Sunday, 2 February 2014

2nd February 2014 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Weather Report
The past few weeks has seen variable weather with a Cyclone threat which luckily for us went further south and caused very little damage. We did not get much rain, our January total rainfall was 217mm on 16 rain days, which was at least 50% less than our normal rains for this time of year. Temperatures had been around 21ºC -28ºC but after the cyclone passed by at the end of January we got west to northerly winds and an increase in temperatures up to 34ºC which is abnormally hot.

Past Three Weeks Bird Sightings:-
Sightings have now been transferred from Eremaea Birds to Eremaea ebird. The link to the Australian portal is Here . Here you can find all the information to allow you to input or retrieve data. It is early days with the new system so it will take a while to become familiar with it and work out how to retrieve data for Kingfisher Park BL.

Trip Report:-
Finally finished putting together our last years trip report for our visit to South Australia. You can find it at this link on our website

Birding Highlights:-
We can't top the Yellow-billed Kingfisher reported in the last blog seen along Bushy Creek. We heard the kingfisher calling in the rainforest adjacent to Bushy Creek the morning after it was seen but were unable to see it. Since then there has been no other reports of Yellow-billed Kingfisher in the area. Another new bird for our 1.5km area Lodge bird list was Plumed Whistling-Duck, 22 were seen standing beside a dam behind Geraghty Park on our Birdlife Australia Day weekend, this puts our list up to 225 species. Two groups of Papuan Frogmouth have been seen in the Lodge and along the nearby Bushy Creek, the three along Bushy Creek are two adults and a juvenile from last years nest in the local nursing home. The two in the Lodge grounds are a male and female which did not nest last year, they have been moving around each day and have been difficult to find. A Superb Fruit-Dove was actually seen in a fruiting tree on the edge of the Lodge one morning, this represented the third sighting in six months during which they have been heard most days. Should be called Superb Hiding-Dove! Pied Imperial Pigeon have been increasing in numbers with at least 200 seen feasting on fruiting trees in the Lodge grounds and surrounds. These birds are probably coming from Low Isles off the coast of Port Douglas. It was only four years ago that the first Pied Imperial Pigeon arrived at the Lodge. Nesting Pacific Baza has two very large chicks standing up in their nest waiting to be fed by the busy adults. Red-necked Crake also have three chicks in tow and have been seen several times. The adult birds have been coming regularly to the Crake Pool in the morning and evening for a bathe. Our neighbours saw a pair of Pale-vented Bush-hen come to their bird bath with six chicks several times, how lucky are they. 

Pale-vented Bushen - chick in birdbath

Pale-vented Bushen - adult with three chicks

Other pairs of bushen have been glimpsed in the grassy edges of the roads around the Lodge and also along Bushy Creek but they are very secretive. All the nesting Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher are now feeding young in their nests, there are at least seven nests with another possible one within the Lodge grounds. Several pairs of Noisy Pitta have been around the Lodge and adjacent area with at least four juvenile birds seen foraging and being fed by adults. At least 12 species of honeyeater have been seen including White-throated Honeyeater and Black-chinned Honeyeater heard. 

White-throated Honeyeater

An Olive-backed Oriole nest successfully fledged one bird from a nest only about 2m off the ground in a neighbours Raintree. Pied Monarch are calling and being seen and Yellow-breasted Boatbill have just started to call after being quiet for a few months.

Further Afield:-
At least 50Fork-tailed (Pacific) Swift were over Cattana Wetlands, Cairns on the 20th January at 8.30am. Two Yellow Wagtail were reported from Lake Evan (Brady Road Swamp) 4km north of Mareeba on 24th January. Two Pink-eared Duck were also at this location a week earlier. On 31st January one of our guests reported a Freckled Duck at Daves Dam 25km north of Mt. Carbine, believed to be the first record from here. Four birders from Townsville sighted a Nankeen Night Heron roosting on Mt. Lewis at 950m on 21st January, very unusual, record can be found on Eremaea Birdline. Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours had a Dusky Honeyeater from the same location, this was a first for him so it must be very unusual.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
A few snakes have been around the grounds, a Green Tree Snake was in the orchard and a small Australian Scrub Python was curled up on a tree at the end of the units veranda, giving the birds something to shout at. A Yellow-footed Antichinus is living in a tree hollow beside our camp kitchen and often seen running along the rafters. Red-legged Pademelon are around in the rainforest during the day and come out into the grassy orchard at night. At least 50 Red-legged Pademelon were seen in a 10km stretch of the Mt. Lewis one night which is an extraordinary number. Striped Possum was seen on a couple of occasions but are proving very elusive at the moment. No sign of Green Ringtail Possum since last September which is a worry. Frogs seen were Jungguy Frog, White-lipped Tree Frog, Desert Tree Frog, Dainty Green Tree Frog, Coggers Frog and Cane Toad plus Northern Dwarf tree Frog was heard. Boyd's Forest Dragon, Eastern Water Dragon and Major Skink have all been regulars.

