Tuesday, 29 January 2013

27th January 2013 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Adverse weather conditions, computer problems, power blackouts, complete communications failure for 24hrs in northern Queensland (mobile phones and internet) and hosting the BirdLife Northern Queensland bird group over the long weekend for Australia Day on 26th have conspired to the lateness of this blog.

Over the past two weeks the weather has changed from sunshine and very hot days to lots of rain, cooler days then hot and humid again. Most rainfall fell in the second week as the monsoonal trough, with the remains of Tropical Cyclone Oswald embedded in, it headed south over us dumping 391mm. The first week we only had 34mm. We got off lightly unlike some of our friends further south in the Bundaberg area and other parts of south-east Queensland who were flooded, especially Bill, Jack and family. We are thinking of you.

The minimum temperature over the two weeks went down to 17.6ºC with one overnight temperature of 26.0ºC, which was extremely warm for us. The maximum temperature was 32.6ºC, which was almost the same as the previous two weeks, but that was again an exception with the majority of days getting into the mid-high 20's and low 30's. The humidity was very high, up to 94% and a low of only 51%.

As well as the rain and high temperatures there was also plenty of wind which was every bit as strong as a full blown cyclone. We had trees down along with limbs and branches. The ground was covered in green leaves and the rainforest canopy is now very sparse. The first photo is of the Crake pool which, up until the photo was taken, was nearly empty and we had to pump water into it.

Crake Pool
This photo shows a Candlenut tree which was blown down in the orchard. We did not hear any noise of it falling probably because the orchard was under a metre of water at the time! The tree was quite rotten at the base and being chewed by Striped Possum and Fawn-footed Melomys.

Candlenut Tree
Nearby Mt. Lewis was hit quite badly with the road currently closed due to numerous trees blocking it.

Bird sightings for the first week were 104, 96 seen and 8 heard, slightly down on the previous week, second week sightings were 98 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.

Birding Highlights:-
Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher have four nests with eggs in, three with three eggs and one with two eggs. The other four pairs have not laid yet.

Bar-shouldered Dove were quick to take advantage of the sunshine after the heavy rain and started sunning on the lawn with up to eight sunbathing at any one time.

Bar-shouldered Dove - sunning

A Papuan Frogmouth turned up outside the reception area one day much to the annoyance of the other birds who harassed it for most of the day. It was a small bird with a short tail but it had the red eyes of a Papuan so it probably was a juvenile bird. An adult Papuan Frogmouth was seen late on the second week perched in a tree behind the bunkhouse. This one is just keeping an eye on us!

Papuan Frogmouth

About 40 White-throated Needletail were over the lodge on 25/1/2013. A Little Black Cormorant spent a few days fishing in Bushy Creek along with a Black Bittern which was seen on at least two occasions. Several White-necked Heron were seen around the Lodge area at the Barramundi Farm and along McDougall Road. Cattle Egret were present for the first week but all had disappeared by the second week, probably left for unknown breeding areas. A Black Bittern was seen along Bushy Creek for a couple of days. Raptor sighting have decreased with only Black-shouldered Kite, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Whistling Kite Grey Goshawk (once) and a Spotted Harrier (once). Red-necked Crake were being seen regularly but went into hiding when the rains arrived, hopefully to breed. Pale-vented Bush-hen are around calling with a few sightings along Bushy Creek and edge of cane fields. Red-tailed Black-Cockatoo are coming by once or twice a week but not stopping for long. Channel-billed Cuckoo numbers have been down this year with very few sightings but there are still one or two being seen and heard. The opposite is occurring with Brush Cuckoo with more around the area this year. An Oriental Cuckoo, which is unusual, was seen over two days in the orchard and our neighbours garden. A Sooty Owl was also seen in our neighbours garden one night. Honeyeaters have again been good with 15 seen and one heard; the highlight was an Eastern Spinebill along Mt. Kooyong Road which is uncommon around the lodge area. White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike were sitting on a nest along McDougall Road during the first week but had left by the second, hopefully fledged successfully. Even with the wet weather birds still came to the bird bath, Spectacled monarch and Spangled Drongo were two of them.

Spectacled Monarch

Spangled Drongo
Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill are around but difficult to see at the moment. Lemon-bellied Flycatcher are quite active in and around the eucalypts in Geraghty Park and Metallic Starling also in the park lost a lot of nests in the winds and rains but are busy re-building. Our neighbours have a pair of Olive-backed Sunbird have two recently fledged juveniles with them and one of our sunbirds actually came to our nectar feeder for the first time ever.

Further Afield:-

A Square-tailed Kite was over the Mulligan Highway south of Mount Molloy one morning. Two separate sightings of Barn Swallow in Port Douglas were of one and four birds. Lake Mitchell, between Mt. Molloy and Mareeba, produced a few good sightings; two Cotton Pygmy-goose, Glossy Ibis, Whiskered Tern, Eastern Koel, five Banded Honeyeater were a highlight, Grey-crowned Babbler building roosts and two Leaden Flycatcher on nests. A surprise was a Diamond Dove with Peaceful Dove on Euluma Creek Road, Julatten. Also along Euluma Creek Road was this juvenile Rufous Whistler being fed by its parents.



Rufous Whistler  - juvenile

The lower slopes of Mt. Lewis had a male Victoria's Riflebird picking at bark over the road and Rifle Creek Reserve at Mount Molloy had a flock of at least 50 Fork-tailed Swift overhead (26/1/2013). Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours reported a flock of 16 Spotted Pardalote at Mt. Carbine which is very unusual to see them at this location but also more unusual to see 16 together.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
Another good few weeks for reptiles and mammals with 27 species seen and two frog species heard. The wet weather certainly got the frogs calling and moving around, Dainty Green Tree Frog were all over the windows of the reception area along with a few Northern Dwarf Tree Frog. Brown Striped Marsh Frog were heard along the edge of the orchard and Green Tree Frog were heard calling from across the Rex Highway from Geraghty Park. A Leaf-tailed Gecko was seen on a nightwalk for the BirdLife North Queensland group over the Australia Day weekend and was a first for many weeks. Eastern Water Dragon have been seen in the rainforest along Bushy Creek, this one was hurrying back to the creek.

Eastern Water Dragon

 A Yellow-footed Antichinus also entertained the BirdLife group as it scurried around the roof of the cookshed, probably seeking out a few trapped flying ants from an invasion that was happening at the time. This invasion attracted some micro bats as well, probably Little Bentwing Bat and Northern Broad-nosed Bat. A couple of Red-legged Pademelon were seen regularly over the two weeks so hopefully they have taken up residence.

Butterflies and Dragonflies:-
The wet weather triggered plenty of butterflies and dragonflies around the area, two of the most common butterflies around the lodge were the Union Jack (Red-banded Jezebel) Delias mysis

Union Jack

and the Dingy Bushbrown  Mycalesis perseus, these two were mating.
Dingy  Bushbrown

The BirdLife Northern Queensland bird group went out to Lake Mitchell and encountered hundreds of Graphic Flutterer dragonflies as well as a few Palemouth and Common Bluetail

Graphic Flutterer

Palemouth - male

Common Bluetail
There will be a break in the blogs for a while as we are going off for a holiday! The
Lodge will remain open in the very capable hands of our friends Kath & Dave from Cooktown.

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