Sunday, 5 May 2013

5th May 2013 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Weather Report:-
Still no new humidity or temperature sensor, can't find a decent one which isn't made in China. Temperatures have ranged from 17ºc up to 28ºc but most days less than this due to cloud cover and drizzly rain. Cyclone Zane which developed in the Coral Sea was over 1000km North-West from us and posed no threat in our area and as it turned out it broke up before hitting landfall north of Lockhart River on Cape York Peninsula. This was a very late cyclone and now the season is officially over. The rainfall was 29.5mm over the two weeks with week 1 mainly dry and sunny.

Past Two Weeks Bird Sightings:-
Bird sightings for the first week were 97, 94 seen and 3 heard, second week sightings were 113, 103 seen and 10 heard. The last two weeks bird lists can be found on the Eremaea Birds Website:- April 21st – April 27th and April 28th - May 4th

Birding Highlights:-
It would appear that all the adult Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher have left over the past two weeks for their journey back to Papua New Guinea leaving a few juveniles behind. This one is seven-eight weeks old and is coming down for a few meal worms each morning, it was last seen on the 4th May. Yet another progress photo!

Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher - 7-8 weeks  old

A few Topknot Pigeon continue to fly over and fruit-doves have been absent over the past two weeks. Papuan Frogmouth have been absent for most of the second week which has been quite damp, this normally forces them deeper into the rainforest to seek shelter. Waterbirds have been around in low numbers and the Straw-necked Ibis, which were around three weeks ago, vanished from the area until the last day of sightings for the Blog when one turned up along McDougall Road. Ten species of raptor were seen over the two weeks with one or two sightings of most apart from Black Kite which have been seen in small groups of 2-6 on most days. Other good sightings were an Australian Hobby which shot over one evening making its kikiki call and a Spotted Harrier which was gliding from the Julatten School towards McDougall Road.

A Black-shouldered Kite was perched on top of a dead tree along McDougall Road when three Blue-faced Honeyeater flew in and landed on the dead branch below the kite. After a few seconds the kite took exception to the presence of the blue-faces and started tail-wagging by cocking its tail up and down. This agnostic behaviour has been documented in the Handbook of Australian, New Zealand & Antarctic Birds (HANZAB) which says it is a response to an intruder into its territory. A quick check on the internet revealed plenty of other people who had seen it and interpreted it as mating or territorial display but our observation agrees with the HANZAB description. The four of us who witnessed this behaviour had never seen it before and several other birdos in the area we've asked have never seen this behaviour either; there is always a first time and it is this that make birding so interesting and unpredictable. Thanks to one of our guests Matthew for allowing us to use these excellent shots taken of the bird doing this behaviour along McDougall Road.

Black-shouldered Kite with Blue-faced Honeyeater

Black-shouldered Kite - Tail Wagging

One of our guests saw a Red-necked Crake at the Crake Pool early one morning whilst patiently sitting and waiting and one was also seen in our neighbours garden coming to their birdbath again. Pale-vented Bush-hen are still around but being seen on fewer occasions, however, they are still letting us know they are around by calling, often when a car goes by.
We've notice noise from motorbikes, cars and planes going over often trigger them to call in the past. Bush Stone-curlew were calling one night trying to compete with calling Orange-footed Scrubfowl – an odd combination of species which have diverse habitat requirements. Large-numbers of Rainbow and Scaly-breasted Lorikeet have turned up over the last week and don't appear to be feeding in anything particular, many were in our orchard flying around from tree to tree but not feeding on them. Several Little Bronze-cuckoo (nominate race) have been seen in the Lodge grounds as opposed to the normally present sub-species Gould's Bronze-cuckoo. Barking Owl have been around and seen several times, they have also been calling at dawn before going to roost when it is quite light. They were in competition with Laughing and Blue-winged Kookaburra, Black Butcherbird and Spangled Drongo one morning! Eastern Barn Owl are still calling well but not appearing to pair up yet. Azure Kingfisher is still zipping up and down Bushy Creek with the odd rest stop at the Crake Pool. A Laughing Kookaburra was seen crashing into a tree and emerging with a Dainty Green Tree Frog and Blue-winged Kookaburra have been vocal in Geraghty Park where these two were perched.

Blue-winged Kookaburra

Noisy Pitta are still around in the Lodge grounds but have only been heard once in the last two weeks. Spotted Catbird have started to call early mornings and sneak around in the rainforest when they are not raiding Soursop or Custard Apple fruits in the orchard. 

Spotted Catbird

Red-backed Fairy-wren have been regularly seen along McDougall Road and Lovely Fairy-Wren have been seen and heard in our neighbours garden. 13 species of honeyeater over the last week were seen plus two more heard. Dusky again being the most prominent plus a few White-cheeked were good to see near the Julatten School. An Eastern Whipbird was heard twice in the Lodge grounds rainforest but not seen as it was hiding in dense vegetation.

