The first bird of the year for Phil at Cassowary House was a juv. Black Butcherbird sat on the veranda table. He had been hoping for the male Cassowary and his 3 chicks which are at this time of year are a daily feature, however they came in about an hour later. The chicks have largely lost their stripy plumage now and are rapidly becoming a plain brown. We expect the transformation to be complete very soon as they are now 4 months old. Currently very hot and humid after a cooler and drier start, with a big dump of rain in late January as cyclone Oswald passed, but nothing since.
The Grey Goshawks who have been nesting over Black Mountain Road successfully reared two young. Unfortunately 4 Goshawks eat a lot of food as was seen in the remains of bits of birds and animals that we wre picking up from the road below their nest. Even when the youngsters had fledged two were hanging about and calling continually. A downside of these beautiful birds is that they were snacking on our Macleay's Honeyeaters and Musky Rat-Kangaroos. They sat in a tree just off the verandah and treated the place like McDonalds. Needless to say the potentiail prey soon decided to move elsewhere. The Goshawks have moved on now and the smaller birds and the more intrepid Musky Rat Kangaroos are returning but a local Spangled Drongo picked up on their call and was able to do a perfect imitation of it later giving everyone a bit of a scare at times.
Feb 4 Phil went out with young Rasmus from Denmark and saw Dollarbird just by our turning, and heard Rainbow Bee-eaters going over and Pacific Koel calling, all signs of movement already. 30+ Fork-tailed Swifts were overhead the day before, and Rasmus was lucky enough to see the two Buff-breasted Paradise-Kingfishers calling along the driveway, as well a getting a fine view of a pair of Double-eyed Fig-Parrots. The Red-necked Crakes had youngsters in mid-January and were giving their display call shortly after, whilst Lesser Sooty Owl called once on Feb 4 in the small hours, the first I have heard for some time. A Bush Hen which took up residence late last year is still showing occasionally.
A recent Cassowary Tours spotlighting trip up onto the Tablelands was really good - this is something we do not usually do at this time of year because spotlighting in the rain is not much fun or very productive. However we made the most of the dry conditions and we had great views Pacific Barn Owl, Tawny Frogmouth, Red-legged Pademelon, Mareeba Rock Wallaby, Agile Wallaby, Green Ring-tailed Possum and even managed a Lumholtz's Tree Kangaroo, much to our clients delight. A Daintree boat trip that morning turned up an unexpected imm. Sooty Tern coming on over the river just inland from the Daintree Ferry! Pink-eared Ducks were seen at the Wonga Beach barra farm and on floodwater near Biboohra, they have been non-existent locally for several years but the drier conditions are seeing a reappearance..