Sunday, 26 August 2012

26th August 2012 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Over the past two weeks we have been getting some drizzle and overcast days but towards the end of the second week the sunshine returned. The minimum temperatures at the beginning of the first week were a chilly 7.9ºC but by the end of the second week they had risen to 20ºC. The maximum temperatures also rose from 18.6ºC to 24.8ºC.The humidity was high, up to 97% and again a very low for us of 53%. Rainfall was 11mm on four rain days over the two weeks.

Birding Highlights:
One of our guests saw an Orange-footed Scrubfowl bashing a frog onto the ground before eating it. Not a behaviour we have seen before and not one recorded in the Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds Vol 2 (Marchant and Higgins 1993). They have been recorded eating snails, gastropods and worms. 

Orange-footed Scrubfowl

A Grey Goshawk swooped into the feeding area one afternoon scattering the Bar-shouldered Dove but failing to catch one. Subsequently two Grey Goshawk turned up in Carol our neighbours garden. A Latham's Snipe was in a drainage area in the adjacent cane paddock one evening and its appearance coincided with other reports of the species in the area. Lovely Fairy-wren were in the orchard high up in a Star Apple tree, at least one male and several females. Whilst these birds are around the area and are probably roosting in some bamboo alongside Bushy Creek we have only had 22 records in the Lodge grounds in seven years. A male and female Satin Flycatcher were foraging on the edge of Geraghty Park on 23rd August whilst we were on a morning walk. The male had a very dark iridescent black plumage in contrast to the Leaden Flycatchers grey/blue plumage. The female had a lot darker orange upper breast plumage than female Leaden. Also in the same area was our first sighting of a White-throated Treecreeper at this location; we have had them in the rainforest of the Lodge grounds occasionally but not in the open woodland area of Geraghty Park. A female Victoria's Riflebird was seen picking bark of a tree near the Crake Pool looking for insects and subsequently found a few days later near Bushy Creek in the same patch of rainforest. On 15th August we recorded our first Bassian Thrush which is over 3 months later than last year when they arrived at the beginning of May with up to five birds present. By the second week our neighbours had kidnapped the thrush for their garden!

Other sightings:
A single female Green Pygmy-goose continues to be on one of the lagoons along McDougalls Road along with a few Hardhead and plenty of Pacific Black Duck. Brown Cuckoo-Dove are taking advantage of fruiting bleeding heart trees and Superb Fruit-Dove are still proving to be elusive, plenty of calling but only one sighting. Topknot Pigeon are mainly flying over and not taking advantage of fruiting Blue Quandong trees which they normally do. Usually see two topknots flying over high up but did see at least six low over the orchard one afternoon. Australian Owlet-nightjar have been heard in the Lodge grounds on 3-4 nights but not seen at regular daytime roost. A single Black-necked Stork has been making appearances at the local Barramundi Farm but is usually chased out. Cane harvesting in the area has attracted White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Whistling and Black Kite, Brown Goshawk, Wedge-tailed Eagle and Australian Hobby. 

Black Kite
Purple Swamphen and Buff-banded Rail have been around the cane but will have to move as the stands of cane are harvested. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo have taken up residence in the Nankeen Kestrel nest hollow in a Queensland Blue Gum in Geraghty Park and Scaly-breasted Lorikeet are also nesting in the same tree. Barking Owl are still around calling most evenings and seen several times in the Lodge grounds both in the evening and pre-dawn. Sooty Owl have come to life and were calling one morning for over an hour, mainly their whistle calls but then their insect clicks to each other right behind our self-contained units, this was between 4.45 and 6.00am. By the time we had stirred and got out of bed they had stopped calling so we did not get to see them. Here is a reminder of what they look like!

