Sunday, 14 December 2014

14th December Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

14th December 2014 Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge

Weather Report
At last some rain to report, a big storm dumped 61mm on one day plus a further 16mm on 4 days. A few more storms have been in the area but seemed to miss us. Humidity was up to 95% with lots of sunshine and temperatures reached 33Âșc on one day but generally lower with the cloud cover and passing storms.

Last Two Weeks Bird Sightings:-
These can be found on the Eremaea eBird site. 30th November - 6th December and 7th- 13th December The first week had 107 species recorded  and the second week 99.

Birding Highlights:-
A first for our 1.5km reporting area was a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper reported by Carol Iles our roaming bird guide. Carol saw it in one of the McDougall Road lagoons. The McDougall Road lagoons are on private properties and viewed from the road, they have had quite a few good waterbirds on them over the past two weeks. These were, 38 Magpie Goose, 8 Wandering Whistling-Duck, Pacific Black Duck, Grey Teal, 2 Australasian Grebe, Little Black and Pied Cormorant, Australasian Darter, 2 Australian Pelican, Great, Intermediate and Cattle Egret, 1 White-faced Heron, 1 Glossy Ibis, Australian White Ibis, Royal Spoonbill, 1 White-browed Crake and 1 Comb-crested Jacana. Good selection of waterbirds. A few more raptors have been around these past two weeks with Spotted Harrier, Collared Sparrow Hawk, Black and Whistling Kite plus 2 White-bellied Sea-Eagle. Red-necked Crake are continuing to appear at the Crake Pool in the afternoon, usually between 5.30 and 6.30, where It has been bathing. We say it as we have only seen one at a time. Pale-vented Bush-hen has only been heard over the last week a few times and that was in the distance down stream from the Lodge along Bushy Creek. One pair of Bush Stone-curlew have one off spring and have been keeping quiet over the last month. 

Bush Stone-curlew - adult and juvenile
At least six Wompoo Fruit-Dove have been around as has a similar number of Superb Fruit-Dove but they are much more difficult to see than the wompoo. 

Superb Fruit-Dove - male

Topknot Pigeon have disappeared over the last week and the numbers of Pied Imperial-Pigeon have also dropped. Brush Cuckoo are in full song, triggered by the oncoming rain showers and both the Australian Koel and Pheasant Coucal have been calling.

Lesser Sooty Owl have again been around but not every night but when they have been here they are calling and showing well. There is a pair which hopefully will stay around and breed in the area next year. Also Barn Owl and Barking Owl have been heard and seen. Our pair of Papuan Frogmouth who have been sitting on a nest since 10th October have abandoned it about a week ago with not sign of any egg having been hatched. It is the first time that this pair have tried to nest in the Lodge grounds so maybe inexperienced, certainly judging by their unconventional nest which had some very large branches in it. Normally their nests are made of not many small twigs, similar to a pigeons nest. The good news is that another pair in the area now have a quite sizable chick. They started sitting on the 4th October, incubation time is 40 days and the time up to the 14th December must make the chick about 25 days old. Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher have started to dig out their nests in the termite mounds on the rainforest floor and have been showing well, perching for the photographers. We have not checked out all the 40+ termite mounds on the property yet but at least 4 mounds have been dug. Last year we had 8 pairs nesting, hopefully we have at least this number this year. 

Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfisher

Now that the Double-eyed Fig-Parrot have finished nesting they have become hard to see with only a few observed flying over. At least one pair of Noisy Pitta are in the Lodge grounds and are being seen usually early morning. One bird was seen carrying nesting material. Lovely Fairy-wren visited our neighbours bird bath one day, lucky them. 13 species of honeyeater were recorded with a Helmeted Friarbird being the most unusual. Brown-backed Honeyeater were seen nesting in Geraghty Park. Yellow-breasted Boatbill and Pied Monarch have been calling and seen but the monarch has been proving more elusive than the boatbill. Barred Cuckoo-shrike have been calling and a few have been nest building. Common Cicadabird have also been vocal and Australasian Figbird have been sitting in nests. No sightings of Black-faced Monarch nests yet but they have been calling a lot, probably waiting for more rain to fall. Pale-yellow Robin are still nesting and posing for photographs. This one was taken to see how good the Canon EOS 7D MKII is at handling high ISO and was taken at 3200 ISO, not to bad for noise at this size and crop. It is certainly way ahead of the original 7D which showed lots of noise about 800 -1000 ISO.

