Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kingfishers and much more!

This is prime birdwatching time in Daintree and beyond. The weather is becoming warmer and there has been little rain (which means no mosquitoes) and the birds are becoming very visible around sources of water, whether it be a birdbath in the back garden and reducing wetland areas. It is a great time of year.

The Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfishers have paired up and started excavating the termite mounds.
This beautiful one is a regular at the end of Stewart Creek Rd, where at least three pairs are beginning to nest. Another two pairs are at the top of the same road, with at least two more just beyond Harlow's Bridge.

Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher - S. Isoe Nov 12

Papuan Frogmouth appear to be breeding successfully this year with 4 young spotted at different nests along the Daintree River. No sign of one on this nest a week ago. Brilliant disguise as always.

Papuan Frogmouth - S.Isoe Nov 12
Fairy-Wrens are making appearances all over, it seems, in quite large family groups. A group of Lovely Fairy-Wren are spending a lot of time between the bird-baths of Red Mill House and the overflow from the Daintree water supply tank. Another two groups are near the end of Stewart Creek Rd.
Red-backed Fairy-Wren, along with Golden-headed Cisticola, Tawny Grassbird and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin inhabit the grasslands just past the Harlow's Bridge.

Male Red-backed Fairy-Wren - S. Isoe Nov 12
Other great birds in Daintree this week include Black Bittern, Cotton Pygmy-Goose, Wompoo Fruit-Dove, Double-eyed Fig-Parrott and Scaly-breasted Lorikeet.

Thanks to Isoe-san for the use of his beautiful photos.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Eclipse 2012 plus great birdwatching

What an amazing event the 2012 Total Solar Eclipse in Far North Queensland was! 
People came from far and wide, up to 50,000 extra people in the region we hear - from the seriously scientific to the seriously whacky, to the seriously obsessed. Some had been planning this for years and many had travelled half way around the world to see it.
The build-up to the event was full of anxiety as people jockeyed for positions to get the perfect view - the tropics in 'build-up' season is far from reliable weather-wise, and by being just after sunrise it didn't allow people to move to another location at the spur of the moment. So, lots of anxious moments when waking to cloud in the east that morning!
The Total Eclipse itself lasted for a little over two minutes and was amazing - if you think you have seen it all by viewing a partial eclipse before, you are seriously wrong!  The darkness, the drop in temperature, the shadows, that moment when you can take your silly glasses off and look directly at the sun, the sudden brightness when the sun emerges - it is like nothing else. Truly amazing. Even the biggest cynics (aka Andrew) were converted!

Red Mill House guests at the mouth of the Daintree River Nov 14 2012
Red Mill House guests all went with Sauce to the mouth of the Daintree River where we were on our own. We had great views of the moon coming over, but then as totality arrived a big black cloud came over  - - - - - -  it broke just long enough for us to ooh and aah and have a good look then clouded over again.

Those who were further inland got uninterrupted views. Phil Hart (who is staying at Red Mill House at the moment) was delighted to get the NASA Astronomy Photo of the Day with this wonderful image of the 'diamond ring' below.

It is not worth messing around with little cameras, there is just not enough time. Leave it to the experts!!

Phil Hart Total Solar Eclipse FNQ Nov 2012

Another classic image from Phil.

Phil Hart Total Solar Eclipse FNQ Nov 2012

Now to birds!! A number of Eclipse-followers are birders, so it has been busy in Daintree, with a wonderful couple of weeks of birding locally.
Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Pied Monarch, Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher and King Parrot in the rainforest.  Brown Quail, Red-backed Fairy-Wren, Tawny Grassbird, Little Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite in the fields. Cotton and Green Pygmy Goose and Magpie Goose, Bush Hen, Buff-banded Rail and Latham's Snipe on the Daintree River (or banks). Plus all our regulars of course! The only thing missing seems to be the Little Kingfisher.
The Cattle Egret are now well coloured in breeding plumage and will be heading off to breed in the Gulf soon.
Cattle Egret Nov 12

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Daintree Birdwatching Treats

November is a peak month for birding in Tropical North Queensland with excellent sightings reported in the Daintree Region.
Newcomers include Cotton Pygmy Goose x 2 on the Daintree River, King Parrots x about 8 in the Daintree Valley, Fan-tailed Cuckoo at Barratt Creek and Barn Owl on Stewart Creek Rd.
Other birds of note include Yellow-breasted Boatbill and Pied Monarch, as well as the Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher at the end of Stewart Creek Rd. Tawny Grassbird, Red-backed Fairy-Wren, Golden-headed Cisticola and Chestnut-breasted Mannikin on the same road, but near Harlows Bridge in the grassy fields. Lots of good seed heads at the moment. Little Eagle and Brown Goshawk also seen.

Yellow-breasted Boatbill (Fred Forsell)

Several pair of Papuan Frogmouth are nesting above the banks of the Daintree River and Black Bittern are seen daily. Great-billed Heron carrying nesting material has been spotted heading upstream on Stewart Creek

Papuan Frogmouth ( Henri Brouchide)
The Total Solar Eclipse happens across the region between 6.38 and 6.40 am on Weds 14th, about which we are all very excited. We'll be down on the beach near the mouth of the Daintree River and are really keen to see what happens with the wildlife as we putter back up the river after it is all over.
Hopefully some pics next week! Fingers crossed for dry and sunny weather.