Sunday, 17 June 2012

16th June 2012 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

After the last report where we had 281.5mm rain these last two weeks produced 1mm at the beginning of the first week, the rest of the time it was dry cool and sunny – fantastic weather. The top temperature was 22.9ºC with the majority of days below 20ºC and the minimum was 11.9ºC – brrr! The humidity was high up to 95% and down to 73%.
The great weather made birding very pleasant, the week before last 89 species were seen and 3 heard, this last week sightings were 94 seen and 2 heard. Noticeable this last week was an increase in waterbird numbers. Mammal and reptile species were slightly down due to the cooler temperatures – 20 species were seen over the two weeks. The last two weeks bird lists are on the Eremaea Birds Website for Week1 and Week2 plus morning walk lists can also be found at this link on Eremaea Birds

Top spot goes to a pair of Barking Owl which woke us up one morning when two birds were duetting at 2.00am in rainforest around Lodge buildings for about 20 minutes before moving away. They were later seen roosting in a patch of rainforest opposite the Lodge at the end of the second week. This species has become progressively rarer over the last seven years in the area with 10 sightings in 2006, 2 in 2007, none in 2008 and 2009, 3 in 2010 and one in April 2011. 

Barking Owl

A male Satin Flycatcher foraging in Geraghty Park on a morning walk was a close second. The dark iridescent plumage really stood out in the sunlight. There has been a few sightings in the area over the last couple of weeks which are a bit earlier in the year than normal, apart from one record in March 2006. The other three records we have at the Lodge are for November 2006, October 2008 and August 2009. An adult Nankeen Night-Heron has been hanging around Bushy Creek and was seen roosting in the vegetation opposite the Platypus viewing area at the end of the second week. The cooler weather enticed a Pied Currawong to flyover the Lodge one afternoon calling, this is only the forth record since 2005. The others were September 2005, May 2009 and August 2011.

Other sightings:
Magpie Goose returned after being out of the area for a month along with Wandering Whistling-Duck, Australian Wood Duck and Hardhead. An Emerald Dove was foraging in the orchard amongst fallen Mandarins, which Sulphur-crested Cockatoo had wrecked trying to get to the seeds. It was around the tree for over 20 minutes along with honeyeaters who were also feeding on the fruit. 

Emerald Dove
This Bar-shouldered Dove was taking advantage of the sunny conditions exposing its wings to the sun to help get rid of parasites, this behaviour is refereed to as “sunning”. 

Bar-shouldered Dove

Australian Owlet-nightjar was again only heard, this time outside the Lodges units. An adult Black-necked Stork was seen flying over McDougall Road heading in the direction of the local Barramundi farm to join Australian White Ibis and a few Little Black Cormorant. Black-shouldered Kite was still chasing Whistling Kite and an adult White-bellied Sea-Eagle was soaring over the Lodge one afternoon. An adult Nankeen Kestrel was seen peering into its usual nest hollow and then seen a few days later perched in a nearby tree, this maybe an indication that its partner is sitting on eggs. An Australian Hobby was spotlighted one evening on a night walk – this is a first. The bird flew into the Eastern Barn Owl roost tree clutching some prey which looked like a small bat and perched for a few minutes eating it before flying off into the dark. Presumably the same bird was seen nearby whilst we were on a morning walk a few days later preening in the sun for great views. Scaly-breasted Lorikeet were entering a tree hollow high up in a Queensland Blue Gum and looked like they were feeding nestling’s. 

Scaly-breasted Lorikeet

Our Noisy Pitta suddenly became noisy and started calling as well as appearing out of the rainforest for guests to see. The pitta also spent more than 30 minutes foraging around the reception area feeder one morning. Lets hope they stay unlike last year when they disappeared for a few months at the end of May. A Pair of Spotted Catbird have been making raids on the feeder to gather up large doses of banana. Twelve honeyeater species were recorded for each of the past two weeks with Black-chinned (Golden-backed form) and White-cheeked the two most uncommonly seen. Barred Cuckoo-shrike were feeding in a fig tree along McDougall Road along with a few Topknot Pigeon early on the first week. All three whistlers were in and around the Lodge, Golden, Grey and Rufous. Little Shrike-thrush were as active as ever but this one stopped long enough for a photo, for some unknown reason many of our guests have a problem identifying this species – hope this image will help future identification. 

Little Shrike-thrush

Bowers Shrike-thrush are still being seen but there is probably only one or two around the Lodge.

