Sunday, 20 May 2012

20th May 2012 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

8.5mm of rain fell over the last two weeks on 5 rain days. Most of the other days were either sunny and very pleasant or cool and overcast. The minimum temperature was down to 15.2ºc and the maximum only up to 23.7ºc. The humidity was quite high and varied between 72% and 95%.

Bird species were for the week before last were 100 seen and 3 heard, this last week sightings were 86 seen and 9 heard. 20 mammal and reptile species were seen. The last two weeks bird lists are on the Eremaea Birds & Eremaea Birds website and morning walk lists can also be found at this link on Eremaea Birds

The highlight for the last two weeks has to be the return of “Katie” our Buff-banded Rail after being away since Christmas. Those of you who don't know, Katie was one of two Buff-banded Rail chicks raised by our neighbours Carol and Andrew Iles (well known bird guides). Katie took up residence in the Lodge grounds and was very good at cleaning rooms of insects as well as cleaning out a few guests caravans, she was very popular but occasional blotted her copybook by pecking a few guests. Hope she has matured and now behaves herself. She turned up this past week knocking on the kitchen door for some free handouts and as a thank you she cleaned up a few rooms, the office and reception area of insects! Great to have her back after running off with her boyfriend five months ago. Nice to know what she was doing; we were rather hoping she would be back with a few little Katies but not to be. 

Buff-banded Rail - Katie

Lowlight was the last of our Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher who departed on the night of 7th May to head north to Papua New Guinea, this is the latest departure we have recorded at the Lodge.

Apart from Katie their has been a few more highlights: First returning birds for the season were, an Oriental Cuckoo photographed by one of our guests perched on a fence post along Mt. Kooyong Road, a male Cotton Pygmy-goose on a lagoon along McDougall Road which was only present for one day, an Australian Reed-Warbler heard in the adjacent cane field along Bushy Creek, Golden Whistler calling in the Lodge grounds after an absence of two years – they migrate altitudinally from the mountains behind the Lodge as does the occasional Bowers Shrike-thrush we saw this week pouncing onto the ground to grab a large grasshopper in the camping area. Another migrant turned up in our neighbours garden, two Satin Bowerbird.

Other sightings:

A few waterbirds were found in the lagoons along McDougall Road, these included Magpie Goose, Wandering Whistling-Duck, Pacific Black Duck, Hardhead, Australasian Grebe, Australasian Darter, Little and Pied Cormorant and White-faced Heron but as in previous weeks they are in low numbers and moving around the area. Pigeons have been quiet with only Topknot Pigeon seen over the last two weeks when up to 45 birds were seen foraging in a fig tree along McDougall Road. Still no sign of any Papuan Frogmouth around the area but we did hear Australian Owlet-nightjar calling in the Lodge grounds on several occasions. Raptors have again been around but infrequently; those recorded were Black-shouldered Kite, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Whistling, Brahminy and Black Kite, Grey Goshawk and Brown Falcon.

White-bellied Sea-Eagle
Bush Stone-curlew have been seen regularly roosting near the local nursing home (shown below) and Masked Lapwing have been gathering in small groups of up to 16 birds. 

Bush Stone-curlew

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo have been getting stuck into some of the fruit in our orchard and our neighbours garden. They have been into the Grapefruit’s, destroying the flesh to get at the seeds also some of the mandarins have gone the same way.This one decided to investigate a tree hollow and got a surprise as it contained an Eastern Barn Owl and it's letting the owl know what it thinks of it!

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Little (Goulds) Bronze-Cuckoo have been the most common cuckoo around with one sighting of a Pheasant Coucal and a Brush Cuckoo. Little Kingfisher was seen in the previous week but not this week however Azure Kingfisher has been seen regularly in and around Bushy Creek and the Crake Pool. Blue-winged Kookaburra have been vocal and flying around Geraghty Park and Laughing Kookaburra numbers are the highest we can remember (which is not very long!). 

