Saturday, 3 November 2012

4th November 2012 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Over the past two weeks we have once again had stunning weather with a couple of rainy days (getting monotonous as it is the same weather over the last six weeks!) amounting to 6mm.

The minimum temperature over the two weeks was 14.6ºC which was slightly less than the previous two weeks and very cool for October. The maximum temperature was 30.1ºC, which was slightly higher than the previous two weeks. The humidity was still high, up to 92% and again a very extreme low for us of 49%.

Bird sightings for the first week were 105 seen plus 4 heard. The second week had one less sighting but a high number of heard only, 104 seen plus 14 heard. Mammal and reptile species were not quite as good as the previous two weeks but still a respectable 26 seen and one heard. 
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:

Well there have been a few over the last two weeks starting with a Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher which had been calling just down Mt. Kooyong Road near the nursing home and Bushy Creek for three days before we saw one on a morning walk on the 2nd November.  Prior to that they had been reported on the lower slopes of Mt. Lewis (at the back of the Lodge) on 25th October. We heard one calling before seeing it fly into some bamboo alongside the creek, it was a male in splendid plumage who sat and called for over five minutes giving great views. Still sitting and calling when we left. Two were finally seen in the Lodge grounds on Saturday 3rd November. Welcome back!



Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher


Blue-faced Parrot-Finch was seen by our neighbours in their garden and flying into the Lodge grounds on several occasions, however it was not seen by anyone else! A Glossy Ibis appeared in a lagoon between Geraghty Park and McDougall Road, this is a very infrequent visitor to our 1.5km area around the Lodge. Two were also seen later in the week circling over the Rex Highway before heading in the direction of Mount Molloy. We only have two other records in November and December 2009. Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo were heard flying over one evening when we were looking for Eastern Barn Owl, this is the first record we have for October, most other records have been between November and February. McDougall Road has been turning up a few interesting birds including a Peregrine Falcon heading south, reported by Carol Iles our bird guiding neighbour, this is only the fifth record since 2004, several people reported a Latham's Snipe in one of the lagoons and Carol also reported three Varied Sittella, which is only the third record at this location, previous records were 2nd January 2004 and 5th February 2012.

Other sightings:
A few more waterbirds have been turning up in our Lodge reporting area (1.5Km radius), Magpie Geese were back, at least 35 Australian Wood Duck were on a lagoon between Geraghty Park and McDougall Road along with Pacific Black Duck, Little Black and Little Pied Cormorant, Eastern Great Egret, White-faced Heron, Little Egret and Royal Spoonbill. Cattle Egret continue to colour up into breeding plumage, this one was with a few cattle and allowed an unusually close approach for a photo; they usually fly off at the first sight of a camera lens!

Cattle Egret

Both Straw-necked and Australian White Ibis were seen flying over near Geraghty Park making all three Ibis occurring in Australia seen in our area. Emerald Dove have been calling in the rainforest and coming out onto the grassy areas to forage like this female in Geraghty Park.

Emerald Dove

Peaceful Dove used to come to our seed feeder in the Lodge, but have kept away for most of the year, probably because the larger Bar-shouldered Dove outnumber them and are quite aggressive. This one was sitting on the Geraghty Park oval railings enjoying the morning sun. Note the brown background which reflects the colour of the dry grass.

