Sunday, 12 January 2014

12th January 2014 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Weather Report
Welcome to 2014 and hope you all enjoyed Christmas/New Year celebrations. Since the last blog the weather has been a mixed bag, extremely hot for here - up to 35ºc, but elsewhere in Queensland almost 50ºC! It did get down to 18ºc overnight on a couple of occasions. Rain has been very patchy with only 33mm over the last four weeks when we should be getting more as it is our “Wet Season”. The monsoonal trough is over the far north of Australia, across Cape York Peninsula and is forecast to come further south in the next two weeks so we should expect some good rainfalls. The total rainfall for the last year was 1473mm which is well below our average. In 1992 Julatten had 2148mm in January alone!

Past Four Weeks Bird Sightings:-
Bird sightings for the first week were , seen and a high number of heard, second week sightings were , seen and heard. The last four weeks bird lists can be found on the Eremaea Birds Website:- 15th - 21st December , 22nd - 28th December , 29th December - 4th January, 5th - 11th January

Birding Highlights:-
The absolute highlight over the last month was a female Yellow-billed Kingfisher seen by three of our guests perched along Bushy Creek near the Platypus viewing area on the 28th December. Luckily two of the guests had a camera on hand and took a few images, two of which they sent us to put into the blog, shown below. 

Yellow-billed Kingfisher - female

Yellow-billed Kingfisher - female

Yellow-billed Kingfisher is a Cape York Peninsula speciality occurring as far south as about Coen, which is over 500km north of the Lodge. There have been a few records in our area including a previous one in Julatten, but none have been written up (as far as we know) or photographed. We heard it calling in the rainforest the next morning, but did not see it. That was the last record of it so we presume it moved on. That was exciting!

Papuan Frogmouth have been playing hide and seek by not staying in the same location two days running, this pair was seen one day on the edge of the orchard.

Papuan Frogmouth

Lesser Sooty Owl has been heard a few times and hopefully has moved back into the Lodge grounds since the Barking Owl appear to have left the area. Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher are nesting and hopefully sitting on eggs, we have at least eight nests around the Lodge with several others in our neighbours garden and adjacent rainforest. Other birds seen nesting include, Australian Brush-turkey, Peaceful Dove, Pacific Baza, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Dollarbird, Australasian Figbird, Olive-backed Oriole, Spangled Drongo, Black-faced Monarch, Spectacled Monarch, Magpie Lark, Pale-yellow Robin, Metallic Starling, Olive-backed Sunbird, Red-browed Finch (nothing new here as they build nests all year around) and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin.

A few interesting observations regarding nesting birds were; a Spangled Drongo building a nest seen placing sticks and wriggling around in the nest to shape it then a week later the nest was occupied by an Australian Figbird who is still in it! The pair of Spangled Drongo are now in another nest in the same tree, but on the other side. Not sure whether the drongo was trying to take over the figbirds nest or the figbird stole the drongos nest. Also of interest was a Pale-yellow Robin nest which had at least one nestling in it. There were four adults attending this nest and feeding the young. When I passed the nest the adults started flying around my head to chase me off before dropping to the ground. Here they started doing a broken wing display, then as I backed away the birds headed to the nearby leaf litter and started to move around with both wings outstretched and flapping. 

Pale-yellow Robin - broken wing display

Pale-yellow Robin - disturbing insects on the ground

Presumably they were trying to disturb insects as they were turning over leaves at the same time. Not seen this behaviour before. Noisy Pitta have bred and have at least one juvenile which has been seen in the vicinity of the Crake Pool. Varied Sittella were seen along McDougall Road, this is an uncommon species in the vicinity of the Lodge, but over the last couple of years sightings have become more frequent. Pied Monarch and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been calling and seen around the Lodge grounds most days. 

Pied Monarch
Further Afield:-
Euluma Creek Road, Julatten has been turning up some uncommon birds in the district including Tawny Grassbird and Horsfield's Bushlark. Abattoir Swamp has had Black-chinned Honeyeater (Golden-backed form) and Northern Fantail. Five Squatter Pigeon and six Grey-crowned Babbler were at Mt. Molloy. Lake Mitchell had at least 45 Whiskered Tern, two Brolga and two Black-necked Stork. A dam on the Kondaparinga Road north of Mt. Carbine had a Bar-breasted Honeyeater building a nest on a Rubber Vine, an unusual record. The isolated population of White-gaped Honeyeater were seen at the regular location of the McLeod River along with a nesting Black Bittern. Hasties Swamp near Atherton has been getting good numbers of birds, we counted 247 Pink-eared Duck, at least 400 Grey Teal plus 10 Freckled Duck and at least 150 Eurasian Coot on 17th December but Alan Gillanders from Alan's Wildlife Tours had 269 Pink-eared Duck, 500+ Plumed Whistling-Duck and 28 Freckled Duck on the 8th January. There were plenty of other species present, but not in high numbers, Latham's Snipe have also been seen here recently. Our full list from Hasties can be found on the e-bird site. Lake Evan (Brady Road Swamp) 4km north of Mareeba has been getting up to 1200 Magpie Goose as well as a variety of other species such as Plumed Whistling-Duck, Red-kneeded Dotterel and a single Pink-eared Duck. 

Magpie Goose - part of the flock of 1200

Red-rumped Swallow and immature Barn Swallow were reported from Somerset Drive north of Mossman. We went down to have a look, but only found Fairy Martin and Tree Martin on the powerlines. Next to the powerlines was this very appropriate sign which says it all!

Whilst we were down that way we called into Newell Beach Boat Ramp at the mouth of the Mossman River which flows into the ocean here and forms a sandbar which is often good for shorebirds. A few Bar-tailed Godwit were about the most exciting birds present as it was high tide and most of the sandbar was under water.

Newell Beach at mouth of Mossman River

A trip to Cairns on the 9th January actually coincided with a favourable tide for a change. Plenty of shorebirds including a Sanderling on the mudflats with Red-necked Stint. Sanderling are not very common at the Esplanade. Other shorebirds included both Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit, Terek and Curlew and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Lesser and Greater Sandplover, Grey-tailed Tattler, Great Knot, Eastern Curlew and Whimbrel. Full list can be found on the Eremaea Birds site. Mt. Lewis is again proving to be the spot to go to with numbers of Blue-faced Parrot-Finch climbing up to at least 40 which is the most seen for many years.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
A few snakes have come active with the warmer weather including a Red-bellied Black seen on the track to Bushy Creek, a Green Tree Snake eating a poor unfortunate White-lipped Tree Frog and an Australian Scrub Python has been in our neighbours garden. 

Green Tree Snake with White-lipped Tree Frog

Boyd's Forest Dragon, Eastern Water Dragon and Major Skink have all been showing well. Platypus has been around with three being seen one late afternoon. Bats have been active with 6 species seen, Eastern Horseshoe Bat, Large-footed Myotis, Northern Broad-nosed Bat, Little Bentwing Bat and Diadem Leaf-nosed Bat plus Spectacled Flying-Fox. Red-legged Pademelon have been seen scurrying around the rainforest and in the orchard. A Yellow-footed Antichinus (small rat like species) was seen hurrying across the reception area feeder one morning, the first for several weeks.

No comments: