Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The rainy season

After a comparatively dry 2012 (2830ml), this year's "wet" season is off to a good start. A monsoonal low on Cape York is bringing good rains to the Daintree (200ml+ in the past 4 days), filling the wetlands and flushing the Daintree River. No flooding yet but, the ground is now saturated so, continued heavy rains will cause local flooding.
Excellent for birding though, with Pale-vented Bushhen frolicking in drains along the side of the road, Red-necked Crake calling at night and both Little and Azure Kingfishers returning to their traditional spots (including Red Mill House pond) after the breeding season.

Azure Kingfisher (Russell Jones)
A visit to Maardja Boardwalk last week gave us two sightings of Little Kingfisher, and three separate sightings of Southern Cassowary were reported yesterday north of the Daintree River.
A large flock of Wandering Whistling Duck (40+) flying over Daintree Village each evening, and several hundred Magpie Goose are still in the area - roosting near Barratt Creek and feeding in the fields throughout the valley.

Magpie Goose (T.Forsyth)

The perils of the rainy season, unfortunately, are obvious. The Papuan Frogmouth nest we have been watching has had a large branch fall on it during the rain. We are not sure of the result.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The perils of the breeding season

Conditions are good and fruit is plentiful in the Daintree rainforest at this time of year and, to coincide with this, many birds are breeding before the wetter and more difficult conditions arrive.
A Yellow Oriole nest we have been faithfully watching in the garden struck problems a couple of days ago when the single chick left the nest too early - it seems it could 'fly' downwards, but not upwards! After us picking him up and popping him on a branch, Mum and Dad continued to follow him around, feed him and protect him. Fingers crossed they still doing it, despite us not seeing him today. The Black Butcherbirds are feeding their own young at present and are ferocious predators.

Yellow Oriole fledgling Jan 13

Hatched and going well (and in great form) are this family of Spangled Drongo juveniles. Mum was sitting nearby, looking pretty tired - all those mouths to feed! 4 healthy and hungry babies.

Spangled Drongo Jan 13

At the other end of the scale, we chanced upon a pair of Wompoo Fruit-Dove just building their nest, along Stewart Creek Rd. A precarious nest at the best of times, with only a shallow platform of a few sticks. The ritual of 'passing the stick' is beautiful to watch though. Good luck to them!

Wompoo Fruit-Dove Jan 12
A quick trip out on the Daintree River and up Stewart Creek with friend and birding guide Ellen Terrell, yesterday evening, yielded a great haul of very special birds. Great-billed Heron, several Black Bittern, Nankeen Night-Heron, Papuan Frogmouth and chick, Azure Kingfisher, Wompoo Fruit-Dove, and many, many more. It was a great pleasure to be there.
Still plenty of Magpie Geese feeding in the fields during the day, plus a flock of about 40 Wandering Whistling Duck and 7 Hardhead. Still looking for the Spotted Whistling Ducks!

Magpie Geese Daintree River Jan 13
Red-necked Crake in the garden at Red Mill House (a summer treat) and Pale-vented Bushhen frolicking in a drain opposite the town rubbish tip. (sorry - - Waste Transfer Station!)