We are back online after being away since the beginning of the month, our friends Kath and Dave looked after the Lodge for us and kept the bird records for the three weeks while we were on holiday, thanks to them for doing such a great job. Their records plus the last weeks are summarised below.
Rainfall over the period we were away amounted to 172mm which we know from our travels to SE Queensland, Northern New South Wales and Lord Howe Island would be most welcome there as it was very dry when we were visiting. Hopefully this last week has put some useful rainfalls in those areas. In addition the last weeks rainfall was 59.5mm on six rainy days. For the year so far we have recorded almost 1100mm. Temperatures ranged from 19ºC to 29ºC.
The past four weeks sighting were around 100 species per week.
Three Cotton Pygmy-goose in one of the McDougall Road wetlands in the first week of March. Wompoo and Superb Fruit-Dove were both seen and heard, in addition a pair of Superb Fruit-Dove were spotlighted roosting on 29/3 in the rainforest. No sightings of Papuan Frogmouth in the Lodge grounds, but three were roosting nearby in the last week of March. Two Black-necked Stork have been around most weeks. Pacific Baza showed up in the first week and both Brown Goshawk and Collared Sparrowhawk have been in the area. Red-necked Crake have been seen over the last three weeks, including three recently fledged juveniles with two adults, pottering around in the rainforest. This sighting means that this pair have bred a second time this season. Pale-vented Bush-hen have been showing each week with at least nine seen in the last week of March. This juvenile bird is about two months old and is one of five survivors from a clutch of six.
|Pale-vented Bush-hen - juvenile|
Both Buff-banded Rail and White-browed Crake were seen along McDougall Road. Red-tailed Black Cockatoo were around for the first two weeks of March, but have not been seen or heard since. Cuckoos have been quite obvious with the highlight a flock of 30+ Channel-billed Cuckoo, which usually gather in groups of immatures at this time of year to fly north. Other cuckoos seen or heard were Pheasant Coucal, Eastern Koel and Little (Gould's) Bronze-Cuckoo. A pair of Barking Owl returned for a couple of weeks, but moved off when they realised they had cleaned the area out of food when they were here before for 18 months!
Lesser Sooty Owl has been heard most weeks, but not seen. Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher numbers appear to have decreased since we were away as we have not seen or heard many, but we have seen a few adults and a few juvenile birds so they are still around to be observed.
|Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher - juvenile|
13 species of honeyeater were seen including Lewin's Honeyeater who have returned from higher altitudes where they breed. A White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike was seen feeding a juvenile and both Barred Cuckoo-shrike and Cicadabird have been seen. A Grey Whistler was seen feeding a recently fledged young; would like to know where they nest as we have never found one in nearly nine years.
Little (Rufous) Shrike-thrush, Leaden Flycatcher, Black-faced Monarch and Lemon-bellied Flycatcher were also seen feeding juveniles. Grey-headed Robin have returned from the mountains behind the Lodge and both Fairy and Tree Martin were seen along McDougall Road. Metallic Starling are still with us, but will be leaving soon to head north or maybe just go down to the coast where they are all year now. Red-browed Finch were seen breeding which seems to be an all year event! Australian Pipit have also returned to the area.
There were up to four Yellow-billed Spoonbill at Lake Evan (Brady Road Swamp), 4km north of Mareeba in the last week of March, not a common bird in our region. Two Latham's Snipe were seen at Ferraro Road, Port Douglas. Eastern Yellow Wagtail were being seen at Tinaburra Boat Ramp, Lake Tinaroo (Atherton Tableland) and adjacent areas until about mid-March with up to 14 bird present. Little Kingfisher were reported from Centenary Lakes and Kewarra Beach, both sites in Cairns.
Reptiles and Mammals:-
Sightings have been a little patchy with occasional Fawn-footed Melomys, Yellow-footed Antichinus, Red-legged Pademelon and Striped Possum. Regulars include Boyd's Forest Dragon, Eastern Water Dragon, Spectacled Flying Fox, Jungguy Frog and White-lipped Tree Frog. Eastern Tube-nosed Bat has also been seen regularly. A Platypus was spotlighted in Bushy Creek on 29/3 and was the first seen for about five weeks. Our neighbours reported a Macleay's Water Snake on Mt. Kooyong Road also on the 29th; it was having difficulty moving on dry land.
Bird Trails Tropical Queensland Brochure:-
A new brochure for 2014-2015 has just been released with updated information on the best birding sites, birding guides and places to stay in the Daintree, Cairns Highlands (Tablelands), Julatten and Mission Beach areas. It can be downloaded from here.
We hope to have the camp ground and bunk house opened again by next weekend, 5-6th April, weather permitting!