Sunday, 22 April 2012

22nd April 2012 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

75.5mm of rain fell over the last two weeks on six days, in between the rain were some great sunny and very pleasant days. The minimum temperature was down to 18.8ºc and the maximum up at 26.6ºc. The humidity varied between 66% and 96%.

Bird species were for the week before last 94 seen and 9 heard, this week 85 seen and 5 heard. 18 mammal and reptile species were seen including six frog species over two weeks. The last two weeks bird lists are on the Eremaea Birds website and morning walk lists can also be found at this link on Eremaea Birds

Over the last two weeks an unusual visitor was seen on the Lodge grounds, a Pallid Cuckoo, this was the first sighting since May 2011 and only the third in seven years. A Magpie Goose was sitting on a nest on one of the McDougall Road swamps and an Australasian Grebe made an appearance at the Barramundi Gardens fish farm.

Other sightings:
Brown Cuckoo-Dove have returned to be regularly seen in the orchard and both Wompoo Fruit-Dove plus Superb Fruit-Dove were heard but not seen around the Lodge. A flock of at least 20+ Topknot Pigeon were flying over the nearby nursing home one morning after being absent for a few weeks. A Black-necked Stork was seen flying over McDougall Road one afternoon and Cattle Egret numbers have been increasing each week with just about every paddock with cattle in having at least one individual by its side. Raptor sightings have been slow but some species are returning with the regulars Whistling Kite, Black Kite and White-bellied Sea-Eagle being joined by a Brown and a Grey Goshawk, a pair of Australian Hobby and two Black-shouldered Kite. 

Black-shouldered Kite

Red-necked Crake have been calling intermittently in the evenings at dusk but not seen however Pale-vented Bush-hen have been seen in our neighbours backyard. A pair of Double-eyed Fig-Parrot were foraging in a flowering eucalypt in Geraghty Park one morning along with many Rainbow and Scaly-breasted Lorikeet. A juvenile Pheasant Coucal was on the ground alongside the cane paddock whilst we were out on a morning walk and at least two Channel-billed Cuckoo were seen flying over the adjacent cane paddock; this is getting late in the season for them to be still with us. Eastern Barn Owl are being seen and calling well at the moment unlike Sooty Owl who are not calling. An Azure Kingfisher has been around the edge of our orchard in the rainforest foraging in wet season ponding whilst fewer Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher are around with sightings of three or four individuals. Blue-winged Kookaburra have become noisier than normal and were spotlighted one evening perched in Geraghty Park calling in the dark. Rainbow Bee-eater are around in small flocks but Dollarbird have nearly all left apart from one or two juveniles being sighted in the area. 

Dollarbird - juvenile

Noisy Pitta continue to be noisy, calling mainly in the morning and evening with the occasional squawk during the day but proving elusive with no sightings. A Great Bowerbird showed up in our neighbours garden one day much to their surprise as they don't normally venture this far along Mt. Kooyong Road but the Lovely Fairy-wren do and have been seen in their garden regularly, usually late afternoon.

Striated Pardalote were seen on a morning walk behaving in an unusual manner. Four birds were foraging on the ground in a drain at the side of the road along with a Lemon-bellied Flycatcher who was on the road and a party of Silvereye. Pardalotes and the flycatcher are normally high up in the trees foraging so being low down was a great opportunity to get great views of them. We looked to see if they were foraging on anything but could not find any obvious food item.

Honeyeaters have been good over the last few weeks with at least 14 species being seen, this is due mainly to the flowering eucalypts in Geraghty Park attracting some of the less frequent visitors such as Bridled Honeyeater, White-cheeked Honeyeater and Noisy Friarbird. A rare opportunity arouse to take a few images of this White-throated Honeyeater who came down from the tops of the eucalypts to get some nectar from this grevillea at eye level. 

White-throated Honeyeater

Also in the same grevillea, a White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike was seen to eat part of the flower.

White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike

Cicadabird are still calling but hard to see however Grey Whistler have become easier to see as they are calling well, mainly in the morning. Yellow Oriole which is an infrequent visitor from the coast have been around for a few weeks but only one or two birds, however the more normal oriole species here which is the Olive-backed have become more scarce with only a juvenile bird being seen. Rufous Fantail numbers have increased and a few Northern Fantail are continuing to hang around in and around the rainforest whereas they should be out in the open woodland! The odd Leaden Flycatcher and Black-faced Monarch are still around the area although they have not been seen in the Lodge grounds. Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been heard and seen regularly. Grey-headed Robin are calling well in the rainforest but have been difficult to observe on occasions. Metallic Starling have been flying around in flocks of up to 40+ birds with about two thirds of them juveniles. A male Red-browed Finch was seen displaying with a feather in its mouth hopping around on the ground trying to impress a mate, other red-brow's have been observed building several nests around the Lodge grounds and Geraghty Park.

