Monday, 30 July 2012

29th July 2012 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

The first week had 3 rain days amounting to 11mm, which was just enough to keep the ground soft, the second week was dry with sunshine and a little cloud cover. The top temperature was a pleasant 22.1ºC and the minimum was 13.1ºC. The humidity was high up to 97% and down to 71%.

Bird sightings for the first week were 96 seen plus 3 heard. The second week had slightly more sightings due mainly to the great weather but also more birds calling, 105 seen plus 5 heard. Mammal and reptile species were slightly more than the last two weeks – 23 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

Birding Highlights:
The return of Metallic Starling to their nest tree in Geraghty Park on the 27th July, one day later than last year. Whether these are over-wintering birds from the coastal areas between Daintree and Cairns or migrants returning from Papua New Guinea we don't know but we would like to think they are returning migrants – welcome back. 

Metallic Starling

One female Cotton Pygmy-goose was on one of the McDougall Road lagoons late in the second week and Superb Fruit-Dove returned to the Lodge grounds foraging high in the rainforest canopy near the Crake Pool. A Swamp Harrier was along McDougalls Road one day and is an uncommon visitor for us. A Pale-vented Bush-hen was heard near the local Barramundi Farm which confirms their presence in the area but no sign of them showing at this time of year. Little Kingfisher was still making appearances on the Crake Pool and Bushy Creek over the two weeks and a White-cheeked Honeyeater was foraging at the back of the local nursing home. A common bird out towards Abattoir Swamp 6km away but uncommon around the Lodge. 

White-cheeked Honeyeater

Several Black-chinned Honeyeater (Golden-backed form) were taking advantage of the flowering Queensland Blue Gum in Geraghty Park whilst on a morning walk. The same walk also produced a male Satin Flycatcher, again in Geraghty Park, showing its iridescent black plumage.

Other sightings:
Several Orange-footed Scrubfowl (one of the megapodes) pairs have started to get aggressive towards each other with some quite ferocious fights going on around the grounds with them making more noise than usual - if that is possible! This one is showing off its punk hairdo.

Orange-footed Scrubfowl

Wompoo Fruit-Dove have been calling and taking advantage of some of the fruiting rainforest trees which are becoming available now around the Lodge grounds. A few Topknot Pigeon are coming back but not in the numbers we had earlier in the year when when we had hundreds flying over. Australian Swiftlet are taking advantage of recently cut cane paddocks to feast on the disturbed insects along with the Fairy Martin who have been in flocks of over 100. A few egret have been showing, mainly at the local Barramundi Farm, with Eastern Great, Intermediate, Cattle and Little mingling with the Australian White Ibis and a few Royal Spoonbill. Pacific Baza have been making an appearance once or twice each week and an Australian Hobby swooped down onto a pile of mulch in the camping area to grab a small unfortunate mammal, which looked like a Fawn-footed Melomys. A juvenile Scaly-breasted Lorikeet has taken up residence in one of our grevillea's and has been foraging in it for the last 5-6 days, it appears to be on its own with no sign of the parents. As you can see from this photo the bird has hardly any tail.

Scaly-breasted Lorikeet - juvenile

Double-eyed Fig-Parrot were feeding in a fruiting fig tree behind the local nursing home with at least 10 seen whilst on a morning walk. Despite fruit still in the tree they have not been back for nearly a week. The same tree was also attracting mobs of Australian Figbird (surprise!) and a few Barred Cuckoo-shrike. A Fan-tailed Cuckoo which was calling in Geraghty Park was the first record for here this year but they have been heard in the district for about a month. The pair of Barking Owl reported in previous blogs are still with us and made an early evening appearance in the camping area, much to the delight of several of our guests, calling and showing well for a few minutes before heading off for their night-time foray for food. The two pairs of Eastern Barn Owl nearby appear to have chicks in their nests as we saw one brief appearance of a small bird with fluffy down and another more mature bird in the second nest. Unfortunately we found one injured E. Barn Owl under one of the nests and another bird which looked like a non-flying juvenile on the ground during the day. This bird was quite lively spreading its wings in defence and bill snapping upon approach but there was a couple of Sulphur-crested Cockatoo above it in a tree squawking drawing attention to it. So the owl was coerced into moving a short distance into the rainforest edge for shelter where hopefully the parents would find it.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Azure Kingfisher have been along Bushy Creek and the Noisy Pitta mentioned in the last blog is still coming to the feeder for a bit of banana occasionally. Spotted Catbird are also coming to the feeder for banana and calling a lot whilst lurking around in the rainforest. Thirteen species of honeyeater were seen over the two weeks which is a good number; they have plenty of flowering plants to choose from at the moment. A pair of Yellow Honeyeater have started using one of our bird baths and this one was enjoying a bit of a preen and a shakedown in the sun.

