Sunday, 3 November 2013

3rd November 2013 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers

Weather Report
Only three rain events over the last two weeks, one of 1mm, another 1.5mm and the best was a very welcome 12mm; apart from that it has been dry and hot with temperatures up to 30ºC. Overnight temperatures were quite pleasant dropping down to 18ºC. Humidity dropped to 55% but went up into the low 90's.

Past Two Weeks Bird Sightings:-
Bird sightings for the first week were 103 seen and 6 heard, second week sightings were 108 seen and 5 heard. The last two weeks bird lists can be found on the Eremaea Birds Website:- 20th- 26th October and 27th October - 2nd November.

Morning walks were good with between 55 and 64 species for 2½hrs.

Birding Highlights:-
A small flock of at least six Varied Sitella were seen whilst on a guide morning walk in a patch of woodland along the Rex Highway from Geraghty Park, this was a first for a morning walk and one of a few sightings within our 1.5km bird list area. Two Papuan Frogmouth, male and female, were found roosting in the orchard and have been there for nearly two weeks – lets hope they make a good pair and start breeding. One of them was calling at mid-day on one occasion. An Australian Owlet-nightjar has been seen emerging from its daytime roost in the evening on a couple of occasions and also seen, whilst we were on a morning walk, sitting in its hollow enjoying some sun. A juvenile Pacific Baza was seen around the Lodge but only for a day, hopefully the adults have been breeding nearby. One of our tour groups were sitting down to breakfast one morning when a Red-necked Crake strolled by, this certainly woke them up and breakfast was interrupted as they all had excellent views of this bird as it moved about the rainforest – a lucky break for them! We also saw Red-necked Crake in the rainforest near our water pump on several occasions at the Platypus viewing area beside Bushy Creek. A Dollarbird was heard on the 21st and then several have been seen since, this was the first record for this season. A male Eastern Whipbird has been around for a few weeks, mainly in the rainforest around the orchard – lets hope this occasional visitor stays around for the summer wet season.

Eastern Whipbird

No more sightings of Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher since the initial report of one at the Lodge from 16-18th October, must have passed through the area. Other sightings included Wompoo Fruit-Dove who have been showing well around the Lodge grounds and two Pied Imperial-Pigeon who landed in a fruiting fig tree near the back entrance to the Lodge, the first for a few weeks. Superb Fruit-Dove have only been heard yet again. A pair of Pied Imperial-Pigeon flew into a neighbours fruiting fig tree one morning, the first for a few weeks. A Large-tailed Nightjar was seen flying over Geraghty Park whilst waiting for Barn Owl to appear, this is the one and only sighting for several years although we have heard them calling. A male Black-necked Stork was in one of the McDougall Road wetlands for a day before disappearing. A juvenile Pacific Baza was around the Lodge for an afternoon but not seen again and a White-bellied Sea-Eagle was on the ground beside a recently cut cane paddock. A Purple Swamphen was seen in one of the McDougall Road wetlands and our local pair of Bush Stone-curlew continue to raise their chicks. 

Purple Swamphen

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo are still in their nest hollow but no sign of any chicks yet. Channel-billed Cuckoo have been calling and flying over most days and Brush Cuckoo have also been calling. Barking Owl are still around but seem to be traveling further afield in the evenings as they have not been seen in the Lodge grounds very often. Azure Kingfisher are up and down Bushy Creek and often perch near the Platypus viewing area. A pair of Dollarbird have been in Geraghty Park, often together on an exposed branch and calling, hopefully looking for a nesting site in one of the tree hollows. At least two pairs of Noisy Pitta have been calling at all hours of the day and night and are still spending a lot of their time up in the trees where they do most of their calling. 16 species of honeyeater have been recorded over the two weeks; still with us are the Bridled Honeyeater, lots of Scarlet Honeyeater and the occasional Noisy and Little Friarbird. Barred Cuckoo-shrike are still regularly seen around the Lodge as are Cicadabird. Rufous Whistler have been very vocal over the past few weeks in the adjacent drier woodland areas. 

Rufous Whistler - male

An immature brown coloured Black Butcherbird has been seen in the Lodge grounds along with an adult. 

