We have a new blog

It has a new design, some interesting features and great content (there’s more to come!). So go ahead and have a look! It now also has a comments section, so tell us what you think about it..

From now on, new articles will be published only on the new blog.

to visit our new blog click here or the links on the page



Leave a comment

Filed under wildlife

Moths

Australia has 20-30000 species in the order Lepidoptera, of which about 450 are butterflies. There isn’t a big difference between butterflies and moths. Both usually have a coiled proboscis and four scaly wings. Some butterflies are active at night, and numerous moths  fly during the day,  many of those have clubbed antennae. One of our  more conspicuous species is the large Queensland Day Moth, Alcides metaurus (family Uraniidae):

Classifying moths is often not easy: one might have to look at their genitals, which are usually withdrawn into the abdomen! Therefore, some of the moths featured in our blog posts do not have a name to them (feel free to let us know, if you can identify them!), sometimes we cannot even  determine the family (there are about 80 families in Australia). Birds are so much easier!

A few nights ago, our mothlight attracted, amongst many Christmas and Rhinoceros beetles and other moths:

Aglasoma variegata (family Lasiocampidae): viewed from another angle:and a portrait, showing off the ‘woolly legs’:

Another species, holding the abdomen in an upright position, maybe for better camouflage:

Praesusica placerodes (family Limacodidae):

A front view reveals the striped legs:

and some more moths:

Hawk Moths (family Sphinghidae) are plentiful at the moment:

and so are the often very large Wood Moths (family Cossidae). The famous ‘witchetty grubs’ belong here.

The variety of patterns and shapes seems endless. These moths are well-adapted to life in eucalypt forests. You wouldn’t be able to spot them  amongst dried gum leaves:

or this moth on the bark of a Red Mahogany:

There surely will be more posts to come about moths, featuring our more unusual and/or colourful species!

A most beautifully presented, and very useful guide for identifying our local moths, is Buck Richardson’s book

Tropical Queensland Wildlife from dawn to dusk, Science and Art”.

Contact details for Buck are:

buckrichardson@leapfrogoz.com.au

Leave a comment

Filed under butterflies and moths, insects and 'minibeasts', wildlife

Birdlife in December

After some rain (cyclone Owen didn’t have much effect on us), many more birds are breeding now. There are more insects around for feeding their offspring. We also have a large number of honeyeaters taking advantage of the mass-flowering of Red Mahoganies.

The Victoria’s Riflebirds are still displaying, although they have started their yearly moult, and the males don’t look their best.riflebird moulting2_1

That additional row of emerging wing feathers looks quite attractive!riflebird moulting_1

Despite the lack of fruit at the moment, some Superb Fruit-doves have decided to nest here. We observed one nest (from a long distance!), where the chick fledged after only one week, which is normal for Superbs.IMG_3214.j2pg

In typical pigeon style, the nest is a very flimsy affair. No wonder, the chick doesn’t stay!IMG_3296

An unusual visitor to the cabin was a Varied Sitella. They normally occur in  drier forests (Springvale Road is more their habitat), and we’ve seen them once before in the Casuarinas in the western part of our forest.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Atherton Tablelands, far north Queensland, Australia, birds, tall eucalyptus forest, tropical rainforest, wildlife

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…

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Atherton Tablelands, far north Queensland, Australia, mammals, tall eucalyptus forest, 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 birds, 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

Regent Skippers

Regent Skippers (Euschemon rafflesia) are the largest of the Australian skippers, and beautifully coloured, especially our tropical subspecies E.rafflesia alba.                            The first butterflies appear in late September, and it seems they complete 3 generations before they make themselves scarce towards the end of March.RS2

RS on flowerThey are very unusual in having a feature, which normally is an important difference between butterflies and moths: males have a spine on the hindwing (a frenulum), which couples it with a loop under the forewing.

They are easy to observe, as they often settle on shrubs for a while. This one even sat on my hand for a while!RS on handThe food plant for their caterpillars (Wilkiea pubescens, a tall shrub) grows in abundance on our property. Wilkiea fruits are very popular with many birds, like Superb Fruit-doves, and we’ve even watched a tree-kangaroo eat mouthfuls of the unripe berries.RS on Wilkiea

RS1Sometimes they even come to lights at night:RS at nightThe female skippers lays a single, ribbed egg on the underside of a leaf.RS laying egg

RSeggThe emerging larva builds a shelter by cutting out part of a leaf and folding it back onto the upper surface. They emerge to feed at night.

skipper caterpillar

2 Comments

Filed under Atherton Tablelands, far north Queensland, Australia, butterflies and moths, tall eucalyptus forest, wildlife

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.

IMG_3382

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.