Yellow Honeyeater

Olive-backed Oriole have been around and showing well which is unusual for them as they are more often heard than seen. An adult Black Butcherbird has been around in the rainforest and on one occasion flushed from under the raised boards of the tour group eating area in front of the units, probably looking for a Bush Rat. We still have both Grey and Rufous Fantail foraging around the grounds and quite often they are following each other around. Spectacled Monarch have started chasing and calling a lot, maybe prelude to breeding.

Spectacled Monarch

Pied Monarch are showing well with four foraging on the same tree on the edge of the orchard. Lemon-bellied Flycatcher have been coming down low, perching on fences and pouncing onto the ground for insects. This behaviour makes a change from having strain ones neck looking skywards for birds perched on tree branches which is more normal, we think you can all relate to “birdwatchers neck”! The Olive-backed Sunbird who were mentioned in the last blog started to use their nest in Geraghty Park but the female found herself locked in the library room (next to her nest) one night and was not rescued until Lindsay went over with a key the next morning to release her. She was soon back on the nest and later in the week she was sitting, hopefully for a good outcome but it would be surprising if that clutch of eggs survived.

Olive-backed Sunbird
Further Afield:-
Our roving bird guide Carol Iles reported Varied Sittella opposite Lake Mitchell (between Mareeba and Mt. Molloy), Black-breasted Buzzard at Biboora near Mareeba and at Maryfarms to our north on the way to Mt. Carbine Sacred and Red-backed Kingfisher, a flock of White-winged Triller (adult females), Black-faced Woodswallow and Diamond Dove still along West and East Maryfarms Roads. Cotton Pygmy-goose were on Lake Mitchell, two male and four female/juvenile male Golden Bowerbird were on Mt. Lewis one morning along with another nine of the twelve “wet tropic” endemic birds Fernwren, Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Macleay's Honeyeater, Grey-headed Robin, Chowchilla, Bower's Shrike-thrush, Victoria's Riflebird and Tooth-billed Bowerbird. Not bad getting ten out of the twelve endemics in one morning. Up to six Blue-faced Parrot-finch have been seen near Abattoir Swamp but they have been difficult to find. Squatter Pigeon have been seen in Mt Molloy near the school (visit after 4.00pm).

Reptiles and Mammals:-
The cooler drier weather has restricted sightings of some of the frogs and reptiles resulting in a lower than previous weeks reptile and mammal count of 23 species. Highlight here was the sighting of three Platypus in Bushy Creek, two adults and one juvenile which is great confirmation that they have been breeding. Both Striped and Green Ringtail Possum
were seen but only once or twice during the last two weeks. Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko have again been reliable on night walks, whilst two Boyd's Forest Dragon have been around the reception area until the last couple of days when the temperatures have dropped.

Other Happenings:-
We attended the Birdlife North Queensland meeting at the Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas on 28th July with about 50 members and guests. The entertainment for the evening started off with an entertaining bird quiz prepared and hosted by Murray Hunt (Daintree Boatman). Our team finished up in a draw for first place which required a tie breaking question to decided the outcome, luckily for us we answered this question to take the spoils! All good fun. This was followed by Andrew Forsyth from Red Mill House in the Daintree Village presenting an overview of birdwatching in the far north Wet Tropic area. Andrew illustrated the reasons for birders to come to our region which has over 350 species of birds occurring in a very diverse range of habitats along with specialist birding accommodation and tour guides to give visitors a complete birding experience. This was followed by one of the wildlife keepers at the Wildlife Habitat giving a talk about the breeding success of their pair of Black-necked Stork, which was very informative. The birds are currently sitting on three eggs which are due to hatch around the beginning of August. The evening was a great success and is the start of of monthly meetings to be held by the group. More information can be found on the Birdlife North Queensland website. 

BirdLife Meeting at Wildlife Habitat

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