Superb Fruit-Doves

Every summer Superb Fruit-Doves  (Ptilinopus superbus) come here to take advantage of the fruiting trees, shrubs and vines in our forest. The first birds arrived in October, but their numbers greatly increased in January, and we can hear them calling all around us. They are particularly vocal for a few hours in the morning and again in the late afternoon. When they are breeding, they are sharing incubation duties, with the female sitting from about 5pm to 8am and the male sitting during the day.

Superb males are very colourful and easy to identify:Superb male Jan2018

The female is mainly green and white, with a purple cap:Superb female

It might seem difficult to image how such a colourful bird can hide from predators, but try to spot the male dove in this photo:hiding               He is in the centre, looking at me over his back.

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When the rain eased a little, he emerged to pick a few fruits:emerging

Other birds have discovered the abundance of fruit, too. Several species of Honeyeaters, Silvereyes and many Satin Bowerbirds are having a good feed. This young male bowerbird  is one of several visiting the Symplocos tree near our veranda many times a day.                                                Satin Bowerbird Jan2018

Another regular visitor is this male Olive-backed Oriole:Olive-backed Oriole

The last few days the doves have been quieter than usual, maybe because those two predators are hanging around more often.                                                                                        Grey Goshawk:Grey Goshawk Jan2018

Collared Sparrowhawk:Collared Sparrowhawk Feb2018

Superb Fruit-Doves are very nervous when building their nest, so we try not to disturb them and avoid going on regular walks in the forest during their main breeding period. Once they start incubating their single egg, they are quite approachable, but I would never go near a nest. I stumbled across this one while spotlighting 2 years ago, the nest was right next to our walking track on an old tree stump. After taking one photo from a distance,  I quickly left. You can see the chick’s back sticking out from underneath mum’s belly.            with chick Feb 2016

It takes only about a week from hatching to fledging (you don’t want to be a sitting duck for longer than necessary with those birds of prey around!), and several juvenile doves have joined the adults searching for food and exploring the forest.

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A juvenile male or female? We have to wait and see…

Today is a beautiful sunny day,  I couldn’t resist taking more footage:                                Two males were hanging out in the Symplocos for about 2 hours, picking a few fruits, then having a rest before eating a few more. Very relaxed, seems they’ve finished with brooding duties for this season.  They have pretty pants, too:sunny Superb

Their brilliant colours make them quite easy to see:two Superbs

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Jewel Beetle in Wondecla

On a sunny afternoon, this Jewel beetle (probably Temognatha variabilis, subfamily Buprestinae) scrambled along the middle of our driveway. Quite a big beauty!

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What I, at first sight, thought to be attempts to become airborne again (a laborious undertaking for such a big, heavy insect), turned out to be scraping movements it (she!) made with the end of the abdomen, presumably to lay  eggs.

She didn’t get anywhere on that hard surface, but didn’t appreciate a softer, sandy spot, to which I carried her, and buzzed off.

The next day, I watched a similar (the same?) beetle fly in tight spirals up around the trunk of a large tree, down again and then it disappeared straight into the opening of one of our possum nestboxes. Is she going to lay eggs in there?

 

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Possum On A Hot Tin Roof

When we opened the garage door the other day, this young Brushtail Possum almost tumbled from the roof. It managed to hold onto the gutter and pull itself up again. It had chosen the narrow space between the corrugated steel roof and the solar panels before dawn as a sleeping place for the day, but there was more to the bargain ( how could it know,  that it  would be so hot at midday!).

possum on hot tin roof

He licked his arms, paws and the bare underside of his tail to keep cooler, at times he dozed off, but he kept tossing and turning until later in the afternoon. The piece of juicy apple we offered was eagerly taken!hot possum

Having recently separated from his mother, he is still learning what’s smart for a possum.
Other young animals are also on the move: we spotted a small platypus in the shallow section of our creek near the cabin. What a surprise!  Our creek is not a  permanent habitat for a platypus, as sections of it often dry up after dry winter months.

The Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroo baby is still keeping close to its mother (I spotted them near the creek last week). It has grown considerably since this photo was taken by one of our guests (Geoff Collins) in November:

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Boatbills

The Yellow-breasted Boatbill (Machaerirhynchus flaviventer) is a flycatcher with a distinctively shaped broad, flat bill.

This is a female:

And here is a male:

Once you recognize their call, it is relatively easy to locate them. Here in our more open forest they often call from lower branches, so they are easier to observe than in dense rainforest.

We had some good sightings of tree-kangaroos, too:This female stretched out for Acacia leaves, then she and her joey made their way into a Cissus vine.

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Green Ringtail Possum and Baby

 

Spring is here:

Symplocos trees are in full flower:

so are Hovea shrubs:

Many birds are starting their breeding business:
Eastern Spinebills are courting and one of the females is picking up tiny bits of eggshell and fluffy nesting material, Bridled Honey-eaters are mating, Mrs Riflebird appears to be feeding a nestling (instead of eating banana on the spot, she is flying away with big chunks in her beak), there is already an immature White-naped Honey-eater coming to the bird bath every day, Eastern Whipbirds are travelling through the undergrowth with 3 offspring in tow, the list goes on.
Marsupials also are showing up with either extended pouches (Pademelons, Swamp Wallabies and Brush-tailed Possums) or babies on foot, like our Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroo (see the previous blog).
On Sunday we saw a patch of olive-green on top of a Cissus vine along our creek. That wasn’t a bit of flora, but a Green Ringtail Possum with a very small baby!


They were out rather early, while it was still light (they are normally nocturnal animals), but mum was probably very  hungry, having to produce milk for her offspring.
Green Ringtail Possums don’t sleep in tree hollows, like a lot of other possum species, but spend the day curled up in a tree, relying on their excellent camouflage, like this one:

The pink nose gave it away, though!

Ringtail Possums have a very prehensile tail, which they use like an extra hand.

They were both feeding on the Cissus leaves, which is a favourite with many possums and tree-kangaroos.

Every now and then the little one briefly made its way into the pouch for a drink:

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Baby Tree-kangaroo

A week ago we saw a tree-kangaroo in a small tree close to our cabin. It looked like the one which has been in the area for the last couple of months.

To our delight, she had a baby with her! It must have left the pouch only recently, and was eagerly climbing around in mum’s vicinity.

They were in a Red Mahogany sapling, a very suitable tree for practising: easy to grip due to the small circumference and the rough bark. Mum was feeding on Smilax leaves, one of her favourite foods.

Hopefully, they’ll hang around for a while!

 

 

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Wondecla Woodland in Autumn

Driving only 10 minutes west from our property in tall eucalypt forest takes you into a completely different habitat: open woodland, which is much more open, the trees are smaller (and, of course, different species) and the undergrowth is sparse, as it is much drier here.

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There were many mistletoes in flower, attracting different species of honeyeaters, like this Yellow-faced Honeyeater.

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Also rich in nectar are Grevilleas

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and Melaleucas (Paperbarks)

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One of my favourite flowers was in bloom, too: a Fringed Lily

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Insects were still numerous, making the best of the sunny and warm autumn days.

These sawfly larvae are not caterpillars, but a type of primitive wasp. They were crossing the road, huddled together in the shape of a leaf. They frequently stopped, and started moving again as soon as the frontrunners started tapping their “tails’:

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