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.

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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:

 

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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

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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.

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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!

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?

 

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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:

Geoff's Tree-roo_1

 

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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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