An anguished cry of a White-lipped Tree Frog alerted us to some skulduggery in the rainforest. Upon investigation a pair of adult Black Butcherbird were seen on the forest floor, one flew up into a tree whilst the other one hopped around on the ground looking for the frog which had obviously escaped. It spent the next 10 minutes searching before it spotted the hapless frog sheltering under a rock, it was quickly speared by the butcherbirds large blue bill and carried off. After a few minutes the cry of the poor frog ceased so presumably the butcherbird had its meal.

Plenty of Grey Fantail around the Lodge grounds and Geraghty Park, most are the normal grey migrants but a few have been the resident darker form keasti (Montain Fantail), which are normally at higher altitudes on Mt. Lewis. 

Grey Fantail

Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been calling and showing well around the grounds. Australasian Pipit are showing at the local Barramundi Farm and in a paddock opposite Geraghty Park.

Further Afield:-
A visit from members of the Birdlife Townsville group afforded an opportunity to join them on a boat trip on the Daintree River with Murray Hunt one afternoon. The trip started off with a quick look at the Wonga Beach Barramundi Farm which is viewed from Pinnacle Village Road. Highlights here were Radjah Shelduck and an immature Black-necked Stork, a full list can be found on the Eremaea Birds site. From here we moved onto the Daintree Village and found a juvenile Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove foraging in a fig tree near the boat ramp. Note:- yellow underparts, not white as in Superb Fruit-Dove and yellow around eye extending just beyond the front of the eye.

Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove - immature

We were then ready for a 4.00pm departure on Murray's boat which seats upto 12 people, six of them can be accommodated in the recently installed swivel seats, which makes it comfortable and easier for photographers. Murray's two hour trip did not disappoint and produced many of the river specialities including the most sought after Great-billed Heron which obliged with several excellent views for all to see.

Also a Papuan Frogmouth was roosting only 1.5m above the water level, which would be unusual behaviour in the rainforest. Other birds of interest were Striated Heron which was hiding in the mangrove roots,

Striated Heron

also Azure and Little Kingfisher, Shining Flycatcher 

Shining Flycatcher - female

plus hundreds of Cattle Egret heading down the river to roost. 

Cattle Egret

Apart from birds we did see a couple of Saltwater Crocodiles, one was an adult partially submerged in the river the other was this juvenile draped over a mangrove root.

Saltwater Crocodile - juvenile

A full list can be found here. Murray took over Chris Dahlberg's business and operates as “Daintree Boatman Nature Tours”. He has a variety of tours both on the river and further afield, check out his website here.

The Townsville Birdlife group also had a trip up Mt. Lewis where a couple of family groups of Chowchilla had immatures with them. Also on Mt. Lewis one of our guests reported a female Satin Bowerbird, a species which used to be common on the mountain 15-20 years ago but is rarely seen now. We have several sightings from our guide, Carol Iles, who guides in areas away from the Lodge. Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Varied Sittella and Noisy Friarbird at Abattoir Swamp, White-necked Heron at Mt. Molloy, Possible heard Blue-faced Parrot-Finch near Abattoir Swamp along with a heard Yellow-throated Scrubwren and Bower's Shrike-thrush. Little Lorikeet were heard along McLean Bridge Road in Julatten and White-cheeked Honeyeater were near the Julatten School. Black-breasted Buzzard and Square-tailed Kite were over Bradley Road near Mareeba. You can contact Carol for a days birding in your vehicle on email:-

Reptiles and Mammals:-
A Red-legged Pademelon shot across the orchard one afternoon and Agile Wallaby were around the adjacent cane paddock. Striped Possum was seen around the Lodge grounds in several places but the appearance of one in front of the units made it easy to see for our guests. Six species of frog were seen including two which had been absent for a few months, Roth's and Desert Tree Frog. Our guide, Carol, who lives next door to the Lodge had a couple of Australian Scrub Python around her house, one an adult about 3m and a juvenile one which took up residence coiled up under a flowerpot on her veranda. Unfortunately the floods of a few weeks ago washed a dead fridge down Bushy Creek which become entangled in some vines near our Platypus viewing area. It did not take long before an Eastern Water Dragon perched on it one morning, anyway when the water level drops we will retrieve it.

Other Happenings:-
This year is one for the astronomers with the moon being close to the earth on 6th May and mentioned in our blog for that month with a photo, this time we had a partial eclipse of the moon on 4th June, which had a light covering of cloud across it.

Partial Eclipse Of The Moon

We did not get a photo of Venus passing across the sun a few days after this event. Later in the year, in November we have a total eclipse passing right over Julatten, quite a year.

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