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:
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!
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.
There were many mistletoes in flower, attracting different species of honeyeaters, like this Yellow-faced Honeyeater.
Also rich in nectar are Grevilleas
and Melaleucas (Paperbarks)
One of my favourite flowers was in bloom, too: a Fringed Lily
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’:
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:
and it didn’t take long at all:
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:
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).
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.
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.
Dad and Socks are still mating (4 months now!), and leaving skid marks on the lawn:
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.
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:
This close-up (doesn’t she have great “eye-brows”!), shows what looks like a new tip of her beak:
From a greater distance (she’s on the left), her beak looks perfectly normal: