Sunday, 1 June 2014

1st June 2014 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Weather Report
Mixed weather over the last two weeks, mainly drizzle with a few sunny days but temperatures were kept low only getting up to 24ÂșC. The first week we had 29mm of rain and the second week some rain fell with 10mm on four rainy days, again as in the previous two weeks just enough to be annoying.

Last Two Weeks Bird Sightings:-
The first week had 84 species and second week 94 species.
Species lists can be found on the Eremaea eBird site.  18th - 24th May and 25th - 31st May

Birding Highlights:-
A single Australasian Grebe was along McDougall Road, a first for two months. Also along here were over 300 Cattle Egret who roost in the trees around the lagoon. A Black-breasted Buzzard was seen by one of our guests over Geraghty Park, this was the second time in a few weeks one has been seen in the area. Red-necked Crake have only been heard and not seen, the area they were frequenting has now dried up and they have gone further into the rainforest. Fan-tailed Cuckoo arrived back from southern parts of Australia on 27th May with at least three birds calling around the Lodge. Lesser Sooty Owl was heard but not seen, probably due to the pair of Barking Owl who were around the Lodge grounds every night keeping it away. One Barn Owl was seen in a nest tree which may mean they are getting ready to breed again as it is the right time of year. At least four Papuan Frogmouth have been seen in the area and an Australian Owlet-nightjar heard calling one night. Double-eyed Fig-Parrot were seen digging out a nest hole in a tree but the branch it was in broke off and they have not been back since. A pair of Red-winged Parrot were seen near the Julatten school (just in our 1.5km Lodge area) by Carol Iles our neighbouring bird guide. This is about the closest they come to the Lodge apart from a couple of sightings in Geraghty Park. Spotted Catbird are still coming to the feeder in the morning and also feeding on the fruit of a Soursop tree in our orchard. Red-backed Fairy-wren have been seen along McDougall Road, usually sitting on the fences. 12 species of honeyeater over the two weeks, including Scarlet, White-cheeked and Macleay's. The Macleay's Honeyeater have been hogging the bird feeder and chasing off the Lewin, Yellow-spotted and Graceful Honeyeater. 
Macleay's Honeyeater

Yellow-breasted Boatbill continue to call and be very active so they are being seen regularly. Barred Cuckoo-shrike have been calling and around in small numbers as have Varied Triller.

Little (Rufous) Shrike-thrush have been very active and calling a lot, they are common residents around the Lodge and are not to be confused with the Bower's Shrike-thrush. The Bower's are normally resident up on the mountains behind us and can be seen usually above 600m on Mt. Lewis, we are only 430m which is within the range of the Little who can be found up to 600m. Bower's do come down in the winter months but we only see one or two. Bower's has more obvious striations on throat and breast, also their bill is black (adult male and older immature males) or grey/black (adult and immature females as well as immature males) whereas Little have a pinkish-brown/grey bill and a light coloured eye-ring. Bower's have dark grey back and head, the little have olive-brown, although we have seen a few little with quite grey back and rumps. There are seven sub-species of Little Shrike-thrush in Australia, the one found here is giseata. All these sub-species have plumage variation with the sexes being similar.

Little (Rufous) Shrike-thrush

Bower's Shrike-thrush

At least one male Golden Whistler is still around the Lodge and has been joined by a Yellow Oriole which is more a species of the coast in our region but has been creeping into our area over the last few years. A few Spangled Drongo are still around but the majority of them have gone further north. Pied Monarch have become more active and are calling as have at least two female Victoria's Riflebird who have been getting around the Lodge together.

Further Afield:-
A Spotted Harrier was seen over the adjacent cane paddock by our neighbour Carol Iles and was probably the same one we saw a few weeks earlier at the same location. A (Common) Cicadabird was calling along Euluma Creek Road in Julatten, unusual for this time of year. On 28th May Del Richards from Fine Feather Tours reported a Brown Songlark (female) at Maryfarms, north of Mt. Molloy. It was perched on a fence with a female White-winged Triller and Black-faced Woodswallow. This was a first sighting for him since the 2002 drought. Both Brown Songlark and Black-faced Woodswallow are uncommon at this location.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
At least three Red-legged Pademelon are still around the Lodge grounds after one was taken by an Australian Scrub Python. Two species of bat recorded for this period, they were Large-footed Myotis (fish eating bat) and Northern Broad-nosed Bat. Striped Possum were seen, one was in our neighbours garden, another was seen late in the second week jumping around the trees near the Lodge reception. The persistent drizzle was to the frogs liking with Jungguy Frog, White-lipped Tree Frog, Roth's Tree Frog, Desert (Red) Tree Frog, Cogger's Frog, Dainty Green Tree Frog and Cane Toad.

Cogger's Frog
An adult Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko was spotlighted on a tree in the rainforest and an immature one, only 60mm in length, was rescued from the amenities block and released back into the rainforest. This is the first time we had seen an immature Leaf-tailed Gecko, which as you can see from the photos is very cute and very well camouflaged.

Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko - immature

This tree-dwelling nocturnal species relies on its camouflaged appearance to avoid discovery by predators. They are found in rainforests, wet sclerophyll forests, rocks and on the forest floor at night. We have found them on the floor where they run with their tail up in the air. During the day they are hiding behind loose bark or tree crevices. At night they come out and perch head down on large trees in the rainforest or on our orchard trees, we usually find them between 1-3m from the ground. They mainly eat large invertebrates such as Katydid, Cricket, Cockroach and Spider. Breeding season is usually just before the "Wet Season" in October or November when the females lay one or two soft-shelled eggs in moist soil or leaf litter. After about three months the young hatch and have to start catching insects straight away. They don't reach adulthood until two years and go on to live for about nine years.

Australian Scrub Python were seen in our neighbours garden, this one had just had a meal and was looking to rest up somewhere. Judging by the bulge in it's body it must have eaten something at least as big as a White-tailed Rat. This close up of it's head has a mosquito on it, they are not fussy who they get their blood from!

Australian Scrub Python

Finally whilst our neighbour Carol was guiding one of our guests on Mt. Lewis recently they came across this Queensland Blue Earthworm Terriswalkeris terraereginae an invertebrate which can grow up to 2 meters. We've only seen one which is not surprising as they only come to the surface after heavy rains when they are disturbed from their burrows. This image was taken by Ross Monks -thanks Ross.
Queensland Blue Earthworm
Thanks to Carol and Andrew Iles our neighbouring bird guides for helping compile the weekly species list.

Abattoir Swamp:-
Abattoir Swamp is about 6km from the Lodge and is a good birding area but unfortunately the boardwalk to the bird hide has collapsed and the local Mareeba Shire Council have told us that they have no money to repair it at the moment. We had sent them a summary of birds and the importance of this facility to birdwatchers and local businesses but this did not make any difference to their decision to close the boardwalk apart from making them aware. They did say they would look at it in the future. The car park is a good birding spot so it is still worth stopping here.

Abattoir Swamp Boardwalk

Abattoir Swamp Boardwalk - damage

Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge Business and Property For Sale
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