Sunday, 1 December 2013

1st December 2013 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Weather Report
Over the last two weeks rainfall has been quite heavy as the monsoonal trough arrived about a month earlier than normal dumping 239mm over the two weeks. Temperatures went up to an extremely hot 33.1ÂșC one day but this was an exception. Overnight temperatures were only dropping down to low 20's. Humidity was high into the 85-95% range.

Past Two Weeks Bird Sightings:-
Bird sightings for the first week were 106, 102 seen and 4 heard, second week sightings were restricted by the rain which cut down on observation time with 89 recorded, 78 seen and 11 heard. The last two weeks bird lists can be found on the Eremaea Birds Website:- 17th - 23rd November and 24th - 30th November.

A morning walk turned up 55 species.

Birding Highlights:-
Papuan Frogmouth have been found in the area sitting on a nest with a fluffy white chick and Pacific Baza have been seen carrying sticks into a Blue Quandong tree, hopefully they will successfully build a nest. One Papuan Frogmouth, female, was spotlighted one evening whilst on an organised walk.

Papuan Frogmouth - mum and fluffy white baby

Pale-vented Bush-hen returned over the last few days of the second week when we heard them calling but have not seen any yet. Red-necked Crake are still calling and making a few appearances, this one was running across our neighbours garden.

Red-necked Crake

The local pair of Bush Stone-curlew continue to care for their two growing chicks who are now about ¾ adult size and Double-eyed Fig-Parrot have been making appearances in a couple of local fruiting fig trees. Cuckoos have been particularly vocal with the onset of the wet weather, Pheasant Coucal, Eastern Koel, Channel-billed, Gould's Bronze-Cuckoo and most vocal are the Brush Cuckoo. 

Brush Cuckoo

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo are still in their nest hollow and this one, which looks like a scruffy juvenile, was checking us out.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Barking Owl are still around but not being heard every night and not seen for over a week but the Barn Owl are calling and being seen. Azure Kingfisher have been along Bushy Creek and the Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher are flying around all over the lodge grounds and calling a lot with a few starting to build their nests in the termite mounds. We will not know how many pairs we have until they all start building when we can look at how many of our nearly 50 termite mounds are occupied. Blue-winged Kookaburra have been quiet and not showing so we think they are nesting. Noisy Pitta have also gone quiet so they may also be nesting, they are still showing in the orchard as they search for food. Lovely Fairy-wren were seen one afternoon along the edge of our orchard and heard again the next day in the same area but they are not regular here although our neighbours hear them frequently moving through the back of their garden. Some honeyeaters have been seen feeding recently fledged birds, mainly Graceful and Macleay's Honeyeater. In all 11 species were seen and Black-chinned Honeyeater heard over the last two weeks. Barred Cuckoo-shrike and Cicadabird have been around most days as have Spangled Drongo whose numbers have increased over the past weeks. Yellow-breasted Boatbill and Pied Monarch have again been vocal and showing. Metallic Starling are also continuing to build nests and fledge chicks at a rapid rate. Olive-backed Sunbird are also building nests, one pair on their second nest for the season. We also had the return of a few Chestnut-breasted Mannikin to the area after being absent for several months.

Further Afield:-
A small wetland on the edge of Port Douglas has been turning up some good birds over the past few months and a recent visit found interesting birds such as this Pink-eared Duck which had almost finished preening and showing the pink ear very well.

Pink-eared Duck

This Pied Heron (heavily cropped image below) was also at the wetland. A full list can be found on the Eremaea Birds site.

Pied Heron

Also on the same day a morning visit to the Cattana Wetlands at Cairns in less than favourable weather conditions found a White-browed Crake walking out on the water lilies

White-browed Crake

along with this nice adult Comb-crested Jacana, which you would expect on the lilies. A full list can be found on the Eremaea Birds site.

Comb-crested Jacana

An Elegant Imperial Pigeon was reported from Thornton Beach, Cape Tribulation, Daintree on the 19th November. This species can be overlooked in amongst the Pied Imperial Pigeon so be aware and keep looking. Murray Hunt from Daintree Boatman Nature Tours had a Spotted Whistling-Duck on his early morning Daintree River birding tour on the 27th November. This was the first sighting since January 2013. The Rufous Owl in Cairns on the corner of Florence and Abbott street in the mango trees was still there on the 27th November as it has been for several weeks now. Mt. Lewis has had up to six Blue-faced-Parrot Finch at the clearing with several sightings, mainly early morning.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
The welcome rain has got the frogs calling with at least eight species calling, most of which were seen. The most vocal have been White-lipped Tree Frog, Dainty Green Tree Frog and Cogger's Frog. A Slaty-grey Snake appeared in our neighbours garden which is a very uncommon species around the Lodge. A guided nightwalk had a Short-beaked Echidna climbing on a log by the Crake Pool, in our orchard, before dropping into the water and climbing up the bank and into the rainforest. This was followed a few minutes later by a Duck-billed Platypus in Bushy Creek, two monotremes within five minutes, this has only happened once before for us. Red-legged Pademelon with a joey has been seen in the orchard on several nights as has been a large male Agile Wallaby.

Other Wildlife:-
The rain has also drawn out many butterflies including Ulysses, Cairns Birdwing and this wet season form female Orange Bush-brown.

Orange Bush-brown - female

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