Sunday, 8 September 2013

8th September 2013 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge Report.

Weather Report
Patchy weather over the past two weeks, a few rain showers during the first week turning into drizzle and rain during the second with temperatures barely getting up to 20ºC, combined with strong wind it felt cold. However a few sunny breaks allowed some good birding. Temperatures ranged from 15ºC to 21ºC and rainfall amounted to 36mm

Past Two Weeks Bird Sightings:-
Bird sightings for the first week were 103, 101 seen and 2 heard, second week sightings were 104, 98 seen and 6 heard. The last two weeks bird lists can be found on the Eremaea Birds Website:- 25th August - 31th August and 1st September - 7th September.
Morning walks were good with between 57 and 60 species seen and heard in 2½hrs..

Birding Highlights:-
Red-necked Crake was seen twice and heard a few more times, the first sighting was in our neighbours garden moving through a gully and the second was when one popped up along Bushy Creek and was seen from the Platypus viewing area. The crake was also heard on several occasions, manly in the afternoon apart from once in the morning, whilst on a guided morning walk. Both adult male and female Australian King-Parrot arrived at the Lodge on the 28th August and stayed around for at least four days, they never stay any longer before they move off. They are normally found at higher altitudes on the mountains behind the Lodge especially Mt. Lewis. Barn Owl have at least three large chicks in one of their nests which is good news. This image shows the adult with a juvenile peering out of the nest hollow.

Barn Owl - adult + juvenile

This adult Barn Owl is peering out of a nearby daytime roost hollow, not at all concerned about parenting duties!

Barn Owl

Another uncommon bird to show was an Eastern Whipbird who came down to have a bathe in Bushy Creek one afternoon, this is another altitudinal migrant from the mountains. A Shining Flycatcher was seen in a very unlikely polluted swampy area late one afternoon. We do see them in the Bushy/Rifle Creek System from time to time. Our neighbours again had Blue-faced Parrot-Finch in their garden and said they were heading our way but they never arrived. They were the most notable sightings; other interesting observations were two Wompoo Fruit-Dove who came for a few days and a female Black-necked Stork who was seen, at the Barramundi fish farm and commuting to another nearby dam where it has been most days. A White-necked Heron was along McDougall Road on several occasions and a Little Egret was in a nearby dam, both these species are infrequent visitors. A good selection of raptors have been around with Black-shouldered Kite, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Whistling and Black Kite, Grey Goshawk, Spotted Harrier, Nankeen Kestrel and Brown Falcon. 

White-bellied Sea-Eagle

A Buff-banded Rail has started coming into our neighbours garden, which has not been a common sight this year, very few sightings of a species that has been frequently seen around the Lodge in past years. Double-eyed Fig-Parrot have only been seen flying over the Lodge. No more action on the possible Barking Owl nest reported in previous blogs but they have been quiet over the last few weeks so maybe nesting elsewhere. 16 species of honeyeater were around over the last two weeks taking advantage of the abundance of flowering plants and trees. Graceful Honeyeater have been seen on the rainforest floor foraging on the tiny flowers of Balanophora fungosa a flowering plant that parasitises the roots of trees. It looks like a fungus hence the Latin name but it is not. Barred Cuckoo-shrike have been calling and seen a few times and Rufous Whistler have also been very vocal in the surrounding woodland areas. This female was no exception.

Rufous Whistler - female

All fantails are still around, (Rufous, Grey and Northern), along with Willie Wagtail. Both Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been seen and heard but no sign of the previously seen three female Victoria's Riflebird for the past two weeks. Grey-headed Robin are still with us and normally stay around until November before heading back up into the mountains for the “wet season”. Australasian Reed Warbler are still around despite their sugar cane habitat they had been in being harvested, one was seen in a nearby patch of Bamboo along Bushy Creek. Metallic Starling are continuing to build nests in ever increasing numbers and managing to keep the marauding figbirds at bay as they try and steal their nesting material. Mistletoebird have been busy foraging in the Celerywood trees and Olive-backed Sunbird have been busy seeing off their own reflection on the wing mirrors and windows of guests cars! This male Mistletoebird was caught with a leaf in its bill.

Mistletoebird - male

Further Afield:-
Our local Japanese guide Ota reported a Great-billed Heron at a private property at Malanda at an altitude of 700m which must be an altitude record for this species. We checked out several references but cannot find any mention of sightings at this altitude. He said that this was the third sighting over the past three years. If anyone knows of similar records at high altitudes we would like to hear about it. Several sightings of Black Falcon have been reported from the Atherton Tableland and at a swamp 4km north of Mareeba. Also reported from the Tableland was a Red Goshawk circling around with other raptors, Wedge-tailed Eagle, Brown Goshawk, Brown Falcon and Black Kite, more information about these sightings can be found on the Eremaea Birds Birdline. The four Freckled Duck reported from Hasties Swamp National Park, near Atherton, in the last blog grew to six a week later and when we visited a further week later there were 14 present. This image shows three Freckled Duck, one Hardhead, one Pink-eared Duck, 11 Plumed Whistling Duck and a Eurasian Coot at Hasties.

Various Duck

We also saw eight Nankeen Night-Heron flying around, hundreds of both Plumed Whistling Duck and Pink-eared Duck, many Hardhead, a single Sacred Kingfisher, an Australian Hobby and an Australian Reed-Warbler. This not so good image taken in the poor light shows one of the night herons flying over.

Nankeen Night-Heron

Full list can be found on the Eremaea Birds site. Bower's Shrike-thrush was seen along Pinnacle Road on the way to the Mowbray National Park and both Latham's Snipe and Cotton Pygmy-goose were reported at Lake Mitchell (between Mareeba and Mt. Molloy) by Klaus Uhlenhaut from Kirrama WildlifeTours . Del Richard's from Fine Feather Tours had three White-winged Triller along Euluma Creek Road in Julatten, which is quite unusual as they normally occur in the Lake Mitchell area to the west and northwards in the drier woodland areas.

Reptiles and Mammals: 
18 species of reptile and mammal were seen over the two weeks. Red-legged Pademelon were seen in the orchard and up to eight Agile Wallaby were foraging in a paddock behind the local nursing home. White-tailed Rat have been active and at least two juvenile ones have been seen. Green Ringtail Possum have been seen a couple of times in the Lodge grounds and a Striped Possum was in our neighbours garden. Platypus have been around late afternoon but more frequently seen around 6.30 in the morning. Frogs have been very quiet with only sightings of one Northern Dwarf Tree Frog and one White-lipped Green Tree Frog. Eastern Water Dragon have started to be more regularly seen in Bushy Creek and the only snake seen was an Australian Scrub Python. Further afield we saw a Keelback (Freshwater Snake) at Hasties Swamp.

Keelback (Freshwater Snake)

These Pencil Orchid Dockrillia teretifolia have just started to flower around the area.

Pencil Orchid Dockrillia teretifolia

Also the Buttercup Orchid Cymbidium madidum has started to flower.

Buttercup Orchid Cymbidium madidum

Buttercup Orchid Cymbidium madidum

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