Peaceful Dove

One Superb Fruit-Dove was briefly seen flying off from the rainforest next to our orchard, but as usual several were heard everyday. Pied Imperial Pigeon are very vocal at the moment and maybe going to nest in the area; at least four have been seen. Four White-throated Needletail were seen, over the adjacent cane paddock, on the 31st October late one afternoon heading south before circling around and heading north. Raptors have been getting scarcer over the two weeks with the majority of Black Kites and some Whistling Kites disappearing since the cane harvesting has finished. A Brown Falcon did fly low over the Lodge one evening calling as it zoomed by at great pace. Pacific Baza have been coming and going with only a couple of sightings but the White-bellied Sea-Eagle have been regulars with one adult majestically soaring over the tree tops of the Lodge one morning. Red-necked Crake have been heard but not seen as they skulk around in the rainforest. Rainbow and Scaly-breasted Lorikeet numbers continue to decline as the eucalypts finish flowering and Double-eyed Fig-Parrot continue to make brief fly-overs a few times a week with only a few visiting a fruiting fig tree in the camp ground on one occasion. A Shining Bronze-Cuckoo was heard behind the Geraghty Park hall one morning, the first for quite a while, also here was a female Pheasant Coucal. Channel-billed Cuckoo have started to call again after going silent for a few weeks as have Little Bronze-Cuckoo. Brush Cuckoo have been around calling for the last few days of the second week, they have been making the “referees whistle” call. Barking Owl is still moving around the area and have made a few appearances in the Lodge grounds, but have been heard more than seen.  (Lesser) Sooty Owl have been calling, but not seen despite a few searches. Blue-winged Kookaburra have been keeping a low profile, silent for the first week and only heard once in the second week. At least two pair of Dollarbird are around Geraghty Park calling and looking for nesting hollows in the Queensland Blue Gum. Noisy Pitta continue to call all hours of day and night with at least four birds calling, generally 10-20m up in the rainforest trees making observations difficult. This one however decided to sit out on a branch at a height of about 10m behind our self-contained units and wake us up one morning! 

Noisy Pitta

Red-backed Fairy-wren were along the Rex Highway sitting on a fence whilst we were on a morning walk, there were a male and four female/juvenile birds showing well. Lovely Fairy-wren were again in a gully behind our neighbours house calling most evenings. The Large-billed Gerygone nest over Bushy Creek at the Platypus viewing area is still getting plenty of attention with the adult feeding chicks at the moment. 14 honeyeaters for each of the last two weeks around the Lodge with Helmeted Friarbird still around with at least two birds present. Yellow-faced Honeyeater are resident at the Lodge and tend to keep high up in the canopy except when they come down to bath in the creek or one of the bird baths around the Lodge, this one was feeding unusually low down.

Yellow-faced Honeyeater

Barred Cuckoo-shrike have been calling and showing most days with one pair carrying nesting material to our neighbours garden. Cicadabird have started to call in earnest with at least six individuals one morning trying to out do each other. One male showed in a Raintree where it had nested last year and a female was seen foraging at the entrance to the Lodge. Grey Whistler continues to be the dominant species in the dawn chorus and is usually found after some hard work tracking then down, usually high in the rainforest canopy. Olive-backed Oriole have been calling and hiding, but this one popped up in the open in front of a blue sky calling.

Olive-backed Oriole

There is at least one Rufous Fantail still around the Lodge, all the others have moved south off to higher ground. Northern Fantail are calling and now moved to Geraghty Park which is more normal open woodland habitat for them rather than our rainforest. Black-faced Monarch is another species calling and chasing each other around, but Pied Monarch have fallen silent and have mainly been seen coming in to bathe at Bushy Creek late afternoons. There was still at least one Grey-headed Robin in the Lodge ground mid-way through the second week. We have quite a few record of birds still here in November, fewer in December and only one in January. They return here as early as March which means they are not absent for much or the year. Golden-headed Cisticola have returned after being away for a few months, maybe they avoid part of the cane harvesting season and return when it is finished. Quite a few juvenile Metallic Starling getting around with the adult birds collecting nesting material, they don't waste any time helping with the second clutch of the season. Olive-backed Sunbird have made a second nest in the Lodge grounds after abandoning their refurbishment of last years nest, we will keep an eye on progress.

Further Afield:-
A Spotless Crake was seen and photographed from the hide at Abattoir Swamp by one of our guests, a difficult bird to spot! A Golden Bowerbird male was chanced upon on Mt. Lewis for a couple of lucky guests; most of the other “Wet Tropic” endemics have been regularly seen on the mountain including nesting Fernwren. A much sought after bird the White-eared Monarch have been seen twice in Mowbray National Park, one along Pinnacle Road and another along the “Bump Track” off Black Mountain Road, Julatten. Banded Honeyeater continue to be seen in the woodland areas north of Mt. Molloy. Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours reported a few interesting sightings from Port Douglas; A single Pied Heron, 3 Latham's Snipe on the golf course and 20+ Golden Plover. The first record of Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher in our region was along Stewart Creek Road, Daintree Village, reported by Trish and Andrew from Red Mill House on the 22nd October. On the downside Phil Gregory from Cassowary House reported a European Starling just north of Marreba on the northern edge of the Atherton Tableland. The very occasional one pops up in our region from time to time, probably assisted. We've seen one in Cairns and another on the western side of Cape York at Pormpuraaw in the past.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
Highlight was probably an Echidna seen during the day in the rainforest behind the units. A Striped Possum was out on an open branch in a Lychee Tree on a night walk for great views and again in the same area on a different night. A Red-legged Pademelon has bee see in the orchard on several occasions, once during the day. A Yellow-footed Antichinus was caught visiting the feeder to get some banana which it is lapping up.

