Sunday, 15 December 2013

15th December 2013 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Weather Report
Over the last two weeks rainfall has again been patchy and light with falls of 3mm on three occasions but towards the end of the second week a front came through just after midnight, which dumped 30mm in 45 minutes along with a thunder and lightning show, then the next night was even more spectacular. A thunderstorm was right overhead and was very noisy but the rain was not as heavy as the day before with only 23mm. This added up to 62mm for the two weeks. Temperatures were again up to 30ºC. Overnight temperatures were only dropping down to 21ºC. Humidity dropped to low 60% but went up into the low 90%.

Past Two Weeks Bird Sightings:-
Bird sightings for the first week were 93, 87 seen and 6 heard, second week sightings were 99, 94 seen and 5 heard. The last two weeks bird lists can be found on the Eremaea Birds Website:- 1st- 7th December and 8th- 14th December.

Birding Highlights:-
Not much to report on the waterbird front as showers in the area created many temporary waterholes which attracted the birds away from our area. A Peaceful Dove was nesting high up in a tree (20m) on the edge of Geraghty Park, the nest was unusually large and stable in a fork on a branch, quite unusual for a dove!

Peaceful Dove

Our neighbour Carol (bird guide) reported 10 White-throated Needletail heading over her house and the Lodge grounds on 8th December. A single Black-necked Stork appeared for a day along McDougall Road and most of the Cattle Egret have coloured up into breeding condition and left the area with just a few still hanging around. One highlight was a Black-breasted Buzzard flying over Geraghty Park and the Lodge on the afternoon of the 4th but it has not been seen since. Pacific Baza have been building a nest in the area, hopefully it will be successful. White-bellied Sea-Eagle have been calling after keeping quiet for several months, not sure what that is about. Red-necked Crake have been calling and seen; on the morning of the 5th one foraged around the Crake Pool for more than 30 minutes giving everyone good views and photo opportunities. Pale-vented Bush-hen have been calling all around the Lodge with at least six pairs but as usual have been difficult to see. One was seen flying across the top of grass alongside Mt. Kooyong Road and another late one afternoon foraging along the edge of the same road and the Lodge grounds. Scaly-breasted Lorikeet were seen at a nest hollow feeding nestlings in Geraghty Park and Double-eyed Fig-Parrot were also flying around the park and Lodge grounds. 

Scaly-breasted Lorikeet - at nest

Barn Owl have been the only owl seen over the two weeks, even the Barking Owl have gone quiet or moved away. Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher are continuing to dig out their nests with some completed. We have counted at least seven with a possible two more nests which may have been started but not continued on with. Rainbow Bee-eater have returned after an absence of nearly two months when a group was seen flying over McDougall Road. Noisy Pitta are still keeping quiet around the Lodge grounds but have been heard calling across Bushy Creek and near the local nursing home. We suspect our two pairs are nesting somewhere within the grounds as they have occasionally been seen foraging on the edge of the orchard. Red-backed Fairy-Wren have been along McDougall Road and Lovely Fairy-wren have been heard around the Lodge grounds but not seen. Striated Pardalote have been heard calling for the first time in a month and may have been nesting. Honeyeater species have been a bit less with only 11 seen over the past two weeks. Graceful and Macleay's Honeyeater have been feeding recently fledged young with banana. White-winged Triller is a rarity in our area so it was a surprise to see a female in a flock of Bee-eaters along McDougall Road! This scrawny looking bird was walking around on Mt. Kooyong Road just down from the Lodge, it is an Australasian Figbird. It was obviously out of the nest too early as it could not fly, only hop and flutter its wings. After moving it off the road the adult birds came down to feed it, hopefully it survived. 

Australasian Figbird - fledgeling

A pair of Spangled Drongo was seen building a nest about 5m up in a eucalypt tree in Geraghty Park. Northern Fantail has been in Geraghty Park and Lodge grounds as has been Leaden Flycatcher. Black-faced Monarch has been building a nest in our neighbours garden and Spectacled Monarch are sitting on nests in the Lodge grounds. Pied Monarch have been calling and showing well most days unlike the Yellow-breasted Boatbill who have been calling spasmodically and showing occasionally. Pale-yellow Robin are sitting on nests and feeding juveniles who are hanging onto the adults like limpets! Metallic Starling are as busy as ever, building nests and feeding nestlings. Olive-backed Sunbird are having fun chasing off their reflections in the guests car windows and mirrors, this one has both a window and a wing mirror to chase!