IMG_3528_1

IMG_3523_1

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

Leave a comment

Filed under birds, wildlife

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!

big beauty

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?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under beetles, wildlife

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:

Geoff's Tree-roo_1

 

Leave a comment

Filed under mammals, possums and gliders, wildlife

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under birds, wildlife

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:

Leave a comment

Filed under mammals, possums and gliders, wildlife

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!

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo, mammals, wildlife

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.

gumbark_1

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

yellow-faced honeyeater_1

Also rich in nectar are Grevilleas

grevillea_1

and Melaleucas (Paperbarks)

paperbark_1

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

fringed lily_1

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’:

Leave a comment

Filed under wildlife

Atherton Tablelands Birdwatchers’ Cabin

We are still busy,  moving to our new property south of Atherton, but here is a first impression of our birdlife there.  Erica and Mike, keen birders from the US, stayed with us in December, and took this footage:

It was very dry then, but since the beginning of the year, we’ve had more than 600mm of long-awaited rain. It brought out many frogs, including these Orange-thighed Treefrogs (Litoria xanthomera):

one male calling:

one-frog-calling1

and it didn’t take long at all:

success!

success-1g

3 Comments

Filed under wildlife

more about Muskies

We do enjoy  watching the Musky Rat-kangaroos in our garden, and sometimes we tease them with a very tempting morsel:

Musky Rat-kangaroos are mainly fruit-eaters (although they were quite keen on a dead White-tailed Rat, and one musky actually managed to drag the cadaver off into the forest), and they absolutely love avocado.

The seed is big and slippery, of course, so they cannot grab it with their teeth. No matter, from which side it tries to grab the seed, it just cannot get a hold of it:

 

Leave a comment

Filed under wildlife

Rainforest Babies

Here in Kuranda, this latest addition to our mob of Red-legged Pademelons has left its mother’s pouch for the first time (and the dominant male, quite possibly its dad, was there for the occasion, too).
baby-pademelon
img_4500_1
The little Red-legged Pademelon is hardly bigger than our smallest kangaroos, the Musky Rat-kangaroo.
 Most of the Musky Rat-kangaroo females have full pouches at this time of the year.
full-load_1
heavy-load
They normally have twins, and as you can see, it is getting crowded in the pouch.  I managed to get a few glimpses of babies shortly before mum left them behind in the nest, which she built from leaves on the ground in the forest.
fist-fights-in-the-pouch_1
whats-that-in-the-pouch_1

 

Cassowary update:

Dad and Socks are still mating (4 months now!), and leaving skid marks on the lawn:
mating-skid-marks
A few days ago, she made inviting moves towards him, he took the next opportunity to sit down behind a big rock , as if he wanted to hide from her. She certainly looked perplexed to me as she stood there on the lawn, waiting, for about 5 minutes! No mating  this time.
where-did-he-go_1

Leave a comment

Filed under wildlife

Cassowaries mating, July 2016

Today Dad spent half an hour feeding, preening and relaxing in our garden.

When he started to make himself really tall and strutted towards the cabin, I knew that Socks, his new mate for the last three weeks, must be within sight.

As you can see, he is not afraid of her anymore! Indeed, the first of their matings happened the day after I wrote the last blog.

She sat on the ground afterwards for a while, looking slightly dishevelled:

IMG_3692_1

This close-up (doesn’t she have great “eye-brows”!), shows what looks like a new tip of her beak:

sock's beak_1

From a greater distance (she’s on the left), her beak looks perfectly normal:

IMG_3701_1

Leave a comment

Filed under wildlife

ANOTHER BIRDWATCHERS’ CABIN!

 

From 2017, we shall have a new cabin near Atherton: “ATHERTON TABLELANDS BIRDWATCHER’S CABIN”.

The cabin has already been completed and has been approved by the local “building inspector” (a young female cassowary made an unexpected appearance):

building inspector

May in May2016 2

cabin bcard

It is situated on our 35 acres (14 hectares) of forest, close to Mount Hypipamee National Park (“The Crater”), bordering onto Herberton Range National Park (in the Wet tropics World Heritage area), 25 minutes south of Atherton.

Our property shares a 250m boundary with the national park, and is the perfect place to enjoy peace and tranquillity.

The 1000m elevation makes it cooler and less humid than Kuranda.

The vegetation consists of tall open forest (‘Wet Sclerophyll Forest’) with the dominant trees being 30-40m high Rose Gums (Eucalyptus grandis), Red Mahogany (E. resinifera) and Turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera). The diverse understorey contains many rainforest species, which also grow along the creeks.

forest 4

The transition zone (ecotone) between rainforest and tall eucalyptus forest supports an equally rich fauna:

There are more possum and glider species here than anywhere else in the world (10 identified on our property, including the northern subspecies of the Yellow-bellied Glider(YBG)), Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroos, a number of ground-dwelling marsupials and more than 10 species of frogs. Leaf-tailed Geckos, Water Dragons and Boyd’s Forest Dragons are numerous.

