Monday, 3 December 2012

2nd December 2012 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Slightly delayed blog this week due to having our main hard drive fail on us a few days ago. Everything was backed up but it is a real pain transferring files and putting programs back on. Anyway we did have backups which saved the day, if you don't - back up now!

Right on with the blog. Over the past two weeks the weather has been sunny with some cloud and a few drizzly days in between sunshine. We had a few light showers, which did not last long resulting in 11mm.

The minimum temperature over the two weeks were relatively cool for this time of year with a minimum of 19.2ºC which was slightly more than the previous two weeks. The maximum temperature was a warm 30.2ºC, which was slightly higher than the previous two weeks. The humidity was still high, up to 91% and again very low for us at an amazing 40%, which must be the lowest in the last seven years..
Bird sightings for the first week were 112 seen plus 4 heard. The second week had slightly less sightings 109 but more heard a high 14

The last two weeks bird lists are on the Eremaea Birds Website for Week1 and Week2 plus morning walk lists are at this link on Eremaea Birds

Birding Highlights:-

A few interesting sightings over the last two weeks; the best was probably a Great-billed Heron in Bushy Creek and flying over the Lodge grounds on the 30th November. We presume this bird has come down from the Gulf of Carpentaria on the western side of Cape York Peninsula following the river and creek systems to end up at the Lodge. They would come down Mitchell River and into Rifle Creek (flows near Mt. Molloy) before getting into Bushy Creek which forms one boundary of our property. As we are on the western side of the great dividing range all our river systems flow west, there is no river system flowing across the great divide in an easterly direction which would allow birds from the coast to reach us. Normally they appear around August and stay around until mid-November which makes this sighting the latest in the year for us. 



Great-billed Heron


Three Great Cormorant have been around moving from McDougall Road to the Barramundi Farm and back again which is very unusual. This species of cormorant is uncommon here and more likely to be found at Lake Mitchell or the West Barron Storage Dam west of Mareeba. An Oriental Cuckoo was seen once in the orchard and there was three sightings of Red-necked Crake, two in and around the orchard and a third in long grass alongside Mt. Kooyong Road opposite the camping area. 


Red-necked Crake

Several views of Pale-vented Bush-hen alongside Bushy Creek including two near the Mt. Kooyong Road bridge near the local nursing home. Banded Honeyeater were at the Learning Garden of the Julatten Primary School (just inside our 1.5km area), which is the closest we have had them to the Lodge.

Other Sightings:-
Brown Quail have been seen regularly at the Learning Garden of the Julatten Primary School and Australian Wood Duck have been hanging around a dam beside the Rex Highway near McDougall Road. Wompoo Fruit-Dove and Superb Fruit-Dove have both been seen in the Lodge grounds intermittently but more frequently heard. Pied Imperial Pigeon have been increasing in numbers with a sighting of about 20, another two were in a mixed flock with Topknot Pigeon. Brown Cuckoo-Dove have also made a few sorties into the orchard area to pick off berries from Tobacco Bushes.

Brown Cuckoo-Dove

Papuan Frogmouth was heard once but not seen as was Large-tailed Nightjar and Australian Owlet-nightjar. An adult Black-necked Stork was around the area flying over and seen in the Barramundi Farm along with a White-necked Heron. Cattle Egret have now coloured up on their upperparts to match their rufous necks. Australian White Ibis and at least two Glossy Ibis are still around but the lone Straw-necked Ibis has not been seen over the past two weeks. Pacific Baza turned up once before disappearing again, they seem to come around every two weeks. A juvenile White-bellied Sea-Eagle has been circling around begging food but has been completely ignored by the adults who try to out fly it in an attempt to get away from its attentions. A Nankeen Kestrel turned up on the 22nd after an absence of a couple of months and has been seen several times since sitting on power poles along the Rex Highway. A Brown Falcon flew low and fast over Geraghty Park one evening when it was almost dark whilst we were waiting for Eastern Barn Owl. The falcon was making a call which reminded us of an Eclectus Parrot as it flew over in the direction of McDougall Road to the west. A Buff-banded Rail was at the Barramundi Farm after being absent in the area for several months, another one was along the adjacent cane paddock. A pair of Bush Stone-curlew who hang out in the nursing home grounds have a very small chick with them and a pair of Double-eyed Fig-Parrot were seen in the Lodge grounds with two juveniles begging food. 