Laughing Kookaburra

Noisy Pitta are still with us, calling but not being seen – not enough effort being put in to find them! Spotted Catbird are putting in infrequent visits to the feeder to grab some banana and a Great Bowerbird was feeding on palm seeds at the rear of the Lodge. Lovely Fairy-wren continue to be heard and seen in our neighbours garden, usually late afternoon. Brown Gerygone have ventured into the rainforest adjacent to the orchard and Fairy Gerygone have started calling and chasing each other. Twelve species of honeyeater were seen and one, Black-chinned heard. Of these the Scarlet is the most spectacular but tends to stay high in the eucalypt trees for tantalising glimpses. Little Shrike-thrush have been as active as ever, this one was foraging on the ground and grabbed a moth. 

Little Shrike-thrush

Black Butcherbird has been around lurking in the rainforest but only heard. A Spangled Drongo has started to visit our feeder by the reception and is probably the same one we have had visiting for the last few years. Rufous and Grey Fantail along with the Northern Fantail have been regularly sighted around the Lodge grounds as have Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill. Lemon-bellied Flycatcher were foraging across the Rex Highway opposite Geraghty Park about a metre above the ground which is unusual as they are normally high up in the trees and sallying forth to catch insects high up. A few juvenile Metallic Starling are still around which is late in the season up here. They maybe found on the coast between Cairns and Port Douglas all year around. Olive-backed Sunbird have been busy foraging and checking out old and new nest sites.

Olive-backed Sunbird - male

Large flocks (200+) of Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, mainly immatures, are still around which indicates a good breeding season.

Chestnut-breasted Mannikin - juveniles

Further Afield:-
22 Sarus Cranes were seen at Gallows Farm on the road from Atherton to Malanda on the Atherton Tableland. A Black-breasted Buzzard was a good sighting at Maryfarms north of Mt. Carbine as they are very uncommon in our area. Also at this location were seven Brolga soaring overhead. Both the Maryfarms sightings were made whilst our neighbour Carol was guiding our guests. Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours reported a female Satin Flycatcher in Julatten and a Red-backed Kingfisher at the bottom of the Rex Range between Julatten and Mossman, both species are migrants to our area. Mt. Lewis is as good as usual with a (Lesser) Sooty Owl seen on a night spotlighting tour. During the day most of the Wet Tropic endemics have been seen including a female or immature Golden Bowerbird, Fernwren and Atherton Scrubwren. Blue-faced Parrot-Finch have not been seen on Mt. Lewis for several weeks now and have not turned up in areas they appear in at lower altitudes as their food source has not started seeding yet. There has been reports of them in the Gurka Road area on the Atherton Tableland at the back of Mt.Bellinden Ker.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
A Carpet Python was a visitor to our neighbours house and stayed around for at least 10 days, this is a species we have not recorded in the Lodge grounds in the seven years we have been here. A 2.5m Australian Scrub Python (formerly Amethystine Python) was spotted slowly making its way across the path to our storage shed before disappearing into an old rock pile in the rainforest. A Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko was spotlighted low down on a tree around the orchard one night and Boyd's Forest Dragon sightings have become less frequent over the last two weeks. This gecko is in typical head down pose and very well camouflaged. 

Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko

A Green Ringtail Possum was seen for the first time in more than a month before four were seen on another night, this was followed by none on the following night – that's spotlighting for you. Meanwhile Striped Possum have been seen a few times and one was calling all night on one occasion. A Yellow-footed Antichinus (small placental mammal) has been active during the day coming to the feeder for banana and making an appearance on the reception counter before being chased out! With the drier weather frogs have retreated and apart from White-lipped Green Tree Frog not been seen over the last week and the previous week only turned up one Jungguy Frog.

Other Happenings:
Bird photography has become a major interest with birdos and non-birdos alike; you definitely don't need to be fashion conscience, photographers shall remain nameless!

Photographers Fashion

On the 6th May the moon was the closest it had been to the earth for 20 years and luckily it was a clear night so we could view the moon and take a few images of it. Hope it is this clear when we have the total eclipse in mid-November this year.


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