Warmer weather over the past two weeks with a few storms around but we missed most of them and only received 8.5mm rain. Temperatures ranged from15ºC to an extreme of 32ºC which is one of the highest temperatures we have recorded here. Along with this was extremely low humidity of 36% which is also a record. High temperatures and low humidity resulted in quite large bush fires in the area but not near us.
Past Two Weeks Bird Sightings:-
Bird sightings for the first week were 103, 95 seen and 8 heard, second week sightings were 98, 92 seen and 6 heard. The last two weeks bird lists can be found on the Eremaea Birds Website:- 6th - 12th October and 13th - 19th October.
Morning walks were between 42 and 54 species seen and heard, the lowest number was a photography walk.
A single male Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher was seen on the 16th Oct, one day later than the earliest sighting we have had in eight years. One called on the 18th and another sighting was had on the 19th. So at least one has made its way back from the Fly River delta in Papua New Guinea, let hope his mates are not far behind.
Another excellent sighting was of a Lesser Sooty Owl perched above the road to reception on the 7th October, which was 24 weeks since the last sighting. This was seen by two of our guests whilst they were spotlighting a White-tailed Rat and noticed something nearby, lucky them. Not heard or seen it since. At least two Red-tailed Black Cockatoo flew over the Lodge one evening at 6.30 calling. This is only the second record we have had here in eight years for October; we suspect they were attracted to the area by the bush fires as we have seen them feeding on burnt seeds previously. A Little Kingfisher was seen near the Crake Pool late one afternoon, the first for several months. A Cicadabird of the southern buzzy call race was in the orchard calling on the 9th October, this is another first for the Lodge. Although this race is quite common in more open woodland areas such as Abattoir Swamp (6km away) we have not had it here, only had the coastal race which does not have the buzzy bit in its call.
Birds reported building or carrying out nesting activities over the past two weeks were, Papuan Frogmouth which we suspect is nesting as the male has been the only bird seen over the past two weeks which would suggest that the female is sitting on a nest nearby during the day, as this is the normal breeding time. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo are continuing to sit on their nest in a tree hollow and Noisy Pitta was seen carrying nesting material, which is about a month earlier than normal. A White-throated Honeyeater was seen sitting on a nest, Macleay's Honeyeater carrying banana away from the feeder who is probably feeding young, Black-faced Monarch seen carrying nesting material, Pale-yellow Robin, one pair building nest and another pair feeding juveniles. The colony of Metallic Starling has increased in numbers with new arrivals building new nests alongside existing nests built by the early arrivals, who have already fledged the first clutch of the season and are adding to their nests. Plenty of immature birds from the first seasons clutches are helping out with the nest building. Olive-backed Sunbird have recently fledged nestlings and as ever the Red-browed Finch are busy building new nests. Quite a busy time of year.
Wompoo and Superb Fruit-Dove have been around, mainly calling and rarely seen. Cattle Egret numbers have dropped and the odd Straw-necked and Australian White Ibis are still around. A pair of Pacific Baza showed for a day and promptly disappeared but both Whistling and Black Kite were ever present. Red-necked Crake was heard in the Lodge grounds but only seen a couple of times in our neighbours garden. Buff-banded Rail was seen foraging around the edge of Bushy Creek in the grass late one afternoon and a pair of Bush-stone Curlew are still looking after two youngsters which are growing up fast. Brush Cuckoo have really started to get excited at the prospect of rain and are calling every day now unlike the Barking Owl who have not been heard every evening. The have still been heard intermittently but don't seem to be spending as much time around the Lodge although one was found roosting adjacent to the orchard in the rainforest. Azure Kingfisher is regularly being seen flying along or perched in Bushy Creek. Lovely Fairy-wren have been seen in our neighbours garden but not in the Lodge grounds which they seem to avoid! Having said in the last blog that both Lewin's and Bridled Honeyeater had left they turned up the day after the blog was published. Only one Lewin's and a couple of Bridled have been around for a day or two. Blue-faced Honeyeater were seen noisily chasing a raptor off the premises one afternoon and again harassing two roosting Barking Owl across Mt. Kooyong Road. Barred Cuckoo-shrike are moving around the area in response to fruiting trees and have been seen around the Lodge several times. Grey Whistler, Yellow-breasted Boatbill and Pied Monarch have all been vocal but Grey Whistler has been hiding and not seen as often as the other two species.
Spangled Drongo numbers have increased as they migrate through the area and a Northern Fantail has been heard on the edge of the rainforest and along Bushy Creek.
A few Grey-headed Robin are still around but most have moved back up onto the mountains behind us. A few Chestnut-breasted Mannikin have started to re-appear to join up with the flocks of Red-browed Finch.
Yellow-billed Spoonbill have been in the area with up to three on Lake Evan (Brady Road Swamp) 4km north of Marreba, also here were a Marsh Sandpiper and two Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. At last an excuse to put in a wader shot!
Another Yellow-billed Spoonbill was on a dam along the Kondaparinga Road north of Mt. Carbine in a dry woodland area. White-browed and Spotless Crake are still being seen at Abattoir Swamp (6km from Lodge). Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo were heard on the lower slopes of Mt. Lewis and Banded Honeyeater have been seen near Mt. Molloy. Mt. Lewis has sprung to life with a little bit of rain, most of the endemics have been seen over the last week including a female Golden Bowerbird and a Lesser Sooty Owl. A trip up Mt. Lewis one morning had to be cut short due to rain but we did see Chowchilla, Atherton Scrubwren and Grey Fantail, race keasti.
Reptiles and Mammals:
A Yellow-footed Antichinus was seen whilst on a morning walk scurrying around in the rainforest adjacent to the orchard. The Lace Monitor reported in the last blog has been seen regularly patrolling around the camping ground and units much to the delight of our guests. This one is about 1m long.
Up to five Red-legged Pademelon were seen one night browsing in the orchard which is good news as long as they don't nibble our rainforest plantings! Agile Wallaby have been around with one in our orchard and another four seen near a cane paddock. A fish eating bat Large-footed Myotis was roosting in our neighbours property. A large male Striped Possum was seen whilst on a spotlighting tour; this was the first seen in the Lodge for several weeks. A Platypus continues to be seen in Bushy Creek but few frogs have been tempted out after a few showers of rain. Those that have were Stoney Creek Frog (Litoria jungguy), Desert Tree Frog (Litoria rubella), Cogger's Frog (Mixophyes coggeri) and a few Cane Toad. A Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko was on the veranda outside one of our units early one evening and had to be rescued and released on a nearby tree in the rainforest. A great sight for our guests to see this magnificent creature who are masters of disguise.
Boyd's Rainforest Dragon have been around the unit with at least two and Major Skink are also moving around with at least five seen around the grounds. A green Tree Snake was seen disappearing into vegetation near one of our two bedroom units which made the occupying guests day.
During the week we had the Australian Wildlife Sound Recordist Group (AWSRG) workshop for six days of talks and their AGM. We gave a presentation on the birds and other wildlife around the lodge, other talks were about the Fuscous and Yellow-tinted Honeyeater around the Herberton, Kaban and the Wondecla area as well as areas further north up onto Cape York. Quite a confusing story where these birds do not fit the species type but have subtle differences. Do we have 3 species/subspecies of Cicadabird was the subject of another talk. Again very interesting with birds from various regions of Australia having quite different calls. Insect calls and recent insect discoveries in our region was another interesting talk. Other speakers talked about the ways and means of recording wildlife sounds and preserving them into the future. It was a very social and interesting six days. If you are interested in sound recording we would urge you to join the group and check out their website.
|AWSRG relaxing during a talk|