Double-eyed Fig-Parrot - female

Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo were heard flying over late on a couple of evenings. A male Eastern Koel was seen foraging low down in a fruiting tree in our neighbours garden and several others have been heard calling day and night. Channel-billed Cuckoo have also been very vocal after a few weeks of silence, at least three have been flying around. Cuckoos have been obvious over the last two weeks with six species seen in and around the Lodge. Barking Owl and Eastern Barn Owl have been seen but (Lesser) Sooty Owl has only been heard once at 3.15am. Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher have been posing around the Lodge sitting in the open to be photographed. They appear to have paired up but not started digging out their nests yet. Blue-winged Kookaburra have started to become vocal again and one was spotlighted in Geraghty Park after it called next to the E. Barn Owl roost. Three pairs of Dollarbird have been around the Lodge and Geraghty Park and at least five Noisy Pitta have been calling and showing well in and around the orchard. A Spotted Catbird was photographed with a large nestling in its beak one morning, not sure what the bird was. Red-backed Fairy-wren have been seen along McDougall Road and Lovely Fairy-wren have been heard at the back of our neighbours garden. 14 species of honeyeater were seen and a further two heard. Graceful Honeyeater have been nesting and Macleay's Honeyeater was at the reception area feeder taking banana to feed to a recently fledged offspring. Bridled Honeyeater are still with us which is late in their season and an influx of Brown Honeyeaters has occurred which is unusual for the Lodge. The dry weather has probably tempted them to visit the flowering garden grevilleas.

Brown Honeyeater

Both Barred Cuckoo-shrike and Cicadabird have been calling most days with occasional sightings including three cicadabirds together in a eucalypt tree. There were two sightings of Bowers Shrike-thrush, one whilst on a morning walk in Geraghty Park and another bathing in Bushy Creek one afternoon; unusual to see them here at this time of year. A male Black Butcherbird has been lurking around the Lodge grounds in the rainforest looking for nestlings. Two Rufous Fantail were along Bushy Creek but not seen in the last week which might indicate they have moved on, either altitudinally or headed south.

Black-faced Monarch with black primaries are giving guests identification problems and being identified as Black-winged Monarch. These black-faced don't have the pearly-grey upperparts or breasts of the black-winged, although some appear quite light in colour, they are a darker bluish-grey. The black mask on the face is larger than black-winged, usually higher on the forehead (not so in our birds) and black-winged have a distinct white wing bar on the upper wing which the black-faced don't have (information from HANZAB), clear as mud! Two Black-face Monarch were observed one morning at the Lodge entrance with the presumed male displaying to the female. The male did not have dark primaries whilst the female did, the male was almost bending double and fanning its tail whilst moving from side to side as well as lifting and spreading his wings. Interesting that we have not heard of any Black-faced Monarch with black primaries further south than about Cairns although one record south of Cairns at Edmonton many years ago of a black-winged may have been black-faced. Plenty more work to be done on these species to sort them out. All the images below have been taken in the Lodge grounds at Julatten. None of these birds appear to show the black face pattern extending high onto the forehead or covering the entire throat except image 5. Image 1 shows the only one we have seen  with any semblance of a wingbar, a few white feathers, blue grey upperparts and slight black edging to the primaries. Image 2 which shows the same bird in different light showing slightly lighter upperparts but still blue-grey and primaries look lighter. Image 3 still has grey-blue upperparts and darker primaries with black extending down the throat slightly more than the first bird but still not extending up onto the upper forehead. Image 4 is of a bird more like Black-winged but this bird did not have black wings, the wingbar or a small black patch on the leading edge of the wing. Image 5 is interesting in that the black on the throat almost reaches the orange-rufous underbreast, it again has dark primaries but blue-grey upperparts. This is just a rough summary and greater minds than ours would be able to interpret the images better than us. But it is an illustration of variability in individuals and also lighting conditions which can play tricks.

