Grey Goshawks

Our resident pair of Grey Goshawks (Accipiter nocaehollandiae) decided to build a new nest in late July. The chosen site is a tall Rose Gum close to our house.

By late September they were incubating, and at the end of October, they were feeding a single hatchling.

Grey Goshawk chick with mum
A small gap in the vegetation allows us a glimpse of the nest from our veranda.
Almost 40 days later, in early December, it left the nest and has been hanging around nearby ever since.
Although we have a couple of birdfeeders, the Goshawk is mainly eyeing off the pademelons, the bigger the better! It swooped down on a large male several times, but it needs a lot more practice and speed to be a real threat to a fully-grown pademelon. The pademelons are not impressed, and we’ve seen the male make threatening noises towards the bird.

Today it even had a go at a tree-kangaroo:

After an unsuccessful attempt, it often lands on a nearby perch (in this case right on top of the birdfeeder!),

looking all around

and waiting for another opportunity.

Noisy Pittas- summer visitors

Noisy Pitta

Noisy Pittas are summer visitors to the higher parts of the Atherton tablelands (we are at 1000m elevation), and we usually hear the first ones in December.

This year they have arrived a bit earlier. I happened to be down by the creek, watching the Grey Goshawks (they built a nest near our house in August), when a Pitta called near me, then a second one answered!. I had hoped to have a better image for this blog, but the birds have eluded me over the last week (although they are calling a lot).

Noisy Pitta

The Grey Goshawks’ nest is in a very tall Rosegum and one only gets a good view from one spot near the creek.

Grey Goshawk nest

The adults are feeding one chick and are calling before coming to the nest, which makes it easy to hurry down to the creek in time to see the parent  arrive.

Grey Goshawk on nest

Grey Goshawk nestling
Grey Goshawk nestling

 

Many other bird species are also nesting now. Mrs Cockatoo chose a tall dead tree for her nest.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo on nest

She always comes to the opening when she hears someone walking past.

Female Scarlet Honeyeaters are busy collecting nesting material

female Scarlet Honeyeater collecting nesting material

while the males are always on the look-out for competitors.

male Scarlet Honeyeater

The Spangled Drongos are sharing nest-building duties.

Drongo on nest

Amazingly, they can fit up to 5 eggs into their tiny nest!

Brown Gerygones are flitting in and out of their nest, which is pendular with a roof over the side entrance, to feed nestlings.

Brown Gerygone and nest

Other birds already have fledglings in tow. This Mountain Thornbill got duped into raising a Shining Bronze-cuckoo.

Mountain Thornbill with cuckoo fledgling

Many Red Roarer cicadas are hatching at the moment -it might be another cicada year, when they are much more numerous.

Northern Green-grocer and Red Roarer cicadas
Northern Green-grocer and Red Roarer cicadas

Orchids

Oak Orchid

September is a good month for orchids.

Several species are flowering now. From the tiny Caterpillar Orchid (Plexaure crassiuscula) with flowers about 1.5mm small

Caterpillar Orchid

to the large Oak Orchids (Dendrobium jonesii.

Oak Orchid

Oak Orchid flowers
Oak Orchid close-up

Other epiphytes are the Buttercup Orchid (Dendrobium agrostophyllum)

Buttercup Orchid

this Northern Thumbnail Orchid (Dendrobium nugentii)

and this small Common Snake Orchid (Bulbophyllum johnsonii syn. Serpenticaulis johnsonii)

Bulbophyllum orchids flower sporadically throughout the year.

Pink Lady Fingers ( Caladenia carnea) are ground orchids, which grow along the drier road verges herePink Lady Fingers orchid

and so is this Northern Sun Orchid (Thelmytra queenslandica).

Northern Sun Orchid

Someone has already nibbled on this flower! Orchids are tasty, and not just insects, pademelons and possums eat them: yesterday I watched a cassowary pecking at the flowerbuds of a Giant Boatlip Orchid, which was just within reach.

So far, I could identify 19 species of orchids on our property, hopefully more to come!

Colourful Riflebird

male Victoria's Riflebird

 

If you think that the adult male Victoria’s Riflebird is just a black bird with a few blue bits, you haven’t seen one in the right light, yet.

With the sun shining on him from the right angle, he is very colourful indeed:

sunlit male Victoria's Riflebird

Combined with his shape-shifting display he truly is one of our most magnificent birds.

Our adult males haven’t been performing their display dances for several weeks now, and we haven’t seen much of our females, which could mean that they have mated already and the females are busy with their nests. The adult males know not to waste their energy on futile displays, but of course the young, brown males are still practising .

Several other species of birds are breeding early this year. We’ve observed  Mountain Thornbills, White-throated Treecreepers and Yellow-throated Scrubwrens putting the finishing touches on their nests a couple of weeks ago.

Our male cassowary is running a bit late (he lost his first clutch and is still leading the sole survivor of his second one) and the female is patiently following him around. She invites him to mate with her by sitting down near him, but he is still reluctant and usually walks quietly away from her.

Winter in Wondecla

It has been a very mild winter so far. Only once did the temperature drop below 10 degrees in the morning. After many drizzly days, we now have stable, sunny conditions. Perfect for our python, which has moved from King Parrots to larger prey. It had a more bandicoot-sized bulge recently and it spent a few days in a sunny spot digesting it.

A pencil-thin juvenile Northern Dwarf Crown Snake was seen near the house,

and this good-sized huntsman was out and about, too.

Grey Huntsman

 

Some Creek Satinash (Syzygium smithii) and Scented Satinash (Syzygium oleosum) are fruiting, attracting Satin Bowerbirds, the odd Spotted Catbird

and one immature Golden Bowerbird.

The Crimson Rosellas are feeding on the small nuts of Dodder Laurel (Cassytha filiformis), and you can hear their tinkling contact calls through the forest.

A small flock of Silvereyes is tucking into the fruits of the Red Cluster Heath (Acrotriche aggregata).

Dad’s youngster, now about 6-7 months old, is losing its stripes and is venturing a bit further away from dad when they are feeding.

Apart from mistletoes, there is not much flowering in the canopy now, and the Yellow-bellied Gliders have returned to their feeding trees.                                                                                                                        Fresh cuts in the bark, running with sap, are attracting regular visitors: birds and insects during the day, moths and other gliders at night. Sugar Gliders (now Krefft’s Glider), Broad-toed Feathertail Gliders and Striped Possums have all returned to the Red Mahogany restaurants. Spotlighting guests even found two Greater Gliders high up in a Rose Gum a few days ago. Greater Gliders are strict leaf-eaters, specializing in just a few species of eucalypts.

It appears that we have a new male tree-kangaroo, who often hangs out in the same part of forest

Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroo

 

The riflebirds are busy displaying near the cabin. There were even 2 mature males displaying to each other on the same stump.

It seems the mild conditions are tempting some birds into an early breeding season: A Mountain Thornbill has built a nest nearby and a pair of Spotted Pardalotes is looking for a suitable site.