This Giant Silverback spider (Genus Idiommata, family Barychelidae) was found at the rear of our units, it was a first for us. It was relocated to the rainforest after we took a few images of it. It was quite aggressive rearing up and showing its fangs. These spiders are venomous but not deadly. They build a burrow in the ground which is short, open, often with a collar of leaves; a short horizontal flask down the burrow is sealed by a thick door. Thanks to Graham Anderson and Dr. Robert Raven (Queensland Museum) for identifying the spider.

Giant Silverback

2014 Australia Day Weekend at Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge, Julatten:-

BirdLife Northern Queensland held its 14th annual Australia Day long weekend get-together at Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge, Julatten, hosted by Keith & Lindsay. It was well attended with over 30 people coming to enjoy, field trips, guided walks, talks and a movie night. As usual these weekends are very social with lots of interesting food and a relaxed atmosphere.

Saturday morning saw the group going up onto Mt. Lewis to look for some of the Wet Tropic endemics, all 13 occur on the mountain. The main attraction here was Blue-faced Parrot-Finch, which occur here from November to April. We were not disappointed as there were at least eight feeding alongside the road. Other good sightings were white phase Grey Goshawk, male Golden Bowerbird, two families of Chowchilla having a territorial dispute, Victoria's Riflebird and a Barred Cuckoo-shrike feeding young in a nest, in all we saw 27 species. Late afternoon we went to Wessel Road in Julatten to look at open woodland and Melaleuca swamp country, here we found 29 species including Buff-banded Rail plus Lovely and Red-backed Fairy-wren. The evening was spent eating a communal dinner followed by a talk from Lloyd Nielsen. Lloyd is a well known ornithologist who lives in the area and has been studying local bird fauna for many years. His talk was about the status of Fuscous and Yellow-tinted Honeyeater in our region. His preliminary studies suggest that there is the possibility that there are no Fuscous Honeyeater in our region but several forms of Yellow-tinted Honeyeater or even a new species. Several populations on the Atherton Tableland and Lakefield National Park occur in distinctly different habitats and have different calls to each other. Two distinct populations occur either side of a 700m woodland barrier in one area of the Atherton Tableland. It would appear that it is a very complicated identification problem that needs further investigation requiring DNA testing to sort it out – sounds like a good project for a Ph.D. Student. This is an image from one of the populations on the Atherton Tableland of what maybe another form of the Yellow-tinted Honeyeater.

Yellow-tinted Honeyeater?

Sunday morning was spent at a private property along Rifle Creek in Mt. Molloy where we saw 35 species including Black Bittern, Pacific Baza, Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, Shining Flycatcher and Eastern Yellow-Robin. Also seen here were hundreds of Sapphire Flutterer dragonflies. 

Sapphire Flutterer

Early afternoon we had a talk by Kath Shurcliff, Birdlife North Queensland Convener, about the list and atlas entry of the Eremaea Birds online database for birds, which has now moved to a new site called Eremaea ebird which is a real-time, online checklist program. eBird has revolutionized the way that the birding community reports and accesses information about birds. Kath introduced us to the differences between the two databases and how to use ebird for entering and retrieving data. The aim is to get everyone using ebird and making their records, many of which are hidden away in notebooks, available for everyone to access.The evening was spent watching a DVD, filmed at the Lodge, about the breeding cycle of the Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher which migrate from Papua New Guinea to breed in North Queensland rainforest each year during the “Wet Season. They nest in low terrestrial termite mounds before heading back to PNG in April.

Monday morning was spent in and around the Lodge for two hours during which time we recorded 52 species including Plumed Whistling-Duck, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, 30+ Red-tailed Black Cockatoo were the first for this season,(they usually are present in January - February) and a White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike nest with two very large chicks in it. 

White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike

We experienced a few showers of rain but luckily they did not interfere with a very successful weekend in which we saw 113 species and heard a further 11 species.

Thanks to all those that made the weekend a success especially Del Richards, Lloyd Nielsen, Kath Shurcliff and Doug Herrington Birdlife North Queensland Activities Officer.

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