The first week was mainly dry and sunny' but 3.5mm of rain fell over two nights, the second week began dry before we had 4mm of rain which fell over two days. Temperatures ranged from a cool low of 11.5ºC up to 23ºC, very pleasant and great birding weather.
Last Two Weeks Bird Sightings:-
The first week has 98 sightings and the second week 109. Rainfall was 6.5mm over four days, much of this fell at night or was fine mist during the day. Overall it was great birding over the two weeks.
A few waterbirds were around in the local lagoons and Barramundi Farm; these included A couple of Green Pygmy-goose, Pacific Black Duck, Australasian Grebe, Little Black and Little Pied Cormorant, a single Australian Pelican, Great, Intermediate and Cattle Egret, White-faced Heron, Australian White and Straw-necked Ibis plus three Royal Spoonbill. Orange-footed Scrubfowl (they should be called orange-legged) have been very noisy calling day and night and chasing each other, they are quite comical to watch as they strut around.
Raptors were quite good with Black-shouldered Kite, Swamp and Spotted Harrier, Grey Goshawk, Collared Sparrowhawk, Black and Whistling Kite along with White-bellied Sea-Eagle. A Red-necked Crake was calling one evening but not seen. Brown Cuckoo-Dove have been taking advantage of several fruiting trees including Celerywood and a Strangler Fig with up to five seen at one time. Bar-shouldered Dove have been around the Lodge grounds and at the Barramundi Farm, they are a very attractive dove.
A single Wompoo Fruit-Dove has been around the Lodge grounds and calling. Not much cuckoo action with only a Fan-tailed Cuckoo heard and a Little Bronze-Cuckoo seen. Barn Owl have been noisy with one pair having three juveniles to feed and another pair with at least two chicks still in a nest. The two Barking Owl which have been around on and off for the last two years continue to be around, but not every night. Australian Owlet-nightjar has been heard on several nights, but not seen. Papuan Frogmouth numbers have increased to five in the immediate area with a male and female taking up residence in our orchard, so hopefully they will stay and breed here, welcome back! This picture shows three Papuan Frogmouth roosting during the day and pretending not to look like birds.
Rainbow Bee-eater are still with us, but only about 12 have been recorded which is a decrease in numbers over the last few weeks. Up to six Double-eyed Fig-Parrot have been coming to a fruiting Cluster Fig to feed on the green fruits. At least two pairs of Spotted Catbird are in the Lodge grounds and our neighbours Carol and Andrew's garden. This one was queuing up for a free feed at their bird feeder.
Our single Noisy Pitta continues to make appearances in our orchard to the delight of our guests. 15 species of honeyeater were recorded including at least two Black-chinned (Golden-backed Form) were are still around. A single male Yellow-throated Scrubwren is still with us after first being sighted a month ago, an altitudinal migrant from the mountains behind us. Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been showing well and coming down to lower levels in the rainforest for good views as have the Pied Monarch. A male Common Cicadabird was seen on a couple of morning walks, which was the first sightings for this year.
Common Cicadabird - male
A couple of Bower's Shrike-thrush are still around and showing well. Australasian Figbird have been scarce over the last few weeks, but towards the end of the second week they re-appeared in flocks of 30-40. These males are eating the fruits of an Umbrella Tree in front of our units.
A female Shining Flycatcher flew through our neighbours garden whilst it was cutting a corner on a bend in Bushy Creek; we only see this species occasionally throughout the year. Another occasional visitor was a Tawny Grassbird foraging near the entrance to the Lodge and darting into the adjacent cane paddock. A few Chestnut-breasted Mannikin were also foraging alongside the cane paddock.
Numbers of Blue-faced Parrot-Finch near Abattoir Swamp have increased from the two reported last blog to at least five, but they are very difficult to locate. At Abattoir Swamp our neighbour Andrew Iles (bird guide) had Varied Sitella, which is uncommon at that location. Mt. Lewis is still the place to find the 13 “Wet Tropic” endemics with all being seen in the last two weeks – not on the same day though! At least three Lesser Sooty Owl were seen one evening. Just outside our 1.5km Lodge reporting area were five Purple Swamphen foraging alongside the Rex Highway which is not a good idea! Hopefully they will learn the error of their ways and relocate to the nearest wetland. Square-tailed Kite has been reported in Mt. Molloy and further north at Maryfarms. Hasties Swamp, near Atherton, has been turning up some good waterbirds including Freckled Duck and Glossy Ibis. A Brown Goshawk was around Euluma Creek road in Julatten one afternoon, always nice to see this species.
Reptiles and Mammals:-
The last few weeks have been extremely good for our night walks with plenty to see. One of the highlights was a Short-beaked Echidna which was the first we have seen this year. Other species seen were Striped and Green Ringtail Possum, Northern Brown and Long-nosed Bandicoot, Fawn-footed Melomys feeding on the fruit of an orange tree in our orchard, a brief glimpse of a Platypus in Bushy Creek and Several Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko. A few frogs were also spotlighted – Jungguy Frog, White-lipped Tree Frog, Roth's (Laughing) Frog, Desert Tree Frog, Dainty Green Tree Frog, Cogger's Frog and one small Cane Toad. Apart from those seen on the night walks we also had Bush Rat, Giant White-tailed Rat, Eastern Horseshoe and Northern Broad-nosed Bat, Spectacled Flying Fox a couple of Australian Scrub Python. A large Carpet Python was over the road in the Geraghty Park hall during a residence meeting.
Thanks to our guests for reporting sightings and to Carol and Andrew Iles our roving bird guides for their input into this weeks blog.If you need bird guiding click on their link and send an email.