Pale-yellow Robin

Metallic Starling are also continuing to add to their colonial nests with more adults and juvenile birds joining in at their colony. Olive-backed Sunbird are also nesting, hope this nest is successful after their last one failed.

Further Afield:-
A very strange sighting of an Australian Brush-turkey with a purple collar was had on Mt. Lewis, the report is on the Eremaea Birds site  with a very fuzzy image. . It is possibly the Cape York race 'purpureicollis' which only occur as far south as Shiptons Flat (just south of Cooktown). There is some conjecture as to how this bird arrived this far south, it has been suggested that it was released here or walked across the mountain ranges as they are not good fliers. I guess we will never know. Blue-faced Parrot-Finch is on most guests wants list at this time of year and usually they are not too much of a problem, however, this year has been very dry and grass growth has been retarded with no seeding as yet. Mt. Lewis is the favourite place to look but so far this season the little finches have been hard to find. Four is the most seen at any one time but 1-2 has been the normal when they are present. There has been few sightings over the last month with only one seen occasionally except on the 13th December when two were seen early in the morning (before 7.00am) at the 10km clearing on Mt. Lewis. Hopefully the start of some rain will encourage the grasses to grow and start seeding. Also at the 10km clearing a pair of Barred Cuckoo-shrike were building a nest. Spotted Whistling-Duck have been in the news for our region lately with sightings at Wongaling Beach, near Mission Beach south of Cairns, Keatings Lagoon near Cooktown, 10 at Cattana Wetlands in Cairns and at least 6 reported by Murray Hunt, who runs Daintree Boatman Nature Tours, at a lagoon alongside the Daintree River. 

Spotted Whistling-Duck

A Wedge-tailed Eagle was seen at Abattoir Swamp, an uncommon visitor.

Reptiles and Mammals:-
A Short-beaked Echidna was seen in the Lodge grounds one night, the first for about six months. They have not been seen much this year with only 3-4 sightings. Frogs have been out enjoying the humid conditions with Jungguy Frog, White-lipped Tree Frog, Northern Dwarf Tree Frog Roth's (Laughing)Tree Frog, Desert (Red or Naked)Tree Frog, Dainty Green Tree Frog and Cogger's Frog all seen plus Green Tree Frog heard. Our Platypus have been performing in Bushy Creek even when the level rose and it became muddy for a while after the 61mm of rain we had. An Australian Scrub Python was seen a couple of times but no other snakes were seen.

Spiders seem to like the warmer weather with many species out and about. Plenty of Wolf Spider and Huntsman, including Grey Huntsman and this unidentified huntsman which was on the ceiling near our kitchen one night, another one of this species was spotlighted on a log beside Bushy Creek whilst we were on a night walk.

Huntsman sp.

Huntsman sp. - showing two rows of four eyes

Also seen was a Giant Silverback, one of the trap door spiders which has previously featured in our blog.

Bushy Creek has many fish species beside the Platypus in it, this Coal Grunter is just one of them.

Coal Grunter

Abattoir Swamp update:-
Many of you would have visited Abattoir Swamp over the last few years and found the boardwalk to the hide in a state of disrepair. It got to the stage where it was closed off due to safety concerns. We sent a four page submission to our local council asking them to repair it but they said they had insufficient funds to do the remedial work. So we asked our local Julatten and Mt. Molloy Association of Residents and Ratepayers (JAMARR) to look into it. The outcome was that the council approved JAMARR to repair the bridge using volunteers. This has now been done and is awaiting the council engineers to sign off on it and re-open it. Thanks to all those involved in repairing this important part of the birding communities infrastructure in our area.

Abattoir Swamp Hide and Boardwalk

This will be the last blog for 2014. We would like to wish everyone a great and safe Christmas and New Year. Also thanks to the many wonderful guests we have had over the past year and for all the positive comments about the blog - Keith & Lindsay.


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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