Sunday, 21 October 2012

21st October 2012 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Over the past two weeks we have once again had stunning weather with a couple of rainy days at the end of the two weeks, amounting to 5.5mm. The minimum temperature over the two weeks was 15.1ºC which was slightly less than the previous two weeks. The maximum temperature was 29.6ºC, which was 3ºC higher than the previous two weeks. The humidity was still high, up to 91% and again a very extreme low for us of 46%.

Bird sightings for the first week were 99 seen plus 4 heard. The second week had slightly more sightings due mainly to a greater effort in observations with 107 seen plus 7 heard. Mammal and reptile species were well up on the previous two weeks with a total number reaching 30 which must be a record number.

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:

A Nankeen Night-Heron was seen once flying off from the Crake Pool early one morning, this is an occasional visitor.



Nankeen Night-Heron

A white phase Grey Goshawk was gliding over Mt. Kooyong Road one morning before landing in the Lodge grounds high in a Queensland Blue Gum where it sat for nearly 10 minutes before being chased off by two Blue-faced Honeyeater. This goshawk is probably the bird responsible for the three remains of Bar-shouldered Dove we have found around the grounds over the last month. Our neighbour and bird guide Andrew Iles actually saw a Red-necked Crake in a gully between his house and our Crake Pool. This was after hearing them several times over the last few weeks. Barking Owl were back in the rainforest between the Lodge and the Rex Highway one evening whilst we were on a night walk. We saw the bird calling from inside the rainforest on the edge of Geraghty Park whilst we were looking for Eastern Barn Owl and later found another (maybe the same bird) perched in a tree behind our two bedroom units preening. This bird was quite oblivious of our presence and continued preening while we all had good looks at it. The following day we found a head of a Bush Rat close to where the owl was perched which may have been one of its victims. Noisy Pitta have returned with at least two calling along with the first year bird who has been with us all year. The returning adults have made their presence felt, calling at all times of the day and night mainly from high up in trees. We have seen them anywhere from 5-10m up moving around from branch to branch establishing their territory. There were at least four Helmeted Friarbird feeding on a flowering tree in the rainforest near the Crake Pool which is quite unusual as is the Little Friarbird foraging at the entrance to the Lodge early one morning. Normal distribution for the helmeted's is along the coast and up onto the fringing ranges getting into the extreme east of Julatten.

Other sightings:
Their have been several Superb Fruit-Dove feeding in the Lodge grounds but only one sighting over the last two weeks. Pied Imperial Pigeon continue to be around cooing and feeding on rainforest fruits in the Lodge along with the occasional small flock of Topknot Pigeon who drop in. Our female Papuan Frogmouth still plays hide and seek with us but we do manage to find her on a few days, albeit with a little help from our indicator bird the Pale Yellow Robin who lets us know where the froggie is! The Australian Owlet-nightjar was only showing once at its daytime roost when we looked over the two weeks but at least we know it is still using the site. Interestingly we have only been seeing male Australasian Darter over the last few months, where have all the females gone? 

Australasian Darter - male

A single Black-necked Stork is still around the district showing up at the Barramundi Farm or McDougall Road lagoons and a White-necked Heron was seen flying into some ponding opposite Geraghty Park, not a common bird here. Numbers of Cattle Egret have decreased as some of them have been coming into their breeding colours and presumably gone off to their nest sites. Still a few Australian White Ibis around with up to six seen several times and also four Royal Spoonbill flying over, one more than the three which have been in the area for 3-4 months. Raptors have been quite good with several Pacific Baza sightings, Whistling and Black Kite scavenging in cut cane paddocks, Brahminy Kite soaring over the Barramundi Farm, two Brown Goshawk in a thermal over the Lodge one afternoon, Grey Goshawk which was previously mentioned, a Wedge-tailed Eagle soaring over the Lodge whilst on a morning walk and an Australian Hobby who whizzed into the seed feeder near the reception and took an unfortunate Red-browed Finch. A fruiting fig tree on the corner of the camp ground was attracting a few birds including Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, Great Bowerbird, Barred Cuckoo-shrike, Australasian Figbird and Metallic Starling. 

