Monday, 9 April 2012

8th April 2012 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Here we are back at the Lodge after a few weeks away in Victoria more about that later.
Whilst we were away we missed most of the rain, 599mm for March. This last week was completely dry with the humidity dropping to an unprecedented 49%! However it still got up to 94%. Temperatures were down to a cool 16ºC and up to a pleasant 27.7ºC

Kath and Dave, who were looking after the Lodge, kept the bird records along with our roaming neighbours Carol and Andrew. We've put these records onto the Eremaea Birds site. It has been a time of change over the last few weeks with some bird species leaving and others arriving. Lewin's Honeyeater and Grey-headed Robin were amongst those that arrived from higher altitudes whilst Brown Gerygone were not recorded and most of the Metallic Starling appear to have headed north, Rainbow Bee-eater had just left Victoria when we arrived and then turned up in Julatten about two weeks later. 
Rainbow Bee-eater

Notable sightings in that period were a Pale-vented Bush-Hen with a chick, a Latham's Snipe out the back of the local nursing home on the edge of a cane paddock and Black-chinned Honeyeater (Golden-backed form). One week had a record number of honeyeaters with 14 seen and one heard.

Birds recorded this week were 94 seen and 8 heard. 18 mammal and reptile species were seen and two frog species heard. 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 Tawny Frogmouth turned up in Geraghty Park roosting 2m off the ground and being harassed by other birds. This is the first of the non red morph we have seen in the area since about 2008.  A female Superb Fruit-Dove was seen high up in the rainforest fringing the orchard and a pair of Black-shouldered Kite were seen carrying nesting material to a nest along McDougalls Road. Black-chinned Honeyeater (Golden-backed form) were also along McDougalls Road.

Other sightings
Still no build up of waterbirds with only a few species in ones and twos, Green Pygmy-goose and Purple Swamphen were probably the pick of what was around along with White-faced Heron and an Eastern Great Egret. Raptor numbers are also down with one Whistling Kite, one White-bellied Sea-Eagle and a Nankeen Kestrel perched in their favourite nest tree. 

Nankeen Kestrel      © K & L Fisher 2012

Red-necked Crake was heard on several occasions but not seen but several pairs of Buff-banded Rail were foraging along the edge of Bushy Creek and the cane paddock. Pale-vented Bush-Hen were heard out the back of our neighbours house calling in the evening. Channel-billed Cuckoo are still around and have been heard calling most mornings. Little Bronze-Cuckoo have been seen in small groups of 3-5 calling and chasing each other. Sooty Owl has been heard but not seen but several Eastern Barn Owl were seen. Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher are still quite vocal with adults calling mainly in the morning and at least one juvenile calling. They should be preparing to head north soon and we suspect some have already left. Blue-winged Kookaburra were spotlighted one evening as they were calling from a tree next to the Eastern Barn Owl daytime roost.

Blue-winged Kookaburra

A few Dollarbird have been seen but not calling and Noisy Pitta has been heard around the orchard area but not seen. Lovely Fairy-wren seem to be resident in a gully behind our neighbours garden being regularly seen here. Large-billed Gerygone were seen feeding a juvenile bird along Bushy Creek and Striated Pardalote were in fine voice calling all week. Another record equalling week for honeyeaters with again 14 seen and 1 heard, Black-chinned Honeyeater was again seen but a little further afield along McDougalls Road. Cicadabird are still calling and occasionally seen but the Grey Whistler are calling but not being seen often. Both Olive-backed and Yellow Oriole were calling and seen, the Yellow Oriole was around the Lodge grounds and has become a more frequent visitor over the last few years. Black Butcherbird has been lurking around in the rainforest for most of the week 

Black Butcherbird

and Northern Fantail has been a regular around the camp ground and across into Geraghty Park. A Willie Wagtail has taken up residence on our veranda! Seems to like dancing on the tables and leaving calling cards. A few Black-faced Monarch are still around but they should be gone soon on their journey north to Papua New Guinea. Pied Monarch was a notable absentee this week with no sightings or calls heard. Yellow-breasted Boatbill was around and seen well. At least one Grey-headed Robin was seen, it was a juvenile. Chestnut-breasted Mannikin were along the edge of Bushy Creek feeding on the grass seed which had just been sprayed by the farmer – hope they survive.

