Over the past two weeks the weather has been a bit more cloudy with a few drizzly days in between plenty of sunshine. We had a few light showers, which did not last long resulting in only 14.5mm over the two weeks.
The minimum temperature over the two weeks were cool for this time of year with a minimum of 18.5ºC which was slightly more than the previous two weeks. The maximum temperature was 29.2ºC, which was slightly lower than the previous two weeks. The humidity was still high, up to 93% and again very low for us at 52%.
Bird sightings for the first week were 92 seen plus 6 heard. The second week had more sightings due mainly to a greater observation effort, 110 seen plus 7 heard. Mammal and reptile species were a very respectable 27.
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
The last few weeks have been pre-occupied with the total solar eclipse which occurred in our area on the morning of the 14th. Unfortunately we had cloud cover for the actual total eclipse at the Lodges front entrance, but the cloud did clear moments after to reveal the second half of the event as this image shows. Not a total but still a great experience.
Our guests went off in all directions to find suitable viewing spots but a few stayed and a few moved 10 minutes down the road when faced with the cloud. They made the right decision and got a full total eclipse. Despite the cloud it was a spectacular event. It was estimated that up to 60,000 visited the Cairns region to view the Eclipse including 10,000 that attended a week-long Eclipse Music Festival at Palmer River just over an hours drive from the Lodge on the Peninsular road. We had a number of astronomers staying at the Lodge some of whom were also birdwatchers.
The half dozen Cattle Egret in the paddock opposite the Lodge took off to roost and sat in a tree until it started getting light again after 2 minutes of darkness. A Yellow-spotted Honeyeater was calling as it got dark and continued on for about 30 seconds then went quiet but once the light started to come back the birds fired up and continued as normal. Heavy storms in the wet season create a similar effect of darkening and birds continue as normal then.
An Eastern Osprey flying over the orchard late one afternoon was probably the best, this is a first for us. They are infrequently seen in the area, mainly in the vicinity of the local Barramundi Fish Farm. A single Great Cormorant was following a Little Black Cormorant towards the Barramundi Farm whilst we were waiting for the eclipse. Great Cormorant is not a common visitor to our immediate area with only three other sightings in March 2007, January 2010 and March 2012. A Red-necked Crake was again seen in our neighbours gully between our Crake Pool and their house but no sightings in the Lodge grounds despite hearing at least three on several occasions. A further two have been calling from the grassy edge along Mt. Kooyong Road opposite the Lodge. A Pale-vented Bush-hen was briefly seen foraging along the edge of Bushy Creek late in the afternoon by one of our guests looking for the Platypus at the viewing area. Later in the week two bush-hen were seen along the edge of the adjacent cane paddock and the next morning one was seen to fly across Bushy Creek into the Lodge grounds. Lets hope they are here to stay.
Magpie Goose, Wandering Whistling-Duck and Australian Wood Duck have all been heard flying over at night. Magpie Goose also have a few juveniles with them at one of the McDougall Road lagoons. Peaceful Doves have started to appear again around the Lodge and in Geraghty Park after a noticeable decline in numbers. This one looks like a juvenile bird.
Judith, one of our guests, was rewarded for an early morning start when a Superb Fruit-Dove showed near the Crake Pool before it flew down for a drink giving “superb” views! Another sighting of the same species was had in the late afternoon on the same day at the same location. Papuan Frogmouth showed once, on the 4th November, at its daytime roost spot on the edge of the orchard and was seen later in the second week at night along the edge of the Lodge grounds and adjacent cane paddock. It has also been heard calling on several evenings and nights. Seven White-throated Needletail were seen over the cane paddock opposite Geraghty Park on the 16th November by our neighbours. A Black-necked Stork flew across the Rex Highway towards the Barramundi Farm whilst we were waiting for the eclipse and an Eastern Great Egret was in Bushy Creek near the Platypus viewing area one afternoon. A Nankeen Night Heron was disturbed early one morning in the Crake Pool at the edge of our orchard. A single Straw-necked Ibis has spent the last two weeks foraging in a cattle paddock opposite Geraghty Park whilst up to eight Australian White Ibis have been flying over, only once did a white ibis land next to the straw-necked and begin feeding.
A White-bellied Sea-Eagle was attracted to our water tank one afternoon when it started to overflow. The eagle swooped down low over the tank several times before it spent a few minutes circling overhead. Not sure what it expected to find, we don't keep fish in our water tank! Later in the week three immature White-belied Sea-Eagle were seen together over the nearby nursing home, possibly two first/second year birds and one third year. A Black-shouldered Kite was flying over the adjacent cane paddock as were 17 Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo one evening late in the week heading inland. A pair of Double-eyed Fig-Parrot who were nesting in our neighbours garden fledged at two youngsters, they were lucky to see one fledge. Cuckoos have again been out in force with Pheasant Coucal, Eastern Koel, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Little Bronze-Cuckoo and Brush Cuckoo all heard and seen. Barking Owl was seen early evening perched in a tree at the front entrance to the Lodge and also flying over the orchard late one afternoon being harassed by other birds. The last two days of the week saw a bird perched in the Lodge grounds, once right outside the reception area and the next night behind the bunkhouse.
