Sunday, 24 March 2013

24th March 2013 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

24th March 2013
The last few weeks has been busy on the computer, mainly sorting out our new look Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge website which is now up and running. Check it out, hope you like it.

Weather Report:-
Weather over the last two weeks has been unpredictable with promises of rain which did not happen. We had a few sprinkles in the first week amounting to 14.5mm and the second week 27.5mm . The humidity was high for most of the period 65-92% with most lows around the high 70's but a few days were down to 43% and 48% due to a cyclone way out in the Coral Sea sucking all our moisture away. It looks green and wet around the place but in reality the water table is very low for this time of year and we need some serious rain to bring it up. One morning we were enveloped in a thick fog, an unusual event at this time of year.

Past Two Weeks Bird Sightings:-
Bird sightings for the first week were 95 - 84 seen and 11 heard, second week sightings were 115 - 109 seen and 6 heard. The last two weeks bird lists can be found on the Eremaea Birds Website:- March 10th – March 16th and March 17th - March 23rd

Birding Highlights:-
A possible Red-Goshawk was seen on the 23rd March perched on a fence post, at a distance, before flying off over the cane field next to the lodge. It was seen by Carol Iles our neighbouring bird guide. So we need to watch out for that one, we have seen them here before, once on April1st 1994 (no it was not an April fools joke!), when one circled over the lodge for many people to see. Once again the Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher take centre stage. All six nests have now fledged young. The last nest to have a chick in was not hopeful. The chick came out of the nest after 28 days, normal fledging time, but was still in the pin feather stage and unable to fly. We put it back into the nest but it was out again the following day sitting on the ground quite a way from the nest with one adult attending it so we left it to fend for itself. We looked for it later in the day but no sign, hopefully it found a safe place but we don't hold out much hope for it. Here it is looking very sorry for itself.

Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher - really!

The news is better for the other nests with adults feeding growing juveniles. The fledging time was 1 nest 26 days, 1 nest 27 days, 2 nests 29 days and 2 nests 31 days, 1 nest failed after birds were sitting on eggs. Two of the nests were over the recorded length of fledging (Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds - HANZAB), of 29 days; this probably reflects the lack of food resources available due to the dry wet season we are experiencing. Currently the adults are spending some of their time out in the open on the ground searching for food.

Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher - adult male

Other interesting birds around have been a juvenile White-throated Treecreeper which turned up one morning before coming into the feeding area near the reception and almost hitting the buildings. It is several years since we had treecreepers around the Lodge, they are usually at higher altitudes on the mountains behind us. Orange-footed Scrubfowl have bred with at least one juvenile surviving, they seem to have a very low survival rate as we see very few juvenile birds. This one seems to be avoiding the attentions of the adult birds who harass and chase them off.

Orange-footed Scrubfowl - juvenile

Papuan Frogmouth has been showing in the orchard and around the accommodation units occasionally but the tree it liked in the orchard fell down this last week so it will have to find another roost site. There are quite a few Superb Fruit-Dove around the grounds with up to six heard but not seen. A single Pied Imperial Pigeon and a single Topknot Pigeon were seen in the rainforest adjacent to the orchard. Sooty Owl was heard on several nights but not seen, however Eastern Barn Owl and Barking Owl were seen on the 23rd March.  

Barking Owl

Five White-throated Needletail were overhead the lodge on 18th March late one evening. Red-necked Crake continue to be seen with 2 adults and two quite large young with them crossing the path to the orchard late one afternoon, late on another afternoon 3 adults were heard around the edge of the orchard. Pale-vented Bush-hen have also been seen with an adult size juvenile. Double-eyed Fig-Parrot have been taking advantage of a fruiting Cluster Fig near the local Nursing Home even though the fruits are not ripe yet. An immature Dollarbird was perching on the edge of the orchard one morning, probably contemplating the journey north which is ahead. Honeyeaters have been taking advantage of flowering Blue Quondong trees with 12 species seen including a nomad from higher altitudes, the Bridled Honeyeater. They were along along nearby McDougall Road with Barred Cuckoo-shrike who have also been calling and seen in the lodge grounds.

Barred Cuckoo-shrike

The Yellow Oriole adult and juvenile reported last blog are still around which is unusual and a Black Butcherbird has been lurking around in the rainforest. A Rufous Fantail decided to book itself into one of our units and was found one morning looking out of the window, it was released with no charge! There is at least one Northern Fantail around in our neighbours garden and several Leaden Flycatcher around the Lodge grounds. Black-faced Monarch have been active and calling a lot which may mean they are getting ready to return north to Papua New Guinea. Pied Monarch are around but not showing particularly well with a few glimpses now and again, they are difficult when they are not calling. Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been calling and seen around the Lodge. Lemon-bellied Flycatcher have also been calling and seen in the more open habitat of the eucalypts in and around Geraghty Park although a few ventured in to the edge of the Lodge grounds.

Further Afield:-
Lloyd Nielsen reported a Little Bittern from Abattoir Swamp a few weeks ago, which is a rare sighting in these parts. Carol Iles had a Rufous Songlark at Mount Molloy, not a common bird here. Carol also saw at least 20 Dollarbird hawking insects over Babbler Hill also in Mount Molloy; they were in a mixed flock of Rainbow Bee-eater, Australian Swiftlet, a Spangled Drongo, one White-throated Needletail, two White-breasted Woodswallow, a young Fairy Martin and a Black Kite who flew in to join them. Uncommon to see such a large flock of Dollarbird around here, they were presumably migrating north. (HANZAB sights a report in 1965 of a flock of 50 birds presumably migrating north, this was in New South Wales). Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours reported Cotton and Green Pygmy-goose from Lake Mitchell (between Mareeba and Mount Molloy).4km north of Mareeba is Brady Road Swamp, a small wetland on private property which turns up some good species. Steve Davidson "The Melbourne Birder" had a Freckled Duck there at the end of the second week.

We though we would put in another image from much further afield from our trip to South Australia, this is a young Fan-tailed Cuckoo just starting post juvenile moult. (thanks to Jeff Davies for this ID).

Fan-tailed Cuckoo - juvenile

Reptiles and Mammals:-
Frogs have been surprisingly quiet with the only two sightings of a Dainty Green Tree Frog, one was in the mouth of this juvenile Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher. This very nice image was taken by one of our guests Tony Neilson.

Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher - juvenile

The rain at the end of the second week bought a few more frogs out of hiding, Dainty Green Tree Frog (heard), Jungguy Frog and Coggers Frog in particular.  Bandicoots had not been seen for over two weeks when a Northern Brown Bandicoot turned up at the feeder late in the second week during a rain shower. Several Giant White-tailed Rat have seen including one who has been a regular at the feeder during the evening along with Fawn-footed Melomys and Bush Rat for seed. During the day Yellow-footed Antichinus, Boyd's Forest Dragon and Major Skink have been at the feeder for banana. A Striped Possum was calling and crashing around one night in trees beside the reception and across to the cookshed. A night walk on a wet night produced a Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko in the orchard; we don't find these every nightwalk.

Insects & Fungi:-
There is sufficient moisture in the air to trigger fungi growth with these ones appearing on the camp ground road.

Fungi sp.

Also some insects think it is the right time to mate! These ones were on a Malabar Chestnut fruit tree in our orchard, which originate in South America. This tree is a member of the Bombacaceae family which is also represented in Australia.

Fruit Sucking Bug - mating

Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge is For Sale -

Click here for sale details 



Peter and Jan Grenfell said...

Beautiful photos. Always like you site

Keith and Lindsay Fisher said...

Hi Peter and Jan, glad you like the photos and site. Will try to keep taking new photos.