Further Afield:-
Ian “Sauce” Worcester from Daintree River Wildwatch reported 5 Spotted Whistling-Duck on a couple of his early morning birding trips on the Daintree River, he sent this image of the ducks.

Spotted Whistling-Duck

On 5th December a group of Japanese guests were lucky to encounter an adult Southern Cassowary along the Mt. Lewis road at about 600m. The bird moved directly towards them before turning into the rainforest and disappearing, they managed to get images and video of the event. Cassowaries are not common on Mt. Lewis but are occasionally seen a few times each year. Blue-faced Parrot-Finch sightings have been patchy with only a few birds seen. Lake Evan (Brady Road Swamp), on private property but can be viewed from the road, about 4km north of Mareeba has had a few interesting birds over the last two weeks,. We saw a Common Sandpiper, 5 Glossy Ibis, a Yellow-billed Spoonbill with 5 Royal Spoonbill and over 500 Magpie Goose, full list can be found here. Ferrero Road Wetland, Port Douglas, also on private property can be viewed from the road, also had a few interesting birds on it. There was 40 Wandering Whistling-Duck, an Australasian Grebe sitting on a nest near the island in the centre and 5 Pied Heron, full list can be found here.

Wandering Whistling-Duck

Australasian Grebe

Cattana Wetlands, Cairns, was also visited but it was only a very quick visit due to time constraints, full list can be found here.

Abattoir Swamp:-
Just a note about this site which is only 6km from the Lodge. There is a path from the car park onto a boardwalk which leads to a hide, unfortunately the wooden boardwalk is in a bad state of repair and is quite dangerous. Our local council repaired some damaged boards and supports last year with what appeared to be untreated timber. They were very quick to respond to our complaint and had it repaired and inspected within a week but this year is a different situation. Our current council is being de-amalgamated so have put any works that need doing which fall into the new councils responsibility on hold. We will have a new council on 1st January but they are already saying they have no money so if/when the boardwalk will be repaired we don't know. We will certainly be asking that it is repaired as it is an important part of the local birding infrastructure. We just had to remove a dumped washing machine from the car park as we have had no response from the council to remove it. Hopefully something can be done to get the hide access fixed and we can once again enjoy looking out for crakes and other waterbirds. Currently the hide is home to a Brown Tree Snake and an Australian Scrub Python. This image shows the boardwalk and hide in better times.

Abattoir Swamp Boardwalk and Hide

Reptiles and Mammals:-
Red-legged Pademelon continue to occupy the rainforest during the day and venture out into the orchard at night where they are usually seen. Northern Broad-nosed and Little Bent-wing Bat have been taking shelter under the windows of the office block at night, especially during the storms. Frogs have woken up and have been calling prior to and during the rain storms, mainly White-lipped Green Tree Frog and Dainty Green Tree Frog. Our regular male and female Boyd's Forest Dragon have been in the rainforest area in front of the units most days. One day they were very close to each other so maybe some baby dragons might appear!

The wetter weather has encourage fungi to start appearing, these are just a couple of them.

Fungi sp.

Fungi sp.

Also a few beetles have also started to come around which is something that has declined over the years we have been visiting and running the Lodge. This one was out during the day. Not experts on beetles but this one looks like one of the Chaffer beetles (?).

Beetle sp.

This will be the last blog before Christmas so we would like to wish all our followers, past and future guests and anyone else who happens upon this blog a safe and happy Christmas and New Year. We have had a great year and have met some fantastic people. We have also enjoyed showing our birds and wildlife to all our guests and to those of you who cannot make it showing what we have through the blog. This is one of our favourite Christmas birds from the past.


a-m Burgoine said...

Thanks again for your great blog with news from 'the north'. I wish you both great joy through Christmas & all the best luck & wonder that the new year can bring.

Keith and Lindsay Fisher said...

Hi, Thanks for your encouraging comment. Best wishes for the festive season and coming year. Next year could be very interesting.K & L