Sunday, 13 January 2013

13th January 2013 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Over the past two weeks the weather has stayed steady with plenty of sunshine and very hot days (but not as hot as the rest of Australia!). Rainfall amounted to 42mm over the past two weeks but just showers with no sign of the monsoonal trough coming south from the tip of Cape York Peninsula.

The minimum temperature over the two weeks only went down to 19.7ºC with one overnight temperature of 23.6ºC, which was quite warm for us. The maximum temperature was 33.3ºC, which was almost the same as the previous two weeks but that was an exception with the majority of days getting into the high 20's. The humidity was still high, up to 92% and a low of 50%.

Bird sightings for the first week were 115 -104 seen and 11 heard, this number was mainly due to the New Years Day effort. The second week had slightly more sightings due to a greater number of observers, there were 117 - 111 seen and 6 heard

Past Two Weeks Bird Sightings:-

The last two weeks bird lists can be found on the Eremaea Birds Website:-

Morning walk lists can also be found on the Eremaea Birds Website.

Big Day 1st January 2013:-

We have a bit of a tradition of birding on New Years Day to see how many birds we can list, the record stands at 153. To achieve this we normally whiz around the countryside to clock up the greatest list and kilometres, however, this year we decided to slow down and count only species within a 1.5km radius of the bird lodge, which is the area of our lodge bird species list. The two of us spent a total time birding of almost six hours, travelling about 25 km and even finding time for eating and sleeping! A few rain breaks provided more rest periods.

A quick one hour around the lodge grounds to start with at 7am produced 43 species before breakfast. Then 1½ hours at nearby McDougall Road to check out a couple of lagoons, which are on private property but can be viewed from the road, and the Julatten School surrounds (just inside the 1.5Km's) moved the total onto 84. It was now 12.00 and time for lunch and a siesta. Back on the road to check out the local Barramundi Farm ponds and adjacent bushland along with a second visit to McDougall Road moved the total onto 95. Another coffee break and a walk around the lodge grounds and down to the local nursing home produced four more new birds bringing the total up to a tantalising 99! We knew we could get an Eastern Barn Owl to finish off with 100 species for the day, so come dusk we headed out, looking up to the skies as birders do and luckily we saw a White-throated Needletail zoom overhead with a flock of Australasian Swiftlet - 100. On cue the Eastern Barn Owl appeared to finish the day at 101.

Eastern Barn Owl - No 101!

Best birds were White-necked Heron and Glossy Ibis (rare here), Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, Noisy Pitta and Yellow-breasted Boatbill and of course Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher. Greatest dip was Torresian Crow and Pied Monarch.

Just goes to prove you don't have to travel vast distances to clock up 101 species if you are in the right place, which we are! The total was 93 seen and 8 heard.

This trip report with more images and full bird list can be found on the Wildiaries site by clicking on the top scenic image on the left.

Other Birding Highlights:-

Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher have dug out their nests in 8 termite mounds which means hopefully there will at least 8 pairs breeding which will be the most in the seven years we have been monitoring them. Both Red-necked Crake and Pale-vented Bush-hen have been calling and showing regularly.

Superb Fruit-Dove were calling but as usual just giving glimpses, most times when they are flying off! Two sightings of White-throated Needletail are all we have seen of this species, both time just a single bird mixed in with Australian Swiftlet. A male Black-necked Stork was foraging in one of the McDougall Road lagoons for a few days.

Black-necked Stork - male

A Black Bittern flew off from Bushy Creek in the neighbouring cane field one afternoon. A Little Eagle was seen over the orchard one afternoon, this added to the few sightings we have had at the Lodge.
Buff-banded Rail have been at the local Barramundi Farm walking around on vegetation on one of the ponds alongside the Rex Highway. Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo have been feeding in eucalypts around the Lodge or flying over, one flock had 21 birds in it. Both Rainbow and Scaly-breasted Lorikeet have been nesting in tree hollows along with Dollarbird who have been bringing in food to their nests. 

Rainbow Lorikeet

Scaly-breasted Lorikeet

Pheasant Coucal, Eastern Koel, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Little Bronze-cuckoo and Brush Cuckoo are the cuckoos which have been seen and calling well. Barking and Sooty Owl have only been heard but Eastern Barn Owl have been reliable and seen on every nightwalk. Laughing Kookaburra have juveniles in tow and Forest Kingfisher were seen bringing in frogs and beetles to a nest. Noisy Pitta have continued to call to each other and appear in the orchard rainforest edge, we are not sure if they are nesting yet. A White-cheeked Honeyeater was an unexpected visitor to the reception area feeder on morning, this was a first. They have been seen on the fringes of the Lodge grounds before but on very few occasions, this sighting bought the total honeyeaters seen this period to fifteen. Barred Cuckoo-shrike and Cicadabird are still calling and showing as are Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill. Metallic Starling continue to build onto their nests, this one was collecting material from the center of a palm tree.

Metallic Starling

Further Afield:-
Peregrine Falcon have been seen in a few places, two between Mareeba and Mt. Molloy and another one in Mount Molloy, quite uncommon in our area. Still a few Straw-necked Ibis hanging around in the Maryfarms area between Mount Molloy and Mt. Carbine at a time of year they have normally disappeared from the district. Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours had a Red-kneed Dotterel in Port Douglas which is unusual. Mt. Lewis is still accessible and providing good views of most of the wet tropic endemics but Blue-faced Parrot-Finch have been difficult with a few sightings by guests who have persevered in tracking them down.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
Good few weeks for reptiles and mammals with 29 species seen and one frog heard. Red-legged Pademelon have been around the orchard with at least two seen. Bats have been busy trying to get onto the few insects we have at the moment, Eastern Horseshoe, Diadem Leaf-nosed, Northern Broad-nosed and Little Bent-winged are the ones we have identified. Possums have been hit and miss but both Striped and Green Ringtail Possum have been seen. Long-nosed and Northern Brown Bandicoot have been around but not quiet as obvious lately. Platypus has been regularly seen swimming past the Platypus viewing area and in deeper water downstream from here. Frogs have been calling when they think rain is coming but most times they have been wrong! A few have ventured out from hiding and have been seen – Jungguy Frog (male in yellow/green breeding condition), White-lipped Tree Frog, Northern Dwarf tree frog, Green Tree Frog was heard, Roth's or Laughing Tree Frog, Dainty Green Tree Frog, Cogger's Frog and Cane Toad. A few snakes have also been seen, Australian Scrub Python, Green Tree Snake and Red-bellied Black Snake under our neighbours house. 

Green Tree Snake


john said...

I know that the Red-bellied Black Snake is highly venomous. What about the Green Tree Snake? The Green Tree Snakes that I have seen in Latin America, (obviously a different species) are completely harmless.
I really enjoy reading your blog.

Keith and Lindsay Fisher said...

Glad you enjoy the blog. The Green Tree Snake is harmless but does give off a nasty smell like a skunk as a defense mechanism. Red-bellied Black Snake is venomous but rear fanged so not quite as dangerous as front fanged snakes, however it is worth avoiding.