Sunday, 29 June 2014

29th June 2014 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Weather Report
The first week was rainy and overcast with 16.5mm of rain over 4 days, but by the end of the week it had improved with the second week being dry and sunny, fantastic weather! At last the Lodge was starting to dry out. Temperatures ranged from a low of 14.8ºC up to 23ºC, very pleasant, perfect birding weather.

Last Two Weeks Bird Sightings:-
The first week we recorded 98 species and the second week 101, these can be found on the Eremaea eBird site. 15th - 21st June and 22nd - 28th June

Birding Highlights:-
Wandering Whistling-Duck, Green Pygmy-goose, Pacific Black Duck, Australasian Grebe, Little Black and Little-Pied Cormorant and Great Egret were reported along McDougall Road in the lagoons. An Australian Pelican was flying over the Lodge one afternoon and a White-necked Heron was in a swampy patch of the adjacent cane paddock, this is an occasional visitor. Black-shouldered Kite, Swamp Harrier, Grey and Brown Goshawk, Black and Whistling Kite, White-bellied Sea-Eagle, Nankeen Kestrel and Brown Falcon were the raptors seen. Red-necked Crake were heard, but not seen. Brown Cuckoo-Dove have been calling and feeding on fruiting trees in the rainforest. Fan-tailed Cuckoo have been calling every day along with the Little (Gould's) Bronze-Cuckoo and our bird guide neighbours Carol and Andrew had a Shining Bronze-Cuckoo in their garden, this is a winter visitor. Barn Owl are calling, but not always seen as they have changed their normal routine due to the start of the breeding season. The pair of Barking Owls have been around most nights calling incessantly and waking everyone up! A Lesser Sooty Owl was heard giving a single call on one night and that was all for the two weeks. Again four Papuan Frogmouth have been seen, one was perched over the road to reception whilst on a night walk. Rainbow Bee-eater are still with us, but their numbers appear to be decreasing so they may be moving off. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo have whinging youngsters with them and must be driving the parents crazy as the go all day. Double-eyed Fig-Parrot have only been seen as fly overs and Red-wing Parrot were seen near the Julatten School, just in our 1.5km radius Lodge bird list area. Noisy Pitta is still being seen, usually in the orchard or adjacent rainforest, but are not easy. Spotted Catbird are still coming to the feeder and also seen feeding with Victoria's Riflebird on the fallen fruit of a Spondias tree in the orchard.

Victoria's Riflebird - immature male

14 species of honeyeater were seen over the two weeks, the highlight was a Helmeted Friarbird which normally are common along the coast and up onto the great divide so to see one this far inland was very unusual. Graceful Honeyeater have also been calling and feeding on rainforest flowers as the one below is doing. This bird is stretching itself to get to the nectar and in doing so it is distorting the yellow ear patch so it does not look like the field guides show. The shape of the ear patch is naturally variable in Yellow-spotted and Graceful and the Lewin's Honeyeater this area have an ear patch which is not quite the defined crescent shape of the southern birds, which leads to more confusion in identification. Best bet is to learn the calls before you visit this region. 

Graceful Honeyeater

Graceful Honeyeater - close up of head and ear patch

We had the first sighting for the year of a Yellow-throated Scrubwren (male) in the Lodge grounds on the 27th June. We usually get one or two birds coming off the higher mountains to visit us in the winter months which is good as they can cross the broken corridor between us and the mountain rainforest unlike some other species like Chowchilla. Yellow-breasted Boatbill have again been calling and showing well as have Pied Monarch.

Pied Monarch

A female Bower's Shrike-thrush has been around the Lodge grounds late in the second week, again this is a winter visitor from higher grounds. Female Bower's have a bone bi-colour bill unlike the adult male who have an all dark bill. At least one male Golden Whistler (another winter visitor) is still around the grounds and has been calling well. A Yellow Oriole has been lurking around in the Lodge grounds, whilst they are common on the coast they have only started to appear here in the last 3-4 years.

Yellow Oriole

Willie Wagtail are interesting and a common bird, but not at the Lodge all year around. Whilst they are reported to be resident in many areas of Australia they also migrate out of some parts of Australia. Amazing how little we know about the movements of such a common bird. 