Eastern Whipbird

Yellow Oriole has again been seen and heard around the Lodge whilst Olive-backed have only been heard a couple of times in the open woodland area near Geraghty Park. Both an adult Black Butcherbird and a juvenile brown bird have been moving around the Lodge grounds and our neighbours garden. The first Grey Fantail of the year turned up this last week in the camping area and a Northern Fantail has been seen at the nearby Barramundi Farm several times. Most Black-faced Monarch have headed north to Papua New Guinea but there is still one with a juvenile in tow hanging around which is making it very late in the season. Pied Monarch are continuing to call infrequently and regularly coming down to bathe in Bushy Creek late afternoon as this one was doing.

Pied Monarch

Victoria's Riflebird is still around the Lodge but keeping high up in the canopy calling and not showing.

Victoria's Riflebird - male

Grey-headed Robin numbers are low for this time of year with only 2-3 birds around, the rest must still be up on the mountains behind us. Tawny Grassbird are along the edge of the cane fields with at least two birds heard one evening; these birds are probably migrating through the cane fields in the area as they only stay for a short period. Olive-backed Sunbird are either nesting or trying to nest with one mentioned before nesting on our neighbours veranda abandoned. One old nest in Geraghty Park was being refurbished by the female, lets hope they have more success than last year when two attempts failed.

Further Afield:-
One again Kath and Dave at Cooktown hit the jackpot with a Red Goshawk north of Cooktown to follow up the White Wagtail they saw (also north of Cooktown) on the 19th April, which incidentally has not been seen since the initial sighting despite several people looking. Besides the two Pacific Baza already mentioned at the Lodge two more were displaying along Euluma Creek Road in Julatten one morning which could indicate they are back for the breeding season. Many years ago when we lived in Cairns we saw at least 12 bazas over our house heading north in August at the end of the breeding season, how far north they go we are not sure. 

Pacific Baza

12 Little Corella flew over the industrial area of Mareeba late one afternoon, the most we have seen in this area. Blue-faced Parrot-Finch are still being seen at the 10km clearing on Mt. Lewis up until at least the 26th April when three were seen. Plenty of other species here as well including calling Fernwren, several parties of Chowchilla families, Atherton Scrubwren and Bassian Thrush. Brady Swamp near Mareeba has been good for several species including 300+ Grey Teal, 21 Pink-eared Duck, 11 Glossy Ibis, 1 White-necked Heron. A full list is on the Eremaea Birds site. Australian Bustard are still at Maryfarms as are a few Diamond Dove. Further north Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours sighted a small flock (10-12) of Budgerigar flying eastwards across the Mulligan Highway at Rocky St. George Creek, south of the Palmer River Roadhouse, possibly the first reports of this species for the region. Del also saw 400+ Black Kite at Mareeba airport on the 28th April - an amazing number.

Reptiles and Mammals:-

21 species of reptiles and mammals were seen, which was down on previous weeks due to a lesser effort in looking, especially at night due to unfavourable weather. Fawn-footed Melomys and Bush Rat were regulars at the feeder along with a couple of White-tailed Rat. Red-legged Pademelon were seen in the rainforest and an Agile Wallaby was hopping past the cookshed and office before heading down the path to the orchard, not sure where it came from – that's a first for us viewed from the office! Striped Possum were seen around the Lodge grounds on several occasions with at least two seen. One evening two were on the ground running around the veranda outside the units chasing each other – another first. At least three different Boyd's Forest Dragon have been around in the Lodge rainforest by the units and edge of the orchard. The rainy weather drove several White-lipped Tree Frog to come out of the rainforest and seek shelter in some of the buildings – aren't frogs supposed to like the wet weather? This one booked into one of our two bedroom units for a day!

White-lipped Tree Frog


Matthew Jones said...

Hi Keith and Lindsay, another great blog this fortnight! So many terrific birds and other critters in and around the grounds. The bbpk young are so adorable at 8 weeks as they are finding their way in life. I, and I'm sure many many others really appreciate the time you guys make in compiling the stellar blog each fortnight, champion effort. Also thanks for showing us around the local area, so many great birds and behaviours seen. Missing Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo is just one more reason to come back and visit you at Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge.

Matt and Nat
Ps I didn't realise BsK were 'agnostic' :-)

Keith and Lindsay Fisher said...

Thanks Nat & Matt,
Great you could make it to our special part of Aus and thanks for your comments about blog and your great images. Last Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher left on 8th May which is a day later than previous record. We like to hide a few birds for next time!

K & L

May 11, 2013 at 9:53 AM

Peter and Jan Grenfell said...

Never sure of codes and if post has been successful. Love your photos, they are certainly brighter than our seabirds.
Desperate for rain as all wetlands are dry