Sunday, 23 September 2012

23rd September 2012 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Over the past two weeks we have once again had stunning weather with no rain, cool mornings and warm days. The minimum temperature over the two weeks was 15.5ºC which was slightly more than the previous two weeks. The maximum temperature was 26.4ºC, which was slightly higher than the previous two weeks. The humidity was still high, up to 94% and a very extreme low for us of 42%.

Bird sightings for the first week were 107 seen plus 7 heard. The second week had slightly more sightings due mainly to the continuing great weather and arriving migrant species, 114 seen plus 7 heard. Mammal and reptile species were down on the previous two weeks due to the warmer dry weather keeping frog species hidden, 19 species were seen. 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:

Returning migrants have been in evidence over the last two weeks with Pied Imperial Pigeon returning on the 14th, Eastern Koel on the 17th, Channel-billed Cuckoo on the 14th and Black-faced Monarch on the 18th.  



Eastern Koel - male


A Great Cormorant is an uncommon visitor to our area but one was present along McDougall road in one of the lagoons; the nearest they are usually found is at Lake Mitchell between Mt. Molloy and Mareeba. An Eastern Osprey was fishing at the Barramundi Farm which is unusual in the area with the last sighting being on the 29th October 2011. A Barking Owl was sitting low down in a Poinciana tree at the front entrance to the Lodge one evening giving good views for everyone then 10 minutes later a Sooty Owl flew up from low down in the rainforest behind the units and perched on a vine for excellent views. Unfortunately none of the guests saw the sooty as it flew off before they arrived but it did call a couple of times just to prove it was around. This is only the third sighting this year, the other two were in the first week of January. Two Latham's Snipe were in a drain running through a cane paddock near the local nursing home and another was along Bushy Creek near the Platypus viewing area. Several Australian King Parrot were heard one afternoon calling from the rainforest near the office, this is a very occasional visitor to the Lodge.

Other sightings:
Australian Brush-turkey numbers have dropped but a few are still around and attaining breeding plumage, this one was scavenging in the orchard and had its photo taken to celebrate getting our regular camera equipment back from a service. It has an empty half nut in its beak, not sure what it was thinking!

Australian Brush-turkey
Wompoo Fruit-Dove made an appearance on the 14th in the rainforest near our orchard. Superb Fruit-Dove has been in the same area for the past two weeks but only seen twice. Over the two weeks we had eight out of a possible nine pigeon and doves recorded at the Lodge seen, only Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove was not in our 1.5Km Lodge radius but one was seen just outside this area. Papuan Frogmouth has been making spasmodic appearances in the orchard and once outside the reception area, but has been hiding for 3-4 days at a time. Australian Owlet-nightjar was seen once in its' daytime roost and heard several times at night in the Lodge grounds. A White-necked Heron was along McDougall Road along with a single female Green Pygmy-goose. Australian White Ibis numbers increased to a maximum of 23 seen perched near Geraghty Park or flying off towards the Barramundi Farm. Pacific Baza have been around calling but have made no progress with their nest for the last two weeks. A tatty looking Wedge-tailed Eagle was soaring over the Lodge once with the Black and Whistling Kite, this is another casual visitor for us. Bush Stone-curlew have fired up and making a lot of noise calling at night, one pair was seen with a half grown juvenile. A Black-fronted Dotterel was at the local Barramundi Farm. Eastern Barn Owl numbers have dropped off with only a couple being seen on night walks which means the juvenile birds in the area have moved on. The Little Kingfisher, previously reported, has not been seen around the Lodge grounds so it may have moved on as well but, a pair of Azure Kingfisher have been regular along Bushy Creek.

Azure Kingfisher

15 species of honeyeater were seen with another heard which is a very high number. One outstanding sighting was a Helmeted Friarbird, in our neighbours garden; this is a bird normally found on the coast and up onto the top of the ranges on the edge of Julatten to the east of us. Other good sightings were Bridled Honeyeater and White-cheeked Honeyeater. Both Graceful and Yellow-spotted Honeyeater have been nesting. Graceful has been sitting on a nest which looks very uncomfortable; the beak is just visible sticking over the edge of the nest opposite the tail pointing in the air. 

