Sunday, 2 June 2013

2nd June 2013 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

FYI: The latest version of the Bird Trails Tropical Queensland brochure for the Cairns region has just been released. It covers Cairns, Daintree, Cairns Highland (Atherton Tableland) and Mission Beach areas. It has a map of the area showing all the best birding sites, bird guides and places to stay along with contact details and the various suggested trails around the area. The website shown on the brochure is not completed yet so has not gone live. You can download a copy from our website, just click on the brochure below.

Weather Report:-
Frustrating couple of weeks with lots of drizzle which did not produce much rain. Most of the drizzle came from the coast as the south-easterly winds were quite strong bringing the rain onshore. However there were a few breaks with sunshine and clear conditions temperatures ranging from 18ºC to 28ºC. Rainfall for the two weeks was 15.5mm. .

The cloudy weather did bring some good photo opportunities of the mountain range behind the Lodge. This one was taken with a 300mm F2.8 lens early morning.

Mt. Lewis Range in Cloud

Past Two Weeks Bird Sightings:-
Bird sightings for the first week were 86 seen and 11 heard, second week sightings were, 96 seen and 8 heard. The last two weeks bird lists can be found on the Eremaea Birds Website:- May 19th – May 25th and May 26th - June 1st

Birding Highlights:-
Magpie Goose were heard honking as they flew over the Lodge one night and were seen along McDougall Road the next day in one of the wetlands. Emerald Dove started to re-appear after their numbers dropped for about a month, they even started calling which might be a sign that the breeding season is not far off. Small flocks of Topknot Pigeon have been seen flying over from the mountains which hopefully signals their return to far north Queensland. A male Superb Fruit-Dove was caught helping itself to some palm tree fruit in front of the accommodation units late one afternoon and Wompoo Fruit-Dove also visited this food resource several times. Papuan Frogmouth was seen at the nursing home during the first week but disappeared during the second only to re-appear at the end of the week. A White-necked Heron, an uncommon visitor, was foraging in some ponding amongst a cane field behind the nursing home late one afternoon. A Nankeen Night Heron, occasional visitor, was along Bushy Creek one afternoon and at least five Royal Spoonbill were seen heading for the local Barramundi Farm. Raptors were around in low numbers with sightings of one Black-shouldered Kite, Spotted Harrier, Brown Falcon and Nankeen Kestrel plus a pair of White-bellied Sea-Eagle, two Whistling Kite and up to eight Black Kite. Red-necked Crake was heard quite frequently in the evening calling from the patch of rainforest between the Lodge and the Rex Highway but not sighted. Two Pale-vented Bush-hen were heard along Bushy Creek when a neighbour drove past in a tractor; noise quite often triggers them to call especially noisy cars, motorbikes and aeroplanes. Bush Stone-curlew have been very vocal at night up and down the road adjacent to the Lodge. These two, caught checking out the irrigation pipes of the nearby nursing home garden, could be the culprits.

Bush Stone-curlew

Double-eyed Fig-Parrot were seen flying over and were probably checking out a local fig tree which has fruits that are almost ripe - expect it to be ready in a week or two. Little Bronze-cuckoo have been around calling quite a lot and been seen, most are the nominate species not the usual Gould's sub-species that we get here; one Gould's was seen at the end of week two. 

Little Bronze-Cuckoo (Gould's)

Barking Owl have been heard calling in the evening and early morning with one spotted on the edge of the Lodge grounds early one morning and another one perched in front of the accommodation units at the end of a night spotlighting tour, great views. At least four Eastern Barn Owl have been around, one was seen clutching a small mice/rat. An Azure Kingfisher was at the Crake Pool perching on a vine and diving in to collect some small fish late one afternoon. Blue-winged Kookaburra have been calling and seen in Geraghty Park most times we have looked. Spotted Catbird have been calling mainly early morning as they skulk around in the rainforest. Honeyeaters were about in small numbers with 12 species seen and another two heard. A single Barred Cuckoo-shrike was perched high in the orchard one morning preening on top of a Blue Quandong tree and not seen again over the two weeks. A Bower's Shrike-thrush was a surprise in the camping area as it foraged in a fig tree, it showed its distinctive black bill (adult male), grey upper parts and streaked deep rufous upper breast. We do get one or two coming down from their more usual haunts up above 600m in the mountains during the cooler months. It was only seen once before disappearing. An adult Yellow Oriole continues to move around the Lodge and our neighbours garden calling as it goes. Northern Fantail has been around spasmodically as have Leaden Flycatcher. A territorial dispute erupted in Geraghty Park between four Magpie-lark which became quite violent as this image shows with three of the birds getting stuck into each other with a blur of wings, the fourth bird joined in for a brief period before the intruders were sent packing! Not a particularly good photo but it does show the ferocity of the encounter.


Pied Monarch has been around the Lodge grounds as well as coming down to Bushy Creek late afternoon for a bathe. A pair of Yellow-breasted Boatbill were dueting to each other one morning in the rainforest, they kept going for over 15 minutes and were still going when we left. Not heard this calling to each other before and it was hard to know which bird was responding, male or female. Still only a few Grey-headed Robin have come down off the mountains with only two or three heard and seen; quite a contrast to last year when there were three or four times as many. Tawny Grassbird are still around with a couple heard in an adjacent cane field.

Further Afield:-
The strangest sighting was of a Budgerigar on Mt. Lewis, yes it was green and no it was not an escapee! An image and information is on the Eremaea Birds site. Budgerigar were also reported from Rinyirru (Lakefield) National Park by Doug Herrington and the BirdLife Northern Queensland Group. It is certainly a year for Budgerigar on the east coast with flocks of up to 900 reported from Townsville and district. Diamond Dove are still being found at Maryfarms (between Mount Molloy and Mt. Carbine) with others reported from around Mareeba. An adult Spotted Harrier was soaring over paddocks along Euluma Creek Road, in Julatten at the end of the second week, before landing in a cut cane paddock. Such a majestic bird with its contrasting grey upper wings and deep rufous breast.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
We had a student at the Lodge for just over a week who put out remote cameras for an experiment with mammals and it was very interesting to see what came to the feeding station by the reception area. At least two Long-nosed Bandicoot (one pregnant) came during the night, a species we don't see often earlier in the evening and a Black Rat turned up. One was reported a few weeks ago but not seen since, so the footage was confirmation of the sighting. We have only seen one previously at the feeder a few years ago and certainly would not encourage it to bring its mates along! A 4m+ Scrub (Amethystine) Python was seen crossing the road to reception one night, it had a large bulge in it so must have had a recent meal, possibly a White-tailed Rat. This would possibly be the largest python to be seen in the Lodge, its definitely the largest in our eight years. A Leaf-tailed Gecko was a great find on a night spotlighting tour – the first for several months. Boyd's Forest Dragon have been hiding most of the time but the odd one has been showing now and again. One around the reception area feeder came in for banana and another one was standing on the road near the entrance to the Lodge. This one did not want to move even when an Orange-footed Scrub Fowl almost walked on it! It needed some encouragement to get off the road and back into the rainforest. 

Boyd's Forest Dragon

Not many frogs around despite the drizzle, a White-lipped Tree Frog decided to set up home on a guest car between the cab and the back canopy, it did quite a few kilometres before it was coaxed out and relocated.

Other Criters:-
This rainforest Preying Mantis sp. turned up one evening and stayed long enough to get a photo.

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