Sunday, 6 October 2013

6th October 2013 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge Report

Weather Report
Very dry weather again with just a slight hint of rain which did not even register in the rain gauge one day and a brief shower which produced 2mm just after dawn on another day. There were some storms in the area one afternoon but we managed to miss them. Some nights down to 15ºC and warm days up to 27ºc but still cooler than the coast from Cairns to Daintree.

Past Two Weeks Bird Sightings:-
Bird sightings for the first week were 99 seen and 6 heard, second week sightings were 92 seen and 6 heard. The last two weeks bird lists can be found on the Eremaea Birds Website:- 22nd September - 28th September and 29th September - 5th October.

Morning walks were very variable with between 41 and 55 species seen and heard. Total species seen over seven walks was 79.

Birding Highlights:-
Main highlights were seeing a Superb Fruit-Dove after hearing them calling for three weeks, Red-necked Crake running through our neighbours carport, Lesser Sooty Owl calling after an absence of several months, Noisy Pitta 20m up a tree calling non-stop one morning for several hours as well as making regular appearances in the orchard. This is just a reminder as to what the Lesser Sooty Owl looks like!

Lesser Sooty Owl

Eight species of pigeon and dove were seen including Wompoo Fruit-Dove foraging low down on the edge of the orchard and a lone Topknot Pigeon on the top of a Blue Quandong tree also on the edge of the orchard. Papuan Frogmouth have been seen regularly on morning walks and also on night walks. The one we have been seeing at night is calling and appears to be a juvenile bird, probably a first year bird moved on by parents who are getting ready to breed this season. White-faced and White-necked Heron have re-appeared with single individuals seen in the McDougall Road lagoons. Black-shouldered Kite have been around and Pacific Baza were around for three days after being absent for several months. At least two Buff-banded Rail have been visiting our neighbours garden but we don't know if one of them is Katie, the resident rail from two years ago. One pair of Bush Stone-curlew have two very small stripy chicks which they are guarding as good parents do. A Sulphur-crested Cockatoo has taken up residence in hollow of a Queensland Blue Gum and is probably nesting. This same hollow has been used by Nankeen Kestrel in the past. Red-backed Fairy-wren have been posing on the fences along McDougall Road most days.

Red-backed Fairy-wren - male

It would appear that the last of the Lewin's Honeyeater and Bridled Honeyeater have left our area and moved up to the mountains behind us as they have not been seen for at least 10 days. Graceful Honeyeater obliged for a photo, which shows a few ID features. 

Graceful Honeyeater

You can just see a diffuse yellow belly stripe which the Yellow-spotted Honeyeater does not have, other features are decurved lower mandible (straight in Y-S Honeyeater), clean and tidy underparts (no streaking like Y-S Honeyeater), the feathered extension of the gape is curved under the eye (Y-S tend to be fairly straight).

Two Little Friarbird turned up in the orchard for a day and a Noisy Friarbird was heard once, both these species are occasional visitors. Barred Cuckoo-shrike have been around in small numbers but appear to be passing through in the search for better pickings. At least one Spangled Drongo is still around but Rufous Fantail may have left as they have not been see for a week. Northern Fantail have been heard around the Lodge and Leaden Flycatcher have also been around calling. The returning Black-faced Monarch have been calling a lot but not seen much, when they have been seen it has usually been bathing in Bushy Creek late in the afternoon. Pied monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been active calling and showing well. Lemon-bellied Flycatcher have been in the nearby eucalypt woodlands and several pairs of Pale-yellow Robin are sitting on nests. Metallic Starling continue to build up their colony with an increasing amount of nests each day and Olive-backed Sunbird are still sitting in a nest.

Further Afield:-
Maryfarms north of Mt. Molloy has been good over the past two weeks with displaying Australian Bustard, a Black-breasted Buzzard, up to 30 Diamond Dove and a flock of Red-tailed Black Cockatoo. 

Australian Bustard - male

Closer to home a fruiting fig tree at the back of Julatten has been attracting flocks of Barred Cuckoo-shrike, White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike, Australian Figbird and Double-eyed Fig-Parrot. Black-chinned Honeyeater were at Wessels Road near Abattoir Swamp and at least four Blue-faced Parrot-Finch were in another area near the swamp. At Abattoir Swamp a Spotless Crake was seen – the hide is still closed due to broken walkway. 

Just north of Mareeba is a small wetland we have been calling Brady Road Swamp which is on private property. Our neighbour and bird guide Andrew recently met the owner of the property the wetland is on, Fay. She is happy to have birders checking out the wetland, which can be viewed from the main road or along a power line corridor between the highway and the wetland. As usual please don't encroach onto private property. Fay named the wetland Lake Evan after her husband (bit grandiose to call it a lake!), so we suggest this name is adopted. Brady Road is named after their grandson who lives at the end of the road.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
27 mammals and reptiles over the last two weeks, which is the most we have seen for several months. A brief shower of rain late one afternoon tempted a few frogs out of hiding, Stoney Creek Frog, Cogger's Frog, White-lipped Tree Frog, Northern Dwarf Tree Frog, Desert Tree Frog and Cane Toad were the ones sighted. We found a Striped Possum on one of our nightwalks, which was the first for several months, it was a large male. Let hope he can avoid the attentions of the Barking Owl! Two Carpet Python were disturbed at the nearby nursing home by builders doing renovations, they were relocated to a more peaceful area. A welcome visitor to the Lodge was a 1m Lace Monitor who was seen going up a tree behind the bunkhouse, this is the first sighting for well over a year, it was seen later in the week walking across the camping area before heading up another tree. Hope it stays around. Our neighbours had Northern Broad-nosed Bat mating underneath their house and an Eastern Tube-nosed Bat was seen whilst on a nightwalk feeding on a Guava Fruit in the orchard. Thanks to one of our guests Phil Kelly for letting us use his excellent image of this bat.

Eastern Tube-nosed Bat
This interesting ant was running around on the veranda outside the units, would not stop still for a photo but eventually managed a reasonable shot of it. Not into ants so don't know the species!

Ant sp.
Recent Books:-
Gary Oliver called by to drop off his recently published book Birdshoot Australia.

This is a result of a 12 month challenge to break the record for photographing the most Australian species in a single year. Gary and his wife Glenda travelled over 55,000kms visiting every state in Australia. Its a fascinating read especially the bit about the Lodge! If you want a copy of the book you can phone Gary 0419 511 501.

Another recently released book is Sue Taylor's Best 100 Birdwatching Sites in Australia.

This is Sue’s personal list of her favorite places to bird. It is a well laid out book with lots of photos and information spread over two pages for each location, once again the Lodge features (at number 8). This is a very useful book to help you plan your trips to good birding locations and to target species on your “wants” list.

Thanks to Gary and Sue for the time and effort in producing two excellent books.

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