(Lesser) Sooty Owl

A Little Kingfisher was seen along McDougall Road at a creek crossing as it zipped across the road but luckily it stopped and perched obligingly for our guests to get a good look along with video and images. Our lone Noisy Pitta had been coming to the feeder for banana but the rains during the second week tempted it back into the rainforest as worms moved to the surface, so it has not been seen for at least five days although it has been heard calling in the evening. Spotted Catbird have been coming to the feeder and calling in the rainforest during the day. Brown and Fairy Gerygone have been very active in the rainforest around the orchard and Large-billed Gerygone have paired up and seen chasing each other around Bushy Creek, hopefully going to nest. Thirteen species of honeyeater were seen and one heard over the last two weeks. Bridled Honeyeater returned to feed in the grevilleas and our South American Sapote fruit tree in the orchard which is covered in flowers along all its branches. A Yellow-faced Honeyeater was sitting on a nest in Geraghty Park about 4m off the ground in the lower branches of a Queensland Blue Gum Eucalyptus tereticornis

Yellow-faced Honeyeater - sitting on nest

A Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike was seen near the Julatten School, just within our 1.5km Lodge bird area, which is unusual this close to the Lodge. They are more common in the dryer woodland towards Abattoir Swamp which is only 6km from the Lodge. The male Golden Whistler reported in previous blogs is still around and calling well as are the Grey and the Rufous Whistler. Bowers Shrike-thrush has been heard and at least one seen and Olive-backed Oriole have replaced the Yellow Oriole in the area. Grey and Rufous Fantail are still with us and they have been joined by several Northern Fantail. Both the light grey plumaged migratory Grey Fantail and the darker race keasti from the mountains behind have been around the Lodge grounds. It is possible to get confused with the keasti and Northern Fantail but as you can see from these images they are quite different!

Northern Fantail

Grey Fantail - keasti
Grey Fantail
Pied Monarch have been calling and showing well, one was even going up and down the trunks of a Golden Cane Palm which is very open, ideal for viewing. Lemon-bellied Flycatcher sightings have been patchy lately with them turning up for a few days when up to eight have been seen then they disappear again for a few weeks. This one was taking a rest on the railings around Geraghty Park.

Lemon-bellied Flycatcher

Metallic Starling numbers are still building up and they are busy building nests. At least one immature bird with its white breast streaked with black lines was with the adults. The pair of Olive-backed Sunbird, one of whom was locked in the library room in Geraghty Park overnight, have started to investigate the nest again and look like they are going to try nesting again – good news.

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.

Further Afield:-
Red-backed and Sacred Kingfisher plus a single Diamond Dove was reported by our guide Carol from Maryfarms between Mount Molloy and Mt. Carbine. 6+ Black-throated Finch were in vegetation opposite the pull off for Lake Mitchell between Mount Molloy and Mareeba, thanks to Alan Morris for this record. Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours reported a Topknot Pigeon sitting on a nest and all the indications were that there was a newly hatched chick present, normally nesting occurs around November in this part of Australia. He also found a female Chowchilla lining a nest with sticks which is about 3 months earlier than normal. A Brown Honeyeater was seen feeding juveniles at Abattoir Swamp, again early breeding. Both Spotless and White-browed Crake have been heard at Abbatoir Swamp over the last few weeks.  Black-breasted Buzzard have been reported from the Mareeba area, mainly towards Mount Molloy near Biboorah. 

Reptiles and Mammals:-
With cut cane paddocks in the area scavengers such as Dingo have come down off the mountains behind the Lodge. A Dingo was seen trying to catch one of the many Black Kite scavenging in the fields, whilst on a morning bird walk but was unsuccessful. Night walks have been successful in finding Striped Possum and Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko over the last week plus frogs such as Cogger's Frog and Jungguy Frog who have appeared due to the wet weather. The last spotlighting tour for the week turned up a Short-beaked Echidna (a monotreme – egg laying mammal covered in spikes), which was only the second time we can remember seeing one during a tour. We also saw Green Ringtail Possum to add to the weekly list. Platypus have been at the viewing area along Bushy Creek most days, either in the evening or early morning, one was seen on a night walk. 


At the moment there are two adults and a smaller juvenile swimming up and down. Boyd's Forest Dragon have re-appeared after a few weeks absence with two being seen late in the second week, one of which was our regular who likes banana. An immature Australian Scrub Python (about 1m long) was draped over the window sill of the reception area one morning trying to get some sunlight.


J Gray said...

Lovely images and information in this post... makes me what to visit!

Keith and Lindsay Fisher said...

Hi Juli,
Thanks for your comment. It's a challenge getting photos for each blog. Even more so at the moment as we are using our backup camera and lens which is not quite as good as the regular setup. You are most welcome to visit anytime!
Keith & Lindsay.