Little Red Flying-foxes and Spectacled Flying-foxes

The Red Mahogany trees (Eucalyptus resinifera) in our area finally began to flower a couple of weeks ago, and, as expected, are attracting large numbers of Little Red Flying Foxes (Pteropus scapulatus).

They are easily distinguished from other large fruit bats: their wing-membranes are translucent in flight and they are considerably smaller than the other large flying- foxes. Brush-like tongues (like lorikeets) make collecting nectar and pollen very efficient.

They feed at night, although at the moment they are arriving in our forest as early as 3pm. We very much enjoy listening to them: they constantly call to each other with soft, fluting whistles, and, of course, also squabble noisily. In this video, the calls in the background are being made by Scaly-breasted and Rainbow Lorikeets.

 

During the day, Little Reds gather in campsites, which they occupy for as long as there are flowering trees nearby.

The summer months are mating season, so you can watch them courting, play-fighting, mating

and cuddling up:

Males are well-endowed, and, like other flying-foxes, anoint their neck ruffs with a smelly liquid from their penis, which they rub onto branches for scent-marking.

There was a severe heatwave in North Queensland in late November, which caused the death of thousands of the much rarer Spectacled Flying-foxes (Pteropus conspicillatus) along the coast (Little Reds are more heat-tolerant). It is  birthing season for the Spectacleds, and many babies were orphaned.

The Bat Hospital near Atherton has currently more than 500 bats in care, with volunteers working around the clock to look after them.

For more information, booking a guided tour, or donations:  http://www.tolgabathospital.org

Ex-tropical cyclone Owen just passed over our area, bringing wind and lots of rain. Interestingly, the Little Red Flying-foxes came in to feed very early (at 3pm) the day before yesterday, and not at all yesterday/last night. They may have known something…

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under wildlife

Riflebirds and Tree-kangaroo

While I was watching the adult riflebird performing near the cabin, I spotted a Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroo in the large wattle (Acacia melanoxylon) nearby.

Then it was the young male’s turn:

“Hey you, I am talking to you!”

Trying to get a better view from another angle:


We have seen tree-kangaroos  in that tree on several occasions. This male stayed in the tree all day, taking naps between short episodes of  feeding.

He tried several branches for a comfortable seat, but this one was has favourite:

Here you get a good view of his long claws and huge hind feet:

What a day! I didn’t know where to point my camera.

What’s next? Tree-roo joining riflebird on the dance pole?

Leave a comment

Filed under Atherton Tablelands, far north Queensland, Australia, Australian birds, birds, Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo, tall eucalyptus forest, Tree-kangaroo, tropical rainforest, wildlife

Victoria’s Riflebird display

After several weeks of performing on the  tree trunk near the cabin, the adult male Victoria’s Riflebird has finally caught the attention of a female.

She now comes in for a closer look at the daily dances, and sometimes flies up to him. Seeing a female nearby, the male starts his “circular wings and gape display”. When she joins him on the perch, he begins his “alternate wings clap display”.

Now where has his head gone?

The female might not be ready to mate, yet, as she always leaves after a few seconds. (When she stays, his tempo  can increase considerably. )

 

Leave a comment

Filed under wildlife

Victoria’s Riflebirds

Victoria’s Riflebird (Ptiloris victoriae) is one of 3 species of birds of paradise (family Paradisaeidae) in Australia.

They are common in our part of the world, and relatively easy to observe on our property. They often investigate rough-barked tree trunks for insects and spiders, behaving like treecreepers. They also check out strips of hanging bark on Rose Gums.

The males use the tops of dead tree trunks, or sometimes horizontal branches,  to perform their courtship dances, mainly between July and December.

Knowing their preferences, we levelled the top of a splintered dead trunk near the cabin, and it worked much faster than anticipated! Within a couple of days,  a juvenile and an adult bird took turns on the new perch.

Looking impressive, but  not a patch on the adult version:

It takes 4-5 years until a young male develops  his velvety black adult plumage with iridescent metallic cap, throat and tail. Until then he looks very similar to the female birds.

Still wearing his immature outfit doesn’t stop him from displaying, though. It takes years of practice to get the moves right and entice a female!