Further Afield:-
Mt. Lewis Road is still accessible and a few 2WD vehicle have gone up which is quite amazing at this time of year. The trip up has been well worth it for several guests who have seen up to 30 Blue-faced Parrot Finches in the area adjacent to the parking spot 10km from Bushy Creek. It is normal to see them at this altitude at this time of year and some sightings have been into May. Not all the finches are on Mt. Lewis as there were seen in the Mowbray National Park along Pinnacle Road in Julatten. 

Blue-faced Parrot-Finch

Other good sightings on Mt. Lewis included a male Golden Bowerbird further along the road from the parking area and at least four family groups of Chowchilla. Whilst there are not many raptors around Julatten a trip to Mareeba produced a Whistling Kite, two Eastern Osprey at a nest on Lake Mitchell, a Brown Falcon, two Nankeen Kestrel and nine Black Kite. Black Kite have been around all year which is unusual as they normally disappear in the wet season, probably to go inland to breed. 

Black Kite

Also on this trip a Dollarbird shot out from some roadside vegetation and was very nearly collected by our car, don't think we have seen one quite so low down. Along Euluma Creek Road in Julatten there were two Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo seen calling and a Large-tailed Nightjar calling early one evening, we did hear one at this location on 16/04/2011, so it is not too unusual.

Reptiles and Mammals:-

Not too much happening with the mammals and reptiles over the week. It took until Saturday night for a Striped Possum to make an appearance and that was in our neighbours garden. A Giant White-tailed Rat has been coming to the feeder but usually after 9.00pm. Only three frog species, Jungguy, Dainty Green Tree Frog and White-lipped Tree Frog were seen and one heard - Cogger's Frog. Two Australian Scrub Python (ex-Amethystine Python) were seen around the Lodge, one was seeking shelter in some tree roots under a tree outside the units after being mobbed by Blue-faced Honeyeater. Boyd's Forest Dragon are still around but becoming less frequent as the weather cools down.

Much Further Afield:-

A trip to Victoria was a welcome break and a chance to see a few new birds and catch up with some species we had forgotten about! We were not totally bird focussed but combined it with a bit of family history research on the Goldfields and some sightseeing. Good also to catch up with the team at Birdlife Australia in Melbourne. However, birding took up most of the time. Keith managed to get up to 651 with 8 new ones and Lindsay 630 with 9 new ones for the Australian list. Best birds were Malleefowl, Blue-winged Parrot, Rufous Bristlebird, Striated Fieldwren, Slender-billed Thornbill, Gilbert's Whistler and Southern Scrub-Robin, probably because they were all lifers! Anyway we did see lots of other good birds including five Hooded Plover on one beach 

Hooded Plover      © K & L Fisher 2012

and shall produce a full trip report when time permits. We did limit ourselves to a few places spending 3 nights at Little Dessert Lodge, The Grampians and The Otways which allowed us to explore these areas without rushing around. It was nice to see the Koalas at The Otways and to see the overseas visitors with big smiles on their faces when they saw one, great ambassadors for our country. 

Koala   © K & L Fisher 2012

On our last day we were privileged to be able to go to see the Helmeted Honeyeater (sub-species of Yellow-tufted Honeyeater) which is critically endangered. There is a dedicated band of volunteers helping others in trying to save this bird from extinction and we went along to observe their weekly monitoring of individual birds who are colour banded. 

Yellow-tufted Honeyeater - Helmeted Honeyeater (sub-species)   © K & L Fisher 2012

Thanks also to John Barkla for his hospitality and showing us around Werribee where we saw 90 species – great to see this amazing place after hearing about it for so long.

Note:- Due to time constraints the blog will become a bi-weekly publication - hope you don't mind! After upgrading to Windows 7 we are trying to get our programs up and running especially the photo ones which refuse to work - hence a few photos which you might have seen before.
All photos © K & L Fisher 2012.

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