Sunday, 3 June 2012

3rd June 2012 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Well what can we say about the last two weeks weather? In a word - wet! The first week was the wettest with 250mm of which 225mm fell in an 18 hour period causing Bushy Creek to flood our orchard at just over 1½ metres. Nearer the coastal ranges in Julatten 375mm was recorded and this poured into the Rifle Creek catchment causing that to flood which also cut us off from Mt. Molloy for two days. A landslip on the Rex Range road from Mossman on the coast cut us of completely for 1½ days, luckily our stranded guests could stay another night, but other guests couldn't reach us. The campground was a bit wet as this image shows!

Campsite Flooding

For those of you who have walked down Mt. Kooyong Road towards the nursing home this is what it looked like during the flood.

Mt. Kooyong Road Flooding

Last year in May we had 13mm for the month which is more normal. After this excitement the second week has been slightly drier with 31.5mm but cloudy, overcast and cool with top temperatures struggling to get over 20ºC. The maximum over the two weeks was 23ºC and the minimum was 14.9ºC. The total rainfall for the two weeks was 281.5mm and the humidity was high only falling to 74% on one day with the rest in the high 80's and 90's peaking at 97% which was probably 100% with all the rain.

Despite the weather good birds were seen over the last two weeks with the week before last 84 seen and 4 heard, this last week sightings were 97 seen and 6 heard. 25 mammal and reptile species were seen plus one frog heard over the two weeks. The last two weeks bird lists are on the Eremaea Birds Website for Week 1 and Week 2 plus morning walk lists can also be found at this link on Eremaea Birds

A few more returning local migrants appeared with a female Victoria's Riflebird being the best seen feeding in a fruiting palm tree in front of the units, followed by a White-eared Monarch heard calling along Bushy Creek and a Pacific Baza sitting in a tree along Mt. Kooyong Road after being absent for a month.

Other sightings:
The fruiting palm tree that the riflebird was in also attracted a White-headed Pigeon, eight Topknot Pigeon and two Wompoo Fruit-Dove, a nice collection to observe from the units veranda. 

Wompoo Fruit-Dove
A juvenile Black-necked Stork was seen one morning heading towards the Lodge from the Barramundi fish farm where it had been trying to get breakfast. A single Straw-necked Ibis was foraging in Geraghty Park whilst at least 8 Australian White Ibis were hanging around the local Barramundi fish farm. A pair of Whistling Kite have started building a nest and are getting harassed by a Black-shouldered Kite who may also have a nest in the vicinity. Another pair of Black-shouldered Kite are building a nest along McDougall Road. An Agile Wallaby carcass on the Rex Highway opposite Geraghty Park attracted 16 Black Kite, which is a large number for this area. A Nankeen Kestrel was perched on a powerpole one morning and not seen again, they are very infrequently seen at the moment. “Katie” our Buff-banded Rail has continued to call around but not every day, she even found a patch of sunlight in amongst the rain as this image shows.

Buff-banded Rail - "Katie"

A Pale-vented Bush-hen was heard calling from long grass opposite the local Barramundi fish farm which is unusual at this time of year, must have though it was the “Wet Season” after all the rain we have had! Sulphur-crested Cockatoo have turned up in our orchard with some very recently fledged young who make a horrible noise all day begging for food. They have stripped one of our four corner fruit trees and have wrecked a tree of mandarins looking for seeds; the fruit has fallen to the ground and has been eaten by Lewin's, Yellow-spotted and Macleay's Honeyeater. Double-eyed Fig-Parrot have been feasting on a fruiting fig tree along McDougall Road, where our last Blog reported 45 Topknot Pigeon. This indicates that there must be a vast supply of figs to keep the birds fed for at least three weeks. Eastern Barn Owl are still calling well but don't appear to be pairing up yet. Rainbow Bee-eater are out and about catching insects and perching on anything out in the open including the rail around the Geraghty Park oval as this female with its short tail streamer shows.

