Sunday, 21 September 2014

Kingfisher Birdwatchers Lodge 21st September Report

21st September 2014 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Weather Report
What can we say about the weather? Well we have had no rain over the last two weeks again, just wall to wall sunshine, cool temperatures down to 11.1ºC and much warmer than previous months, up to 27.3ºC, great conditions. Temperatures in the morning have been about 4ºC below the average for this time of year.

Last Two Weeks Bird Sightings:-
These can be found on the Eremaea eBird site. 7th - 13th September and 14th- 20th September The first week had 105 species recorded and the second week 103.

Morning and Evening Guided Walks:-

Morning walks produced between 44 and 55 species, some of the highlights were Pacific Baza foraging in the camp ground, two Blue-winged Kookaburra, Double-eyed Fig-Parrot, Noisy Pitta in the orchard hopping around us for over 10 minutes whilst we were watching a pair of roosting Papuan Frogmouth, Great Bowerbird performing at its bower, a pair of Yellow-faced Honeyeater on a nest, a male Fairy Gerygone foraging on the ground (usually high up in the rainforest) and a pair of Pale Yellow Robin attending a nest. Also a Platypus was seen twice on one morning walk at two different locations and once on a night walk. The full species lists can be found on the Eremaea eBird site. Click on Explore Data then Hotspots and type in Kingfisher Park – you will then see the Lodge in the drop down menu. Click this on and a map will appear with two markers, click these and you can have access to all our records. It sounds long winded, but it is really easy. Alternatively you can click this link which will take you directly to Hotspots

Evening walk highlights were Barn Owl, Papuan Frogmouth, Red-legged Pademelon, Striped Possum, Platypus, four different frog species, despite the dry weather, Boyd's Forest Dragon which had re-appeared with the warmer weather, Northern Leaf-tailed Gecko and two Australian Scrub Python. A surprise one night was a roosting Pacific Baza high up in a rainforest tree, a first for a night walk.

Other Birding Highlights:-

An immature Orange-footed Scrubfowl has been around the edge of the orchard foraging in the rainforest and trying to get out of the way of the adults who harass it at every opportunity. Here it is intently looking for food as it scratches away.


Orange-footed Scrubfowl


Red-necked Crake have been regularly coming to the Crake Pool late evenings with one or two seen, one was also seen in the garden in front of the units. A Comb-crested Jacana was in one of the McDougall Road lagoons, this was a first for many months. A pair of Wompoo Fruit-Dove were in the trees around the Crake Pool on the edge of the orchard and a pair of Torresian Imperial-Pigeon flew over Geraghty Park. The Torresian Imperial-Pigeon are recent arrivals to our part of the inland only having been around for the last four years. Small flocks of Topknot Pigeon are still flying over, nine being the most at any one time. Channel-billed Cuckoo have been scarce with only one seen over the last two weeks and several other calling. Papuan Frogmouth have been roosting in the area including these three.


Papuan Frogmouth


Again Australian Owlet-nightjar has been heard, but not seen, very frustrating. Rainbow Lorikeet have been seen nesting as have Double-eyed Fig-Parrot. Bridled Honeyeater have moved into the area and two uncommon Black-chinned Honeyeater were seen in Geraghty Park. The Blue-faced Honeyeater which occurs around the Lodge is in a zone integration between the nominate race Entomyon cyanotis cyanotis from eastern Australia and Entomyon cyanotis griseigularis, the sub-species from Cape York. The one pictured here is an immature bird foraging on a Grevillea in a neighbours garden adjacent to Geraghty Park.


Blue-faced Honeyeater - immature

Yellow-breasted Boatbill have been active and calling as well as showing well. A few Barred Cuckoo-shrike are around the lodge grounds, but proving difficult to see. Northern Fantail have also returned to the fringes of the Lodge grounds and have been heard calling well. Pied Monarch are also around,

Pied Monarch

as is at least one immature male Victoria's Riflebird. 
Victoria's Riflebird - immature male


Metallic Starling are slowly making nests, but quite a few have fallen to the ground which is not good for their breeding season. Male Mistletoebird have been calling and showing well, but no sign of nesting yet.

