WHITE-THROATED NEEDLETAILS & Fork-tailed Swifts in BIG numbers last week at Wonga Beach & Lower Daintree, FNQ

with the monsoon arriving in FNQ about 2-3 weeks ago, I’ve been noticing a huge increase in numbers of winged ants/termites getting about – this includes lots of the winged & big queen green ants which are rather spectaular looking critters!

this event has of course attracted the big swifts to the area, and I recorded BIG numbers of them on Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday of last week. each day’s estimated numbers are given below:

Mond 29/01/18 – at 11:00am from our office on the Daintree River I could see & hear a huge flock of swifts above me, together with White-breasted Woodswallows, Rainbow Bee-eaters, Welcome Swallows, and Aust Swiflets. what was remarkable was the different altitudes at which both the Fork-tailed Swifts and WTNT were feeding.

at first I could hear the Fork-taileds, so I ran out of the open-air office to have a look. they were hawking from a low height of say 40mtrs, all the way to heights as far as I could see with the naked eye. I then grabbed my bins, and then I could see loads more of them even higher. that’s when I found see the WTNT’s. I had at least some of these birds in view for about 30mins before they gradually moved on. I counted at least 80 x WTNT, and there would’ve been a great deal more of them. my best estimate of the number of Fork-taileds would be at least 5000, and probably a great deal more than that as at no time did I get onto the whole group of birds. the weather at the time was very hot and still, and sunny with thunderhead clouds starting to form nearby. it didn’t rain until late overnight.

Tues 30/01/18 – while driving from 8:15am at Wonga Beach until 8:40am at our office on the Daintree River near the car ferry, there was a massive flock of Fork-tailed Swifts, with a much smaller number of WTNT amongst them. the distance between the 2 locations is 13km and the flock was spread across the whole area as I drove through it. I stopped for ten minutes at 8:25am at Wonga Beach, and then continued and arrived at work at 8:40am, where and when the flock ended. It is impossible to put even a close estimate on the number of Fork-tailed’s, but there would have been at least twice as many as those that I got onto the day prior. there was at least 120 WTNT that I counted – they were the highest birds in the group, and the Forkies were almost as high, and as low as 30 mtrs above ground. weather conditions were same as day before, with some rain overnight.

Wed 31/01/18 – very large flock of Forkies seen at 8:40am between Wonga Beach and Lower Daintree. no WTNT amongst them that I could see. estimated number of birds approx 5000 . flying from as low as 30 mtrs above ground, up to almost out of sight with naked eye. no additional birds seen any higher with binoculars. weather same as other 2 days.

I haven’t seen any Fork-tailed’s or WTNT in the Cairns-Lower Daintree area on the coastal plain since then…

I wonder where this HUGE amount of birds is now??

cheers,

martin cachard

solar whisper wildlife cruise,

daintree river, FNQ

& trinity beach, cairns



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