Monday, 12 March 2012

Birdwatchers Lodge in Far North Queensland, Australia.

The blog is running slightly later this week due to computer problems – failure to load Windows XP and changing operating system over to Windows 7 which is very time consuming. On top of all this our network decided it did not like the new router and would not log onto the guest network for more than 10 seconds! Even a local IT specialist could not get what is normally a simple set up (even we've done them in the past) so at the moment we do not have Wi-Fi for guests, only the guest computer in the library. Also we are going away for a holiday! Just over two weeks in Victoria, birding and family history. Our friends Kath & Dave from Cooktown will be looking after the Lodge which is something they have done before. So no regular blog for a few weeks. Anyway onto this weeks happenings.

36mm of rain fell during the week 0.5 fell at the beginning of the week and 35.5mm fell on the last two days, in between it was dry, overcast and sunny. The minimum temperature was down to 21.4ºc and the maximum up at 30.4ºc. The humidity varied between 70% and 96%.

Bird species were hiding this week with only 85 seen and 11 heard. 18 mammal and reptile species were seen and three frog species heard. The weeks bird list is on the EremaeaBirds website and morning walk lists can also be found at this link on Eremaea Birds

The return of Bridled Honeyeater from higher ground up on the mountains with around 40 foraging in flowering eucalypts along McDougall Road, also along here was White-checked Honeyeater, another species we have not seen for several months. 

Bridled Honeyeater

Another returnee in the same location was a Northern Fantail. Rufous Fantail was again seen in the orchard for a second week and maybe the first of the returning bird who also come down off the mountains along with a few southern migrants.

Other sightings:
Pied Imperial and Topknot Pigeon are still around with up to 50 Topknots. Cattle Egret numbers are building up with many flying over the Lodge on their way to shepherd the local cattle. Four raptors around over the week, Black-shouldered Kite, pair of White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Whistling and Black Kite. Red-necked Crake have quietened down and were only seen once moving through the rainforest, did not see the juveniles. Scaly-breasted Lorikeet returned in good numbers as more trees have started to flower and Double-eyed Fig-Parrot have been flying over. Eastern Koel have become vocal and Channel-billed Cuckoo have been flying over but only still one or two. We have not seen the larger groups gathering, as in past years, before they head north. (Lesser) Sooty Owl was heard calling in the Lodge grounds twice during the night but no opportunities to track it down at a reasonable time. Eastern Barn Owl however were again around Geraghty Park but only one pair not the usual two pairs we normally see. 

Eastern Barn Owl

Azure Kingfisher has been zipping up and down Bushy Creek and through the rainforest. Noisy Pitta was only heard but more snail shells were found near it's “anvil”, a flat stone used the smash the shells against. Spotted Catbird have also gone quiet but have been feeding on berries from a vine behind the units which is better than stealing baby birds. 13 honeyeater species which is the best for a while; plenty of flowering trees. Interestingly a Macleay's Honeyeater was seen on the edge of the orchard rainforest and cane field with a band on its leg. We used to have one around the feeder for several years which was banded but this one disappeared about 18 months ago and was the only one that had been banded in the vicinity of the Lodge, maybe this was the same one as nobody has been banding around here for at least 7-8 years. Cicadabird are still around and calling as are Grey Whistler who have intensified their calling but they are keeping out of sight. Black-faced Monarch are still around and both Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been showing. 

Yellow-breasted Boatbill
Lemon-bellied Flycatcher have been hanging around the eucalypts on the edge of the Lodge grounds and coming down quite low.

Lemon-bellied Flycatcher

Metallic Starling numbers are still declining and Mistletoebird was seen in the orchard with a recently fledged juvenile.

Further Afield:-
A quick look at the Brady Road lagoon north of Mareeba turned up plenty of Magpie Goose, 50+ Plumed Whistling-Duck, a couple of Pacific Black Duck, one Australasian Grebe, one Little Black Cormorant, two Little Egret and Australian Hobby who was busy putting up the Magpie Goose and two Black-fronted Dotterel. There was also a crakey thing in the grass but not sure which one it was.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
Striped Possum were seen several times and heard growling and Fawn-footed Melomys, Yellow-footed Antichinus plus Northern Brown Bandicoot were at the seed feeder.

Yellow-footed Antichinus

Frogs were not very active, White-lipped Tree Frog decided to camp in our downstairs toilet block and Dainty Green Tree Frog fired up one night all calling in unison. A Brown Tree Snake decided to investigate our neighbour upstairs front room of their house but was persuaded to leave by a big stick!

Other Wildlife:-
This female Hercules Moth was found on the ground in the orchard and rescued. It was put in a place out of the way where all the guests could look at it. This moth is one of the largest moths in the world with a wing area of up to 14,000 square mm and are mainly found in the rainforest during the wet season. They fly like clumsy bats as we found out one night so time ago when we spotlighted one thinking it was a bat until it landed at our feet. They are not often seen with only one or two sightings in a year.

Hercules Moth - female

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