Yellow-footed Antichinus

Also seen at the feeder eating banana were a Major Skink and a Boyd's Forest Dragon. Good job we have a banana farm down the road! Whilst on a nightwalk we found at least four Northern Broad-nosed Bat Scotorepens sanborni clustered under window frame of the reception building. Their fur was bicoloured brown with a light reddish tinge on their back differentiating them from the other common bat at the Lodge the Little Bentwing Bat Miniopterus australis which has uniform dark brown fur on its back. Platypus are still being regularly seen along Bushy Creek most evenings and early morning. A brown snake has been seen swimming in the creek on several occasions and is probably a Keelback (Freshwater Snake) Tropidonophis mairii. This non-venomous snake can tolerate the poison of small cane toads.A Macleay's Water Snake Enhydris polylepis was seen eating a very large fish in Bushy Creek late Saturday afternoon.

Despite the dry weather a few dragonflies have at last started to appear, this Painted Grasshawk was one,

Painted Grasshawk

another was a Grey Duskhawker who was trying to bash itself to death on our laundry window one evening, it was rescued and flew off apparently none the worse for its ordeal. Butterflies have also started to appear including this Union Jack (Red-banded Jezebel) Delias mysis.

Union Jack (Red-banded Jezebel)
Total Eclipse Update:-
The 14th of November is getting closer and many of you are already on your way to stay at the Lodge to view this spectacular phenomenon. The units, bunk house and campground will be full with almost all our guests being birdwatchers as well as Eclipse watchers.

A short walk to our entrance sign on the main road gives a clear view to the east with a convenient dip in the hills. We watched the rise sun this morning (3rd November) in a clear sky and just hope the weather is the same on the 14th!

Some of you will opt for traveling west onto the Peninsular Development Road to get a better chance of clear skies. The latest estimate is that 60,00 people will be visiting the area for the Eclipse, so the traffic is likely to be very heavy that morning as people attempt to find the best vantage points.

The Queensland Government has issued the following advice on how to safely view the eclipse.

1. Even if wearing Eclipse Glasses do not look directly through binoculars, telescopes or camera optical viewfinders. It is not safe to use regular sunglasses, exposed film or x-ray film to view a solar eclipse.

2. Never look directly at the Sun without proper eye protection. It is possible to suffer serious and permanent eye damage by looking at a solar eclipse the wrong way, even for a very short time.

3. Always use solar eclipse glasses, or filters that have been made specifically to attach to hand-held glasses, telescopes or binoculars for safe solar eclipse viewing. Eclipse glasses are for sale at the Lodge - $4 each.

4. Look for filters that have been appropriately certified against the European Standard for personal eye equipment (EN 1836:2005+A1:2007) or the Australian Standard for welding shields and goggles with a lens category higher than 12 (AS/NZS 1338.2:1992 & AS/NZS 1338.1:1992).

5. Before using solar eclipse glasses or filters, check to see if they are scratched or damaged. If so, do not use them as they will not fully protect your eyes.

6.Do not use solar eclipse glasses or filters that do not show compliance with the Standards listed above - they may do you more harm than good.

Please be aware that Julatten has limited mobile phone coverage with Optus and Vodaphone having reception, but Telstra is limited to Mount Molloy and the top of the Rex Range coming from Mossman. The Lodge offers Wi-Fi for $5 per stay.
If you are planning to eat out, reservations at The Highlander (4094 1210) or Mount Molloy pub (4094 1133) are recommended.


J Gray said...

Stunning images and sightings as per usual! The yellow-footed antechinus is fantastic!

Keith and Lindsay Fisher said...

Hi Juli,
Thanks for your comments, glad we could find some interesting animals to share with you.

Madeline said...

Hi Lindsay & Keith,
So Banded Honeyeaters show up now that I'm back home in southern California! Thanks for the great blog and happy eclipse watching.