The Rose Gums readily form hollows (perfect homes for all those tree-dwellers), Red Mahoganies are the favourite food trees for the YBG, which make incisions into the bark with their teeth to then feed on the exuding sap –and they are often joined by Sugar Gliders and Feathertail Gliders.

The gullies and creeks are corridors for rainforest plants and animals.

forest 5-our creek

Birds of the rainforest, like Victoria’s Riflebird and Superb Fruit-doves, can be seen as well as those at home in the drier forests, like Crimson Rosellas, Crested Shrike-tits, lorikeets, many flycatchers and honeyeaters.

The cabin’s veranda, orientated towards our small creek, is an ideal spot for watching wildlife. You may even be so lucky as to see a tree-kangaroo!

cabin 6

Tree-roo in distance

A bird list of the about 100 species, which occur on our property, will be on the “birds and birding” page of our soon to be established website.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Atherton Tablelands, far north Queensland, Australia, Australian birds, cassowary, tall eucalyptus forest, Tree-kangaroo, wildlife

Cassowary Relationships

Recently a new female cassowary moved in, and she seems to have filled the vacancy left by “Missy”.

Socks May2016

Her wattles have a distinctive shape, and we decided to call her “Socks”.

Socks
She still has a few brown tail feathers, but is already bigger than the resident male, “Dad”. Our guess is, that she is about 3-4 years old, and this might well be her first mating season.
He is definitely interested in her: initially, he frequently made soft contact calls (similar to a chimpanzee’s or gorilla’s grunting), while standing several meters away from her. She pretended not to be interested, having her back turned to him. As soon as she started to slowly approach him, he got scared and took off like a chased Brush Turkey, protesting loudly.

You can identify the male by his longer tail feathers. ‘Dad’s’ casque tilts to the right, whereas ‘Sock’s’ is straight and unblemished. You can also make out a dash of brown on her backside.

In this short movie, the female is strutting towards the male, who can be seen in the background:

(Unfortunately, my camera does not pick up his vocalizations well,the frequency is very low, just audible to humans.)

Nevertheless, he can’t stay away from her, and the whole scenario kept happening again and again. For a while, you had to be careful in the garden, as Dad might come crashing through the forest or across the lawn at high speed!
Now, after several weeks of travelling together (but at a safe distance from each other), she readily follows him, but he still gets spooked when she gets too close.

Here, she is feeding, and Dad is making his way past her , before they walk away together:


Probably hormone levels have to rise for mating behaviour to start.
Hopefully, we’ll have a new generation of cassowaries visiting later in the year!

Leave a comment

Filed under wildlife

Tree-kangaroos

Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroos (Dendrolagus lumholtzi), one of the two Australian species (the other one, Bennett’s Tree-kangaroo, only occurs further north), are rare in the Kuranda area. Their stronghold are the Atherton Tablelands, and we are privileged to have them on our large forest property near Mount Hypipamee National Park, south of Atherton.
Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroos, despite their size (like a small koala), are difficult to spot in the rainforest.

Tree-roo in distance

On our property, where the forest is more open, the resident male can sometimes be seen making his way along the creek -either on the ground or amongst the trees.

Tree-roo, climbing
Recently, we spotted him in a tree near our cabin while we were having lunch on the veranda.

Tree-roo, full view

Initially, when he noticed us, he was a bit nervous, as indicated by his tail-swishing, but he soon relaxed.

 

 

Tree-roo, close-up

After more than an hour he went on his way again.
Tree-kangaroos are not strictly nocturnal, they can often be observed during the day, too.

Leave a comment

Filed under Australia, Lumholtz's Tree-kangaroo, mammals, Tree-kangaroo, wildlife

tripadvisor

 

Leave a comment

Filed under wildlife

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos attacking Lace Monitor

This morning, while watching Musky Rat-Kangaroos in our garden, we heard Sulphur-crested Cockatoos (Cacatua galerita) screeching quite differently from their normal calls.

Musky Rat-Kangaroo

We discovered a group of 5 birds in the large Kuranda Quandong tree behind our house, harassing a Lace Monitor (Varanus varius), who had been minding her/his business, only trying to warm up in the early morning sun.

Cockatoo and Goanna

The cockatoos were quite brazen, getting very close to the lizard, even pulling on its tail, which the poor lizard then curled up in front of it.

