Saturday, October 12, 2013

September Sundries

This report has been a little longer than usual in going to press.  The end of September is again one of those busy times for teachers and even though there was a holiday in the last week of the month there was also the need to prepare for the last term of school.  And it will be the last term!  Retirement beckons.
There is of course no retirement among the avifauna of Allen Road.  All the usual species, the resident or at least frequent visitors to Café Avian, remained a constant.  The Torresian Crows Corvus orru continue to patrol the Middle Compound and Orchard, always on the lookout for opportunities to steal our chicken eggs; the male Australian Magpie Cracticus tibicen risks life and limb in attempting to surreptiously share Boz’s bones and/or his dry biscuits; the Grey Butcherbirds Cracticus torquatus [the older of the two juveniles appears to have left the family circle] habitually demand their morsels of cheese; the Aposlebirds Struthidea cinerea and Grey-crowned Babblers Pomatostomus temporalis still dominate the scene, the former on the verandah and the Drian[n] area, the latter in and around the Doughnut  birdbath.  And now we are blessed with a one-legged male Australian King-Parrot Alisterus scapularis.

At 58 species September 2013 surpassed the 50 of September 2012, although it lags behind the 61 of September 2006 [which topped the previous best of 60 in September 2002].
As in all previous recorded years, the passerines, at 48% of total September sightings, overshadowed all other species orders.  This group, ranging from a low of 46% [2012] to a high of 61% [2010] has never been topped in the species order distribution charts for Allen Road; their nearest rivals, the parrots and allies, managed only an impoverished 14% of sightings.

Among the passerines of Allen Road, September is always a good month for the honeyeaters. In eleven of the past twelve years [91.66%] this group has dominated the species family distribution charts.  They have topped the September records in all but one of the past duodecuple years, ranging between 10 and 18% of total sightings and even in the year they were not exclusively dominant it was not that they faltered, the pigeons and dove group simply equalled them on 10% of sightings [five species each].

September was good for the local nocturnal species.  The Tawny Frogmouth Podargus strigoides called on two occasions [the first since January 2013]; the White-throated Nightjar Eurostopdus mystacalis called on four occasions during the month; the Australian Owlet-nightjar Aegotheles cristatus managed to call only once [25th of month] while the Southern Boobook Ninox novaeseelandiae put in frequent vocal performances.
Diurnal raptors were less numerous but the Pacific Baza Aviceda subcristata, our first since July 2013, was a welcome addition to the  monthly lists as was the Collared Sparrowhawk Accipiter cirrocephalus which showed magnificently on very first day of  September.  Following a minor flurry of activity in and around Allen Road since May 2013, the Black Kites Milvus migrans put in a solitary appearance in September; their unexpected heyday is waning in the South Burnett region.
The arrival of the first Sacred Kingfisher Todiramphus sanctus along Allen Road heralded the arrival of spring, even if the weather itself vacillated between winter and mid-summer.  The Australasian Figbird  Sphecotheres vielloti  played its usual antics, it arrived on the 14th, called throughout the day and then promptly disappeared before Fay and I could mount an organized search for the bird.  It did more or less the same in 2012, putting in three brief appearances before going elsewhere.  In 2009 it failed altogether.
Other less than common birds included the Plumed Whistling-Duck Dendrocygna eytoni which flew overhead on 15 September, their first flyby since February 2013.  The Little Lorikeets Glossopsiita pusilla showed well on the 4th and 28th while the Shining Bronze-Cuckoo Chalcites licidus seems to have taken a liking to the place, remaining in the immediate vicinity through the month and even into October.  The Leaden Flycatcher Myiagra rubecula was heard once during the month, on the 24th while the Spotted Pardalote Pardalotus punctatus called only on the 28th.