Saturday, June 26, 2010

Birding Updates

The sugar cane harvesting season (The Crush) runs from mid June until completion, which can be as late as December. Much of the coastal lowlands is under sugar cane, so it is a significantly busy time for the farmers, the Sugar Mill at Mossman and everyone else involved. This year the conditions have been favourable and the season has got off to a good start.
Interestingly for birdwatchers, the 'Crush' means an increase in birds of prey locally as they follow the harvesters searching for any rodents, snakes and other creatures that have been disturbed. Black Kite, Whistling Kite, Brahminy Kite and even Wedge-tailed Eagle (not a usual resident of the wet lowlands) descend on the cane fields, and you can see quite large flocks of Kites feeding on the ground after the harvester has been through.

Some other great winter birds include the Victoria's Riflebird ( an endemic to the Wet Tropics and one of the Birds of Paradise) and the Spotted Catbird. The Catbird's name is derived from it's call - not meow, but like someone is strangling a cat! A beautiful bird which is difficult to see because of it's colourings, but is more visible in winter as it comes out of the forest a little more to find fruit. They are happy with pawpaw and fallen citrus if there are no rainforest fruits about.