Further Afield:-
An unconfirmed report of vagrant Northern Pintail at Hasties Swamp, only seen once and not relocated again despite several visits to look for them. More information can be found on Eremaea Birds website. Mt. Lewis continues to be the place to see the “Wet Tropic” endemics with all but the Lesser Sooty Owl seen over the last two weeks, even a couple of male Golden Bowerbird were found by our roving bird guides Carol and Andrew Iles, can't beat local knowledge! Carol also reported Spotted Harrier, Dusky Moorhen, Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo, Blue-faced Parrot-Finch, White-eared Monarch and the first reported Black-faced Monarch for the season around the Julatten area plus she had up to eight Australian Pratincole along West Maryfarms Road between Mt. Molloy and Mt. Carbine off the Peninsula Road. The first Large-tailed Nightjar for the season was heard calling in Julatten (by us) on the 21st September, at the same time a Chestnut-breasted Cuckoo was calling! Flowering Grass Tree spikes in Julatten have been attracting many honeyeaters including, Brown, Scarlet and Dusky. This Dusky was on a flower spike and the Brown Honeyeater was waiting his turn.

Dusky Honeyeater

Brown Honeyeater
Rufous Owl is still being reported along the Cairns Esplanade.

Barn Owl Display, Julatten, Far North Queensland

Geraghty Park, Julatten is home to two pairs of Barn Owl which have bred here every year since at least 1995. The nests of these two pairs and a third pair across the adjacent Rex Highway are within 300m of each other. Most years these three pairs have had three young each. In 2014 the two pairs in Geraghty Park had a brood of three and the third nest had four, all of which left their nests and the area by the end of August. On the 3rd September 2014 a visit to one nest site in Geraghty Park was rewarded by a very unusual display by the adult male towards the adult female of the pair. The male was first seen with just its head peering out of a hollow in a Queensland Blue Gum Eucalyptus tereticornis which is its daytime roost/nest tree. After about 5 minutes the adult female appeared at a different tree hollow approximately 2m below the one the male was in, here it perched. Shortly after this the male moved out of its hollow onto an adjacent branch where it was seen to adopt a hunched posture looking down at the female, it then outstretched its wings and began crouching down and raising itself several times before rocking from side to side (wing waving) with its tail raised. It continued this display for approximately 1 minute. The female meanwhile was looking away and taking no notice of the male. The male then folded its wings but continued in the hunched position looking down for approximately 30 seconds before again outstretching its wings and beginning the rocking motion again, this time the female looked up and watched the display. The male continued for another minute, at which time the female flew to a nearby branch. The male continued to stay in a hunched position looking down until it flew to join the female after 2 minutes. Both birds were perched next to each other facing different directions for about three minutes before the male turned around. Both birds then moved close to each other and started allopreening for at least two minutes. This behaviour of allopreening often precedes mating which takes place in the nest (Debus 2009). During the whole period of the display both birds remained silent. We then considered that the birds had been disturbed enough by our presence and we left. It was not know whether the birds did return to the nest to mate. A short video of part of the display taken by Mr. Ota Yu, Japanese tour guide based in Cairns can be found on You Tube . The background noise is excited Japanese taking plenty of photos!
Stephen Debus says that this behaviour has been recorded in Masked Owl but as far as he is aware not in Barn Owl. Thanks for your input Stephen.
The following night we had another look at what the owls were doing but they did not put on a display like they did the previous night. The adult male and female came out of their daytime roost to perch on the branches.


Barn Owl - male on right female on left


After they sat on the branch for a while the male started to outstretch his wings and did a brief wing waving display. The female was not interested as you can see!

Barn Owl - male on right female on left


Both birds flew to different perches and the female started to take notice of the male but he had given up by now and was just perching quietly.

Barn Owl

Reptiles and Mammals:- 
Fawn-footed Melomys and Bush Rat have been coming to the reception area feeder at night along with up to six Northern Brown Bandicoot which is the most we have seen all year. A Yellow-footed Antichinus was heard scratching in a dead tree before it came out to run up and down the outside and disappear into the tree before coming out of a different hole, this activity continued for well over five minutes. Here it is seen peering out of one of the holes.

Yellow-footed Antichinus


At least two Platypus have been showing well in Bushy Creek in the late evening and early morning  much to the delight of our guests. One of our guests observed an Eastern Water Dragon along Bushy Creek catch a Little Shrike-thrush and eat it; we've seen them raiding nests, but not take an adult bird. The Australian Scrub Python we have living in a large log can often be seen coiled up inside it, this is what you see.

Australian Scrub Python

Thanks to Carol and Andrew Iles our roving bird guides for helping with the bird lists and area sightings. If you need any guiding in our local area contact us and we can put you in touch with them, contact through our secure bookings and enquiries web page.

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