Sunday, 16 February 2014

15th February 2014 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Weather Report
The first week from 2nd to 8th February saw the monsoonal trough come down and deposit 303.5mm of rain, which saw some minor flooding lasting a couple of days. One day we had 143mm. The second week from 9th to15th was not quite as wet, it started off with a day of 142mm then slowed down over the week ending up with two sunny days and a total of 162mm of rain. So the two weeks produced 467mm (approx 18.5 inches). Temperatures we quite cool with the overcast rainy days getting up to 25ºC but climbing up to 30ºC on the two sunny days. Minimum temperatures were around 21ºC. The monsoonal trough is forecast to return next week so we can look forward to some more rain. Further north on the west side of Cape York Peninsula the town of Kowanyama has had over 1200mm for the week! Serious rain.

Past Two Weeks Bird Sightings:-
These can be found on the Eremaea eBird site. 2nd - 8th February and 9th - 15th February.

Birding Highlights:-
An adult Pacific Black Duck was seen whizzing down the swollen Bushy Creek with eight ducklings in tow, they were in one big blob hanging on to each other until they managed to get out of the main current and pull off into calmer water at the rear of our neighbours property. The nesting Pacific Baza also reported in the last blog have now fledged two chicks as of five days ago. The juveniles are now in the Lodge grounds constantly begging food from the adults. A pair of White-bellied Sea-Eagle have started to call and fly over the Lodge after keeping a low profile for the last few months, maybe they are looking at nesting. Our pair of Red-necked Crake have been seen several times walking through the rainforest but no sign of the three chicks they had. 

Red-necked Crake

The two Pale-vented Bush-hen adults reported in the last blog with six chicks now have five chicks who survived the rain and flooding. Lets hope they all survive. Two Australian Bustard were found near the Julatten school just inside our 1.5km radius for the Lodge list which is quite unusual. We have had three records in the past, one in 2011 and two in 2012. This image is a male displaying at Maryfarms north of Mt. Molloy.

Australian Bustard

Channel-billed Cuckoo have been flying over heading north in small groups of up to six birds. An Eastern Koel is still with us and has just started to call again. A Lesser Sooty Owl was heard one night but not seen. Noisy Pitta have also fired up with at least four calling around the orchard one day and another couple calling from across Bushy Creek near the nursing home, who reported one presumably feeding on mangoes, it may also have been feeding on insects attracted to the fruit. A pair of Great Bowerbird were foraging in Geraghty Park, where they are not common but they are to be found nearby, usually along McDougall Road. Honeyeater numbers were down but that could be due to the lesser effort put in over the two weeks due to the rain but we did still manage nine species. Spangled Drongo appear to be heading north with an increase in numbers for at least two days, now there are just one or two hanging around. Black-faced Monarch are still with us but should be heading north soon. A pair of Spectacled Monarch are sitting on a nest in front of our accommodation units in a tree they used a few years ago but in October. A Brown Victoria's Riflebird (immature male or female) turned up in our neighbours garden to investigate their Paw Paw tree but left disappointing as there was no fruit on it. A pair of nesting Olive-backed Sunbird seem to have lost the nestlings, Black Butcherbird are the main suspects. After the rain the clouds cleared and the mountain ranges at the back of the Lodge once more came into view.

Mountain Ranges looking towards Mt. Lewis

Further Afield:-
Four Spotted Whistling-Duck turned up at Barrett's Lagoon near Cooktown on 2nd February making this the first record of this species in the Cooktown area. Thanks to Kath and Dave for this record. Their were at least 35 Great-crested Grebe at Lake Barrine on the Atherton Tableland on 4th February. This location often has 100+ Great-crested Grebe present, full list for visit is on Eremaea eBird

Lake Evan (Brady Road Swamp)

Two Yellow-billed Spoonbill, a Pale-headed Rosella and two Red-winged Parrot were among birds seen at Lake Evan (Brady Road Swamp) 4km north of Mareeba. Full list can be found on Eremaea eBird

Red-winged Parrot

Little Lorikeet were along McLean Bridge Road in Julatten, this is about the furthermost east their distribution occurs. Also along here and at Abattoir Swamp were Black-chinned Honeyeater, Golden-backed form. Bridled Honeyeater were also in Julatten along Perseverance Road, the main population are still on Mt. Lewis.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
As you can imagine with all the rain the frogs were out in force and extremely vocal. Those seen were Striped Marsh Frog, Jungguy Frog, White-lipped Tree Frog, Northern Dwarf tree Frog, Dessert Tree Frog, Dainty Green Tree Frog, Cogger's Frog and Cane Toad, plus Green Tree Frog, Peron's Tree Frog and Roth's Tree Frog were heard. 

Striped Marsh Frog

Boyd's Forest Dragon, Eastern Water Dragon and Major Skink were around as they have been for the last few months. This male Boyd's Forest Dragon was coming to the feeder for banana during the rain.

Boyd's forest Dragon

A Brown Tree Snake was curled up on a tree branch in the camping area much to the annoyance of the birds who were scalding it but the snake took no notice and kept sleeping. Mammals were not very active during the rain along with the spotters so not much was seen in the first week but the dryer weather in the second week was more productive. Those seen were Fawn-footed Melomys, Yellow-footed Antichinus, Red-legged Pademelon (adult and youngster), Agile Wallaby, Eastern Horseshoe Bat, Large-footed Myotis, Northern Broad-nosed Bat, Giant White-tailed Rat, several Striped Possum, both Long-nosed and Northern Brown Bandicoot plus Spectacled Flying Fox making 12 species.

A selection of insects which have appeared since the rain has started, prior to the rain insects were pretty much non existent.

Cairns Birdwing

Grasshopper Sp.

Longicorn Beetle

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