(1) Black-faced Monarch (31-12-2011)
(2) Black Faced Monarch (31-12-2011)

(3) Black-faced Monarch (10-4-2011)

(4) Black-faced Monarch (7-11-2011)

(5) Black-faced Monarch (17-12-2006)

Meanwhile the more easily identified Pied Monarch have become harder to find as they have stopped calling but there have been a few sightings. Pale-yellow Robin have juveniles in tow with at least two pairs seen feeding their offspring. This one was helping us wind up the clothes line!

Pale-yellow Robin

A House Sparrow was seen at the Barramundi Farm which is starting to become a regular occurrence, hope they stay there!

Further Afield:-
Large-tailed Nightjar are being heard and a few seen around the area, one was heard along Euluma Creek Road, Julatten on the 19th and another heard from across the Rex Highway in the hills whilst we were on a night spotlighting walk. Two were seen along Wetherby Road between Julatten and Mt. Molloy. Abattoir Swamp has been turning up sightings of Spotless and White-browed Crake. Brady Road Swamp (north of Mareeba) had more than 300 Magpie Geese along with two Red-kneed Dotterel and two Black-winged Stilt. The dull overcast conditions were not ideal for photography as these two record shots show.

Red-kneed Dotterel

Black-winged Stilt

White-winged Triller have moved into the area with reports from Lake Mitchell and Brady Road Swamp, also West Mary Road at Maryfarms (between Mt. Carbine and Mt. Molloy). Also at West Mary Road and along Bakers Road in Mt. Molloy were Banded Honeyeater. West Mary Road was proving to be a good site over the last two weeks with other interesting birds, 5 Diamond Dove, 5 Australian Pratincole and a Spotted Harrier (thanks to Carol Iles, local bird guide for these sightings).

Reptiles and Mammals:-
There were 27 sightings over the last two weeks with several uncommon ones including Feral Pig in a nearby cane paddock and a Keelback snake in Bushy Creek. Eastern Tube-nose Bats were heard and seen flying around the orchard whilst spotlighting, Northern Broad-nose Bat were seen roosting on one of our flyscreens on the reception building and a single Little Bentwing Bat was hanging from the roof at the rear of the accommodation units. Giant White-tailed Rat numbers were up to six at one viewing, the highest number we have seen together. Green Ringtail Possum was seen on two occasions, once during the day roosting high up in a rainforest tree on the edge of the orchard and another one seen whilst on a spotlighting tour sitting in a Blue Quandong tree in the Lodge grounds. A pair of Long-nosed Bandicoot put on a show for us one night in the orchard when they were chasing each other around before mating on the edge of the rainforest. After this they kept chasing before the male pulled up in front of us and stopped for our guests to have a good look at him. Some frogs, mainly White-lipped Green Tree Frog have started calling in the hope that some heavy rain might come but they have been disappointed. Boyd's Forest Dragon have been showing well with at least four different individuals and Eastern Water Dragon have again been showing well in Bushy Creek. This forest dragon was trying to cool of in the heat, striking an unusual pose.

Boyd's Forest Dragon

An Australian Scrub Python (Amethystine Python) was seen around the Lodge grounds and a Carpet Python was hanging around our neighbours house for a few days.

Mystery Bird:-

Last blogs mystery bird is a juvenile Scarlet Honeyeater, the secondary coverts (upperwing) have a lot of buff fringing and not quite developed. The undersides of the feet are interesting, yellow - not found any reference to this or seen it in illustrations

This mystery bird is a bit easier.

1 comment:

B&U-afd. said...

We really enjoy reading your blog especially after we have stayed at Kingfisher Park. We had some fine days med total solar eclipse, morning and night walks, Buff-brested Paradise Kingfishers, platypus and lots more. We will definitely return next time we are in Australia :-)

We have returned the 'Spaceship' and are now back home in a very cold Denmark (temperature well below zero and snow) - we miss Australia!

Many regards
Bente & Uffe