The adult male watched for a while and then flew in to give a more refined performance. He  even dazzled the camera, which quickly lost its focus!

Well, the difficulty of focussing might  be related to the fact, that the riflebird’s black is the blackest black in nature. It absorbs 99.95% of light, so that even our eyes can’t focus on it properly. A possible reason for being so black might be that the contrast with his brightly coloured feathers makes those look even brighter, and, presumably, more attractive to the female. (You can read more on that topic in the June 2018  Australian Birdlife magazine).

 

These two males displayed without a female being present. Probably just showing off to each other!

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under wildlife

New Tree-kangaroo Baby

Winter in Wondecla: reptiles and insects are making themselves scarce. Leaf-tailed Geckos are hiding in hollows,Gecko April2018

this Carpet Python is seeking out warm rocks.Python April2018

There are still a few stick-insects around, like this Maclaey’s Sceptre.Mackleay's Spectre April2018

Crested Shrike-tits are calling often, and are checking lose strips of bark for spiders and ants (as do  Victoria’s Riflebirds). Several smaller species of birds are also patrolling the tree trunks, not just the White-throated Tree-creepers, but Pied Monarch Flycatchers and even  Mountain Thornbills.

crested shrike-titApril2018

The platypus in our creek is active even in the middle of the day, sometimes travelling surprisingly nimbly and fast overland to avoid obstacles in the water.PlatypusApril2018

One of our Northern Brown Bandicoots, a nocturnal species, is often out and about in the afternoons.bandicootApril2018

The Rose Gums are still flowering, so there is a cacophony of Scaly-breasted and Rainbow Lorikeets in the canopy, especially in the mornings.

Creek Satinash (Syzygium smithii) are fruiting heavily, attracting flocks of Satin Bowerbirds and King Parrots,King Parrot in Lilly-pillyApril2018

which are being often scattered by a juvenile Collared Sparrowhawk, honing its hunting skills (still a lot of honing to do!)

Amongst the Sparrowhawk’s distinguishing features is the elongated middle toe (longer than in the similar Brown Goshawk).

Sparrowhawk juv April2018

A big surprise was this female Tree-kangaroo, who was spotted a few days ago by our guests near the cabin. What looked like a black foot was, on closer inspection, the head of a very small joey sticking out of the pouch!new tree-roo joey June2018(photo taken by Stacey Rod)

It looks like this might be a different female than the one we saw a couple of months ago with a large daughter by her side (see our March blog).

Another proud mum is this Red-legged Pademelon:pademelon April2018

Leave a comment

Filed under Atherton Tablelands, far north Queensland, Australia, Australian birds, insects and 'minibeasts', Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo, mammals, reptiles, wildlife

Juvenile Cassowary visiting

Just before dark yesterday, we had an unexpected visitor: a juvenile cassowary emerged from the the forest,  near our veranda. It has probably walked along the creek in search of fallen fruits, mushrooms and, if it is lucky,  the occasional frog. cassowary March18.1

It is about 2/3 adult size, with clearly visible brown juvenile feathers on the thighs and tail, a bright blue neck and short, pink wattles, making it 1-2 years old.                                                                                                          cassowary March18.2

Wattles and casque still have a lot of growing to do.cassowary March18.3

It might be a young male, as the tail feathers seem longer than on a female.cassowary March18.22

The colouration along the neck is already quite vivid.cassowary March18.4

He was back this morning, pecking at some mushrooms, before wandering down to the creek and into the forest.

Leave a comment

Filed under Atherton Tablelands, far north Queensland, Australian birds, cassowary, tropical rainforest, wildlife

Tree-kangaroo mum and baby

The large Acacia tree between cabin and creek seems to be a favourite for our Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroos. They were back in that tree 2 weeks ago, eating and resting for a few hours in the morning, before descending and seeking more shade for the hotter part of the day in a  smaller Symplocos tree nearby.tree-roos in distance

tree-roos suckling

They are difficult to photograph in bright sunshine (at least with my little compact camera), one can hardly see their eyes in their dark faces.tree-roos tail up

tree-roos close

They were very relaxed:tree-roos on branch

and more relaxed:tree-roos resting

You hope they don’t fall off their perch!

Here  are a couple of short videos:

 

Leave a comment

Filed under wildlife