Australasian Figbird - male calling

A female Eastern (Common) Koel was foraging high in a rainforest tree near the Crake Pool and a male was seen flying over Mt. Kooyong Road near the Lodge entrance, both sightings on morning walks. Channel-billed Cuckoo have quietened down and maybe preparing to raid Torresian Crow nests in the area. A Laughing Kookaburra was seen on the seat at the Crake Pool bashing a Cane Toad for at least five minutes before eating it – hope it survived the toads toxin which it should have removed when smashing it onto the seat. Dollarbird are about the area but not calling. Fifteen species of honeyeater were seen over the two weeks including a late staying Lewin's Honeyeater, many Bridled Honeyeater in a tree in the orchard and White-cheeked Honeyeater an occasional visitor. Cicadabird and Grey Whistler have been calling well but not seen often but Rufous Whistler male and female have been showing. The Rufous Whistler have been in Geraghty Park; we thought we would give the female a go rather than the usual images of the male which appear more often when talking of this species.

Rufous Whistler - female

Black Butcherbird have been sneaking around the rainforest and Spangled Drongo numbers have been fluctuating as they migrate through. At least one Rufous Fantail is still with us and a couple of Northern Fantail have been hanging out in Geraghty Park. Leaden Flycatcher are calling with both male and female birds being seen. Black-faced Monarch have been calling and chasing each other which looks like a prelude to nesting. Lemon-bellied Flycatcher have been regular in Geraghty Park over the last two weeks and Grey-headed Robin numbers continue to fall as birds return to high altitudes. The pair of Olive-backed Sunbird reported in previous blogs nesting in Geraghty Park failed with their second nest attempt and have not been back to the nest for nearly two weeks.

Further Afield:-
Banded Honeyeater have been seen around Mt. Molloy and further north around Station Creek, these honeyeaters are highly nomadic. This Tawny Frogmouth has a nest in the Rifle Creek camping area at Mt. Molloy which is quite substantial for a frogmouth!

Tawny Frogmouth

Carol Iles, the other half of our bird guiding neighbours, reported Australian Pratincole at East Mary Road (north of Mt. Molloy) and 100+ White-throated Needletail over McLeod River (north of Mt. Carbine). The needletail were flying in a corridor southwards before circling over the river. Carol also had two Blue-faced Parrot-Finch near Abattoir Swamp and another one on Mt.Lewis. Another two were reported from Mt. Lewis late on the second week. The Parrot-Finch are a few weeks early up on the mountain and with no sightings near Abattoir Swamp this last week may signal their movement to higher altitudes. Mt. Lewis continues to turn up the “Wet Tropic” endemics apart from male Golden Bowerbird which are being seen outside Atherton at Mt. Hypipamee (The Crater). Several of our guests had a Barking Owl at Abattoir Swamp during the day.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
Highlight for mammals was a rare visitor to the Lodge, a Musky Rat-kangaroo who shot across the path from the orchard to Bushy Creek whilst we were on a morning walk. This is only the second record we can remember at the Lodge. Another good record was a Red-legged Pademelon in the orchard one night. Both Green Ringtail and Striped Possum were seen in the second week, the stripy at night and the green roosting during the day. A Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko was seen one night and was the first for several weeks, they are difficult to find as this image shows with their great camouflage

Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko

Frogs were scarce with only one or two of each species seen of the five species recorded. At least two Boyd's Forest Dragon and three Major Skink were active and showing well. An Australian Scrub Python (Amethystine Python) and a Green Tree Snake were both seen in the Lodge grounds.

Other Happenings:-
Not quite happened yet but the total eclipse of the sun will be happening on the morning of the 14th November right over the Lodge grounds at 6.38am, lets hope it is a clear morning with no rain or cloud. We still have a few camp sites and accommodation available, get in quick. We have eclipse glasses for sale which will allow viewing of the event and also the next event on May 10th, which is annular eclipse (partial) covering most of Australia, in particular Cape York Peninsula. Cost $4.00 each.

Attracting Birds:-
There are many ways to attract birds to your garden including putting out a bird bath, a shallow one is quite adequate. We have several around the Lodge and they are always busy with birds coming and going including the ones show below.

Large-billed Scrubwren

Yellow-faced Honeyeater

White-throated Honeyeater

Pale-yellow Robin

If you are really lucky you could even get a Noisy Pitta calling in!

Noisy Pitta

Mystery Bird:-
Last blogs mystery bird was a Yellow-tinted Honeyeater. This bird was photographed at Kaban on the western edge of the Atherton Tableland and can be confused with Fuscous Honeyeater. The nearest population of Fuscous Honeyeater to here are around Cardwell and Broadwater Park further south. The birds in the Wondecla/Kaban area of the western Atherton Tableland build nests like Yellow-tinted Honeyeater and are not bulkier nests like the Fuscous. The young of these birds have bi-couloured bills adding to id confusion but the adults have black bills. All very confusing. (thanks to Lloyd Neilsen for information on this bird).

So if you come across these birds in these areas make sure you have a good look at them.

 Yellow-tinted Honeyeater

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