Graceful Honeyeater - sitting in nest
A Yellow-spotted Honeyeater started to build a nest in a palm in a pot on our units veranda but appeared to abandon the attempt as it has not added to it for four days, it might have been put off by a Macleay's Honeyeater who regularly roosts in the same palm.

Yellow-spotted Honeyeater nest - partially built

This Yellow-faced Honeyeater was one of three foraging on and near the ground in a patch of grass collecting and eating small butterflies and caterpillars.

Yellow-faced Honeyeater

Barred Cuckoo-shrike have been coming and going with small flocks of up to 8 on fruiting trees. Golden Whistler is still around the Lodge grounds with a female seen on several occasions, no sign of a male, also Bower's Shrike-thrush has been making the odd appearance. Olive-backed Oriole have been calling and seen feeding with Australasian Figbird in a few fruiting fig trees around the edge of the Lodge. Northern Fantail are still about but seem to spend more time in our neighbours garden with rare forays into the orchard area. Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill are still calling with at least one pair of boatbill nesting. Metallic Starling are as busy as ever collecting nesting material around the grounds and flying over to Geraghty Park where construction is taking place, usually very noisily as they try and steal each others nests. The female Olive-backed Sunbird, previously reported, has been seen in it's nest in Geraghty Park on the 22nd so hopefully success this time.

Further Afield:-
A Rose-crowned Fruit-Dove was seen just outside our 1.5Km radius from the Lodge, in Carr Road; this fruit-dove is more common on the coast and on the islands of the Great Barrier Reef. A Sacred Kingfisher was seen at Mt. Molloy which is not a common species in our area. A Female Eastern Koel and a Channel-billed Cuckoo were along the Daintree River. Lake Mitchell (between Mt. Molloy and Mareeba) had two pairs of Brolga, a flock of 23 Comb-crested Jacana and nearby a Square-tailed Kite. Cicadabird was calling along Euluma Creek Road on 21st which was the first heard this season in the Julatten area by us. 

Cicadabird - male

Mt. Lewis has been turning up the usual endemics with one visit turning up three brown female/immature male Golden Bowerbird, birds but no adult males, 24 Chowchilla in about eight family groups, Fernwren and five Atherton Scrubwren – full list on the Eremaea Birds site. The numbers of Diamond Dove at Maryfarms (north of Mt. Molloy) keep fluctuating and increasing with over 200 present on the 21st which is the largest recorded here so far.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
The stars at the moment are the Platypus in Bushy Creek which have been performing at our viewing area. Still two adults and a juvenile showing in the morning and evening swimming up and down the creek foraging. One morning one of the adults was climbing over a sandbar and another time two adults were climbing onto rocks out of the water much to the delight of several guests who thought getting out of bed at 6.00 was worth the effort! Major Skink have woken up as the weather has started to warm up with a few sightings in the last week, also at least one Boyd's Forest Dragon has been appearing. 

Major Skink
A Green Tree Snake was coiled up one morning alongside Mt. Kooyong Road and was reluctant to move so it had a bit of help and was relocated further away from the perils of the road. 

Green Tree Snake

Australian Scrub Python (ex. Amethystine Python) was seen in the Lodge grounds once. Frogs have been quiet but a few individuals have been showing on night walks with four species plus Cane Toad seen. One Red-legged Pademelon (small wallaby) was seen in the orchard on a night walk and several Agile Wallaby have also been seen here.

Other Happenings:-
Less than two months now until we experience the Total Eclipse of the Sun which passes directly over Julatten at around 6.40am on the 14th November. Our accommodation has been booked out for the last few years, however, over the last month we have had some cancellations so now have three self-contained units available for the nights of the 13th & 14th and a few camp sites too. Let us know if you would like to stay and experience this amazing event. (Minimum two-night bookings apply).

Mystery Bird:-

Quite an easy one but a very unusual angle! Answer next blog.




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