Laughing Kookaburra have taken up sentry duty at our front entrance, one of their favourite perches.
Noisy Pitta show no sign of becoming silent as they continue to call day and night, perching high in trees and occasionally on the ground. Lovely Fairy-wren are around our neighbours back paddock calling late afternoon but not showing. The Large-billed Gerygone who had a nest over Bushy Creek appear to have fledged their young as no activity has been reported at the nest for over four days. Honeyeaters have once again excelled with 17 species seen over the two weeks. Helmeted and Noisy Friarbird made an appearance for a few days before leaving, these two species are occasional visitors. Other occasional visitors were White-cheeked and Black-chinned (Golden-backed form) Honeyeater.
Cicadabird numbers increased with at least six different birds calling and several males showing well. A few Olive-backed Oriole have also been calling and mixing with Australasian Figbird flocks. Black-faced Monarch have been active, calling and chasing. Several of these birds have had black primaries in the wing giving the impression of Black-winged Monarch but they lack the really pearly-grey upper head, back and upper breast of the Black-winged Monarch. These birds identity is a work in progress for birders in our region. Pied Monarch have been showing at Bushy Creek in the afternoons to bathe but have been difficult in the rainforest as they have stopped calling. Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been calling but still hard to find in the upper rainforest canopy however there have been a few sightings. At least one Pale-yellow Robin is sitting on a nest, this one is in a Wait-a-While vine about 1.5m off the ground. Golden-headed Cisticola have established themselves in the areas around the cane paddocks and along McDougall Road. Olive-backed Sunbird are taking advantage of the flowering gingers and spend quite a lot of their day here.
|Olive-backed Sunbird - female|
The Pectoral Sandpiper reported on 17th October on the Eremaea Birds site was still present on the 14th November. Bakers Road (road to the cemetery) in Mt. Molloy was still playing host to Banded Honeyeater, also in Mt. Molloy were two Little Eagle, Black-faced Woodswallow (2) were at Maryfarms and a pair of Cotton Pygmy-goose were on the Daintree River, one Little Curlew was along the Yorkeys Knob Road, Cairns, opposite the horse paddocks (thanks to our neighbour and bird guide Carol IIes, firstname.lastname@example.org for these sightings). Nearly 40 Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo were at Yorkeys Knob, Cairns and another smaller flock were further north at Wonga Beach, feeding on Beach Almond Terminalia catappa. Mt. Lewis had the usual Wet Tropic endemics apart from male Golden Bowerbird (which has been seen at Mt. Hypipamee, south-east of Herberton on the Atherton Tableland). Night spotlighting revealed a (Lesser) Sooty Owl and Papuan Frogmouth on the mountain.
Reptiles and Mammals:-
Fawn-footed Melomys were up to their old tricks of chewing the wiring in our car and still had the hide to come to the feeder for a free feed!
Yellow-footed Antichinus is still coming to the feeder for banana during the day. A Musky-Rat Kangaroo was seen several times in the rainforest near the Crake Pool and might have moved in as it has been seen over the last month. Eastern Tube-nosed Bat was heard several times on nightwalks and Northern Broad-nosed Bat was roosting under our neighbours house. A juvenile White-tailed Rat has been coming to the feeder at night and a record six were seen along the road to the reception one night. A Green Ringtail Possum was located on the edge of the orchard in a Black Bean tree in the afternoon late in week two and later seen in an orchard tree at night, this is the first sighting for just over a month. Striped Possum has been seen several times with one sighting giving excellent views of one stationary facing down on a dead tree trunk. Platypus continue to be regular in Bushy Creek with sightings most days and a Short-beaked Echidna showed in our neighbours garden late in the week one afternoon. Spectacled Flying Fox numbers have reduced as the availability of fruit declines. Frogs have been scarce with few sightings but with the small amounts of drizzle we have had it has triggered some species to start calling, most notably Dainty Green Tree Frog. Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko were starting to appear with one on our main road to reception, which was regenerating a new tail, another was found on a night walk on the ground near the Crake Pool, a third one was found crossing the road from the bunkhouse to the amenities block, and a forth found on a Mango Tree on the edge of the Lodge grounds, great that there is a few around. At least two and possibly three Boyd's Forest Dragon have been showing regularly as have the Eastern Water Dragon along Bushy Creek. A Major Skink has discovered the banana at the feeder and climbs up the trunk to get its reward on the top, mainly in the afternoon.
Australian Scrub Python have been seen several times, crossing the road to reception and near the feeder where one was on a tree before disappearing under the eating area walkway where the Bush Rat hang out. Other snakes around have been Keelback and Carpet Python.
No clues for this one! Answer in 2nd December blog. Scary December approaching already.
We discovered that we had a Leichardt Tree on the edge of our orchard when we noticed some flowering - only taken us seven years! Not surprising really as the flowers are not often seen as they only last a few days. These trees are found in rainforest and open forest up to an altitude of 440m which is our altitude so it is at is highest elevation here.
|Leichardt Tree - flowers|