Goanna

The cockatoos started snipping off twigs and branches close by, fortunately the goanna was sitting on a very sturdy branch. It didn’t show any aggression towards the annoying cockatoos, unless it was provoked. The reaction then was an inflated throat and a gaping mouth.

After about half an hour, the cockatoos flew away, and the lizard could finally relax.

Goanna at peace

As you can see, the tail with its long, narrow tip is unscathed, but you often see lizards with the tip missing. Brush turkeys also relentlessly attack them when they are on the ground, often biting into their tails. They have reason to scare off the lizards: goannas often raid nests and the Brush turkeys’ breeding mounds.

1 Comment

Filed under wildlife

Green Ringtail Possum keeping cool

We had some good rainfalls two weeks ago, but the recent cyclones didn’t affect us at all- we had sunny and very hot conditions again.

Sitting on our back veranda yesterday afternoon, I noticed a big lump high up in a tree, about 20 metres away. My binoculars revealed this Green Ringtail Possum (Pseudochirulus archeri):

 

Green Ringtail Possum

Green Ringtail Possum

Green Ringtail Possums spend the day curled up on a tree instead of in a tree-hollow, their greenish fur provides good camouflage.

This one was sitting on a very exposed branch, probably to catch the cooling breeze.

She repeatedly licked the bare underside of her tail and her hands/wrists, which might also help with cooling. It really was a very hot afternoon.

IMG_8486.2

How do I know it was a female? For a brief period she turned and showed me her belly:

IMG_8507.2

She has an admirable sense of balance: most of the time she only gripped her seat with the right foot, letting the left one dangle and using both hands to manipulate the tail.

I spent more than two hours watching this beautiful possum -it is so much easier from my deckchair during the day than trying to find and watch possums while spotlighting at night! She finally left when a thunderstorm approached.

Excuse the shaky last seconds, I was trying to get a photo before she disappeared.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Australia, tropical rainforest, wildlife

Frogs and Snakes

Frogs turn up in unusual places:

This is a female Stony-creek Frog (Litoria jungguy):

IMG_7400

 

This  Common Green Tree-frog (Litoria caerulea) spent  the long dry spell in the overflow of an outdoor basin, quite safe from a butcherbird’s beak or a snake’s gaping jaws.

frog in  a hole

Another frog often hopped  back to its hiding place underneath our veranda roof via the birdbath on the veranda railing, leaving behind tell-tales signs :

frog splash

 

After the first substantial showers, our pond hosted several frog orgies. This pair of Barred Frogs (Mixophyes coggeri) was still active after sunrise. The female was keen to get rid of the male, telling him with several deep, short grunts to release his grip on her . This is the only occasion when one hears female frogs calling.

Barred Frogs Feb2015_1

She was probably keen to seek shelter for the day, and rightly so: this large Keelback entered the pond just moments later. When I saw it emerge from the water and disappear into the forest, it did not sport a big bulging belly!

The Keelback (Tropidonophis mairii) is the only Australian snake which can eat the toxic cane toads without ill effect. Its ancestry lies in Asia, where snakes had a long time to adapt to poisonous toads.

Keelback Snake 2015_1

Named for its strongly keeled scales, which give it a “rough”-looking skin, it is easy to identify. The only other snake, which looks similar is the highly venomous Rough-scaled snake (Tropidechis carinatus), which fortunately lives at higher altitudes in North Queensland, and not around Kuranda. You can tell them apart by having a close look at the scales between their eyes and nostrils (preferably by taking a photo and zooming in, rather than approaching the snake too closely!).

Most colubrid snakes, like the Keelback, have a loreal scale between eye and nostril,

Keelback 2015_1

 

whereas in venomous elapid snakes (to which Death Adders, Taipans and Brown Snakes belong), the scale containing the nostril touches the scale which is near the eye:

Rough-scaled Snake2015_1

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under wildlife

Wet Season February 2015

With the recent advent of rain we have seen an abundance of insects (many stick insects !).

As big as my hand, this Hawk Moth (Coequosa australasiae), came to our light-sheet on a very rainy evening:

Hawk moth

 

Another visitor was this Stag Beetle:

Mueller's Stag Beetle2015

Spotlighting in our rainforest, we came across a pair of sleeping dragonflies:

Sleeping Dragonflies

 

and a group of sleeping male native bees (Mellitidia tomentifera):

sleeping bees_1

This Blue-backed Bee is one of many, collecting pollen in our garden:

Blue-backed Bee,Feb2015_1

 

If you are interested in native bees, you’ll find many photos and descriptions under the native bee project at http://www.bowerbird.org.

Another interesting insect is the Stalk-eyed Fly: The males have their eyes arranged like hammerhead sharks:

stalk-eyed flies

A piece of banana served as battleground:

2 Comments

Filed under wildlife