Red-browed Finch

Further Afield:-
Of note was a Spotted Pardalote photographed by one of our guests at Maryfarms, north of Mt. Molloy on the way to Mt. Carbine in dry open woodland. In our region this species is usually found in wetter open eucalypt forests at higher altitudes on the Atherton Tableland further south from this sighting.

Mt Lewis has been good over the last few weeks with most of the endemics being seen; Fernwren, Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Bridled Honeyeater, Grey-headed Robin, Chowchilla, Bower's Shrike-thrush, Pied Monarch, Victoria's Riflebird, Tooth-billed Bowerbird and a couple of male Golden Bowerbird sightings. Macleay's Honeyeater was the only one of the endemics not seen on the mountain but you don't have to go there to see them as we have them all over the Lodge grounds! 

Macleay's Honeyeater

Other interesting birds reported on Mt. Lewis included Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Barred Cuckoo-shrike, Blue-faced Parrot-Finch and unusually a Yellow-faced Honeyeater, a species usually found at lower altitudes here.

On Monday 6th April six White-throated Needletail were seen heading north over Mt. Molloy late afternoon. Also in Mt. Molloy six Grey-crowned Babbler were seen squeezing into a night-time roost (they build their own roosts which some people mistake for nests) after being harassed by Blue-faced Honeyeater .

Not a local but we thought you might like to enjoy this Mallefowl we saw on our recent trip to Victoria.


Reptiles and Mammals:-
The best sighting over the last two weeks was a Feather-tail Glider in a Coconut Palm (the only one in the Lodge grounds), it was briefly seen disappearing into one of the fronds stems. Both Striped and Green Ringtail Possum have been hard to find unlike the Boyd's Forest Dragon with at least four individuals seen. This one has been brave enough to come to the feeder for banana and avoid the attentions of the Macleay's Honeyeater.

Boyd's Forest Dragon - at the dinner table!

Frogs have been calling but not showing well but we have managed to see six species plus heard Striped Marsh Frog. Our next door neighbour, Carol (our local bird guide), had an interesting observation when she saw a Water Rat dead on the Mt. Lewis Road about eight kilometres up from Bushy Creek. It was complete with no obvious marks on it, no idea how it got there.

Other Wildlife:-
A female Hercules Moth was found roosting during the day on a vine next to a tree trunk in the camping ground one morning. It was only discovered because the birds were going crazy, squarking and giving alarm calls which alerted us. This species of moth has round markings on its wings which look like eyes and probably fooled the birds into thinking it was something a bit more sinister! As usual the Pale Yellow Robin was orchestrating the harassing with Yellow-spottted Honeyeater and Large-billed Scrubwren amongst the other birds joining in. The noise went on for more than 30 minutes before they all gave up and left the moth in piece. Just in case you have forgotten what fungi looks like here is a reminder!

Fungi sp.

What Else Has Been Happening:-
We had a visit from three journalists this week as part of a promotion for Bird Trails Tropical Queensland and a new App. which you can download for free and put onto your Iphone, iPod touch and long as you have iOS 3.2 or later installed.

As the blurb says “Get your hands on the latest information, bird descriptions, GPS enabled directions to the regions’ bird sites, recommended birding lodges, local birding tour guides, cruises and tours. You will also find locations, images and calls of many of the regions birds, including the 12 endemics.

The app has been developed to assist you to travel through the Tropical North Queensland region from South of Townsville through the Cairns, Daintree and Atherton Tablelands (Cairns Highlands) regions. It will guide you to the best birding locations, the nearest sites where your targeted species can be found and a host of bird specialist accommodation and tours.”

Members of our Birding Cluster (local bird specialist accommodations, bird guides and bird tour operators) hosted the journalists, Ed who writes for the Australian Birdlife magazine, Mike from the UK who is Assistant Editor of Bird Watching magazine and Hugh from the USA who is Science Editor at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and is writing for Cornell's quarterly magazine Living Bird. They had a great time visiting us all, in Kuranda, Daintree Village, Julatten, Mt. Molloy, Mareeba and the Atherton Tableland, to be shown that our region is the best birdwatching destination in Australia.

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