monarch were bathing in Bushy Creek early in the week before it flooded and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been very active and calling a lot in the rainforest. Lemon-bellied Flycatcher have been calling also and foraging in and around the Queensland Blue Gum in Geraghty Park and the edge of the Lodge grounds. Metallic Starling are still with us but numbers are still dwindling as some head north to Papua New Guinea.

Further Afield:-
Wet weather has caused the temporary closure of the Mt. Lewis road (beyond the gate). This will not effect our guests as this part of the road is a permit only area and they only need to go to the clearing at the 10km mark, the gate is a few hundred metres beyond here. The area around the clearing and the walk to the miners dam has been producing many of the higher altitude endemic species such as Fernwren, Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Macleay's Honeyeater, Bridled Honeyeater, Grey-headed Robin, Chowchilla, Bower's Shrike-thrush, Victoria's Riflebird, Tooth-billed Bowerbird and a female Golden Bowerbird plus Blue-faced Parrot-Finch at the clearing.

Blue-faced Parrot-Finch

Also on Mt. Lewis was Rufous and Grey Fantail plus sub-species Keasti. With the rain of the last week this part of the road may well become impassable as well but in any case four-wheel drive will be required. The small wetland at Brady Road, Mareeba had quite a few waterbirds plus juvenile White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike and Dollarbird. Also here was a displaying Horsfield's Bushlark which was high above the wetland. There are still plenty of Black Kite along the road from Mount Molloy to Mareeba, which is still surprising as normally most of them have gone inland however quite a lot of the inland is also very wet.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
The wet weather has certainly enticed a few more reptiles and mammals to come out of hiding with 26 seen this week which is more than we have had for most of the year. A nice 2.5m Australian Scrub Python (used to be called Amethystine Python) was crossing the road near our two bedroom units and a Brown Tree Snake was found by the birds coiled up on a callistemon outside the cookshed. A Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko was found during a nightwalk early in the week; the first for several months. Five frog species were found plus cane toads which were collected for disposal, humanely. Striped Possum were seen on three occasions which was the best sightings around the Lodge grounds for over a month. Fawn-footed Melomys, Yellow-footed Antichinus, Bush Rat, Giant White-tailed Rat and Northern Brown Bandicoot were all visitors to the seed feeder near the reception area in the evening. This is a Fawn-footed Melomys at the feeder, they look very cute but don't be fooled, as they love getting into vehicles and chewing the plastic wiring and hose pipes!

Fawn-footed Melomys

Must have been a good week for pythons as we found two more on a property along Euluma Creek Road, one was at least 3m long and quite thick the other one which was nearby was only about 2m and quite thin, great to see them around.

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