Willie Wagtail

A Tawny Grassbird was around the nearby cane paddock, a species we have not seen since September 2013. Chestnut-breasted Mannikin were foraging around the edge of the adjacent cane paddock one morning along with the regular Red-browed Finch.

Further Afield:-
Black-breasted Buzzard was seen at the Mt. Carbine Cemetery, Collared Sparrowhawk and Satin Flycatcher were at McLeod River north of Mt. Carbine. Pacific Baza was at the Mowbray National Park in Julatten, thanks to Jan England for these sightings. Little Kingfisher are being seen on the Daintree River and Australian Praticole were found on the Atherton Tableland behind the Shalee Strawberry Farm on the Gillies Highway (Yungaburra to Atherton Road) at the junction of Marks Lane. A female Double-eyed Fig-Parrot stunned itself on a window of our house in Julatten and after it was calmed down it was put on a tree branch in the shade where it sat until it recovered and flew away. It was looking rather sad when this photo was taken.

Double-eyed Fig-Parrot - female
Thanks to Carol and Andrew Iles for their sightings contributions. If you need any bird guiding contact Carol and Andrew.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
Top of the list this week goes to the Tree Mouse Pogonomys sp.(previously known as Prehensile-tailed Rat) which was running around on the edge of the rainforest near the reception area one evening. Two other Pogonomys species occur in New Guinea but the Australian one is thought to be an unnamed species as no taxonomic study has shown a definite link with the other two species. The Australian species was first recorded in 1974 at Lake Eacham on the Atherton Tableland when a cat bought one into the Lake Eacham Teahouse. This one stopped in the same position for over 10 minutes whilst it was photographed contrary to published reports that it runs around in a confused manner back and forth along tree branches when spotlighted. 

Tree Mouse

Other mammals seen were Fawn-footed Melomys, Yellow-footed Antichinus, Red-legged Pademelon, Agile Wallaby, Eastern Horseshoe Bat, Northern Tube-nosed Bat, Bush Rat, Giant White-tailed Rat, Striped Possum, Long-nosed and Northern Brown Bandicoot plus Spectacled Flying Fox. Once again we found several Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko, several of which were showing different colour variations depending on the tree bark colour they were on, great camouflage

Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko

Frogs were good for the first week when it was wet but only a couple of species ventured out in the second week, we recorded seven species including Striped Marsh Frog, Jungguy Frog, Dainty Green Tree Frog and Cogger's Frog. No Boyd's Forest Dragon and only one snake, an Australian Scrub Python, over the two weeks which probably means they have gone into hibernation or are less active in the cooler weather.

This Bridal Veil fungi Phallus indusiatus popped up along the rainforest track to the orchard. It is pollinated by flies which are attracted to it by the smell, which is like rotting meat. The cap has a brown spore containing slime which is eaten by the flies who then disperse the spores. It is an edible fungus and is used in Chinese cooking as well as in medicines. If you want to find out more about this fungi follow this link.

Bridal Veil Fungi

New Books:-
Two new books were added to our shop this week, Finding Australian birds: a field guide to birding locations by Tim Dolby and Rohan Clarke. Had a quick browse through this book and it looks like the definitive guide to get you onto great birding locations and the birds you want to see. It is over 600 pages with plenty of maps. A bargain at $49.95.

The other book is A Guide To The Cockroaches of Australia by David Rentz who is well known to us as he lives nearby at Kuranda. This book describes comprehensively most of the 550 described species found in Australia, excellent descriptions, photos and maps. It is only when you see this field guide that you can appreciate the diversity of cockroaches in Australia, $49.95. 

Well done to Tim, Rohan and David for the work and dedication needed to bring such great books to us.

After months of roadworks along the Mt. Molloy to Mossman road near the Bushy Creek Bridge where we were delayed by traffic lights which took for ever to change, it has been finished. This is what it looks like now. Not sure about the speed limit!

Mt. Molloy to Mossman Road.

For Sale:-
Canon EOS 7D body + EF 100-400mm Lens. All in excellent condition with original boxes, Instruction manual. Great bird photography outfit - have upgraded. Only $1600.00 plus P & P. Email interest.

Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge Business and Property For Sale
Click here for more sale details

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