Weather over the last two weeks has been mainly sunny with some cloud and a little rain. The monsoonal trough has gone north to Papua New Guinea with little prospect of it coming south again according to the weather bureau. So the rain we have been getting is the normal drier season showers coming from the south-east and onto the coast.
In the first week rain amounted to 74.5mm with 57mm of that falling on the first day, the second week only 8mm fell . The humidity was high for most of the period 60-92% with most lows around the low 60's and into the low 70's.Temperatures ranged from a low of 18.2ºC to a high of 27.0ºC which was very pleasant.
Past Two Weeks Bird Sightings:-
Bird sightings for the first week were 114, 107 seen and 7 heard, second week sightings were 108, 103 seen and 5 heard. The last two weeks bird lists can be found on the Eremaea Birds Website:- March 24th – March 30th and March 31tst - April 6th
A Eurasian Coot was seen in one of the lagoons along McDougall Road for several days and was a new species for our 1.5km bird list. Surprising one has not shown before as they have been recorded in all the local wetlands quite regularly. No sign of the possible Red Goshawk mentioned in the last blog. Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher are again in the news with several juvenile birds being spotted in the rainforest including this one who fledged on the 10th March. This image was taken on the 5th April making it just over 3 weeks old.
This female Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher showing its tail cocked, short and much blue at the base is a female. It was the parent of the youngster shown in the last blog which had come out of the nest in pin feathers and did not survive.
|Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher - adult female|
Wompoo Fruit-Dove along with Superb Fruit-Dove have been seen around the Lodge grounds with the superb making regular visits to some fruiting palms in front of the accommodation units much to the delight of the guests who have been getting great views of this difficult to see bird.
A single Pied Imperial Pigeon has been around for most of the last two weeks at a time when most of the other pied's have headed north to Papua New Guinea. Papuan Frogmouth sightings have been patchy with one seen roosting in the orchard some days or up near the reception area but most days hiding somewhere else. Australian Owlet-nightjar has been heard calling during the day but not tracked down as it is in a patch of dense rainforest, not in its home in the tree hollow for the last few years out on the edge of the forest. On 2nd April 16 White-throated Needletail were seen flying over the Lodge in a one hour period, most were single sightings with one of four birds together. Also at the same time four Dollarbird were hawking insects with White-breasted Woodswallow and a Spangled Drongo. The Dollarbird were probably on their way north along with small groups of juvenile Channel-billed Cuckoo that have been seen moving over the last three weeks. A pair of Black-necked Stork have been seen in a lagoon between the Lodge and McDougall Road with Black Bittern seen along McDougall Road. The local Barramundi Farm has been turning up a few good birds which can be seen from the road, these include Pacific Black Duck, Hardhead, Australasian Darter, Little Black Cormorant, White-necked Heron, Eastern, Intermediate and Little Egret, White-faced Heron, Australian White Ibis and Royal Spoonbill. Good raptor sightings over the last two weeks: Black-shouldered Kite, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Whistling, Brahminy and Black Kite, Brown and Grey Goshawk,Spotted Harrier, Brown Falcon and Australian Hobby. Both Red-necked Crake and Pale-vented Bush-hen have been seen in our neighbours garden but only heard at the Lodge. Double-eyed Fig-Parrot have only been seen flying over and either Chestnut-breasted or Fan-tailed Cuckoo have been calling. Because their calls are very similar we have not been able to determine what species is calling. Barking and Eastern Barn Owl have been seen and Sooty Owl only heard. Laughing Kookaburra have been around in ever increasing numbers and are taking an unnaturally large amount of prey items including, nestlings, small birds (even Metallic Starling), insects, small reptiles and mammals. They look very cute as this one does perch on a tree stump looking out for anything that moves and is small enough for a meal.
A White-throated Treecreeper was along McDougall Road on the 6th April and would have moved down from the mountains behind us where they normally reside. Thirteen species of honeyeater were recorded including a first at the feeder when a Bridled Honeyeater came for banana. Barred Cuckoo-shrike and Cicadabird have been around and quite vocal as have been Grey Whistler. Black-faced Monarch are also still around and should be heading north very soon. Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill are around but not calling much so are difficult to see. It would appear that only one Grey-headed Robin has come down off the mountains behind us so far this season as we have only seen one occasionally.
A vagrant Black-tailed Gull (Japanese Gull) was seen on the Cairns Esplanade on April 1st (no not an April Fools Joke!) an image and more information can be found on the Eremaea Birds site. We looked on the 5th April but no sign of it or even any Silver Gull. We had seen this gull in Darwin back in the early 1980's and again more recently in Townsville. Two Crimson Finch were along Walkers Road in Cairns, (south of the Yorkeys Knob roundabout on highway), this is a fairly reliable place for this species. At least 30 Glossy Ibis were present at Brady Road Swamp 4km north of Mareeba at the beginning of April. Three Blue-faced Parrot-Finch were seen about 5km up the Mt. Lewis Road and another couple reported from Sweetwater Lodge in Julatten. It would appear that they are moving down the mountain as only one bird has been reported from the 10km “clearing” on Mt. Lewis in the last week. White-headed Pigeon have been in the local area but not around the Lodge grounds, this one was in a group of eight which landed in a tree for a rest.
Reptiles and Mammals:-
The banana feeder has proved a good place to be with Boyd's Forest Dragon, Major Skink and Yellow-footed Antichinus all making use of this food source. The antichinus was also seen grabbing a centipede which was longer than itself! These two images show the antichinus at the banana feeder and the Boyd's Forest Dragon who was nearby puffing up his throat pouch towards the antichinus who was eating “his” banana – none to pleased!
Our neighbours had a Striped Possum in a bunch of bananas outside their upstairs front room window one night. They also has a Slaty-grey Snake in their yard along with a couple of bat species, Large-footed Myotis (fish eating bat) and Northern Broad-nosed Bat. A single Northern Brown Bandicoot continues to come to the seed feeder most nights but the Long-nosed Bandicoot are keeping to the rainforest. A Red-legged Pademelon (small rainforest kangaroo) has been foraging in the orchard most days in the early morning of late evening.
Insects and Fungi:-
Insects and Fungi:-
A few butterflies are around including this Large Green-banded Blue.
Fungi are still appearing with the most obvious being the Crinoline Fungi which have popped up in the mulch and are pollinated by flies which are attracted by their rotting smell as the fly in this image is doing.