Rainbow Bee-eater - female
A Noisy Pitta was seen scurrying across the path to the orchard late one afternoon a week and a half ago but has not been heard or seen since. A Great Bowerbird was foraging in a fruiting fig tree which is growing out of a Queensland Blue Gum Tree in Geraghty Park. Also in the fig were many Australian Figbird, as you would expect, plus a Yellow Oriole and both Lewin's and Yellow Honeyeater. Scarlet Honeyeater are still around with the occasional White-cheeked Honeyeater. With all the rain the nectar supply has been washed out of the flowers causing more honeyeaters to come to the feeder, especially Lewin's and Macleay's.

Macleay's and Lewin's Honeyeater

The Golden Whistler which was reported in the last Blog finally showed itself after three weeks of calling when it flew across the camping area. Grey Whistler is still calling in the Lodge grounds and Rufous Whistler are across the road in Geraghty Park calling. A Bower's Shrike-thrush turned up in our neighbours garden, possibly the same one we had in the Lodge grounds a few weeks ago. We are still getting the one Spangled Drongo coming to the feeder for sugar water and banana, it had tolerated other birds feeding at the same time until the end of this week when it's normal aggressive behaviour returned and it chased off the honeyeaters.

Spangled Drongo

Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill are both calling and being seen.

Further Afield:-
The flooding produced ponding in a few paddocks around Julatten, one had over 300 Cattle Egrets, Pacific Black Duck and Little Black Cormorant on and around it. Along the road opposite the flooding were two pairs of Pale-headed Rosella which was quite unusual; we normally see them regularly at Mt. Molloy 10km away. They used to be often found around Geraghty Park up until 2004 but since then we have only had 12 sightings. A Grey Goshawk was at the 10km parking area on Mt. Lewis, an area they have been seen in on a number of occasions. Our guide Carol Iles had a few good species in the area whilst guiding our guests, Sacred Kingfisher at Lake Mitchell and Mt. Carbine, two Spotted Harrier along Euluma Creek Road, Julatten, Tawny Grassbird at edge of Lake Mitchell and nearby Big Mitchell Creek, Spotted Pardalote at Wessel Road near Abattoir Swamp and many at Station Creek on the way north to Mt. Carbine and a grey phase Oriental Cuckoo just off Euluma Creek Road. All these sightings are of uncommon or not often recorded species in our area. Carol also saw a Rufous Songlark on a fence near Daintree Village. Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours also had a Spotted Harrier but this one was at Maryfarms, better known for their Australian Bustard population (north of Mt. Molloy).

Spotted Harrier

Del also had an unusually large number of Masked Lapwing near Cooya Beach on the coast when he recorded 106 but says there could have been more that he missed. The largest flocks of this species recorded are between 500-750, which would be a spectacular sight.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
Sightings were restricted due to the wet weather and a few cancelled night walks but despite this we did see many good animals. Another Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko was seen in the orchard on a fruit tree about 1m off the ground, this follows the sighting mentioned in the last blog. Striped Possum was seen on a nightwalk heading down a dead tree trunk before it retreated into a hollow it had created just showing its rear legs and long tail sticking out. Another was seen walking along the powerlines at the edge of Mt. Kooyong Road. Four Green Ringtail Possum were seen one night and none for the following couple of nights. 

Green Ringtail Possum
Bats have been taking shelter from the rain with both Little Bentwing and Northern Broad-nosed under eaves around the Lodge buildings. The frogs like the wet weather but have been heard more than seen; Jungguy Frog, White-lipped tree Frog, Dainty Green Tree Frog and Cogger's Frog have been the most common with the odd Northern Dwarf Tree Frog and Roth's. Striped Marsh Frog have only been heard. Only one Boyd's Forest Dragon seems to be active at the moment coming in to snatch some banana from the feeder. Our neighbours have had an Australian Scrub Python (Amethystine) around their house.

Other Wildlife:-
A Velvet Worm, also know as Walking Worm or Peripatus, was found on Mt. Lewis. These invertibrates are long-bodied, approximately 1.5-15cm long and have between 14-43 pairs of "legs" known as lobopods. If you want to find out more about these unusual and interesting creatures check out this web page.

Velvet Worm

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