Black Butcherbird - immature

Spangled Drongo have been migrating through the area with some seen heading south. Northern Fantail has been back in the Lodges rainforest which must look like woodland to them as it is so dry. Black-faced Monarch, both typical birds and the ones with varying degrees of black in their primaries, have been calling but no nests sighted yet. Pale-yellow Robin have been the most prolific breeders so far this season with juveniles out of the nest being fed by parents, chicks in nests being fed, bird sitting and still nests being built. This bird had a nest between two hanging vines which were moving in the wind in a very precarious way, however it survived and the chicks fledged successfully.

Pale-yellow Robin

Only one or two Grey-headed Robin left around the grounds with all the others migrating back up into the mountains behind the Lodge. Metallic Starling are still busily and noisily building nests as well as hatching chicks judging by the number of empty egg shells under their nests.

Further Afield:-
A Grey Falcon was reported from Maryfarms between Mount Molloy and Mt. Carbine along with a Little Eagle. Several other Grey Falcon sightings have been made in the district over the last few years with several of them very convincing, no images as yet however. Maryfarms also turned up a couple of other unusual species for the area, a Black-breasted Buzzard and Black-faced Woodswallow. A very unusual sighting was of a banded Honeyeater at 950m on Mt. Lewis, seen by David (Chook) Crawford from Close-Up Birding Adventures, this goes with the Budgerigar seen earlier in the year at the same location! A few Satin Flycatcher have been reported, one a male on Mt. Lewis, another a female along Pinnacle Road in the Mowbray National Park. A Peregrine Falcon was just north of Mareeba at Lake Evan (Brady Swamp) where a pair of Nankeen Kestrel were nesting in a dead tree hollow. Also here was this Golden-headed Cisticola.

Golden-headed Cisticola

Lake Mitchell (between Mareeba and Mount Molloy has been regularly getting up to four Cotton Pygmy-goose and Abattoir Swamp has been good for crakes with White-browed, Spotless and Ballion's being seen near the hide. 

Spotless Crake

Also here was this Tawny Grassbird which obligingly popped up out of the grass.

Tawny Grassbird

The boardwalk leading to the hide is dangerous as it is in a bad state of disrepair with one section collapsed and quite a few boards missing on the walkway. Nearby Mt. Lewis has turned up the 13 Wet Tropic endemics over the last two weeks plus a lot of other birds including a few sub-species. Black-chinned Honeyeater were near Sides Road in Julatten. Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher have been seen in the Julatten area and one report had one in Cairns at the Barron Falls National Park at Rainforest Estate in Kamerunga. So they must be arriving at the Lodge any day now. A few White-throated Needletail sightings have been reported, two (1st for season) on Monday 28th October at McDougall Road and 100+ at Clacherty Road on 2nd November, both in Julatten.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
After recently being told about Australian Brush-turkey attacking Lace Monitors on another property in which the turkeys pecked off the end of the tail this behavior was witness on our only Lace Monitor. A turkey was chasing and pecking the tail but luckily the Lace Monitor managed to get up a tree before any serious damage was done – those pesky turkeys! Here is the monitor heading up the tree, notice it is shedding its skin.

Lace Monitor

 Both Red-legged Pademelon and Agile Wallaby have been around the Lodge with the pademelons mainly seen in the rainforest and the wallaby seen hopping past the reception area and up the main entrance road. Stripped Possum was seen in our neighbours garden and in the Lodge grounds where one was running up and down tree branches with its tail in the air, probably scent marking. We nearly ran over another one as it crossed the Rex Highway, it looked like a Meerkat (a small mammal belonging to the mongoose family and often the subject of wildlife films) with its tail held erect. The Platypus are still being regularly seen by those who get up early or watch until last light. Boyd's Forest Dragon, Eastern Water Dragon and Major Skink are all very active at the moment. The only snake for the two weeks was several sightings of Green Tree Snake.

Other Wildlife:- 
After one rain event several of the terrestrial termite mounds released what seemed like millions of winged termites. This created a feast for the birds who quickly snapped up these high protein morsels.

Termite sp.

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